University of Bristol PhD Studentship: Animal emotion and welfare: a decision-making and computational approach

For more information see:

The project:

An animal’s welfare depends on its emotional state (states elicited by rewarding and punishing events). Long-term ‘moods’ are particularly important determinants of animal welfare and may play a key role in guiding decision-making by biasing an individual’s expectations of decision outcomes, especially in ambiguous situations. Using a ‘judgement bias’ (JB) assay of decision-making under ambiguity that we have developed, many studies show that, like humans, animals in positive affective states behave as if anticipating positive outcomes under ambiguity, and vice versa for those in negative states.

However, there are also null and opposite results which may occur because affective states have a variety of different influences on decision-making. This project aims to disentangle these effects and hence to clarify findings in the literature, establish any constraints on using JB as an indicator of animal affect, and advance theory on the relationship between affect and decision-making. Computational modeling of data from operant studies of laboratory rodent decision-making will identify underlying parameters (e.g. prior experience of, and sensitivity to, reward and punishment) that influence decisions. There will also be opportunity to carry out parallel human studies to establish cross-species similarities and differences, and to develop theoretical computational models to investigate predictions, for example that experience of environmental conditions generates adaptive decision-making profiles.

The student will receive training in animal learning and behaviour, perceptual and affective psychology, and computational theory and modelling. They will learn to design decision-making tasks, to programme and use operant equipment, to implement computational, statistical, and trial-by-trial analysis of datasets, and to build theoretical computational models. Such skills will be invaluable within the increasingly mathematical context of modern biology.

Supervisors: Prof Mike Mendl, Prof Iain Gilchrist, Dr John Fennell, Dr Liz Paul (Bristol University)

Collaborator: Prof Peter Dayan (Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany)

Faculty Fellowship – University of Newcastle

Are you an outstanding early post-doctoral scientist aspiring to develop into an independent research investigator?

Apply for our exciting 2-3 year Faculty Fellowships at the University of Newcastle for early career scientists.  We provide salary and consumables funding together with mentoring and career support to help you develop external fellowship applications.

Please see: for more details

New Research Article

Leibnitz-Insitut für Nutztierbiologie Dummerstorf (FBN)
Foto: Thomas Häntzschel / nordlicht

Farm Animal Cognition – Linking Behavior, Welfare and Ethics

Are farm animals smart? And if yes, why should we care? In recent decades, research on the cognitive capacities of non-human animals has gained increasing attention. However, compared to the amount of research that has been conducted on some model species, studies on the cognitive capacities of farm animals are heavily underrepresented. Given the number of livestock animals worldwide, this lack of research is surprising because knowledge of the mental capacities of farm animals is highly relevant as it can affect their welfare. We need to understand how farm animals perceive their physical and social environment to appropriately assess their ability to cope with husbandry systems and to provide them with opportunities to fulfil their cognitive needs (e.g. via enrichment).

This review by AWRN-member Christian Nawroth and colleagues aims to outline the current state of farm animal cognition research, considering aspects such as categorisation, numerical ability, object permanence, tool use, individual discrimination and recognition, communication with humans and social learning.


Nawroth C, Langbein J, Coulon M, Gabor V, Oesterwind S, Benz-Schwarzburg J and von Borell E (2019) Farm Animal Cognition—Linking Behavior, Welfare and Ethics. Front. Vet. Sci. 6:24.


Workshop on “Welfare Indicators for Novel Species in Aquaculture”

Swansea University – Singleton Campus
Tuesday 14th May 2019 9am to 4pm

Meeting high welfare standards during aquaculture diversification is essential for the sustainable growth of the industry, but the culture of novel species poses particular challenges as there is typically limited information to guide best practices. Much has been learned about the welfare requirements of species like salmon, trout or tilapia, but whether this body of knowledge can also be applied to lesser-known species, novel to aquaculture is unclear.
Drawing on contributions from researchers, industry and regulators, this one-day symposium will explore the commonalities and differences in the welfare requirements of different farmed species, and will ask whether some basic welfare metrics exist. It will be followed by a workshop on the welfare requirements of lumpfish, one of the fastest growing farmed fish in Europe.

Places are limited – free early booking is advisable

Further details and the link to register are available here.




Morning symposium – Faraday Building Lecture Room

09:00-09:20 Registration & Welcome.

