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(online since: 06.08.2021)

Description of thesis:

The thesis project will address the involvement of mitochondrial uncoupling proteins in metabolic flexibility in mouse and human cancer cell lines. We will focus on the UCPs expression alterations and its possible cross-talk with changes in malignant cell metabolism.

Requirements:

Ongoing bachelor/master studies (University / University of Applied Science) in a related field (molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, biotechnology, biochemistry or equivalent).

  • Interest in cancer biology, strong motivation to engage in the project.
  • High reliability, great team-working skills.
  • Fluency in spoken and written English.
  • Experience in molecular/cell biology techniques would be advantageous.

Further information:

  • You will be part of our young international team with a collaborative and inspiring working atmosphere.
  • A stimulating and dynamic scientific environment with individual supervision. We are familiar with the supervision and execution of bachelor /master theses and we look forward to supporting you accordingly.
  • A financial support according to the guidelines of Vetmed Uni Vienna is possible.

Key data:

  • Start: as soon as possible
  • Duration: k.A.
  • Language: English

Name of organisational unit:

The objective of the Diplomathesis is to compare different procedures of training dogs to engage with visual discrimination on the basis of classical and/or instrumental conditioning. The basic principle of autoshaping, which is a type of conditioning that occurs when an animal learns to respond to a stimulus without reinforcement, has proven highly efficient in pigeons. A brief illumination of a response button before the delivery of food results in the pigeon learning to peck the button whenever it is illuminated. However, in dogs this doesn’t work in the same manner. The reason is that for the pigeon the illuminated button serves as a substitute of the food reward, which elicits the natural foraging response, pecking. In dogs, the light does not serve as food substitute, and therefore the dog has to be “lured” or shaped to make a response to the stimulus. Subsequently the reinforcer is made contingent on the newly acquired response to the stimulus – touching the button is immediately reinforced with food – so bringing it under operant control. The aim of this diploma thesis is to compare different ways of “luring” or shaping the dog to make a response to the stimulus. A further goal is to compare dogs trained at dog schools and dogs trained at the Clever Dog Lab.

Requirements:
Experience in dog training (training dogs with positive reinforcement in line with the latest scientific findings and in accordance with animal welfare standards) is required. We expect the candidate to be familiar with basic statistics and to be able to fluently talk and write in English.

Further information:
Part of the work will be done at remote places in and around Vienna (dog schools), therefore having a car and a valid driving license is an advantage.

Duration of the thesis: 6 months

Start: January 2022

Language of the thesis: English
 

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Messerli Research Institute

Contact person for the thesis:
Mag. Karin Bayer (Clever Dog Lab manager)

E-Mail: karin.bayer@vetmeduni.ac.at

Telephone: +43 1 25077-2690

 

Short description of the thesis/topic:
The project involves observational and non-invasive experimental work with free-ranging dogs in Morocco (Agadir area). We will investigate the social structure and ecology of packs and physical, cognitive and social skills in both puppies and adult dogs.

Requirements:
Candidates will be required to: Carry out behavioural observations of dogs for at least 8 hours a day (in hot weather conditions); Carry out field experiments; Collect saliva and hair samples; Code behaviours from videos; Take care of data entry/management.

Further information:
Students will learn: Complex behavioural observation methods using different kinds of protocols; Census techniques; Field tests of cognitive skills; Non-invasive hormone, isotope and DNA sample collection; Video analysis

Duration of the thesis: 6 months

Start: January 2022

Language of the thesis: English
 

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Domestication Lab, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology

Contact person for the thesis:
Giulia Cimarelli, PhD

E-Mail: giulia.cimarelli@vetmeduni.ac.at                                   Telephone: /

Feedback from students requested by: 3010.2021
 

Title of the thesis/topic:
Social learning strategies in free-ranging dogs in Morocco

Short description of the thesis/topic:
The project involves observational and non-invasive experimental work with free-ranging dogs in Morocco (Agadir area). We will investigate the social structure and ecology of packs and physical, cognitive and social skills in both puppies and adult dogs.

Requirements:
Candidates will be required to: Carry out behavioural observations of dogs for at least 8 hours a day (in hot weather conditions); Carry out field experiments; Collect saliva and hair samples; Code behaviours from videos; Take care of data entry/management.

Further information:
Students will learn: Complex behavioural observation methods using different kinds of protocols; Census techniques; Field tests of cognitive skills; Non-invasive hormone, isotope and DNA sample collection; Video analysis

Duration of the thesis: 6 months

Start: January 2022

Language of the thesis: English
 

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Domestication Lab, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology

Contact person for the thesis:
Giulia Cimarelli, PhD

E-Mail: giulia.cimarelli@vetmeduni.ac.at                                   Telephone: /

Feedback from students requested by: 3010.2021
 

Short description of the thesis:

Intense research in the last few decades has shown that dogs are extremely good at reading human social and communicative behavior. However, as compared to social cognition, the cognitive abilities of dogs in the physical domain have been relatively sparsely studied. As a result, it still remains unclear what dogs know about physical relations, for instance about the fact that an object can have an impact on the movements of another one (i.e., means-end understanding).

A usual way of studying means-end understanding in animals is Piaget’s support problem”- which involves a goal object (e.g., food) that is out of a subject’s reach, but is resting on a support (e.g., a wooden board) that is within the subject’s reach. The task is based on the assumption that if an animal understands the physical properties of the wooden board it uses it as a means to an end, i.e., pulls the support to get the reward into reach. Animals without means-end understanding will only be able to succeed through repeated exposure allowing for associative learning.

