Living lab for precision dairy health technologies: understanding and evaluating user engagement

Closing Date
Friday, 10th December 2021
Veterinary Medicine & Science

Principal supervisor: Prof Jasmeet Kaler

Other SVMS supervisors: Dr. Jorge Vazquez Diosdado, Dr. Peter Down

Industry supervisor: Peter Curtis 

 Project description:

This exciting opportunity is based within the Ruminant Population Health group at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science which conducts cutting-edge research into the health and welfare of UK cattle and sheep, and is a founder member of the national ‘Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock’ (CIEL) with recently opened ‘Centre for Dairy Science Innovation’. 

The industry funder and partner is Chordata ( a technology company that has developed an implantable microchip and wearable solution, which will be the first sensor technology to introduce metabolic marker analysis through real time remote monitoring, and analysis of nutrition and fertility markers in dairy and nutrition and stress in beef animals. 

The most crucial aspect of a successful technological innovation is understanding and evaluating stakeholders needs. Living Labs methodologies include co-creation of innovations in real-world contexts, by involving multiple stakeholders, with the objective of generating sustainable value for all stakeholders, while focusing on the end-user. These methodologies have been widely used in IoT spaces and can provide user-centric research for prototyping, refining and validating IoT product outcomes. To date the use of these methodologies in the co-creation of precision livestock technologies is still limited.

The aim of this PhD is to understand and evaluate dairy stakeholders needs for the innovative Chordata technology using the Living Lab FormIT methodology which is grounded in the theoretical streams of Soft Systems Thinking (Checkland 1981; Checkland and Scholes 1990), Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider and Avital 2004; Norum 2001), and NeedFinding (Patnaik and Becker 1999).

This PhD is unique as it will enable understanding and evaluation of dairy stakeholders needs for the innovative Chordata technology using Living Lab FormIT methodology. The project includes three phases: 1) generate needs, 2) evaluate concept and 3) innovation testing. In the first phase using both quantitative and qualitative methods we will identify current systems strengths and unmet needs by using narratives of both “what is” and “what might be” with stakeholders (eg farmers, vets, nutritionists and consultants). During the second phase the Chordata concept will be presented to users to collect data via interviews/surveys and comparisons will be made against the need phase. In the third phase, through experimental testing, different algorithm outputs (e.g. alerts, uncertainty) will be generated and presented to farmers (50-70) to test how these impact user opinion and choice.  

 The project will be based at the School of Veterinary Science where the student will benefit from interaction with a thriving community of postgraduate students and postdocs. 

Further information and Application

This PhD is interdisciplinary in nature and as such would suit highly motivated applicants from a wide range of scientific backgrounds.  Candidates with 2.1 undergraduate degrees in veterinary or animal science, psychology or ergonomics or with MSc’s in a relevant subject such as human computer interaction or psychology, is desirable.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to the principal supervisor Prof Jasmeet Kaler (;

Candidates should apply online and include a CV.  When completing the online application form, please ensure that you state that you are applying for a postgraduate position within the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science.

Any queries regarding the application process should be addressed to Postgraduate Admissions Officer, (email:

Start Date: 

Feb 2022. This is a 3 year studentship funded by Chordata Insight. The position will receive a tax free stipend per annum £15,609 pa, enhanced supplement available for vet graduate (£21,000 pa)

Closing date

30th November 2021

Eligibility for Funding

Only UK resident