09:20-09:50 | The effects of stress on the welfare of farmed fish. Uses and misuses of cortisol measurements. Professor Michalis Pavlidis (University of Crete, Greece)

09:50-10:20 | The use of fish behaviour in aquaculture and its use as an operational welfare indicator. Dr. Sonia Rey-Planellas (Stirling University, UK)

10:20-10:50 | Fish welfare criteria in worldwide aquaculture: the CAREFISH project. Maria Filipa Castanheira (University of Algarve, Portugal)

10:50 – 11:10 Coffee Break

11:10-11:30 | Development of operational welfare indicators for lumpfish. Carolina Gutierrez-Rabadan (CSAR, Swansea University, UK)

11:30-11:50 | RSPCA (TBC)

11:50-12:10 | Industry/Retail (TBC)

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch Break

Afternoon Workshop – Welfare of Lumpfish (room to be confirmed)

13:00 -13:10 | Introduction to break out sessions

13:15 – 15:00 | Breakout sessions on three key challenges:

  1. a) Which welfare indicators are most meaningful for lumpfish?
  2. b) What can the industry do to improve the welfare of lumpfish?
  3. c) What does the public/consumers require?

15:00 – 15:30 | Feedback from each group presented by theme leaders

15:30 – 16:00 | General Discussion & Recommendations

16:00 Close



Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, Sara Barrento, Carolina Gutierrez-Rabadan

Swansea University, Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research

Research Assistant / Associate University of Glasgow


Research Assistant / Associate in Rodent Welfare During Euthanasia


Reference Number      024306

Location                        Gilmorehill Campus / Main Building

Department                  BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED

Job Type                        Full Time

Salary Range                 £28,660 – £32,236/£35,210 – £39,610

Closing Date                  11th March 2019

Job Purpose

The post-holder will contribute to a BBSRC funded project on “Decompression killing in laboratory rodents: an humane alternative to carbon dioxide?” working with Dorothy McKeegan and collaborators in the Universities of Edinburgh and Newcastle. Specifically, the job requires expert knowledge in physiological and/or neurophysiological research techniques in rodents or other species.

The post-holder will also be expected to contribute to the formulation and submission of research publications and research proposals as well as help manage and direct this complex and challenging project, as opportunities allow.

Further information can be found on the University of Glasgow webpage using the Job reference 024306.

PhD on Cat Welfare at Queen’s University Belfast




The School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast invites applications for a fully funded PhD entitled ‘Understanding the evolutionary mechanisms underlying infant features in cats and their implications for animal welfare’.

Project information

Infant features are physical traits that are characteristic of human infants and include facial features such as a large forehead, large and low-lying eyes, and a small nose and mouth. Animals possessing high levels of infant features are perceived as ‘cute’ and elicit care-giving responses in humans. The overall aim of this project is to assess the impact of possessing high versus low levels of infant features on cat welfare.  The relationship between infant features in cats and cat temperament, health and the strength of the pet-owner bond will be explored. In addition, the role that infant features play the adoptability of shelter cats will be evaluated.

Applicants must have at least a 2.1 degree (or equivalent) in Psychology or a related subject such as Zoology or Animal Science. A Masters level qualification in an area such as Evolutionary Psychology or Animal Behaviour and Welfare is desirable.

This 3 year PhD is funded by the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy (DfE). See for funding details and eligibility criteria.

The deadline for applications for this opportunity is Monday 25th March 2019, see How to Apply:

For informal enquiries, contact Dr Grace Carroll at

PhD studentship in animal welfare: Refining weaning age in macaques destined for neuroscience research

For more info visit:

Value of award

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £15,119. Significant additional funding to cover research costs, visits to Newcastle and local, national and international travel (e.g. conferences).

Start date and duration

September 2019 for a three-year PhD.


Newcastle University and the Centre for Macaques (CFM) are looking for a PhD student for an NC3Rs funded project studying the impacts of different weaning ages in laboratory primates (rhesus and cynomologus macaques). You will use a comprehensive range of behavioural and health measures to assess the impact of weaning at different ages on the immediate welfare of macaques at CFM and their likely future welfare in neuroscience laboratories. These will include measures of temperament, general health and immune function.

You will be based at CFM near Salisbury in Wiltshire for the duration of the PhD with regular visits to Newcastle for training.


National Centre for the Replacement Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)

Name of supervisor(s)

Professor Melissa Bateson, Institute of Neuroscience and Centre for Behaviour and Evolution

Dr Claire Witham, Institute of Neuroscience and MRC Centre for Macaques, Salisbury, UK

Eligibility Criteria

You must have at least a 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant field (e.g. psychology, biology, biomedical sciences, veterinary sciences). Previous research experience is required and a masters degree is desirable. Proficiency in oral and written English is mandatory.

The candidate should be willing to work with laboratory primates and to be based at Salisbury in Wiltshire. Due to the location of the Centre for Macaques the student will be required to get government security clearance to work on site.

The award is available to UK/EU applicants only.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system by creating an account. To do this please select ‘How to Apply’ and choose the ‘Apply now’ button.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk must to be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:

  • click on programme of study
  • insert Programme code 8430F* in the programme code section and click search
  • select Programme name ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences (full time) – Neuroscience’
  • insert IN108 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code IN108 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • attach degree transcripts* and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualification.

*You will not be able to submit your application until you have submitted your degree transcript/s.


For further information, please contact:

Claire Witham (
Melissa Bateson (