In this study, dogs will be tested in a variation of the support problem – known as the “on/off task”. Dogs will need to retrieve an out-of-reach food reward placed behind a physical barrier (fence). While the reward itself is out of reach, it is physically connected to a wooden board within the dog’s reach. Dogs will be presented with two wooden boards - one board with a food reward on top of it (ON board), and another board with a reward placed next to it (OFF board). Successful retrieval of the treat requires the dogs to pull the appropriate board by pawing the wooden until the treat emerges from under the barrier.

Two groups of dogs will be tested repeatedly in two experimental conditions: 1) in the natural condition, dogs will be able to retrieve the reward by pulling the ON board. The reward placed next to the OFF board will not move if dogs pull on this board; 2) in the magic condition, dogs will be able to retrieve the reward by pulling the OFF board. The reward placed on the ON board will not move if dogs pull on this board. The main hypothesis is that, if solving the task is based on associative learning, dogs will learn the causally correct (i.e., natural) and causally incorrect (i.e., magic version) versions of the task similarly fast. However, if dogs have a certain level of means-end understanding, they will learn faster in the causally correct version than in the magic one.

Testing will take place in the Clever Dog Lab (link) and will be carried out by two master students who will collaborate to 1) conduct the behavioral testing, 2) conduct qualitative/quantitative behaviour coding (live and from videos), and 3) statistically analyse the data.

Requirements:

  • Experience with animal/dog handling
  • Basic knowledge in statistics using R
  • Excellent teamwork skills

 

Further information:

The students will learn how to design behavioral studies, conduct behavioral testing, conduct qualitative/quantitative behaviour coding (live and from videos), and statistically analyse data using the appropriate statistical methods.

Key data of the thesis:

  • Duration of the thesis: 6 months
  • Start: as soon as possible
  • Language of the thesis: English

Key data of the organisational unit:

  • Organisational Unit: Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition Unit/ Clever Dog Lab
  • Contact persons: Christiana Tsiourti (christiana.tsiourti@vetmeduni.ac.at)  /Zsófia Virányi (Zsofia.Viranyi@vetmeduni.ac.at) /

Short description of the thesis/topic:
As part of the project LORN (LeptOspirose bei Rindern in Niederösterreich), we are searching for a motivated student to support us with field work and optimisation of the sampling protocole:

The aim of the diploma thesis is to 1) describe procedures and best practices at slaughterhouse to conduct optimal sampling of kidney tissue and urine from cattle in order to perform culture of Leptospira and PCR-test on the samples and 2) describe the results of the laboratory work. To achieve the objective of the project, field work at the slaughterhouse is required.

Requirements:
•Passed 2nd diploma examination.

•Interest for zoonotic diseases, in particular leptospirosis.

•Driving licence.

Further information:
     

Duration of the thesis: 6 months

Start: 01.11.2021 (or 15.11.2021 depending on the project progress)

Language of the thesis:
 

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
VetFarm / Abteilung für Öffentliches Veterinärwesen und Epidemiologie

Contact person for the thesis:
Ass.-Prof. Amélie Desvars-Larrive

E-Mail: amelie.desvars@vetmeduni.ac.at                                 Telephone: +43 1 25077-3538

Feedback from students requested by: 15.10.2021
 

Kurzbeschreibung der Abschlussarbeit/des Themas:
In response to the EU ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed, there is a growing interest in exploring natural alternatives assisting in maintaining a healthy rumen.The development of an effective feed additive in the favorable modification of ruminal fermentation may pave the way for the reduction of dependency on antibiotics. Sığla oil (sığla storax, Styrax liquidus) is a resinous exudate obtained from the wounded barks of the tree of Liquidambar orientalis. Because of its anti-bacterial and anti-nematode properties, it is thought that it may be an alternative to the prohibited antibiotics. Therefore, the aim of this project is to investigate the effects of two different doses of sığla oil on rumen microbiota and rumen microbial fermentation in comparison to an effective antibiotic, monensin, in the modification of ruminal fermentation using Rusitec (Rumen Simulation Techniquie).

Anforderungen/Erforderliche Kenntnisse:
An interest in ruminant nutrition and rumen health

An interest in learning Rumen simulation technique (Rusitec) and lab analytical methods

Knowledge of English (speaking and writing)

Zusätzliche Bemerkungen zur Abschlussarbeit:
     

Voraussichtliche Dauer der Abschlussarbeit: 3 months

Start: November

Sprache, in der die Abschlussarbeit verfasst werden soll: Deutsch oder Englisch
 

Eckdaten der Organisationseinheit (OE), die die Abschlussarbeit vergibt

Name der Organisationseinheit:
Institut für Tierernährung und Funktionelle Pflanzenstoffe

AnsprechpartnerIn in der Organisationeinheit/BetreuerIn für die Abschlussarbeit:
Prof. Qendrim Zebeli

E-Mail: qendrim.zebeli@vetmeduni.ac.at                                  Telefon: +43 1 25077-3200

Rückmeldung von Interessenten erbeten bis: 22.10.2021
 

Short description of the thesis/topic:
Infection of the intestinal tract with an increasingly recognized number of bacterial pathogens can profoundly disrupt the intestinal function with or without causing overt dehydrating diarrhoea. In literature, there are many ways in which these organisms can cause diarrhoea, by diverse mechanism including enterotoxin/cytotoxin production, or mucosal adhesion to the small intestinal surface. There are many reasons why individuals differ in their susceptibility to infection with enteric pathogens, including their genetic makeup and their ability to mount potent immune responses in the gut. Therefore, the aim of the project is to identify possible alterations in the gut health in response to Campylobacter jejuni. Thus, the announced diploma thesis provides an excellent opportunity to be acquainted with techniques such as histopathology and real-time PCR.

