Post-Doctoral Research Assistant (PDRA)

Contract type: Fixed term (36 months)
Salary Grade: Grade 3, £27,511 to £32,817 - depending on experience
Closing date: 24th February 2020
Interviews week of: 9th March 2020

Job purpose:

Machine learning and deep learning methods have the potential to accelerate the understanding that can be generated from massive amounts of data. The PDRA will be a member of a project team working alongside the Principle Investigator to deliver research and innovation in the context of the iCPR project. The project will explore the application and use of Machine Learning techniques across the Continuous Plankton Recorder Survey in support of the Surveys marine ecological research. Analytic and computational workflows will be developed to implement intelligent systems for tasks such as classification, outlier detection, prediction and interpolation across a variety of marine ecological datasets, including multidimensional sparse time series and image archives. A key component of this post will be exploration of where these methodologies can be of greatest benefit to the CPR Survey, development of bespoke models, and understanding how they can be used to help detect, identify and anticipate changes in community composition and phenology.


The Marine Biological Association ( is an independent research institute carrying out leading-edge research in fundamental and strategic areas of marine biology.As one of the world’s longest running learned societies (founded in 1884) the MBA is dedicated to promoting research into our oceans and the life that they support. Many eminent scientists, including twelve Nobel Prize winners, have conducted their research at the MBA’s famous Citadel Hill laboratory. With our Royal Charter and over 1600 members in 37 countries worldwide, we have the mandate to provide an authoritative and independent voice for the international marine biological community.

The role

The PDRA will generate, collate and interrogate plankton datasets using a rangeof imaging systems, field deployable environmental sensor and the plankton time series obtained from the traditional CPR observation network. They will assist with development and operation of sensing systems, management of data and –in collaboration with a Research Software Engineer -associated analytics pipelines. The PDRA will also be centrally involved in writing results up for publication, collaborating across a multi-disciplinary network and with associated stakeholders, coordinating tasks within the research group and contributing to the wider research environment within the MBA.

Salary and benefits

  • Salary: £27,511 to £32,817 - depending on experience
  • Pension: The MBA will contribute 10% of your basic salary into a defined benefits pension scheme.You are required to make a 3% minimum contribution. You can contribute over the 3% minimum and the MBA will match up to a maximum of 5%

Equal opportunities employer

  • We are committed to equality of opportunity for all staff and applications from individuals are encouraged regardless of age, disability,sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and marriage and civil partnerships

Skills and experience


The successful candidate will have a PhD in a marine, computational or statistical discipline (Biology/Ecology, Oceanography, Physics, Computer Science, Statistics etc.) with demonstrable computational ability.

  • Experience with the python scientific software tools, demonstrable ability to rapidly learn these tools or transfer from another programming language;
  • Strong skills in data analysis, handling image and time series datasets and applying statistical learning pipelines;
  • Track record of, or potential to produce, published data intensive research in peer-reviewed journals;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills;
  • An ability to work proactively as part of a team (collaborating with researchers, data scientists, software engineers, researchassistants, students and stakeholders) as well as independently;
  • Excellent organisation skills with regard data/meta-data management


  • Experience implementing, training and assessing algorithms and analytic pipelines in traditional (e.g. scikit-learn) and deep learning (e.g. pytorch) frameworks;
  • Software engineering skills (use of version control, automated testing, documentation and continuous integration);
  • Sea going experience aboard scientific research vessels;
  • Practical experience operating, maintaining and/or developing sensors and instrumentation for marine environmental observation;
  • Web development

The PDRA will be based at the Marine Biological Association of the UK in Plymouth, but will be expected to travel to meetings, workshops and field locations as needed.The position is fixed term (36 months), with possibility of extension depending on future funding success. Starting date April 2020 (with some flexibility for the right candidate).For further information, or an informal chat about the iCPR project and this advertised position, please contact Dr. George Graham,

Full details can be found here

Application process: Applicants for the position should send a CV with cover letter giving the principal reasons why they wish to apply for the PDRA post, and how their knowledge, skills and experience meet the requirements of the role.Applicants should also provide links to portfolio of works (personal or professional blog/website) and code repositories, if available, and contact details for two references. Applications to be sent to quoting 'iCPR PDRA application' by the closing date of 24/02/2020.

Applicants must be eligible to live and work in the UK

posted: 30 January 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.