English version

PhD position: Real-time pig aggression monitoring using image analysis

(Ref. BAP-2017-63)

Tewerkstelling : Voltijds
Duur : Bepaalde duur
Plaats : Leuven
Solliciteren tot en met : 17/03/2017
For the Division Animal and Human Health Engineering we are looking for a Researcher Associate / PhD

PhD position: Real-time pig aggression monitoring using image analysis

Measure, Model & Manage Bioresponses (M3-BIORES), the former Laboratory for Agricultural Buildings Research belongs to the KU Leuven (° 1425). With a staff of about 20 enthusiastic people it is one of the biggest scientific groups worldwide working in the field of integration of biological responses in the monitoring and control of living organisms (humans, animals, plants).

The main focus of research is to integrate the dynamic responses of living organisms in the monitoring and control of biological processes. Our objective is to measure continuously in an on-line way the responses of living organisms to their varying individual micro-environment. Next we want to predict the dynamic time-varying responses of living organisms in order to monitor and control their well being, their health and performances. At the same time the micro-environment around the living organisms is controlled. We do this for humans (athletes, drivers in a car, workers in a factory, etc.), animals (pigs, chicken, cows, horses, etc.) and plants. In our List of Projects you will find exciting examples of this approach.

M3-BIORES has published over 300 scientific publications in international journals, conference proceedings and books (See our List of publications). We are collaborating with many scientific teams worldwide as you can see in our List of Partners. Since 1981 M3-BIORES has developed products for a world market in close collaboration with industrial partners and we own several patents.


Real-time monitoring of animal-based parameters will substantially contribute to EU livestock health and welfare objectives and will enable the better breeding of animals.
Currently health and welfare assessment is done by trained assessors and as a result is time and labour consuming, can be subjective and it is sometimes questionable if the auditor is measuring animals under normal farm conditions. On the other hand, as proven during the EU-PLF project (www.eu-plf.eu) the automatic recording of animal-based parameters provides objective measurements in real-time, reducing the need to send specialized personnel out to farms. This field is known as Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) and PLF technology has a large market, as it can be used by farmers, veterinarians and other companies active in the livestock sector.
Behaviour parameters such as animal location and activity can be derived from real-time video monitoring and linked with health and welfare events on the farm. Already the M3-BIORES laboratory has scientifically proven the capability of such PLF systems and developed robust PLF products in collaboration with our commercial partners. A number of such systems are now available on the market.

This project is aimed at the development of a health and welfare monitor for animals based on automatic detection of visual behaviour parameters. Machine vision algorithms shall be used and further developed to calculate a number of characteristic parameters, such as animal position and movement. These parameters shall be related to specific behaviours, such as social behaviour and sickness. Automatic detection data shall be validated in collaboration with animal scientists, who will use physiological indicators of health and welfare.

The research will be conducted in close collaboration with institutes within the EU and USA.

Key reference

 Oczak, M., Ismayilova, G., Costa, A., Viazzi, S., Sonoda, L.T., Fels,M., Bahr, C., Hartung, J., Guarino, M., Berckmans, D. and Vranken, E., 2013.Analysis of aggressive behaviours of pigs by automatic video recordings.Computers and electronics in agriculture, 99, pp.209-217.



The candidate must have a passion to do research in a very engaged and ambitious research team.

The candidate must have a master’s or equivalent degree in (bio, agricultural-) engineering (electrical, computer,civil, etc.), physics, mathematics or other relevant field.

The candidate must be willing to obtain a PhD degree in the field of bio-engineering.

The candidate must be able to fluently speak, read and write in English.

Reporting the project results in international peer reviewed journals is a major task.



Skills in digital image processing

Skills in signal processing and associated statistics

Working knowledge of MATLAB.


We offer a full time PhD position for 3 years (with evaluation after the first year).

Although funding for the project is available, the candidate is expected to apply for additional personal funding

(http://www.fwo.be/en/fellowships-funding/phd-fellowships/doctoral-(phd)-grant-strategic-basic-research-(sb)/; https://www.kuleuven.be/english/international/funding/iro).


For more information and application instructions, the candidates are requested to send a CV to Dr. Tomas Norton, Group of M3-BIORES (Measure, Model, Manage Bioresponses) in the Faculty of Bio-Engineering, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.
Tel. +32-16-32.17.30,
email. m3-biores.jobs[at]kuleuven.be

You can apply for this job no later than March 17, 2017 via the

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