PhD position: Meat quality and free-range pig farming

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Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management (MINA) at Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant three-year PhD fellowship available to study the possible effects of free-range production on meat quality and muscle health in pigs. The position is funded by MINA and will be associated with two NFR funded projects (‘Food Inspector’ and ‘Enduring Growth!’).

With food labels such as ‘organic’ and animal welfare being increasingly relevant for consumers, there is a growing demand for free-range farmed pigs. Yet, animal welfare is not just an ethical issue, but is also linked to economic aspects, to production sustainability and perhaps meat quality. Unlike other farming animals, however, we don’t understand much about how free-range farming affects muscle physiology and meat quality in pigs. Such a link can become very important, though, considering emerging meat quality defects in many European countries. Such defects may be a consequence of changed physiology, genetics, environmental and production-related factors.

This project will give you the chance to study whether problems with muscle physiology and meat quality can be reduced or averted in pigs who have access to outdoor areas and who live in larger social groups.

Here you will work closely with a large network that brings together researchers at NMBU (e.g., Prof. Bjørg Egelandsdal), at Animalia AS, international partners (e.g., in Germany) as well as industry partners. This will give you a great opportunity to build your own network within academic and industry-environments.

Your work will include:

  • mapping of muscle and meat quality features in traditionally farmed and free-range pigs;
  • research on possible links between physiology and genetics that may explain differences between farming methods;
  • developing measuring methods for improved diagnosis of muscle defects.

Main tasks

You will analyze typical muscle defects in pigs to identify the prevalence and possible causes of meat quality defects in traditionally farmed and free-ranging pigs. To this end, you will work with experts in animal physiology to food research. You will learn a range of well-established methods, and will be given the chance to participate in developing a novel diagnostic tool.

Specific tasks include:

  • planning and conducting experiments in the lab, in animal and in food production facilities;
  • scientific communication (talks, writing publications);
  • use of standard food quality measurements as well as microscopic and biochemical muscle analyses.

You will join the faculty’s training program for a PhD-students.

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Qualification requirements, desired experiences, knowledge and personal qualities

The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are at master’s degree level. The applicant must have a documented strong academic background from previous studies and be able to document proficiency in both written and oral English. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description. More detailed information can be obtained by contacting the faculty’s division for student and academic affairs.

Required skills and experience:

  • You have a master’s degree in relevant fields such animal physiology, food science and technology, animal husbandry or veterinary sciences.
  • You have learned to communicate your research (writing and presentation skills).
  • You have experience with statistical methods.

Desired skills and experience:

  • You have experience with one or more laboratory work routines in muscle-/neurophysiology, microscopy, meat-/food science, protein biochemistry or metabolomics.
  • You are eager to learn new methods.
  • Good communication skills will make it easy for you to contact partners inside and outside your immediate team, and to plan your experiments in and outside the university’s campus.
  • Independence, resourcefulness, critical thinking and relevant interpersonal skills necessary for productive team working.

Remuneration and information

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD Fellow. PhD Fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 479.600) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

Employment is conducted according to national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

For more information, please contact Dr. Daniel Münch (project leader). E-mail:


To apply online, please click the ‘Apply for this job’ button. This will direct you to the University’s Web Recruitment System. You will need to register an account and log in before completing the online application form.

With the application, you will include an application letter, curriculum vitae, copies of degree certificates and transcripts of academic records (all certified), and a list of at least two persons who may act as references (with phone numbers and E-mail addresses; all to be send electronically). Other scientific documentation (thesis, publications, posters) should be included electronically within the application deadline. NMBU may require further documentation, e.g. proof of English proficiency.

The application deadline is 01.06.2020

Documents which cannot be sent electronically should be sent by mail to Daniel Münch, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Faculty of MINA, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, within 01.06.2020. Please quote reference number: 20/01700

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