Q&A with PhD Student Amelia Cornish

Amelia explains the animal welfare food rating system app she hopes to create.

Amelia Cornish is a PhD student in the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney and new affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute. Her research examines consumer food preferences for animal-based foods. Her passion for animal welfare has seen her work for international animal protection groups in London and New York. Amelia chats to us about everything from her PhD to her favourite animal.


What does your PhD look at? What stage are you at? Brief summary.

I am in the early stages of my PhD. With my research I am hoping to explore the factors that influence Australian consumers’ attitudes and motivations towards animal-friendly purchasing and compare these variables to purchasing behaviour itself to expose the disparity between attitudes and actual purchasing behaviour, known as the attitude-behaviour gap. As part of my project I hope to create an animal welfare food rating system app that will rate the animal welfare impact of animal-based foods and investigate whether exposure to the rating system app has an effect on the extent of any apparent gap.

What conclusion do you think you will get to?

I hope to find that use of the rating system app has a positive effect on the extent of the disparity between consumers’ attitudes and purchasing behaviour for animal-friendly foods. Ultimately, I hope this project can play a role in improving our understanding of consumer sentiment for animal welfare and how it translates to purchasing behaviour, thus helping to promote more humane food system.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I grew up in Melbourne. I studied a Bachelor of Arts/ Sciences and a Master of Business (Science at Technology) at Monash University. After I graduated from my Masters I left Australia to travel. I spent the last 6 years traveling and living overseas with my husband.

Besides research, what are your passions and interests?

Travel, hiking, movies, good food and wine.

You have lived in other major cities, what animal welfare related work did you undertake there?

Before moving to Sydney to start my PhD I lived in London for two years and New York City for four years. I absolutely loved living in both London and NYC. London has so much history and allowed me to see a lot of Europe. While NYC is such a vibrant and diverse city, where you can always find something fun to do.

In both cities I worked for the international animal protection non-profit, World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for the Protection of Animals). I really enjoyed working with World Animal Protection. It enabled me to explore and develop my passionate animal welfare and the interconnection between the welfare of animals, people and our environment.

What are you currently watching or reading?

I just started reading The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins. So many of my friends recommended it, I had to give it a go. So far, so good. I’m also watching Game of Thrones – it’s addictive.

What’s your favourite animal and why?

Definitely too hard to pick just one animal. I do have a soft spot for cows. I love their unique and complex personalities. They form friendships, hold grudges, and the very special bond between a mother cow and her calf has been found to form within minutes of birth.

You can contact Amelia via email acor3786@uni.sydney.edu.au