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PhD in Marine Sciences: Use of AI and Computer Vision to Develop Next Generation Marine Biological Observing Capability

University of Plymouth

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Plymouth
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: The studentship is supported for 3.5 years and includes Home rate tuition fees plus a stipend of £18,110 per annum (2023-24 rate)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 13th October 2023
Closes: 8th January 2024

Lead Supervisor (DoS): Professor Kerry Howell

Second Supervisor: Dr James Clark

Third Supervisor: Dr Pierre Hélaouët

Applications are invited for a 3.5 year PhD studentship with Marine Research Plymouth – a collaborative partnership between the University of Plymouth, the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the Marine Biological Association. The studentship is due to start on 1st October 2024.

Plymouth has been at the forefront of global marine research for more than a century, and today it is home to the largest concentration of marine researchers in the UK. Come and join our vibrant community of marine PhD students.

Project Description

Predicting how ocean life will respond to pressures from increasing human use and climate change is the basis for science-informed decision-making. It requires development of models that enable forecasting of possible outcomes in 'what if' scenarios. Such models demand large unbiased biological ‘training’ datasets, which are difficult and expensive to collect and analyse using current human-reliant methods. Greater automation in collection and analysis of observations is needed to deliver sufficiently large datasets to significantly enhance our predictive modelling capability. In this respect, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a potentially powerful tool. This studentship will investigate current AI capability to deliver ecologically meaningful metrics from image-based data; and in so doing develop the methods and tools to support the wider application of AI to image-based biological observations.

The student will use image datasets to explore the most effective methods in the application of AI to image analysis for biodiversity monitoring. Research will focus on understanding what AI is capable of in terms of delivering ecologically relevant data, and specifically robust measures of Essential Ocean Variables. The student will spend time at each of the three MRP partners working on different case study applications, including benthic ROV (UoP), pelagic iCPR (MBA), and pelagic APICS (PML) image data.   

The student will have a unique opportunity to expand their outlook into a highly multi-disciplinary domain. They will interact with both ecologists and computer scientists, developing a wide network beyond the supervisory team. Depending on their background, the student may receive training in ecology and taxonomy, artificial intelligence and deep-learning, marine optics, R and Python programming.

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Professor Kerry Howell.

For further information on Eligibility and Funding, please click on the links below: 

To apply for this position please visit here.

Please clearly state the name of the studentship that you are applying for on your personal statement.

For a list of supporting documents to upload with your application or more information on the admissions process generally, please visit our How to Apply for a Research Degree webpage or contact the Doctoral College.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Monday 8th January 2024.

Shortlisted candidates will be informed as soon as possible after the deadline, with interviews likely to take place in the second half of February. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider that their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

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