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Rothamsted Research

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Postdoctoral Research Scientist - Smallholder Livestock Systems

Salary Details:
North Wyke
Work Area:
Closing Date:
31 May 2019
Overview Of Role
We are seeking two (2) postdoctoral research scientists to work on the optimisation of smallholder livestock systems in Africa. Both positions will initially run until 31 March 2021 and be based at the institute's North Wyke site, the home of the North Wyke Farm Platform in Devon, England.

Livestock farming provides a wide range of benefits to smallholders in Africa, including food and financial security, manure input for crops, and a means of business diversification to countervail price volatility. Studies have shown, however, that the health and production performance of these animals are often limited by a strong interaction between parasitic disease and poor nutrition, creating a missed opportunity for economic development. Although chemical anthelmintics, the most common modern remedy for parasite damages, are readily available in the majority of markets across the continent, they are prohibitively expensive for subsistence farmers and, moreover, their extensive use is likely to be counterproductive in the long run as the likelihood of drug resistance increases.

To tackle this challenge, Rothamsted Research, in partnership with Queen's University Belfast and research institutes from Malawi, Botswana and South Africa, has recently launched a research project to investigate the feasibility of designing a novel concept of mixed (plant-ruminant) farming systems, with the view to utilise plant species rich in plant secondary metabolites (PSM) as an alternative means to control parasites while simultaneously enhancing animal nutrition. PSM, a large group of plant-based chemicals such as tannins, choline and essential oils, have previously been shown to suppress egg counts as well as the larval development of gastrointestinal nematodes when fed to ruminants. The study is supported by the UK Research and Innovation's Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Working as part of an interdisciplinary team of world-class scientists, the post holders will be collectively responsible for the following components of the project. The exact split of responsibility between the two posts will be determined based on the actual experience, knowledge and skills of the appointees.

on-farm trial to compare the efficacy of PSM-based interventions vis-à-vis drug-based interventions
data analysis to identify optimal management rules informing when to use PSM and when to use drugs
on-farm collection and chemical analysis of PSM-rich plant samples
data analysis to develop on-farm rationing tools for feeding strategies that can control parasites and improved animal nutrition at the same time
household survey to assemble information on farm management, animal health and human livelihoods
data analysis to quantify the livelihood impacts of PSM-based and drug-based interventions and their implications on resilience

Successful candidates will possess a PhD in either agricultural science, animal science, agricultural economics, nutrition/dietetics or a closely related field. Further requirements are outlined in the Person Specification and Selection Criteria document.

Applicants should prepare a single PDF file combining (1) curriculum vitae, (2) cover letter detailing how each essential (and desirable) criterion is satisfied and, optionally, (3) supporting documents as detailed in the Person Specification and Selection Criteria document. This file should be uploaded to the online application system as 'CV to attach to application'; applications without a cover letter will be automatically rejected. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interviews shortly after the closing date.

Pre-application enquiries regarding this vacancy should be addressed to Head of Sustainable Agriculture Sciences Department, Professor Michael Lee (michael.lee@rothamsted.ac.uk).
About The Company
Established in 1843, Rothamsted Research is one of the UK's leading Research Institutes delivering world class agricultural science. Our commitment to learning and development, equality and diversity as well as creating a positive work life balance, enable a welcoming environment for all prospective employees. We have an attractive benefits package including 25 days annual leave, a generous pension scheme and an attractive campus offering cultural and recreational activities.