Graduate Positions Available

Animal welfare graduate positions for 2021-2022:

MSc by Coursework projects - various

MSc by Coursework (Major Research Paper) opportunities are available beginning in fall of 2021. Core CCSAW Faculty who are recuriting students include Drs. Renee Bergeron, Derek HaleyKatrina Merkies and Tina Widowski. Drs. Georgia Mason and Lee Niel are not currently recruiting. MSc by Coursework projects are typically not funded.

Laying hen behaviour and welfare
Topics include effects of early experience and environmental complexity on behavioural and physical development; enhancing alternative housing systems (enriched colony and cage-free) for better welfare.

Contact: Dr. Tina Widowski,

Equine behaviour, welfare and management
Specific topics are yet to be decided.

Contact: Dr. Katrina Merkies,

Pig or dairy cow welfare
Specific topics are yet to be decided

Contact: Dr. Renee Bergeron,

MSc by thesis projects:

Welfare friendly alternative to surgical castration in piglets
(MSc thesis project, scholarship available)
Genetic selection of low boar taint animals offers a non-invasive, cost effective and welfare friendly solution to the issue of boar taint. It may also improve animal growth and productivity. However, producing entire males raises other welfare issues, such as increased aggression and the performance of sexual behaviour, which may cause leg and feet injuries leading to lameness. Therefore, raising entire males may require changes in management. Before genetic selection for low boar taint individuals is proposed as a solution to producers, more research is needed to ensure that its welfare implications are thoroughly understood. This project proposes to determine how breeding for low boar taint potentially affects behaviour, physiology and meat quality. The MSc student will be co-supervised by Dr. Jim Squires and Dr. Renée Bergeron in Animal Biosciences. The research project will take place at the Ponsonby research station. 

Contact: Dr. Jim Squires or Dr. Renée Bergeron at

The effects of musculoskeletal fitness upon keel bone damage in the adult laying hen
(MSc thesis project, scholarship available)
Our project will focus on the biomechanics and physiology of locomotion and the effects of musculoskeletal fitness upon keel bone damage in the adult laying hen.
We will conduct research experiments through a collaborative approach across different research fields (PI's): Dr. Harlander (University of Guelph, Canada), Dr. Tobalske (University of Montana, USA), Dr. Powers (George Fox University, USA).

Contact: Dr. Alexandra Harlander,

The gut-brain axis and destructive feather-plucking in laying hens
(MSc thesis project, with funding pending)
Globally, billions of hens are farmed for their eggs, but 60-80% are affected by destructive behaviours in which birds pluck each other’s feathers. The Harlander Lab has found that hens who do this have altered gut microbiomes. Could this in turn compromise their brain function by elevating inflammation and/or by altering how they metabolise tryptophan? This project would test these hypotheses.

Contact: Dr. Alexandra Harlander,

PhD or DVSc Projects:

Evaluation of a novel form of topical anesthesia for painful procedures in dairy cattle and calves
(Funding pending)
Project involves clinical trials + substantial knowledge transtation and transfer (KTT)

Contact: Dr. Charlotte Winder,

If you are interested in beginning graduate studies in a particular area, please contact any of our Core Faculty members directly, to inquire about opportunities within thier research programs.