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Rothamsted Research

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Postdoctoral Research Scientist - Livestock Science

Salary Details:
North Wyke
Work Area:
Closing Date:
22 Nov 2019
Overview Of Role

We are seeking a postdoctoral research scientist specialised in ruminant nutrition or pasture agronomy. The position 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 around the world, including food 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 sustainable agriculture. Although chemical anthelmintics, the most common modern remedy for parasite damages, are readily available in the majority of global markets, they can be expensive for farmers in low to middle income countries and, more critically, 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, 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 through an improved feed basket that utilises locally available plant resources. 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.

Working as part of an interdisciplinary team of world-class scientists, the post holder will primarily be responsible for the following components of the PSM project, although other opportunities within and outside the project may also be offered to high-quality candidates with strong track records:

  • on-farm collection and lab analysis of plant species which could constitute a feed basket (including PSM-rich species)
  • on-farm trial to compare the efficacy of PSM-based interventions vis-à-vis drug-based interventions
  • data analysis to develop rationing tools for feeding strategies that can simultaneously control parasites and improve animal nutrition
  • data analysis to identify farm management rules that can simultaneously inform when to use PSM (and when to use drugs) and maximise additive benefits of improved rationing

Successful candidates will possess a PhD in livestock science, agronomy, agricultural science or a closely related field. Further requirements are outlined in the Person Specification and Selection Criteria document.

Applicants must prepare a single PDF file combining (1) curriculum vitae, (2) cover letter detailing one by one 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 must be uploaded to the online application system as 'CV to attach to application', whereas the 'Candidate Profile' section of the online form must be left blank. 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 a beautiful campus offering various cultural and recreational activities.
Rothamsted Research values its commitment to equality and diversity in its workforce and we particularly encourage applications from women, disabled and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, as these groups are currently under-represented within the organisation.