Two PhD candidates in automated detection and genetics of social behaviours in pigs and laying hens

Updated: 4 months ago
Job Type: Temporary
Deadline: 28 Jan 2022

Do you have a strong background in genetics, statistical genetics, biology or another quantitative field? Are you fascinated by animal science and technology? And did you graduate outside the domain of animal sciences? Then read on; we have an interesting PhD position for you!

We are looking for two enthusiastic PhD students who will study the automated detection and quantitative genetics of social behavioural interactions in groups of pigs and laying hens. In this research you help to develop new tools for automated phenotyping of individual animals in group housing with computer vision, sensors and AI, and to develop methodology to use these phenotypes in animal breeding. In this way, your research will contribute to the improvement of the health and welfare of farm animals.
The role of the PhD student is:

  • to contribute to the development of methods and tools for the automated detection of animal behaviour, using computer vision, sensors and artificial intelligence,
  • to develop and validate statistical models for the analysis of large scale longitudinal data on social behaviour of farm animals,
  • to develop models for the emerge and spread of social behaviours and for the study of social networks (in collaboration with the PhD students on animal behaviour at WUR and UU), and
  • to develop breeding strategies for improvement of social behaviours.

The research on pigs will have a strong quantitative genetic focus. The research on laying hens will focus more on the detection and analysis of animal behaviour. Both PhD-students will contribute to the understanding and improvement of the functioning of groups of pig or laying hens.

The research is part of the IMAGEN project that aims to develop sensing and AI technology for automated detection of behaviour in farm animals, in order to develop animal management and breeding solutions to improve social behaviour in laying hens and pigs. IMAGEN is a collaboration between Wageningen University and Research, Eindhoven University of Technology and Utrecht University, together with leading industry, with 5 PhD students and 2 post docs in total. The two PhD-candidates will be employed at Wageningen University, Animal Breeding and Genomics.

For more information about the IMAGEN project, you can watch the video below:

The research is embedded within the chair Animal Breeding and Genomics (Animal Breeding and Genomics Group - WUR ), which is led by Prof. dr. Martien Groenen (prof.dr. MAM (Martien) Groenen - WUR ). You will be supervised by Dr Piter Bijma (WUR), Dr Liesbeth Bolhuis (pigs, WUR), Prof. Bas Rodenburg (laying hens; UU).

Main industry partners: Topigs Norsvin (pigs), Hendrix Genetics (laying hens).

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