Requirements:
Theoretical knowledge on nutrition and physiology

Further information:
PCR and classical histological techniques will be performed in this project

Duration of the thesis: 3-6 months

Start: as soon as possible

Language of the thesis: English
 

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Unit of Poultry Medicine

Contact person for the thesis:
Dr. Wageha Awad

E-Mail: Wageha.Awad@vetmeduni.ac.at                                  

Telephone: +43 1 25077-4732

Short description of the thesis/topic:
The project involves observational and non-invasive experimental work with free-ranging dogs in Morocco (Agadir area). We will investigate the social structure and ecology of packs and physical, cognitive and social skills in both puppies and adult dogs.

Requirements:
Candidates will be required to: Carry out behavioural observations of dogs for at least 8 hours a day (in hot weather conditions); Carry out field experiments; Collect saliva and hair samples; Code behaviours from videos; Take care of data entry/management.

Further information:
Students will learn: Complex behavioural observation methods using different kinds of protocols; Census techniques; Field tests of cognitive skills; Non-invasive hormone, isotope and DNA sample collection; Video analysis

Duration of the thesis: 6 months

Start: January 2022

Language of the thesis: English
 

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Domestication Lab, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology

Contact person for the thesis:
Giulia Cimarelli, PhD

E-Mail: giulia.cimarelli@vetmeduni.ac.at                                   Telephone: /

Feedback from students requested by: 30.10.2021
 

Short description of the thesis/topic:
The project involves observational and non-invasive experimental work with free-ranging dogs in Morocco (Agadir area). We will investigate the social structure and ecology of packs and physical, cognitive and social skills in both puppies and adult dogs.

Requirements:
Candidates will be required to: Carry out behavioural observations of dogs for at least 8 hours a day (in hot weather conditions); Carry out field experiments; Collect saliva and hair samples; Code behaviours from videos; Take care of data entry/management.

Further information:
Students will learn: Complex behavioural observation methods using different kinds of protocols; Census techniques; Field tests of cognitive skills; Non-invasive hormone, isotope and DNA sample collection; Video analysis

Duration of the thesis: 6 months

Start: January 2022

Language of the thesis: English
 

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Domestication Lab, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology

Contact person for the thesis:
Giulia Cimarelli, PhD

E-Mail: giulia.cimarelli@vetmeduni.ac.at                                   Telephone: /

Feedback from students requested by: 3010.2021
 

Kurzbeschreibung der Abschlussarbeit/des Themas:
Ziel ist die Evaluierung der Frosttiefe nach der Durchlauf-Schockfrostung.

Forschungsfragen:

Wie weit darf/kann/soll der Kristallisierungsprozess in die Tiefe des Teilstücks gehen bzw. eindringen (in cm), ohne dass eine negative Beeinträchtigung auftritt?

Welche Auswirkung hat ein Schockfrosten auf den Fleischsaftaustritt?

Wie wirkt sich das oberflächliche Schockfrosten auf die Fleischfarbe am Anschnitt aus?

Kann Rindfleisch und Schweinefleisch mit den gleichen Temperatur- und Geschwindigkeitseinstellungen im Durchlauffroster befördert werden? Variiert die Eindringtiefe des Kristallisierungsprozess bei Rind und Schwein?
     

Voraussichtliche Dauer der Abschlussarbeit: <6 Monate

Start: ab sofort

Sprache, in der die Abschlussarbeit verfasst werden soll: Deutsch
 

Eckdaten der Organisationseinheit (OE), die die Abschlussarbeit vergibt

Name der Organisationseinheit:
Abteilung für Lebensmittelmikrobiologie

AnsprechpartnerIn in der Organisationeinheit/BetreuerIn für die Abschlussarbeit:
Ass.Prof. Evelyne Selberherr

E-Mail: evelyne.selberherr@vetmeduni.ac.at                            Telefon: +43 1 25077-3510

Rückmeldung von Interessenten erbeten bis: 15.11.2021
 

Kurzbeschreibung der Abschlussarbeit/des Themas:
In response to the EU ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed, there is a growing interest in exploring natural alternatives assisting in maintaining a healthy rumen.The development of an effective feed additive in the favorable modification of ruminal fermentation may pave the way for the reduction of dependency on antibiotics. Sığla oil (sığla storax, Styrax liquidus) is a resinous exudate obtained from the wounded barks of the tree of Liquidambar orientalis. Because of its anti-bacterial and anti-nematode properties, it is thought that it may be an alternative to the prohibited antibiotics. Therefore, the aim of this project is to investigate the effects of two different doses of sığla oil on rumen microbiota and rumen microbial fermentation in comparison to an effective antibiotic, monensin, in the modification of ruminal fermentation using Rusitec (Rumen Simulation Techniquie).

Anforderungen/Erforderliche Kenntnisse:
An interest in ruminant nutrition and rumen health

An interest in learning Rumen simulation technique (Rusitec) and lab analytical methods

Knowledge of English (speaking and writing)
     

Voraussichtliche Dauer der Abschlussarbeit: 3 months

Start: November

Sprache, in der die Abschlussarbeit verfasst werden soll: Deutsch oder Englisch
 

Eckdaten der Organisationseinheit (OE), die die Abschlussarbeit vergibt

Name der Organisationseinheit:
Institut für Tierernährung und Funktionelle Pflanzenstoffe

AnsprechpartnerIn in der Organisationeinheit/BetreuerIn für die Abschlussarbeit:
Prof. Qendrim Zebeli

E-Mail: qendrim.zebeli@vetmeduni.ac.at                                  Telefon: +43 1 25077-3200

Rückmeldung von Interessenten erbeten bis: 22.10.2021
 

Short description of the thesis:

Intense research in the last few decades has shown that dogs are extremely good at reading human social and communicative behavior. However, as compared to social cognition, the cognitive abilities of dogs in the physical domain have been relatively sparsely studied. As a result, it still remains unclear what dogs know about physical relations, for instance about the fact that an object can have an impact on the movements of another one (i.e., means-end understanding).

