Follow us:

Panorama Newsletter


Carlee Mottley, Animal Facility Technical Officer from the University of Wollongong, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health is the proud recipient of the 2022 ANZLAA Member of the Year Award, which was announced during the recent ANZLAA (Australian and New Zealand Laboratory Animal Association) Conference in Sydney Australia. 

Vesna Valic, Country Manager - Tecniplast Australia & New Zealand, had the pleasure of interviewing Carlee for Panorama to find out the details of this award and how this award, and the Tecniplast Scholarship Program, have benefitted her and the LAS industry. 

They also talked about the recent Tecniplast Fancy Dress Trivia Night, that was held as part of the ANZLAA Conference program and attracted over 100 attendees, from early career technicians through to senior managers and university directors, about the importance of these type of activities for our community especially as we are now coming out of the pandemic period.

Hi Carlee, congratulations on receiving the ANZLAA Member of the Year Award, can you please tell our audience about your contributions to ANZLAA that have led to this award?

Thank you Vesna! The award is to celebrate ANZLAA members who have made outstanding contributions to animal husbandry and health, ethical conduct in research and teaching, exchanging information within the research animal community, and developing alternative techniques to the use of animals.

In my role as an Animal Technician I have been able to meet these requirements through high husbandry and welfare standards, training our researchers in ethical animal research and procedural techniques, and developing novel improvements such as the establishment of a rehoming program for ex-research animals and my work to develop an alternative to the Forced Swim Test.

I have been a member of ANZLAA since 2013 and throughout this time I have participated in many conferences and presentations. I have been an ANZLAA State Representative for the last 3 years and love connecting with the ANZLAA community and their stakeholders.

You have previously won two Tecniplast Animal Welfare and Science Scholarships, based on your interest in fostering an alternative to the Forced Swim Test for Rats, can you please provide our audience with an overview of your interest in identifying an alternative method and what your results have shown?

The Forced Swim Test is used to assess depression in rodents and involves placing the animal in an inescapable cylinder filled with water. This naturally raises some animal welfare concerns, and there are questions around its integrity and reliability in detecting a depressive-like state. This has led to a lot of institutions around the world banning the test, with unknown implications for research. My facility was one who banned the test, and our researchers were concerned that they would not be able to conduct or publish their research. This made me realise that the only way to improve animal welfare and maintain research output would be to develop an alternative behaviour test. I designed three novel tests, and one of these (the Faux Predator Test) was found to be able to detect a despair-like state in rats like the Forced Swim Test. It’s possible that this new test could be used to replace the Forced Swim Test with further test refinement, therefore addressing the 3Rs and reducing the incidence of adverse events related to water or exhaustion that can sometimes occur with the Forced Swim Test. I am hoping to publish the results of this study in a journal soon.

How has the Tecniplast Scholarship and winning the ANZLAA Award helped you in getting the message to the LAS community that there are alternatives to the Forced Swim Test that are worth exploring?

Without the Tecniplast Scholarship, my idea to replace the Forced Swim Test would have remained as just that. In my role as an Animal Technician I am not normally involved in research and certainly do not have access to funding. The Tecniplast Scholarship provided me with the funding to purchase animals and resources in order to conduct my experiment and develop an alternative behaviour test, and my involvement with ANZLAA has provided me with an industry platform to present this work to the wider laboratory animal community at their conference. Tecniplast Australia have always been generous about giving back to the LAS community, and I feel honoured to have been able to contribute to improving animal welfare and science through provision of their Scholarship.

You participated in the Tecniplast Fancy Dress Trivia Night, what do you believe are the benefits to the LAS community with these type of events?

Social events are so needed and appreciated in the LAS community! Animal research facilities are often quite isolating places to work, and this has been amplified the last few years due to lockdowns relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Tecniplast Fancy Dress Trivia Night held at the recent ANZLAA conference was our first opportunity since 2019 for our community to get together and network in a very fun and engaging way! In addition to quality products and service, Tecniplast Australia are well known for their hospitality and these social opportunities are treasured by the LAS community in Australia and New Zealand.

Vesna Valic
Country Manager, Tecniplast Australia & New Zealand