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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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Mathilde Valenchon

Mathilde Valenchon
© Mathilde Valenchon
Post doctoral student

My research focuses on the interactions between socio-cognitive abilities and welfare in domestic species. I’m studying those through the prism of inter-individual variability whether it comes from differences in personality, emotional state or social position. My research filed is therefore at the crossroad between ethology, cognitive sciences and animal welfare sciences. Thanks to my experience in different national (INRAE Val de Loire, CNRS Strasbourg) and international labs (ABW group, University de Bristol, UK), I have been able to develop a multi-disciplinary approach based on behavioural observations, experimental ethology, physiology, human and social sciences and even more recently, neuroimagery (MRI). My main model is the domestic horse and I am happily expanding to other farm animals (domestic birds, sheep).

My academic background is in biology and I specialized in Ethology since my Master degree. I did my PhD at the UMR PRC - INRAE Val de Loire under the supervision of Frédéric Lévy and Léa Lansade on the influence of personality and stress on cognitive performances in domestic horses (2009-2013). In 2014, I joined Odile Petit’s lab (UMR DEPE, CNRS Strasbourg) as a postdoc (2014-2016) to study collective decision-making and leadership in horses. Progressively, I also developed and led projects on equine welfare (2016-2018). Among other things, I studied the impact of early social environment on the development of young sport horses. I also studied the (re)socialization of stallions that were socially deprived for years. In 2018, after a maternal leave, I joined the University of Bristol (Animal Welfare and Behaviour group, Bristol Vet School) as Senior Research Associate (then promoted to a Research Fellow position) to study racehorse welfare with Siobhan Mullan (PI) in partnership with the BHA (British Horseracing Authority). Again, this position also gave me the opportunity to develop new projects such as on the selection and education of former racehorses for Equine Assisted Services, with Bristol Vet School, University College of Dublin and the charity Racing to Relate (PhD student: Claire Neveux).

Since October 2021, as a Marie Curie fellowship (MSCA Individual Fellowship) and with the financial support of the IFCE Scientific Council, I am leading a project on the development of social competences of young domestic horses and their neurobiological basis through an MRI-study. I am collaborating with Matthieu Keller & David Barrière (INRC team – Neuroendocrine Integration of Reproduction and Behaviours) and Ludovic Calandreau & Léa Lansade (CEB team - Cognition, Ethology and animal welfare).


Mathilde Valenchon
UMR Physiologie de la Reproduction & des Comportements
Centre INRAE Val-de-Loire
37380 Nouzilly

Phone : 33 (0)2 47 42 79 97

Mail :