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Technologies for livestock system transformation

   College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

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  Prof D Moran, Dr A Wilson, Dr Rafael De Oliveira Silva, Dr G Gorjanc  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Production and consumption of livestock products (farmed mammalian species including dairy, poultry, and fish) feature large in debates about food system sustainability and transformation. Despite consensus on the need for transformation, institutional and biological complexity, policy inaction, a lack of communication, and an overreliance on the market (e.g. to foster disruptive technologies) have led to a cycle of sector inertia.

Starting from a clear food system conceptualisation, this interdisciplinary project will develop and explore scenarios for the production and consumption of livestock products. The project will use Delphi methods and a Three Horizons framework to map the emergence and uptake of production system innovations that could contribute to a transition from business as usual to a viable livestock sector that meets future food security and sustainability goals.

Specific innovations considered in this project include: new sustainable breeding goals (e.g. lower methane emissions, increased resilience to stressors), genome editing and engineering for more sustainable/healthier animals, reducing waste from the food system by reducing losses from disease (e.g. via pharmaceuticals or genetic control strategies), new microbiome and probiotic modulators for improved efficiency and reduced methane emissions, and alternative feedstocks (e.g., insects) to replace soy in the livestock food system. Quantitative estimates for improvement in key performance metrics associated with the solutions identified by the Delphi-study will be obtained by implementing these into Roslin’s in-house AlphaSim predictive modelling software (https://cran.r-project.org/package=AlphaSimR). These will then be incorporated into systems models to assess the potential implications of the considered innovations in livestock production on food security and the environment. The proposed application will be within the exogenous constraints and pre-defined end points, e.g. Net zero or other consensus convergence scenarios/targets.

The project offers interdisciplinary training in social science, livestock genetics and quantitative simulation studies to addres one of the most pressingcontemporary science-policy challenges with national and global significance. 

Funding Notes

This 3.5 year studentship opportunity is open to UK and international students and provides funding to cover stipend, tuition fees and consumable/travel costs. Applications including a statement of interest and full CV with names and addresses (including email addresses) of two academic referees, should be emailed to [Email Address Removed].
When applying for the studentship please state clearly the project title/s and the supervisor/s in your covering letter.
We would encourage applicants to list up to three projects of interest (ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice) from those listed with a closing date of 4th January 2023 at https://www.ed.ac.uk/roslin/work-study/opportunities/studentships


1. Tait-Burkard C, Doeschl-Wilson A, McGrew MJ, et al. Livestock 2.0 – genome editing for fitter, healthier, and more productive farmed animals, Genome Biol 2018;19(1):1-11
2. Garnett T. Gut feelings and possible tomorrows:(where) does animal farming fit. Oxford: FCRN, 2015.
3. Curry A, Hodgson A. (2008) Seeing in Multiple Horizons: Connecting Futures to Strategy J Futures Stud 2008;13(1):1-20.

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