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Internal biosecurity and management strategies in weaner houses to increase pig growth and reduce antimicrobial usage( Ref: WD_2022_34_Spons)

   Research Support Unit

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  Prof Gillian Gardiner, Dr P G Lawlor  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Post summary

The student will be part of the UCD/Teagasc/SETU 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 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 be based at Teagasc, Moorepark but will be registered with South East Technological University (SETU) and may have the opportunity to spend time at the SETU and UCD collaborator sites. 

Duties and responsibilities will include:

• Literature review on internal biosecurity and management strategies in weaner houses as a means of increasing pig 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 project task ‘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; for example, 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

• Data collation and statistical analysis

• Preparation of reports, publications and conference papers, as well as oral and poster presentations, as required.

Person specification



·      Applicants should hold or expect to attain, as a minimum a 2:1 Honours (Level 8) degree, or equivalent, in Agricultural Science, Animal Science, Veterinary Science, or a related discipline.

Knowledge & Experience


·    Experience of working with animals

·    Good background in statistical analysis


·    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

·    Knowledge of pig production.

Skills & Competencies


·      Excellent animal husbandry skills

·      Excellent laboratory, data analysis and IT skills

·      Excellent organizational 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 SETU’s English Language Requirements for details.


·      Full drivers licence

·      Individual authorisation under Scientific Animal Protection legislation (personal licence)

Funding Notes

Supervisor(s): Prof Gillian Gardiner (SETU), Dr Peadar Lawlor (Teagasc, Moorepark)
Research Group: Eco-Innovation Research Centre
Department /School/Faculty: Science/Science & Computing
Duration: 24 months (Masters)
Status: Full Time
Value of the scholarship per year for two years :
Stipend: €18,000
Fees: €4,500


Further information
For any informal queries, please contact Prof Gillian Gardiner (SETU), +353 (0)51 302626; gillian.gardiner@setu.ie or Dr Peadar Lawlor (Teagasc), +353 (0)25 42217; peadar.lawlor@teagasc.ie
For queries relating to the application and admission process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office via email rpgadmissions.wd@setu.ie or telephone +353 (0)51 302882.
University Website https://www.setu.ie
Application procedure
Download the Research Postgraduate Application Form and return completed applications to rpgadmissions.wd@setu.ie quoting WD_2022_34_Spons in the email subject line.
Please note that paper submissions will not be accepted.
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