Bayi Glacier in Qilian Mountain, China (Credit: Xiaoming Wang, distributed via

Job advertisement PhD studentship

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European Geosciences Union

PhD studentship

PhD studentship


University of Reading and NCEO

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


Relevant divisions
Biogeosciences (BG)
Nonlinear Processes in Geosciences (NP)
Ocean Sciences (OS)

Full time

Student / Graduate / Internship


Preferred education

Application deadline
7 June 2021

29 April 2021

Job description

Title: Complex Network Approach to Improve Marine Ecosystem Modelling and Data Assimilation
Supervisors: Alberto Carrassi (main), Ross Bannister, Stefano Ciavatta, Jozef Skakala

We are seeking a PhD student to work in a collaborative research project between the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO,, University of Reading (UoR) and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML). The project will address the timely question about marine ecosystem resilience in the face of human pressures and climate change. The student will use complex networks (Boccaletti et al, 2006) to understand the pathways through which the anthropogenic signal propagates across ecosystem variables and geographic regions within the ERSEM ecosystem model of the North-West European Shelf (NWES), a key region for European food security (Legge et al, 2020). The aim is to identify variables and sub-regions having the largest impact on the NWES marine ecosystem, thus providing insight into the ecosystem vulnerability. This will deliver crucial information on which model degrees of freedom are redundant, suggesting how to reduce complexity (and the cost) of the ecosystem model. The student will construct a low-complexity emulator of the ecosystem model using machine learning and explore its incorporation within the NWES data assimilation system.

This is an interdisciplinary project at the interface of mathematics and environmental science whereby complex networks and machine learning are combined to deliver new profound insights into marine ecosystems.

The student will be enrolled at the Dept of Meteorology of UoR within the Data Assimilation Research Centre ( In the first year, the student will be offered the opportunity to be based at PML, a centre of excellence for marine science and marine ecosystem modelling. She/he will be also affiliated to the NCEO, a centre of over 100 scientists in the UK. The student will benefit from training at UoR, PML and NCEO.

Boccaletti et al., Physics Reports 424.4-5, (2006):175-308.

Legge et al., Frontiers in Marine Science 7, (2020):143.

How to apply

Click at, create your account and use the link sent by email to start the application process. During the application process select the PhD in Atmosphere, Oceans and Climate, and upload transcripts, CV, certificates and in the “other’s” the motivation letter and the contacts of up to three referees.