PhD student Behavioural research in pigs

PhD student Behavioural research in pigs

Published Deadline Location
18 Jan 14 Feb Wageningen

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Job description

Are you the young ambitious researcher who wants to investigate the social interactions in pigs and contribute to the improvement of functioning of groups of pigs, which benefits their welfare and health? Do you like to collaborate with other researchers from different scientific fields and countries, as well as with the industrial partners? Then this is your chance!

You as PhD student will study and model behavioural interactions in groups of pigs using large amounts of video and sensor data interpreted with AI algorithms. Pigs show both prosocial behaviours and harmful behaviours, which profoundly affect their welfare and health. 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 study the functioning of groups, and to develop animal management and breeding programmes to facilitate and improve social behaviour. IMAGEN is a collaboration between Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Utrecht University (UU), together with leading industry, with 5 PhD students and 2 post docs in total. The PhD student will work within the subproject on social interactions in pigs.

Your role as PhD student is to:
  • Support the development of sensing and AI technology for the automated detection of social interactions in pigs with behavioural expertise and observations (in collaboration with the PhD students and post docs from TU/e);
  • Develop models for the emerge and spread of behaviours and study of social networks in groups of pigs (in collaboration with the PhD student on animal breeding at WUR);
  • Contribute to the development of animal management tools. In this way, you will contribute to the understanding and improvement of functioning of groups of pigs, which benefits their welfare and health.
This position will be placed in the chair group Adaptation Physiology. This is a multidisciplinary group with approximately 15 staff members, 20 PhD students, and 8 technicians.

See here below for short movie clip on the IMAGEN program:


Wageningen University & Research


  • An MSc degree in Biology, Animal Sciences or similar, with a background in behaviour
  • An interest and preferably experience in the use of quantitative models in research in biology or agriculture
  • A profound interest in both fundamental research on group functioning as well as applied research on development of tools that are valuable in pig farming
  • An interest in application of AI, video based analysis and image processing
  • A pro-active, independent work style and enthusiasm for multidisciplinary research
  • A social team player attitude with strong ability to collaborate with other researchers from different scientific fields and countries, as well as with the industrial partners of the project
  • Excellent communication skills and proficiency in English (both oral and written)
  • Experience with behavioural modelling and working with imaging data and/or pigs will strongly add to the suitability of the candidate

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.
In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team within the Graduate School Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences (WIAS)
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well. Additionally, a contract for 0.8 FTE can be discussed.

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the "Best University" in the Netherlands for the 16th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.
Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.


Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University and Research is "To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life". Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 6.500 employees and 12.500 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen's unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

These are the points our employees list as good reasons to come work at WUR: read the 6 reasons to come work at WUR.

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 687330


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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