PhD studentship in Dog Welfare – Development of a biomarker in saliva to detect stress in dogs


   School of Life Sciences

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  Dr Stefan Millson, Prof Anna Wilkinson, Dr Helen Zulch  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Kennel environments can be challenging for dogs and recognising signs of compromised welfare is difficult. This project will create a test that can be performed in kennels to allow rapid assessment of stress in dogs.

We will be working in collaboration with the Dogs Trust to investigate the use of biomarkers in kennel assessments of dogs and provide early indications if any interventions are working.

Research aims

Aim. - To create a real-time test that would be capable of identifying negatively aroused dogs, enabling owners, handlers, and clinical experts to make better informed welfare choices for their dogs. 

Key Research Objectives.

  1. Characterization of biomarker levels under normal daily conditions and the calculation of normal reference ranges for dogs across breeds and ages.
  2. Validation of biomarkers as a test for negative stress in dogs, with comparison to both cortisol levels and behavioural markers for negative and positive arousal.
  3. Testing of the biomarker assays in real-world environments e.g. dogs living in kennels.
  4. Development of a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) for the rapid assessment of stress in dogs, which can be used in-situ and provide assessment results within 15 minutes.

Person specification & requirements:

The candidate must hold a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree, a Masters degree or an equivalent qualification in animal behaviour and welfare, animal cognition or a similar subject. 

Funding notes:

A fully-funded studentship. Includes fees and stipend for three years, research costs, as well as funding for travel and participation in conferences.

How to apply:

To apply for this, please send your CV and covering letter to Dr Stefan Millson at [Email Address Removed] with the subject as the “PhD studentship application”. The covering letter should outline your approach to the project and also explain how your qualifications and experience meet the requirements (about one page). Please include contact details for at least two academic references.

Application deadline: 31st May 2023.

For more information, please contact Dr Stefan Millson ([Email Address Removed]), Prof Anna Wilkinson ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Helen Zulch ([Email Address Removed]).

Biological Sciences (4) Veterinary Sciences (35)
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 About the Project