A usual way of studying means-end understanding in animals is Piaget’s support problem”- which involves a goal object (e.g., food) that is out of a subject’s reach, but is resting on a support (e.g., a wooden board) that is within the subject’s reach. The task is based on the assumption that if an animal understands the physical properties of the wooden board it uses it as a means to an end, i.e., pulls the support to get the reward into reach. Animals without means-end understanding will only be able to succeed through repeated exposure allowing for associative learning.

In this study, dogs will be tested in a variation of the support problem – known as the “on/off task”. Dogs will need to retrieve an out-of-reach food reward placed behind a physical barrier (fence). While the reward itself is out of reach, it is physically connected to a wooden board within the dog’s reach. Dogs will be presented with two wooden boards - one board with a food reward on top of it (ON board), and another board with a reward placed next to it (OFF board). Successful retrieval of the treat requires the dogs to pull the appropriate board by pawing the wooden until the treat emerges from under the barrier.

Two groups of dogs will be tested repeatedly in two experimental conditions: 1) in the natural condition, dogs will be able to retrieve the reward by pulling the ON board. The reward placed next to the OFF board will not move if dogs pull on this board; 2) in the magic condition, dogs will be able to retrieve the reward by pulling the OFF board. The reward placed on the ON board will not move if dogs pull on this board. The main hypothesis is that, if solving the task is based on associative learning, dogs will learn the causally correct (i.e., natural) and causally incorrect (i.e., magic version) versions of the task similarly fast. However, if dogs have a certain level of means-end understanding, they will learn faster in the causally correct version than in the magic one.

Testing will take place in the Clever Dog Lab (link) and will be carried out by two master students who will collaborate to 1) conduct the behavioral testing, 2) conduct qualitative/quantitative behaviour coding (live and from videos), and 3) statistically analyse the data.

Requirements:

  • Experience with animal/dog handling
  • Basic knowledge in statistics using R
  • Excellent teamwork skills

 

Further information:

The students will learn how to design behavioral studies, conduct behavioral testing, conduct qualitative/quantitative behaviour coding (live and from videos), and statistically analyse data using the appropriate statistical methods.

Key data of the thesis:

  • Duration of the thesis: 6 months
  • Start: as soon as possible
  • Language of the thesis: English

Key data of the organisational unit:

  • Organisational Unit: Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition Unit/ Clever Dog Lab
  • Contact persons: Christiana Tsiourti (christiana.tsiourti@vetmeduni.ac.at)  /Zsófia Virányi (Zsofia.Viranyi@vetmeduni.ac.at) /

Title of the thesis/topic:
The Ca2+ connection to Parkinson disease through TMBIM5

Short description of the thesis/topic:
Mitochondria are essential eukaryotic organelles that control cellular energy, metabolism, and survival. Dysfunctions of mitochondrial ion channels are associated with ageing, inflammation, and severe human diseases.

The project focuses on TMBIM5, the mitochondrial member of the evolutionarily conserved transmembrane BAX inhibitor motif containing protein family TMBIM. Recently, identified as an interaction partner of LETM1 with roles in mitochondrial volume and Ca2+ homeostasis, seizures, mitophagy, and cell death, we aim to clarify the structure of TMBIM5 and characterize its interaction with the osmoregulator and seizure candidate LETM1 and the Parkinson disease protein CHCHD2. The findings can be of a high impact in uncovering and shedding light on the pathophysiology of seizures, and Parkinson’s disease.

Requirements:
We are looking for a highly motivated and talented student with a solid background in molecular biology and biochemistry. The experimental work involves state of the art techniques in molecular biology; cloning, site-directed mutagenesis, agarose gel analysis, immunoblotting analysis, co-immunoprecipitation analysis of total cell lysates and isolated mitochondria, cell culture techniques, and high-resolution confocal laser microscopy imaging.

The successful candidate should have a passion for research and is doing a master’s study in molecular biology, genetics or biochemistry or an equivalent course, completed (or about to complete) all theoretical courses, with wet-Lab experiences, good English, (and German) language skills.

Further information:

We offer:

  •  A highly supportive work environment for competitive frontier research at the Mitochondrial Biology Group, Unit of Physiology and Biophysics, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna.
  • Teamwork and guidance during the experiments and writing of the thesis by supervisor and colleagues.
  •  Participation in workshops and other scientific activities.

The position is funded by the Austrian Science Funds FWF

Who we are:

  • The Mitochondria Biology Group is affiliated to the unit of physiology, pathophysiology, and biophysics at the department of biomedical sciences of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, located at the Vetmeduni campus (Veterinärplatz 1); we study mitochondrial ion and volume homeostasis using yeast, mammalian cells, zebrafish and Drosophila. We mainly focus on Ca2+ and K+ transporters and their metabolic role on mitochondrial, cellular and organismal  pathology and physiology.

Duration of the thesis:One year

Start: 01.07.2022

Language of the thesis:
English

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Institute of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Biophysics / Unit of Physiology and Biophysics / Mitochondrial Biology Group

Contact person for the thesis:
Ass. Prof. Dr. Karin Nowikovsky

Feedback from students requested by: 15.06.2022

The objective of the  Master thesis is to compare different procedures of training dogs to engage with visual discrimination on the basis of classical and/or instrumental conditioning. The basic principle of autoshaping, which is a type of conditioning that occurs when an animal learns to respond to a stimulus without reinforcement, has proven highly efficient in pigeons. A brief illumination of a response button before the delivery of food results in the pigeon learning to peck the button whenever it is illuminated. However, in dogs this doesn’t work in the same manner. The reason is that for the pigeon the illuminated button serves as a substitute of the food reward, which elicits the natural foraging response, pecking. In dogs, the light does not serve as food substitute, and therefore the dog has to be “lured” or shaped to make a response to the stimulus. Subsequently the reinforcer is made contingent on the newly acquired response to the stimulus – touching the button is immediately reinforced with food – so bringing it under operant control. The aim of this diploma thesis is to compare different ways of “luring” or shaping the dog to make a response to the stimulus. A further goal is to compare dogs trained at dog schools and dogs trained at the Clever Dog Lab.

