Biosciences: Fully funded Bristol/Swansea (BBSRC SWBio DTP) PhD Studentship

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • 7 December 2020
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Biosciences: Fully funded Bristol/Swansea (BBSRC SWBio DTP) PhD Studentship: Automated prediction of health and welfare in captive fish using behaviour from video

This studentship is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) as part of the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP).

Start date: October 2021

Subject areas: Stress, aquaculture, computer vision, machine learning, deep learning

Supervisors:

This project aims to develop a new approach to assessing and predicting poor health and welfare in captive fish, with potential application in aquaculture, laboratories and aquariums to help inform management decisions. Although video can allow animals to be monitored continually and at low cost, extracting relevant information is labour intensive and hence costly, prone to human error and biases, and is insensitive to subtle changes that could provide early warning indicators of future poor health and welfare.

This project will instead apply the power of computing to extract behaviour from video (using computer vision) and advanced statistical approaches (using machine and deep learning) to predict the health and welfare status of fish in captive conditions. By doing so, the long term aim is to develop software readily available for research and industry that analyses video footage from holding tanks of fish in close to real-time, particularly to act as an early warning monitoring system that can allow staff to intervene before problems occur.

Standard protocols for measuring health and welfare of fish and behavioural data extracted from video will be used to train machine/deep learning methods to generate models that can accurately predict the health of fish from only the video. The project will suit a student with a background in biology as the project requires handling animals and analysing samples under laboratory conditions. The student will also have a strong interest in data analysis and programming, including the willingness to learn new computational methods. Hence the student will gain extensive experience in assessing animal health and welfare, automated methods for extracting data from video, and analysis of ‚Äėbig data‚Äô using well-established machine/deep learning methods.

The farming of fish, i.e. aquaculture, has the potential to meet the growing demand for animal protein across the globe, and can be more sustainable than traditional livestock farming on land. Additionally, fish are well established as model laboratory organisms in medical and biological research. However, monitoring captive fish to maintain their health and welfare is much more difficult than monitoring their terrestrial counterparts, and detection of adverse health and welfare in fish often occurs when it is too late, with individuals or whole groups often needing to be culled. This project seeks to provide a low cost and low maintenance early-warning system for captive fish.

We want to support diverse and inclusive work environments. We therefore welcome applications from individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, or disability status. We welcome applications from individuals who have previously studied at any recognised Higher Education Institute and from a range of career paths (please refer to the SWBio DTP academic criteria for eligibility), including individuals who have previously trained in the sciences and are wanting to return to scientific research.

Swansea University
This is a scholarship by

Swansea University

Swansea, is a coastal city and county, officially known as the City and County of Swansea in Wales.

Eligibility

Academic criteria

Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a Master’s degree or have significant relevant non-academic experience.

In addition, due to the strong mathematical component of the taught course in the first year and the quantitative emphasis in our projects, a minimum of a grade B in A-level Maths or an equivalent qualification or experience is required.

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements (IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5 in each component) to be met by point of application. For details on the University‚Äôs English Language entry requirements, please visit ‚Ästhttp://www.swansea.ac.uk/admissions/english-language-requirements/

Equivalent qualifications/experience

Physics A-level (grade B and above). Undertaking units as part of your degree that have a significant mathematical component (significant mathematical component examples include; maths, statistics, bioinformatics).

Applicants must ensure they highlight their Maths background within their application and to upload any supporting evidence.

Residence criteria

Fully funded studentships are available for Home students.

International and EU students are eligible to apply for these studentships but should note that they may have to pay the difference between the home UKRI fee and the institutional international student fee.

For further details about home status and international eligibility, please visit the SWBio website.

Benefits

A fully funded four-year SWBio DTP studentship will cover:

  • a stipend (at the standard UKRI rate; ¬£15,285 per annum for 2020/21)
  • research and training costs
  • UK tuition fees (at the standard UKRI rate)
  • additional funds to support fieldwork, conferences and a 3-month internship

Application

Please visit our website for more information.

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