Revolutionary equine behavioral researcher Sue McDonnell, PhD, was honored today with the American Association of Equine Practitioners' (AAEP) George Stubbs Award during the association's 2011 Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

McDonnell received the prestigious award, which honors a nonveterinarian individual who has made substantial contributions to equine veterinary medicine, during the annual President's Luncheon. Named for the late artist and educator George Stubbs, the award recognizes an individual who has advocated the equine veterinary profession through leadership, product development, volunteerism, research, or education.

McDonnell is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania's (UPenn) New Bolton Center and the founding head of the Center's Equine Behavior Program. After receiving her bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology at UPenn, McDonnell earned her doctorate in reproductive physiology and behavior at the University of Delaware. She completed a post-doctoral study in reproduction at Penn Vet in 1987 and became certified in Applied Animal Behavior in 1991.

Through her innovative research methods, McDonnell has provided monumental insight into the understanding of equine behavior, physiology, and welfare. She maintains a semi-feral herd of ponies at Penn Vet for the study of equine social behavior and development in an undomesticated environment. In addition, McDonnell uses the herd as a teaching tool to provide students with the opportunity to observe the differences in free-roaming and domesticated horse behavior. Her courses play an integral role in educating veterinary students about clinical animal behavior, reproduction, and equine patient handling.

McDonnell's pioneering research in reproductive physiology has afforded her the knowledge to implement proven methods for resolving problematic behavior in stallions and mares. She is routinely referred for high-profile cases of abnormal reproductive behavior and travels internationally to farms for on-site consultation. Her methodical approach to treating problematic behavior focuses on how human influence alters equine behavior and emphasizes change through positive reinforcement.

Continually promoting compassion for horses, McDonnell has worked with the AAEP to address welfare issues related to the pregnant mare urine industry in the United States and Canada. She has shared her expertise with veterinarians as a presenter at several Annual Conventions and continuing education meetings. She writes a monthly equine behavior column for The Horse magazine and teaches popular educational workshops at Penn Vet for veterinarians, horse owners, and trainers.

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