PhD position in Machine Learning methods for determining ecological state resilience and dynamics of marine ecosystems and their services

Thursday 18 Feb 21

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Apply no later than 30 March 2021
Apply for the job at DTU Aqua by completing the following form.

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A PhD position on data science is available at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Aqua) from May 2021.  The position is part of the EU H2020 project MISSION ATLANTIC: Towards the Sustainable Development of the Atlantic Ocean The PhD must actively contribute to the large international research network established in this project. The project work is primarily carried out in the Section for Oceans and Arctic at DTU Aqua in Lyngby.

Project description and qualifications
Marine ecosystems are complex adaptive systems consisting of large networks regulated by the adaptive dynamics of their constituents. Interactions in the networks occur across different levels of ecological organizations (from individual, to population and communities), and are both directly and indirectly modified by environmental pressures. Spatial and temporal dynamics on all levels of ecological organization are emergent properties of these interactions and regulated by local environment conditions. These complex dynamics and structures are central to life on Earth, and are generally investigated using both direct observations and mechanistic modelling of selected biological and physical quantities. However, it remains of critical importance to identify and characterise the relevant scales of ecosystem interactions, including the determination of specific ecological state and dynamics, as well as identify early warning indicators of ecosystem change.

In Mission Atlantic, we plan to develop statistical frameworks based on machine learning approaches (e.g. deep-learning, Bayesian non-parametric models, reinforcement learning) to combine observations and data from general ocean models to:

  • Develop adaptive statistical models of marine ecosystems able to combine deterministic and stochastic temporal representations;
  • Identify and predict the spatio-temporal dependencies across specific regions in the Atlantic Ocean;
  • Assess the role of resilience for ecosystem dynamics;
  • Detect anomalies in very large spatio-temporal datasets of ecosystem state;
  • Determine the importance of uncertainties in data input and prediction of ecosystem dynamics;
  • Advance decision support tools for managing marine systems and their services.

Candidates for the PhD position should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

We are looking for candidates with:

  • An excellent background knowledge and experience in handling and analysing large data sets using a range of statistical approaches
  • Proven skills on advanced statistical modeling
  • Ability to develop the project across disciplines (e.g. data science, marine ecology, oceanography, mathematics, etc.)
  • Flexibility concerning research stays abroad
  • Good communication skills in English, both written and orally
  • Ability to conduct research independently and problem solving skills
  • Strong interest in participating in an inter-disciplinary and international research environment
  • Willingness to contribute to a positive and inspirational work atmosphere

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the successful candidate is enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Senior Researcher Patrizio Mariani,

For general information on the PhD application please contact Karin Stubgaard,, tel: +45 35 88 30 33

Please do not send applications by email but apply online as described below.

You can read more about the institute at

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark.

Please submit your online application no later than 30 March 2021 (Danish time).

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • A description of proposed research (max. 2 pages)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)
  • Recommendation letters from senior professionals are welcomed

Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

Description of Oceans and Arctic at DTU Aqua, Technical University of Denmark
The research spectrum of the Section for Oceans and Arctic covers oceanography, population ecology, observation technology and the Arctic. The research into oceanography integrates biological, physical and chemical parameters’ interactions in the ocean, ranging from individual plankton to regional seas. We focus on understanding the key processes that govern the structure and function of pelagic food webs, as well as climate and ecosystem interactions with a strong focus on quantitative methods.

The purpose of DTU Aqua is to provide research, advice and education at the highest international level within the sustainable exploitation of living marine and freshwater resources, the biology of aquatic organisms and the dynamics of ecosystems as well as their integration in ecosystem-based management. DTU Aqua has ca. 260 employees, of whom a third are scientific staff. The other employees are assistant biologists, laboratory technicians, IT employees, administrative staff, ship’s crew, student assistants etc. The institute is organized into eight scientific sections that carry out the research, educational and advisory activities. In addition, the institute has a number of scientific and administrative support functions, including the research vessel DANA. DTU Aqua has employees in Kgs. Lyngby, Silkeborg, Nykøbing Mors and Hirtshals as well as on Dana.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,000 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.