A fully-funded PhD studentship in GIScience/Ecology

Sonar or Magnetism: exploring bat migration using a data science approach

We invite applications from qualified and highly motivated students for an exciting interdisciplinary PhD studentship in Geographic Information Science and Ecology, funded through the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership IAPETUS2:

The project will use a data science approach to explore how bats use information from Earth’s magnetic field to navigate during long-term migration. Specifically, the student will develop a Python data fusion tool that will link bat migration data with the satellite geomagnetic data from European Space Agency Swarm constellation. Since bat migration data come from radio-tagging and are therefore temporally sparse and irregular, the student will also develop methods for creation of reasonable missing data using the indicative data science approach. In the second part of the project, the student will then use joined tracking and geomagnetic data to explore if and how three migratory species of bats use geomagnetic information for their navigation.

More information on the topic of the project is available here.

Studentship info

The PhD studentship will be based at the School of Geography & Sustainable Development at the University of St Andrews and supervised by Dr Urška Demšar (University of St Andrews), Prof Ana Basiri (University of Glasgow), Dr Ciarán Beggan (British Geological Survey), Dr Jed Long (Western University, Canada) and Dr Kamran Safi (Max Planck Institute for Animal Behaviour, Germany).

The studentship will cover tuition fees at the UK level and a yearly tax-free stipend for 3.5 years, plus additional funding for research and conference travel as part of the project.

This competition is open to UK, EU and international students.

The studentship will start in September 2021.

We are looking for candidates who fulfil the following requirements:

  • Interest in GIScience/Ecology.
  • An excellent degree in a relevant discipline: GIScience, Remote Sensing, Ecology, Data Science.
  • Preferably an excellent MSc degree or an excellent BSc from a 4-year programme.
  • Ability to work with and develop new methods for big spatial data.
  • Good coding skills in Python. Students without coding skills will not be considered, so unless you can code, this is not a studentship for you.
  • Excellent English skills for non-native speakers (note that University of St Andrews requires a minimum of total 6.5 on IELTS for admission of international PhD students).
  • The IAPETUS requirement on academic pedigree: An outstanding academic pedigree and research potential, such as evidenced through the publication of articles, participation in academic conferences and other similar activities.


How to apply:

Step 1: Expression of interest

Send your CV and a 1-page expression of interest (where you explain how you meet the above conditions and why you are interested in this topic) to Dr Urška Demšar at urska.demsar@st-andrews.ac.uk.

You will be contacted by the supervisory team and invited to submit a full application according to the IAPETUS2 instructions.

DL for expression of interest: 10 December 2020 at 5pm (GMT)


Step 2: Full application

Please do not submit a full application unless you have been invited to do so.

How to submit a full application: See IAPETUS2 website for instructions.

DL for full application: 8 January 2021 at 5pm (GMT)