October 20 & October 27 (12pm ET)

Invertebrate Animal Sentience

Free Webinar Series

Bee on flower | Photo credit: Tsekhmister

Join us for a free webinar series on invertebrate animal sentience, moderated by Dr. Stevan Harnad, founding editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and current Editor-in-Chief of Animal Sentience. Dr. Harnad will be joined by a multidisciplinary panel of experts –  Jonathan Birch (ethicist), Robert Elwood (neurologist), Helen Lambert (animal welfare consultant), Jennifer Mather (comparative psychologist), Giorgio Vallortigara (neurobiologist), Lars Chittka (behavioral ecologist), Irina Mikhalevich (philosopher) – for wide-ranging conversations on the sentience of crabs, lobsters, bees, octopi and other invertebrate animals long considered too simple to experience feelings of distress, pain and pleasure. Each webinar is 90-120 minutes long.

To watch a recording of the October 20th (Part 1) webinar, click here or scroll to the bottom of this page.

This webinar series was presented by Animal Sentience Journal and WellBeing International and made possible through a grant from Effective Altruism.


Stevan HarnadStevan Harnad, PhD, is Professor of Cognitive Science at Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada and Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Science at the University of Southampton in the UK. He is the founder and former editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and is the current Editor-in-Chief of Animal Sentience, the first academic journal to focus on nonhuman animals and their capacity for feeling pain distress and pleasure.  A vegan, Dr. Harnad is increasingly active in animal welfare, animal rights and animal law 


Jonathan BirchJonathan Birch, PhD, is Associate Professor of Philosophy and the Principal Investigator on the Foundations of Animal Sentience project at the London School of Economics and Political Science in London, UK. Author of numerous articles and books, he was the author of a major review on sentience “Animal Sentience and the Precautionary Principle” in Animal Sentience. Currently, he is an advisor to the British government as it develops plans to recognize animal sentience in law. 

Robert Elwood

Robert Elwood, PhD, is Professor Emeritus in the School of Biological Sciences at the Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has tested the idea that crustaceans (shrimp, crab, lobster) retain memories of noxious experiences, countering the belief that these animals respond purely by reflex. Building on these earlier studies, Dr. Elwood recently (April 2021) published a review of studies on fish and decapods that examined the possibility of pain in Frontiers in Veterinary Science in the article “Potential Pain in Fish and Decapods: Similar Experimental Approaches and Similar Results.” In 2018, he was honored by the British Society of Animal Science and the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals for his work in animal sentience and animal welfare, the first time in 30 years that the award was conferred on a scientist for research involving invertebrates.


Helen LambertHelen Lambert, PhD, (nee Proctor) was the Sentience Manager at the World Society for Animal Protection (now World Animal Protection – WAP) from 2010 to 2017.  She has been researching animal sentience in various species over the past 10 years. She authored an early (2012) review paper of animal sentience (including both vertebrate and invertebrate species) during her time at WAP, and has since performed several reviews of sentience research, including her most recent review on insect sentience and cognition.  She graduated with a PhD (2018) from the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom on measuring positive and negative emotional states in cows. Her findings are published in several academic journals, and more details can be found on her website.  She is currently a freelance consultant specializing in animal sentience issues, working with organisations, governments and universities all over the world.

Lars ChittkaLars Chittka, PhD, is Professor of Sensory and Behavioral Ecology at Queen Mary University of London, UK. He is a world expert in explaining the behavior of bees and how they shape our lives.  He has been an Editor of PLoS Biologybiology’s leading open access journal and is a Fellow of the Linnean Society, the Royal Entomological Society and the Royal Society of Biology. His work examines the intersection between sensory physiology and learning psychology on the one hand with evolutionary ecology on the other. 

Jennifer MatherJennifer Mather, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at the University of Lethbridge in Canada. Dr. Mather has written extensively on octopi sentience and cognition, most recently the 2020 article “Why Are Octopuses Going to Be the ‘Poster Child’ for Invertebrate Welfare?” for the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. She also authored a 2019 article on “What is in the octopus’ mind? in Animal Sentience and was a consultant on the Oscar-winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher. 

Irina Mikhalevich Irina Mikhalevich, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Her work focuses on the intersection of the philosophy of science, ethics, and the philosophy of cognitive science with an emphasis on conceptual and methodological problems in animal cognition science. Dr. Mikhalevich is presently involved in research concerning, among many things, the complex cognitive and affective worlds of invertebrate animals such as insects, spiders and mollusks, long regarded as too simple to merit serious policy consideration. She coauthored a 2020 article in Animal Sentience (Minds without spines: Evolutionarily inclusive animal ethics”). 

Giorgio VallortigaraGiorgio Vallortigara, PhD, is Professor at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences at University of Trento in Italy. Dr. Vallortigara serves as the Principal Investigator of the Animal Brain & Cognition research group, a part of the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences. Under his leadership, the group’s main goal is the investigation of cognition and sentience across different species, including bees and flies. Dr. Vallortigara has published numerous papers on insect and cuttlefish cognition. 

Recording of 10/20 Webinar

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