• Easter Bush, Roslin Institute Building

    EH25 9RG Midlothian

    United Kingdom


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

My interest lies in understanding the fundamental drivers of individual variation in social behaviour and using this knowledge to develop applied solutions to welfare problems in livestock. The work uses aggression in pigs as a model system due to its major economic and welfare impacts and large between-individual variation. I also work on the welfare of beef cattle. Recent focuses in this area include the effect of maternal body condition on calf welfare outcomes and on the interaction between stress and the rumen microbiome.  


As Principal Investigator (total cash value of £3,095,588 (£1,805,770 awarded in last 5 years).

BBSRC, Pig Improvement Company and SRUC. Exploring the role of nutrition in expression of positive and negative social behaviours to improve pig welfare. EASTBIO Doctoral Training Programme. (Oct 2021 – Sept 2025; cash value £97,856; in-kind value £89,000; total value £186,856).

BBSRC: ‘Operationalising social competence and estimating its genetic and genomic basis to improve the welfare of pigs’. (April 2021-Oct 2024; cash value £727,732, in-kind value £647,760; total value £1,375,492).

BBSRC: ‘Determining how cognitive ability and affective state impact assessment strategies during aggressive contests to improve pig welfare after regrouping’. (Jan 2020 – Jan 2023; £604,403)

SRUC and Michigan State University PhD studentship: ‘The match between precision livestock technologies and the needs and constraints of farmers and veterinary surgeons’. (Sept 2019 – March 2023; £81,681).

SRUC and Queen’s University Belfast PhD studentship: ‘The role of cognitive ability and affective state during aggressive encounters: implications for contest behaviour and animal welfare’. (Sept. 2018 – March 2022; £81,128).

Government of Costa Rica PhD studentship: ‘The effects of stress on the ruminal microbial environment in beef cattle and its relationship to feed efficiency and methane emissions’. (May 2016-April 2019; US$183,677).

SRUC PhD studentship: ‘Demand driven solutions to reduce aggression between pigs’. (October 2016-March 2020; £80,970).

Walsh Fellowship: ‘Balancing short and long-term aggression in pigs to maximise welfare and productivity. (January 2015-December 2017; £55,000).

BBSRC: ‘Understanding assessment strategies during aggressive encounters in pigs to improve welfare following regrouping’. (October 2013 - September 2016; £579,177).

EU Marie Currie research fellowship: ‘Understanding the contribution of cattle behaviour to variations in feed efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions and the welfare consequences of improving environmental sustainability’ (April 2013-March 2015; £200,000).

Defra: ‘Study to provide scientific evidence on whether cage-based breeding for pheasants and partridges can fully meet birds’ needs, and if not, to identify best practice for improving the breeding environment for gamebirds’. (November 2010-December 2012; £425,642)

Quality Meat Scotland: ‘Goodbeef 1; Effect of temperament on meat quality’. (April 2008-March 2009; £9999).

Scottish Executive (Co-PI): ‘Handling beef cattle: Identifying research needs and knowledge transfer opportunities to improve human safety and animal welfare’ (Oct 2002-Sept 2003; £20,000).



As Co-Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator (total cash value of £3,738,555 (£2,088,014 awarded in last 5 years)); total value to SRUC 1,326,536)

Polish National Centre for Science, Opus 20 (Co-PI; led by Polish Academy of Sciences): ‘The importance of social relationships and social bonds for animals’ behavioural expression, health and fitness’. (July 2021-Aug 2024; £323,595; SRUC receives joint post-doctoral position and PhD studentship).

USDA AFRI Foundation (Co-PI; led by Michigan State University): ‘Understanding precision livestock farming adoption in the U.S. swine industry: Examining needs, perceptions, and willingness-to-pay of users and consumers’ (June 2021-May 2026, $1,000,000; SRUC component £134,228).

Scottish Government Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (Co-I): ‘Feeding for fertility in the suckler herd’. (Dec 2019 – Nov 2020; £74,504).

Roslin Institute Flexible Mobility Talents Award (Co-PI; led by University of Edinburgh): ‘Determining genetic effects underlying group-level aggression in pigs to improve animal welfare and productivity’. (May 2020-July 2020; £13,700).

Universities Innovation Fund (Co-PI): ‘Advancing performance on Scottish beef farms through improving body condition scoring skills’. (Oct 2018-Oct 2019; £38,214).

USDA (Co-PI; led by Michigan State University): ‘Phenomics and genomics of behavioural and growth traits in group-housed pigs’. (April 2017 – March 2020, $999,863; SRUC component £148,099).

Open Philanthropy Project (Co-I; led by University of Edinburgh): ‘Healthy animals, healthy food, healthy planet’. (June 2017-April 2019, £200,000).

Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark Green Development and Demonstration Programme (Co-I; led by SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre): ‘Selection for feed efficiency and behaviour of pigs in groups’ (July 2015 – June 2019, SRUC component DKK365,494 / £42,881).

USDA (Co-PI; led by Michigan State University): ‘Reducing production losses using behavioral and genomic tools to identify pigs suited to group living’ (April 2014 – March 2017; $749,037, SRUC component £46,229).

US National Pork Board (Co-I; led by Michigan State University): ‘Using behavioral and genomic tools to identify pigs suited for group living’ (May 2014-May 2016; $96,747).

BBSRC CASE studentship (Co-PI): ‘Genomic and environmental dissection of social aggressiveness and feeding behaviour in pigs’ (November 2011 – September 2015; £122,332).

BPEX (Co-I): ‘For the development of an effective methodology for monitoring health and welfare status in the pig industry and to establish the current baseline health and welfare status of pigs in England’ (July 2012 – June 2014; £123,017).

Defra (Co-PI): ‘Study to examine and enhance understanding of current animal welfare monitoring practices in UK slaughterhouses’. MH0148 (November 2011-April 2012; £51,582).

Danish Pig Research Centre (Co-I): ‘Working together to advance pig welfare through applied science’ (September 2010 – May 2013; £117,450).

EU (Co-I; led by IZSAM and University of Milan): ‘Training courses in animal welfare in pig production’. (June 2013-November 2014; £50,000). Service contract number 2012 96 04.

EU FP6 (Co-PI): ‘SABRE: Pig aggression, stress and meat quality’ (April 2006-2010; £135,400).

Quality Meat Scotland (Co-PI): ‘Goodbeef 2; Temperament, tenderness and tenderness prediction’. (May 2009-March 2010; £65,000).

EU Welfare Quality (Co-PI) ‘WP 6.1 Social stress: Evaluating the feasibility and desirability of selection for reduced aggression in pigs’ (April 2004-2009; £77,600).


PhD: Completed (all on time): 3 as first supervisor; 5 as co-supervisor. On-going: 3 as first supervisor.

MSc: Supervise 2-4 per year since 1999. 


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