The Group of Animal Nutrition at ETH Zurich (ETHZ) and the Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife of the Vetsuisse Faculty at the University of Zurich (UZH) seek to fill the position of one PhD candidate (4 years) for a study on the long term effects of weaning calves on a specific diet.

Project background: The short-term effects of different diets on calf development have been documented in the past, but the long-term effects (‘nutritional programming’) of a specific diet on digestive physiology and susceptibility to health problems have not been studied much in ruminants so far.

The project is led by Prof. Marcus Clauss (UZH) in cooperation with Prof. Paweł Gorka (the University of Agriculture in Krakow) and consists of at least one full year of experimental animal work (severity grade 1 on a scale from 0 to 3) with calves growing into cattle at the AgroVet Strickhof Facilities of the UZH and the ETH Zurich. There will be intensive interaction with the ETH Zurich’s Prof. of Animal Nutrition, Mutian Niu. The project is funded by the National Science Centre (Poland) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), and has the potential to change feeding recommendations for newborn ruminants.

Job description

  • Acquiring the preconditions in Switzerland to perform an animal experiment with cattle (EGA or LTK module 20; costs covered).
  • Preparing the logistics for an already designed animal experiment.
  • Performing the experiment (with various levels of support) including the repeated  (3 batches) caring for calves, feed and faecal collection, and participation in sampling of body tissues after slaughter.
  • Data analysis of this and a parallel experiment performed with sheep in Poland, with a focus on the behavioural data.
  • Project management incl. efficient communication with project partners.
  • Preparation of scientific publications and conference contributions.
  • Supervision of undergraduate level students (BSc, MSc).
  • Participation in continuing education activities (journal clubs etc.) at the Clinic or Prof. Niu’s animal nutrition group.

Your profile

  • A Master’s degree in either:
    • veterinary medicine,
    • biology or
    • agricultural or animal sciences; eligible for a PhD at ETH Zurich Doctorate.
  • High sense of responsibility for animals in our care.
  • Ease and comfort in the handling of large animals, and practice-based confidence to be able to care for animals in a way that benefits them, is an advantage.
  • Absence of social hierarchical thinking: you will sometimes clean animal stables, collect faeces at night time, and you will see your supervisor do the same, and animal keepers do the same. You do not have issues with, at times, doing menial work, and following orders from people of any education or gender.
  • Team-oriented approach and good communication skills.
  • Interest in large mammal biology, digestive physiology, behaviour and husbandry.
  • Experience with data processing and statistical analyses is an advantage.
  • You rather thrive when asked to multi-task than when focussing on a single task, and are ready to work unusual hours during the experimental stage.
  • Reading scientific literature is a pleasure, not a plight, for you.

We offer

Excellent research infrastructure, a salary according to cantonal (Zurich) regulations, and the project itself that also includes short periods of work at Krakow. Additionally, the 4 years of employment open the possibility to pursue interests shared with the supervisor, in the realm of domestic or nondomestic animal management, nutrition and health. See the supervisor’s homepage, Researchgate or google scholar profile for an overview.

Place of work: office at the ‘Animal Hospital’ Campus of the Vetsuisse Faculty of Zurich; large parts of experimental work at the AgroVet Strickhof Facility in Lindau, Eschikon.

Start of employment: the earliest starting date is January 2023.

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

Please note applications sent via email or postal services will not be considered. Interested applicants must upload the following documents through the ETH Zurich online application portal.

  • CV
  • Letter of motivation
  • Certificates
  • Bachelor and master transcripts and certificates (incomplete MSc. transcript is fine if the candidate is finishing the MSc. study)
  • Names, affiliation, and contact details for at least 2 reference persons (in 1 single pdf document)
  • Any publications or qualification theses as separate pdfs

Contact Prof. Marcus Clause ( for further questions. Applications will be will be considered from September 30, 2022, until the position is filled.

Apply online now

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