Requirements:
Experience in dog training (training dogs with positive reinforcement in line with the latest scientific findings and in accordance with animal welfare standards) is required. We expect the candidate to be familiar with basic statistics and to be able to fluently talk and write in English.

Further information:
Part of the work will be done at remote places in and around Vienna (dog schools), therefore having a car and a valid driving license is an advantage.

Duration of the thesis: 6 months

Start: January 2022

Language of the thesis: English
 

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Messerli Research Institute

Contact person for the thesis:
Mag. Karin Bayer (Clever Dog Lab manager)

E-Mail: karin.bayer@vetmeduni.ac.at

Telephone: +43 1 25077-2690

Dogs are not only able to identify humans (e.g. their caregiver) visually, but they are also able to discirminate emotional expressions of human faces (Müller et al., 2015, Current Biology). The aim of this diploma thesis is to test the hypothesis that dogs, like humans, need to add some positive emotions to a (protoypical) neutral face, i.e. the poser's facial muscles are relaxed (Ekman and Friesen, 1978), to be regarded as emotionally neutral (between positive and negative). We know that humans need to "add" about 25% of happiness in a face so that it is perceived as neutral (morphing studies, e.g. Phillips et al. 1997 Nature). Is it the same for dogs? We would train dogs to discriminate between two human faces, one with a positive, the other with a negative expression, and then intersperse in the generalization phase morphed faces between the end points, among them the intermediate face, i.e. the one that lies in the middle of the morph dimension between the training faces. This thesis would require visual discrimination training of dogs using the touchscreen apparatus. Dogs will be recruited from dog owners in Vienna and trained in the Clever Dog Lab.

Requirements:
Experience in dog training (training dogs with positive reinforcement in line with the latest scientific findings and in accordance with animal welfare standards) is required. We expect the candidate to be familiar with basic statistics and to be able to fluently talk and write in English.

Further information:
Advanced computer skills are an advantage (morphing).

Duration of the thesis: 6 months

Start: January 2022

Language of the thesis: English
 

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Messerli Research Institute

Contact person for the thesis:
Mag. Karin Bayer (Clever Dog Lab manager)

E-Mail: karin.bayer@vetmeduni.ac.at

Telephone: +43 1 25077-2690

Short description of the thesis:

Intense research in the last few decades has shown that dogs are extremely good at reading human social and communicative behavior. However, as compared to social cognition, the cognitive abilities of dogs in the physical domain have been relatively sparsely studied. As a result, it still remains unclear what dogs know about physical relations, for instance about the fact that an object can have an impact on the movements of another one (i.e., means-end understanding).

A usual way of studying means-end understanding in animals is Piaget’s “support problem”- which involves a goal object (e.g., food) that is out of a subject’s reach, but is resting on a support (e.g., a wooden board) that is within the subject’s reach. The task is based on the assumption that if an animal understands the physical properties of the wooden board it uses it as a means to an end, i.e., pulls the support to get the reward into reach. Animals without means-end understanding will only be able to succeed through repeated exposure allowing for associative learning.

In this study, dogs will be tested in a variation of the support problem – known as the “on/off task”. Dogs will need to retrieve an out-of-reach food reward placed behind a physical barrier (fence). While the reward itself is out of reach, it is physically connected to a wooden board within the dog’s reach. Dogs will be presented with two wooden boards - one board with a food reward on top of it (ON board), and another board with a reward placed next to it (OFF board). Successful retrieval of the treat requires the dogs to pull the appropriate board by pawing the wooden until the treat emerges from under the barrier.

Two groups of dogs will be tested repeatedly in two experimental conditions: 1) in the natural condition, dogs will be able to retrieve the reward by pulling the ON board. The reward placed next to the OFF board will not move if dogs pull on this board; 2) in the magic condition, dogs will be able to retrieve the reward by pulling the OFF board. The reward placed on the ON board will not move if dogs pull on this board. The main hypothesis is that, if solving the task is based on associative learning, dogs will learn the causally correct (i.e., natural) and causally incorrect (i.e., magic version) versions of the task similarly fast. However, if dogs have a certain level of means-end understanding, they will learn faster in the causally correct version than in the magic one.

Testing will take place in the Clever Dog Lab (link) and will be carried out by two master students who will collaborate to 1) conduct the behavioral testing, 2) conduct qualitative/quantitative behaviour coding (live and from videos), and 3) statistically analyse the data.

Requirements:

  • Experience with animal/dog handling
  • Basic knowledge in statistics using R
  • Excellent teamwork skills

 

Further information:

The students will learn how to design behavioral studies, conduct behavioral testing, conduct qualitative/quantitative behaviour coding (live and from videos), and statistically analyse data using the appropriate statistical methods.

