Graduate Positions Available

Our animal welfare graduate positions for 2019-2020 include:

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. Alexander Harlander,


Wing use and disuse: the missing link to understand keel bone damage in hens?

(MSc thesis project, $19,100 a year for two years)

Egg-laying hens also often have damaged or broken keel bones. This project will test two hypotheses: that these birds’ poor feather cover impedes their abilities to fly, and that this in turn weakens the bones that their flight muscles attach to.

Contact: Dr. Alexander Harlander,


Validating a video-tracking system for the real time measurement of pig behaviour

(MSc thesis project, $19,100 a year for two years)

This MSc project will assess the validity of a new technology (akin to Noldus’s Ethovision), for measuring social interactions, aggression and other behaviour patterns in groups of farmed pigs.

Contact: Dr. Renée Bergeron,


The welfare of beef cattle during transport

(Summer work, MSc coursework, MSc thesis & PhD positions all available, potentially fully-funded; support also available for the winners of major scholarships)

Beef cattle can be transported on trucks for up to 48 hours at a time without any opportunities to eat, drink, or lie down. What impact does this have on them and their well-being?

Contact: Dr. Derek Haley,


How does life in a small bare cage affect social competence in mice?

(MSc coursework; plus MSc and PhD positions for winners of major scholarships)

Like many farm, zoo and lab animals raised in small barren enclosures, standard-housed mice show stereotypic behaviours (e.g. pacing and fur-plucking) and other signs of stress. As a result, are such mice unattractive as mates? Prone to female-skewed litters? Poor at maternal care? Impaired at prosocial behaviour, but good at attracting “empathy”? The Mason Lab is exploring all these ideas and more.

Contact: Dr. Georgia Mason,


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.