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PhD scholarship within animal science: biological and genetic modelling of sheep production

Deadline: 15.08.2020

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

NMBU has a special responsibility for research and education that ensures the basis of life for future generations.

Sustainability is rooted in everything we do and we provide knowledge for life.

NMBU has 1700 employees and 5200 students and is organized in seven faculties. NMBU has a campus in Ås and in Oslo. In 2021 we are co-located on Ås. Further information on NMBU is available at www.nmbu.no.

About The Faculty of Biosciences

The Faculty of Biosciences (BIOVIT) is organized into two departments: Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences and Department of Plant Sciences. The main objective of the Faculty of Biosciences is to contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture and food production systems through basic and applied research on plants and animals including fish (aquaculture). The faculty houses Centre for Integrative Genetics (CIGENE), the research center for Research-based Innovation (SFI) – Foods of Norway, the Imaging Centre and the National Centre for Urban Agriculture.

The faculty is responsible for bachelor- and master programmes in Biology, Animal Science and Plant Science, and international master programmes in Genome Science, Agroecology, Plant Science, Aquaculture, Animal Breeding Genetics and Feed Manufacturing Technology. PhD programmes include Animal Science and Aquaculture, and Plant Sciences. There are currently 480 bachelor and master students, and 90 PhD students, enrolled in these programmes. The faculty has approximately 220 permanent and temporary scientific employees, including technicians, and 18 administrative positions.

The position is in the Animal Breeding and Genetics group. Currently, the group has 5 Professors, 2 Postdocs, 8 Researchers, approximately 10 PhD students, 2 Professor II (10 or 20 %) and frequent visiting scientists coming to work alongside members of the group, in addition to BSc and MSc students. The group is internationally renowned for its innovation and cutting-edge work on genomic selection, and for promoting, establishing and improving breeding schemes in the dairy cattle, pig, sheep, and farmed salmon sectors. NordGen and Norwegian breeding organisations: Geno, Norsvin, Norsk Sau og Geit, and AquaGen, are colocalized with the group, with altogether 15-20 researchers.

Do you want to make Norwegian sheep production more efficient and sustainable? Are you interested in biological modelling? Then we want you on our team.

About the position

The Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences), Faculty Biosciences, at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) is offering a 3-year PhD–position (2020 – 2023) related to animal breeding, nutrition and production systems. The position is funded by NMBU, and research and education will be in cooperation with AgroParisTech/INRA, Paris.

The concept of the sheep model to be developed will be to follow the flow(s) of resources, from resource acquisition, through the biological system that the animal is, ending in products.

The animal model(s) will then be applicable to larger-scale, systems analyses to study efficiency and sustainability in a multi-functional framework.

Importantly, the model will form a basis for investigating alternative breeding goals and use of different genotypes under different resource-scenarios.

The PhD student will take part in finalizing the plans for the work, together with the team of supervisors at INRA and NMBU.

INRA / AgroParisTech, will be important partners for the PhD project, see www6.jouy.inrae.fr/mosar_eng/UMR-MoSAR for information on the ruminant modelling group.

Main tasks

  • Management, facilitation, and quality control of existing large-scale datasets with information on pedigree and production traits of individual sheep
  • Quantitative modelling of phenotypic acquisition and allocation of resources within ruminants, focusing on sheep
  • Use the model to study/simulate effects of some important management decisions in sheep husbandry, also in an applied context, e.g. find optimal relationships between production level (main product: lamb meat) and longevity of ewes of different genotypes

The successful candidate is expected to enter a plan for the progress of the work towards a PhD degree during the first months of the appointment, with the goal to complete the PhD within the scholarship period.

Qualification requirements, desired experiences, knowledge and personal qualities

The applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are at master's degree level. The applicant must have strong academic background and be able to document proficiency in both written and oral English. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description. The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research subject and have a strong motivation for the study.

Required academic qualifications

  • MSc degree in animal science or a related field
  • Knowledge of Norwegian and/or Nordic ruminant livestock production systems
  • Strong communication skills in English, written and spoken
  • A strong background in statistics and mathematics
  • Knowledge in advanced data processing and modelling / programming; some experience in using tools such as such as R, SAS, DMU, or ASReml
  • Some background in animal nutrition and -physiology

The following experiences and skills will be welcomed:

  • Experience in scientific publishing, in accordance with applicant’s age and work background
  • Have background from / interest in sustainability of ruminant production
  • Experience in describing or comparing genotypes / breeds of livestock in relevant production environments

You need to:

  • be highly motivated for a PhD education
  • have a strong interest in scientific work and scientific values
  • have good collaborative skills and be able to work independently

Remuneration and further information

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD. Fellow. Fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 479.600, - before taxes) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

Employment is conducted according to national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

For further information, please contact:

Information for PhD applicants and general information to applicants


To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply for this job' button above. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if new user) and log in before completing the online application form.

Application deadline: 15. August, 2020

Applications should include (electronically) a letter of intent summarizing the applicant’s previous academic and professional experience, scientific and professional motivation, preliminary goals for the PhD period, curriculum vitae, full publication list, copies of degree certificates and transcripts of academic records (all certified). A list of two persons who may act as references (w/ phone numbers and e-mail addresses) must also be included. Finally, full text (pdf) of publications should be included electronically.

Printed material which cannot be sent electronically should be sent by surface mail to the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Dept. Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, BIOVIT, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, within 15th August 2020; please quote reference number 20/02742 in a cover letter.

If it is difficult to judge the applicant’s contribution for publications with multiple authors, a short description of the applicant’s contribution should be included in the online application.

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