Key data of the thesis:

  • Duration of the thesis: 6 months
  • Start: as soon as possible
  • Language of the thesis: English

Key data of the organisational unit:

  • Organisational Unit: Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition Unit/ Clever Dog Lab
  • Contact persons: Christiana Tsiourti (christiana.tsiourti@vetmeduni.ac.at)  /Zsófia Virányi (Zsofia.Viranyi@vetmeduni.ac.at) /

Level of employment: full time (30 hours/week)
Length of employment: 3-4 years
Deadline for applications: 1.12.2021 (position will remain vacant until filled)
Start: January 2022 or any time thereafter (negotiable)
Project Description
Several Doctoral/PhD positions are open at the Christian-Doppler Christian-Doppler-Laboratory for Innovative Gut Health Concepts in Livestock (CDL-LiveGUT) located at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna/Austria. In a nutshell, the aim of the research is to understand the molecular basis of rumen/gut microbiome × host interactions both driven from the animal individual characteristics and the diet. Upon this knowledge, feeding strategies will be tested to better exploit the such benefical interactions and enhance gastrointestinal health. The CDL-LiveGUT is joint research cluster that brings together various disciplines of animal nutrition, microbial ecology, gut physiology, and biomarker discovery, with a main goal to enhance gut health in farm animals by developing early biomarkers of gut health disorders and feeding approaches to prevent them.

www.cdg.ac.at/forschungseinheiten/labor/innovative-darmgesundheitskonzepte-bei-nutztieren


Tasks
Under close guidance of senior researchers and laboratory staff, the main tasks of the positions are:
• Preparation of the experimental protocols
• Performance of the animal experiments, as well as ex vivo and in vitro trials
• Laboratory analyses using various platforms such as chemical, molecular biological and immunohistochemistry
• Data analysis using various data mining approaches
• Preparation of manuscripts for scientific journals and research reports
• Dissemination of research data at conferences, meetings and other venues
• Participation in journal clubs, seminars and courses of the graduate school
• Assisting in teaching some classes relative to their PhD program
Requirements
We are seeking highly motivated and creative young scientists. Candidates with strong interests in animal nutrition, digestive physiology, and animal health are welcome to apply. They will be part of a large team at the CDL-LiveGUT, so that a teamwork spirit is necessary. Other specific requirements are:
• Diploma/MSc in Veterinary Science, Animal Science, Biological Sciences or with similar backgrounds
• Experience/interests and curiosity for advanced animal research
www.vetmeduni.ac.at/tierernaehrung
• The candidates with backgrounds in biology/molecular biology with animal experience are highly preferred
• Excellent working knowledge of English
Remuneration, benefits and contact application
The positions are for up to 4 years and will lead to graduation. The actual monthly remuneration for a PhD position at the University is 2.228,60 EUR (paid 14 times per year) with a 3% yearly increment. The employment includes also an attractive social security, health insurance and retirement package. Furthermore, in the framework of the University support program for employees several other benefits are available such as Christmas vouchers, professional coaching, language courses, health consultations etc. The employment place will be at the Campus of the University and at University Research Farm in Kremesberg (around 50 km from Vienna).
Contact /Further Information
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Qendrim Zebeli, T +43 1-25077-3200, E qendrim.zebeli@vetmeduni.ac.at
www.vetmeduni.ac.at/tierernaehrung
To apply, please send your application (CV, short description of research interests, copies of certificates obtained, reference contacts and any eventual publication list) to: qendrim.zebeli@vetmeduni.ac.at. Review of applications will start by December 1, 2021. Positions will remain vacant until adequate applicants are hired.

Short description of the thesis/topic:

Digitalisation in livestock farming is advancing rapidly. One of the factors contributing to this development is the increasing use of sensor technologies, e.g. for animal monitoring. In this context, Precision Livestock Farming technologies support the management of animals by continuous, automated, real-time monitoring of production/reproduction, health and welfare, integrating a bioengineering approach to human-animal interaction that offers wide-ranging applications and benefits. This PhD position is organised in collaboration between the Clinical Unit for Herd Health Management in Ruminants and the Precision Livestock Farming HUB of the Vetmeduni Vienna. The project focuses on the development of automated methods for image based monitoring of parturition in cows and pigs. The project will have several phases. In the first phase, the focus will be on a post hoc investigation of videos to develop an algorithm for automated classification of animal posture and behaviour. This will allow establishing the technological foundation and will help to acquire basic knowledge on the relationship between parturition and sensor-captured specific behaviors. In a next step, an algorithm for real-time monitoring of parturition will be developed and tested.

Requirements:

  • University degree in a relevant field of biology, veterinary medicine, computer science, bio-engineering, engineering or equivalent degree
  • Very good German and English language skills in spoken and written (B2)
  • Interest in data analysis and programming
  • Class B driving licence
  • Knowledge in computer programming (MATLAB, Python, R)
  • Knowledge in handling of farm animals
  • Knowledge in behavioural data analysis
  • Experience with sensor use in biology
  • Craftsmanship • Team spirit
  • Ability to work under pressure, independent and problem-solving oriented
  • Scientific publications would be a plus
  • Experience with deep learning frameworks would be a plus

Further information:

The minimum salary for university staff is regulated by the collective contract and at the level given above amounts to EUR 2,293.95 gross per month. The minimum salary may be increased when previous employment and other salary components are taken into account.

Duration of the thesis: 3 years

Start: from 1.7.2022 

Language of the thesis: English

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit): Clinical Unit for Herd Health Management

Contact person for the thesis:
Dr. Michael Iwersen

E-Mail: michael.iwersen@vetmeduni.ac.at    Telefon: +43 2672/82335-32

Feedback from students requested by: 15.5.2022

Short description of the thesis/topic:
Over the past years, Vienna has developed into one of the leading centres of population genetics. The Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics has been founded to provide a training opportunity for PhD students to build on this excellent on-site expertise.

We invite applications from highly motivated and outstanding students with a love for evolutionary research and a background in one of the following disciplines: evolutionary genetics, functional genetics, theoretical or experimental population genetics, bioinformatics, mathematics, statistics.

Topics include:

•              Did selfish DNA from Neanderthals infect our human genomes?

•              Evolution from de novo mutations - influence of elevated mutation rates.

•              Evolution of sex-specific neuronal signaling.

