PhD position about metabolic vulnerabilities of agri-food systems / livestock

Agri-food systems are subject to disruptions of increasing frequency and intensity, for example due to climate change, financial (e.g. 2007/08) or health crises (e.g. covid-19). In order to provide agri-food system stakeholders with short- and long-term adaptation capacities, a key challenge is to better characterize the vulnerability of agri-food systems to future disruptions and shocks. More specifically, agri-food systems may exhibit “metabolic vulnerabilities” related to the material and energy flows involved in the agricultural production, supply and food processing, use of products and by-products (for food or other use), and waste management (Bahers et al., 2022). Understanding how agri-food systems may be affected by metabolic disruption of material and energy flow is of primary importance to assess agri-food vulnerabilities.

Livestock sectors are particularly questioned in their contribution to the vulnerabilities of agri-food systems due to their land footprint, their increasing specialization, and their dependence on external resources or operators (e.g., importing soybeans for animal feed).

The aim of the PhD is to characterize the metabolic vulnerabilities of agri-food systems, and to specify how the livestock sectors contribute. The hypothesis is that these vulnerabilities depend on the type of livestock sectors, the integration between crops and livestock, and the connections between local production and consumption.

The PhD position is available at the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE), a public research establishment. The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.

The candidate will be a member of a the Mountain Ecosystems and Societies Laboratory (Lessem:, located in Grenoble (France), within the multidisciplinary research team ASTRRE (economics, planning, ecology, agronomy, geography), that works on interactions between ecological and social systems in a context of global change.

Qualification and requirements:

  • Master's degree/Engineering degree in agricultural sciences, industrial ecology, ecological economics, or environmental sciences
  • Knowledge about agri-food systems, agricultural assessment, modelling
  • Organizational skills, interest in working in interaction with field actors, excellent writing skills, very good written and spoken English and French, autonomy, and creativity

Application deadline: May 22th, 2022 for beginning the PhD on December 1st 2022

For any questions, please contact Dr. Sophie Madelrieux or Prof. Thomas Nesme



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  • Application deadline: May 22, 2022
  • Grenoble, France
  • PhD and Postdoc Positions
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