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Understanding farmers decision making for management of sheep scab using an interdisciplinary approach

   School of Veterinary Medicine & Science

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  Prof Jasmeet Kaler, Dr Fiona Lovatt  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This opportunity is based within Ruminant Population Health group at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science which conducts cutting-edge research into the health and welfare of UK sheep and cattle and has stakeholder decision making as one of its key research themes.

The PhD is part of highly collaborative multi-partner project (Moredun, Bristol, Glasgow and Nottingham) which brings together the UK’s leading experts on sheep scab from across industry and academia. This multidisciplinary project aims to address the challenge of sheep scab management via further understanding epidemiology of scab, optimisation of tools for diagnosis and understanding farmer behaviour and attitudes towards scab management. The results of this project will be used to develop developing new best practice guidance for scab control.

Scab is caused by infestation with the ectoparasitic mite, Psoroptes ovis and is highly contagious, resulting in intense pruritus and represents a major welfare and economic concern for the livestock industry. Control relies on injectable endectocides and organophosphate dips, but concerns over residues, environmental contamination, and the development of resistance threaten the sustainability of this approach. Despite statutory and voluntary control programmes, scab control has met with limited success. Previous studies (Rose and Wall, 2011) have highlighted different risk factors for upland and lowland flocks. Scab has historically had a negative stigma resulting in significant levels of under-reporting by farmers. To develop acceptable control strategies, it is important to better understand farmers decision making around scab. Combining recent advances in behaviour and implementation science and tools and frameworks from sociology, psychology and behavioural economics, this PhD will provide further understanding of farmers beliefs, perception of risks and the trade-offs they make in their decision making for scab control. We are particularly interested in how habits, norms and perception of risk influence farmers behaviours related to scab management and how they vary among upland and lowland farmers.

We will collect data from farmers via interviews and focus groups to explore the process of decision making (using frameworks from sociology, psychology and economics) for scab control which will be analysed using qualitative methods. These results will feed into the next study where we will conduct a large discrete choice survey to determine distributions of farmers’ psychosocial beliefs and relative importance of various attributes on choices farmers make with respect to scab control. Data will be analysed quantitatively using Latent class and multinomial modelling. Results of this PhD will be combined with scab transmission models developed by partners in the consortium to gain insight into real life dynamics and design effective control strategies for scab.

Further information and Application:
Applicants should have a minimum of a 2.1 undergraduate degree or a minimum of a 2.2 degree and a Master’s degree in Agriculture, Animal science, Veterinary Science, Nutrition or similar subjects.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to the principal supervisor: [Email Address Removed]

Candidates should apply online and include a CV. When completing the online application form, please select the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, then PhD Veterinary Medicine and Science (36m) and, once submitted, send your Nottingham ID number to [Email Address Removed].
Any queries regarding the application process should be addressed to the Continuing Education Team, (email: [Email Address Removed])

Start Date:
February 2020 or as soon as possible after.

Closing date:
31st January 2020. The position will be filled when suitable candidates have been identified. Early application is strongly encouraged.

Funding Notes

Fully funded studentship has a stipend at the standard UKRI rate; £15,009 per annum. An enhanced stipend is available for students with a recognised veterinary degree qualification at £21,000 per annum. Studentship will cover tuition fees, field and training costs.