•              Impact of para-mutations on the invasion dynamics of TEs.

•              Inference of selection signatures from time-series data.

•              Invasion dynamics of different TEs.

•              Leveraging long-read sequencing for population genetics of TEs.

•              Long-term dynamics of local Drosophila populations.

•              Studying the evolution of gene expression with single cell RNA-Seq.

•              Studying speciation during experimental evolution.

•              Temperature adaptation in Drosophila: phenotypic adaptation.

Requirements:
Only complete applications (application form, CV, motivation letter, university certificates, indication of the two preferred topics in a single pdf) received by April 21, 2022 will be considered. Two letters of recommendation need to be sent directly by the referees.

Further information:
PhD students will receive a monthly salary based on currently EUR 2.237,60 before tax according to the regulations of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

Duration of the thesis: 3 years

Start: September 2022

Language of the thesis: English
 

Contact details:

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics

Contact person for the thesis:
Dr. Julia Hosp

E-Mail: julia.hosp@vetmeduni.ac.at     

Feedback from students requested by: 21.04.2022

 

Short description of the thesis/topic:
Our relationship with wolves and dogs extends back at least 30,000 years. While wolves are often feared, dogs have become a valued part of our lives. This perception appears to influence also our scientific discourse, where domestication hypotheses posit a shift in temperament from a more aggressive wolf to a gentler, friendlier dog. However, recent results of studies comparing similarly raised wolves and dogs suggest a more complicated picture. As part of a larger project including studies on humans, this PhD thesis will focus on two aspects: first, if a person’s attitude towards wolves and dogs affects his/her behavior towards them, eliciting specific reactions from the animals. Second, if the animals’ behaviors are in line with the hypersociability, the emotional reactivity or our own ‘deferential domestication hypothesis’. To investigate how our attitudes towards wolves and dogs influence the animal’s behaviours, we will observe the animal trainers and scientist as the Wolf Science Center in interactions with the animals and test the most prominent domestication hypotheses by comparing the human-directed behaviours of wolves and dogs raised and kept similarly, and pet dogs.

Requirements:
Eligible candidates will have a master’s degree (or Diplom) in Biology, Veterinary Medicine, Psychology, or related disciplines, research experience in animal behavior, a genuine understanding of animal cognition and a strong commitment to basic science. Practical skills in empirical work with dogs are beneficial, but not a precondition.

Further information:

The Domestication Lab (VetMedUni Vienna): highly interactive and stimulating environment for doctoral students, with particular strengths in animal behaviour and evolution. The successful candidate would benefit from frequent interactions with postgraduates, postdocs and PIs, including journal clubs, seminars, and discussion groups. For more information, please visit: www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/konrad-lorenz-institute-of-ethology/research/domestication-range-lab

Duration of the thesis: 36 months
Start: September 2022
Language of the thesis: English

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit):
Domestication Lab, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology
Contact person for the thesis:
Associate Prof. Dr. Friederike Range
E-Mail: friederike.range@vetmeduni.ac.at
Telephone: +43 (1) 25077 - 2685


Feedback from students requested by: 30.04.2022

Short description of the thesis/topic:
Problem solving abilities are thought to be shaped by natural selection as a response to the species-specific challenges of their social-ecological environment. Dogs and wolves, diverged only relatively recently, but vary significantly in several factors of their social and ecological environments. They also show marked differences in their problem-solving abilities, with wolves often outperforming dogs. However, it is unclear whether this difference comes from their cognitive abilities (e.g. learning and inferential reasoning), motivation (e.g. persistence and neophobia) or general-purpose mechanisms (e.g. attention, working memory) and which selective pressures have shaped them. In the framework of the PhD, the student will test wolves and dogs that have had similar experiences throughout their lifetime as well as pet (and free-ranging dogs) in a series of paradigms measuring inferential reasoning skills including reasoning by exclusion, diagnostic and predictive inferences as well as their understanding of physical laws.

Requirements:
Eligible candidates will have a master’s degree (or Diplom) in Biology, Veterinary Medicine, Psychology, or related disciplines, research experience in animal behavior, a genuine understanding of animal cognition and a strong commitment to basic science. Practical skills in empirical work with dogs are beneficial, but not a precondition.

Further information:

The Domestication Lab (VetMedUni Vienna): highly interactive and stimulating environment for doctoral students, with particular strengths in animal behaviour and evolution. The successful candidate would benefit from frequent interactions with postgraduates, postdocs and PIs, including journal clubs, seminars, and discussion groups. For more information, please visit: www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/konrad-lorenz-institute-of-ethology/research/domestication-range-lab

Duration of the thesis: 36 months
Start: March 2022
Language of the thesis: English

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit): Domestication Lab, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology

Contact person for the thesis: Associate Prof. Dr. Friederike Range
E-Mail: friederike.range@vetmeduni.ac.at
Telephone: +43 (1) 25077 - 2685

Feedback from students requested by: 31.01.2022

Short description of the thesis/topic:
Learning from conspecifics can be one of the least expensive mechanisms to acquire information about the environment. But information provided by others can also be misleading, so animals employ specific strategies to decide when, what, and from whom to learn depending on the context. Free-ranging dogs live in a varied and fast-changing environment and are characterized by a complex social structure, thus providing a perfect model to investigate the environmental factors and social dynamics affecting the use of social learning. Moreover, thanks to the unique foraging style of free-ranging dogs, it is possible to explore the use of social learning across different foraging tasks. The project aims at investigating how social dynamics (e.g. relatedness, affiliation, dominance) affect the transmission of different types of information (varying in complexity). The project involves observational and non-invasive experimental work (e.g. open diffusion experiments) with free-ranging dogs in Morocco (Agadir area).


