PhD scholarship within ethology



PhD scholarship within ethology – 18/00216
For further information and application go to:

The Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant 3-year PhD position focused on poultry behaviour and welfare.

The Faculty of Biosciences is organized in two departments: Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences and Department of Plant Sciences. The Faculty has the main goal of advancing sustainable agriculture through basic and applied research on plants and animals including fish (aquaculture). The faculty employs approximately 240 scientists, technicians, and administrative personnel. Around 480 bachelor and master students and 90 PhD students are enrolled in educational programmes within the faculty, offering a stimulating and supportive learning environment.

The Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences (IHA) is recognized as a leading international institute in the fields of ethology, breeding and nutrition. Our expertise encompasses animal housing and management, feed technology and metabolism, and quantitative and molecular genetics.

The available position will be within the Ethology and Animal Environment Research Group of IHA, which comprises four full professors, three research scientists and three PhD students. The research group investigates the behaviour of both production and companion animals, and is active in the teaching of courses and continuing education programmes on applied ethology and animal welfare.

Research project
The successful applicant will participate in a project supervised by Dr. Ruth Newberry, Professor of Ethology, aimed at understanding effects of environmental enrichments on commercial poultry behaviour and welfare. The research is supported by The Research Council of Norway in connection with the study «Integrated EU mobile broiler data – Optimising broiler chicken management, health & welfare through use of integrated EU data», funded under the European Animal Health and Welfare (ANIHWA) ERA-Net Initiative (

The research will involve data collection on farms along with the analysis of video recordings and large data sets on behaviour, production and slaughterhouse results from commercial poultry flocks. The assessment of positive indicators of poultry welfare, including playful behaviour, will be a key feature of this project. This topic is of fundamental interest for understanding developmental trajectories as well as having applications to the sustainability of poultry production.

Main tasks

  • Elucidation of rearing environment variables affecting the behavioural and emotional profiles of birds.
  • Development of novel behavioural markers of poultry welfare.
  • Interaction with international collaborators and travel to collect data in different countries.
  • Development of statistical models for predicting poultry welfare.
  • Presentation of findings in high-quality publications.

The successful applicant is required to apply for admission to the PhD programme in Agricultural and Aquacultural Sciences, specialisation in Ethology, within 2 months, and submit an education plan and full research plan during the first 6 months of the appointment, with a view to completing the doctoral degree within the 3-year PhD scholarship period.

Academic qualifications
The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are at the master's degree level. The applicant must have a documented strong academic background, and be able to document proficiency in both written and spoken English. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description. The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research subject.

Required academic qualifications

  • Master of Science degree or equivalent in ethology or other relevant area in the life sciences.

Desired academic qualifications

  • Research experience in animal behaviour.
  • Strong academic record.
  • Strong mathematical/statistical skills.
  • Knowledge of avian biology.
  • High quality Master’s thesis and other scholarly contributions.

Personal skills
Required personal skills

  • Proficiency in written and spoken English.

Desired personal skills

  • Ability to perform independent work, take initiatives, and generate new ideas.
  • Ability to interact effectively with research team members and members of the poultry industry.
  • Analytic ability and a systematic, academic approach to research.
  • Organizational skills and motivation to be prolific in the conduct and dissemination of high quality research.
  • Skill in the handling and care of poultry.

NMBU offers:

  • An interdisciplinary and inclusive environment that provides exciting research and development opportunities.
  • Daily contact with inspiring students and skilled colleagues.
  • Generous employee benefit scheme.
  • Beautiful surroundings just outside Oslo.

The salary for PhD-scholarship starts at wage grade 50 (equivalent to annual salary NOK 436.900) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follows standard meriting regulations. Employment is governed by national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

Further information
For further information, please contact Dr. Ruth Newberry, Professor of Ethology.
E-mail:; phone +47 67232628.

To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply for this job' button above. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Application deadline:1st March 2018

For further information and application go to: