The student will be part of the UCD/Teagasc/WIT project PigNutriStrat. The aim of this project is to use a multidisciplinary research approach to develop solutions to prevent and manage multifactorial enteric diseases in pigs as a means of reducing the need for antibiotic use. Reducing infection pressure and optimising gut microbiome, immunity and enzyme secretory capacity will be the focus. The student will investigate improved internal biosecurity and management practices in farrowing and weaner houses as a means of increasing lifetime pig health and productivity and reducing antibiotic use. The impact of the strategies tested will be evaluated by measuring variables such as pig growth performance, gut health, gut microbiome and immune parameters. The student will also contribute to tasks where specific alternatives to antibiotic feeding approaches are investigated and where hygiene and biosecurity, management, sow and piglet nutrition, health and antibiotic use are linked to economic outcomes. The work will be a combination of animal trials and laboratory analysis with the opportunity to conduct novel interdisciplinary research across areas such as animal nutrition, microbiology, molecular biology and immunology. The student will also receive discipline-specific and generic skills graduate training and will complete a number of courses tailored towards their area, as well as universal modules in areas such as project management, research integrity, academic writing and statistical analysis. The student will be based at WIT but will have the opportunity to spend time at the Teagasc and UCD collaborator sites.
Standard duties and responsibilities of the scholarship
• Literature review on internal biosecurity and management strategies in farrowing and weaner houses as a means of increasing piglet growth and reducing antimicrobial usage
• Preparation of protocols and ethics and licence applications for animal experiments
• Animal work (maintaining records, sampling, weighing etc) on the following project tasks:
• Standard vs optimal sanitisation regimes in the farrowing house
• Optimal sanitisation with/without subsequent use of a probiotic-based competitive exclusion product in the farrowing house
• Optimising internal biosecurity, stocking density and feeder space allowance to reduce antimicrobial usage in weaned pigs
• Planning and conducting laboratory analyses on samples from animal trials including culture-based analyses of pen swabs, gut microbial community (high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing) and resistome (high-throughput shotgun sequencing) analyses, intestinal histology and gene expression analyses, immune assays etc
• Data collation and statistical analysis
• Preparation of reports, publications and conference papers, as well as oral and poster presentations, as required.
Applicants should hold or expect to attain, as a minimum a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biology, Agricultural Science, Animal Science, Veterinary Science, or a related discipline.
A Masters in Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biology, Agricultural Science, Animal Science, Veterinary Science, or a related discipline.
Knowledge & Experience
• Experience in Microbiology and/or Molecular Biology
• Experience in/knowledge of some/all of the following: high throughput sequencing-based microbiome analysis, gene expression analysis, gut histology, immunology techniques
• Experience of working with animals.
• Experience of statistical analysis
• Knowledge of pig production
Skills & Competencies
• Excellent laboratory, data analysis and IT skills, organizational skills and communication skills (both written and oral)
• Ability to work as part of a team as well, as under own initiative
• Ability to work under pressure to meet project deadlines
• Flexibility and ability to problem-solve
• Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English, please see WIT’s English Language Requirements for details.
• Full drivers licence
• Individual authorisation under Scientific Animal Protection legislation (personal licence)
For any informal queries, please Dr Gillian Gardiner, +353 (0)51 302626; [email protected]
or Dr Peadar Lawlor, +353 (0)25 42217; [email protected]
For queries relating to the application and admission process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office via email [email protected]
or telephone +353 (0)51 302883.
Please download the Research Postgraduate Application Form from the WIT Website and return completed applications to [email protected]
quoting ‘WD_2020_08’ in the email subject line. Please note that paper submissions will not be accepted.
Any queries relating to the application process should be emailed to [email protected]