PhD Project – Finding measurable markers indicating that animals have positive life experience

New methods for the assessment of animal welfare are needed to match the new and future standards for welfare. Over the last 5-10 years, the definition of animal welfare has started to encompass the concept that animals should experience a “life worth of living” and therefore the next generation of biomarkers for animal welfare need to reflect a positive welfare state and a positive mental status. The project aims to screen biomarkers that have been linked to positive emotion, or positive perception of situations by human and laboratory animals.

The candidate will run animal experiments using sheep exposed to known positive, neutral and negative situations. The emotional state of the animal will be measured at different time points using established behavioural tests.

Biological samples, primarily blood and also less invasive samples such as saliva will be collected to measure a suite of potential novel markers of positive experiential state. The tools to measure these new biomarkers will be developed and further validated in field conditions.

Project goals:

  • Develop novel methods to measure indicators of positive experience
  • Validate indicators of positive experience

This project will require the applicant to:

  • Work with sheep for an extended period
  • Performed simple surgery and sample collection (after training)
  • Work in different laboratories
  • Interact with collaborators across Australia
  • Plan and organise experiments

Research team leader: Dr Dominique Blache


  • Meat and livestock Australia grant (P.PSH.0803) 2020-2023

Click on this link for application details