Requirements:
Eligible candidates will have a master’s degree (or Diplom) in Biology, Veterinary Medicine, Psychology, or related disciplines, research experience in animal behavior, a genuine understanding of animal cognition and a strong commitment to basic science. Practical skills in empirical work with dogs are beneficial, but not a precondition.

Further information:
The Domestication Lab (VetMedUni Vienna): highly interactive and stimulating environment for doctoral students, with particular strengths in animal behaviour and evolution. The successful candidate would benefit from frequent interactions with postgraduates, postdocs and PIs, including journal clubs, seminars, and discussion groups. For more information, please visit: https://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/konrad-lorenz-institute-of-ethology/research/domestication-range-lab


Duration of the thesis: 36 months
Start: March 2022
Language of the thesis: English

Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit): Domestication Lab, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology

Contact person for the thesis: Giulia Cimarelli, PhD
E-Mail: giulia.cimarelli@vetmeduni.ac.at
Telephone: +43 (1) 25077 - 2673
Feedback from students requested by: 31.01.2022

Short description of the thesis/topic: Over the past years, Vienna has developed into one of the leading centres of population genetics. The Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics has been founded to provide a training opportunity for PhD students to build on this excellent on-site expertise.
We invite applications from highly motivated and outstanding students with a love for evolutionary research and a background in one of the following disciplines: evolutionary genetics, functional genetics, theoretical or experimental population genetics, bioinformatics, mathematics, statistics.
Topics include:
- Are piRNA clusters the central force limiting the abundance of selfish DNA?
- Evolution from de novo mutations - influence of elevated mutation rates.
- Evolution of sex-specific neuronal signaling.
- Identifying signatures of adaptation using time-series genomic and phenotypic data.
- Inference of selection signatures from time-series data.
- Invasion dynamics of selfish DNA
- Long-term dynamics of local Drosophila populations.
- Microbiome evolution in Drosophila.
- Temperature adaptation in Drosophila: phenotypic adaptation.
Requirements: Only complete applications (application form, CV, motivation letter, university certificates, indication of the two preferred topics in a single pdf) received by December 12, 2021 will be considered. Two letters of recommendation need to be sent directly by the referees.
Further information: PhD students will receive a monthly salary based on currently EUR 2.237,60 before tax according to the regulations of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

Duration of the thesis: 3 years
Start: February 2022
Language of the thesis: English

Contact details:
Name of the organisational unit (Institute/Clinic/Unit): Vienna Graduate School of Population Genetics
Contact person for the thesis: Dr. Julia Hosp
E-Mail: julia.hosp@vetmeduni.ac.at Telephone: +43 1 25077-4302
Feedback from students requested by: 12.12.2021

Level of employment: full time (30 hours/week)
Length of employment: 3-4 years
Deadline for applications: 1.12.2021 (position will remain vacant until filled)
Start: January 2022 or any time thereafter (negotiable)
Project Description
Several Doctoral/PhD positions are open at the Christian-Doppler Christian-Doppler-Laboratory for Innovative Gut Health Concepts in Livestock (CDL-LiveGUT) located at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna/Austria. In a nutshell, the aim of the research is to understand the molecular basis of rumen/gut microbiome × host interactions both driven from the animal individual characteristics and the diet. Upon this knowledge, feeding strategies will be tested to better exploit the such benefical interactions and enhance gastrointestinal health. The CDL-LiveGUT is joint research cluster that brings together various disciplines of animal nutrition, microbial ecology, gut physiology, and biomarker discovery, with a main goal to enhance gut health in farm animals by developing early biomarkers of gut health disorders and feeding approaches to prevent them.

www.cdg.ac.at/forschungseinheiten/labor/innovative-darmgesundheitskonzepte-bei-nutztieren


Tasks
Under close guidance of senior researchers and laboratory staff, the main tasks of the positions are:
• Preparation of the experimental protocols
• Performance of the animal experiments, as well as ex vivo and in vitro trials
• Laboratory analyses using various platforms such as chemical, molecular biological and immunohistochemistry
• Data analysis using various data mining approaches
• Preparation of manuscripts for scientific journals and research reports
• Dissemination of research data at conferences, meetings and other venues
• Participation in journal clubs, seminars and courses of the graduate school
• Assisting in teaching some classes relative to their PhD program
Requirements
We are seeking highly motivated and creative young scientists. Candidates with strong interests in animal nutrition, digestive physiology, and animal health are welcome to apply. They will be part of a large team at the CDL-LiveGUT, so that a teamwork spirit is necessary. Other specific requirements are:
• Diploma/MSc in Veterinary Science, Animal Science, Biological Sciences or with similar backgrounds
• Experience/interests and curiosity for advanced animal research
www.vetmeduni.ac.at/tierernaehrung
• The candidates with backgrounds in biology/molecular biology with animal experience are highly preferred
• Excellent working knowledge of English
Remuneration, benefits and contact application
The positions are for up to 4 years and will lead to graduation. The actual monthly remuneration for a PhD position at the University is 2.228,60 EUR (paid 14 times per year) with a 3% yearly increment. The employment includes also an attractive social security, health insurance and retirement package. Furthermore, in the framework of the University support program for employees several other benefits are available such as Christmas vouchers, professional coaching, language courses, health consultations etc. The employment place will be at the Campus of the University and at University Research Farm in Kremesberg (around 50 km from Vienna).
Contact /Further Information
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Qendrim Zebeli, T +43 1-25077-3200, E qendrim.zebeli@vetmeduni.ac.at
www.vetmeduni.ac.at/tierernaehrung
To apply, please send your application (CV, short description of research interests, copies of certificates obtained, reference contacts and any eventual publication list) to: qendrim.zebeli@vetmeduni.ac.at. Review of applications will start by December 1, 2021. Positions will remain vacant until adequate applicants are hired.