Postdoctoral Research Associate in Seismic Imaging and Uncertainty Assessment

Vacancy Ref: 052130
Closing Date: 18-Jun-2020
Contact Person: Rodaidh McLaughlin
Contact Number: 0131 651 3424
Contact Email:

We seek a postdoctoral research associate with a strong background in seismic or seismological imaging of the subsurface of the Earth. You’ll participate in an industrially-funded research project, ‘The Edinburgh Imaging Project (EIP)’, led by Prof Andrew Curtis in the School of Geosciences. In particular you’ll develop and apply state-of-the-art and new methods for imaging the elastic properties of the upper crust of the Earth and assessing uncertainty in your results, using measured seismic waveform data. EIP has a long and successful record of novel research on inverse theory, uncertainty assessment, migration-related methods, Marchenko methods, machine learning (neural networks and variational methods), and seismic or coda wave interferometry. You might therefore expect to specialise in any of these, or other related methods, and will interact with a number of Ph. D. students working on similar topics as part of the team. The methods developed will be used to improve imaging at a variety of scales, perhaps including non-destructive testing, medical ultrasonic imaging, large scale seismological imaging, and certainly industrial-style seismic imaging. You will interact with all project partners and with Prof. Curtis to ensure that your specific research fits the overall project goals of improving methods for subsurface imaging and uncertainty assessment, and applying these in useful contexts.

This post is full-time for 30 months starting as soon as possible.

Salary: £33,797 to £40,322 per annum

Closing date: Thursday 18th June 2020 at 5pm

The School aims to ensure equality of opportunity and holds an Athena SWAN Silver award. We welcome applications from everyone irrespective of gender or ethnic group. Appointment will be based on merit alone.

1. Job Details

Job title: Postdoctoral Research Associate in Seismic Imaging and Uncertainty Assessment

School/Support Department: School of Geosciences

Line manager: Prof Andrew Curtis

2. Job Purpose

To develop and apply state-of-the-art and new methods for imaging the elastic properties of the Earth’s subsurface and assessing uncertainty in those results, and testing and applying the methods in one or more of the contexts of industrial imaging of the upper crust, and possibly also ultrasonic non-destructive testing or medical imaging.

3. Main Responsibilities
(Approx % of time)

In collaboration with and under the direction of Prof. Curtis:

  1. Review and keep up to date with existing literature on imaging and uncertainty assessment methods to ensure the project uses the current state of the art (10%)
  2. Develop and test novel methods for seismic imaging and uncertainty assessment (30%)
  3. Apply these methods to seismic waveform (or related) data to image the Earth’s subsurface (30%)
  4. Consider the application of these methods in other domains such as non-destructive testing or medical imaging (10%)
  5. Publish results in leading international academic journals, and transfer well-documented codes and knowledge to our external stakeholders (10%)
  6. Contribute to outreach activities, including presenting the research at our 6-monthly research meetings with external stakeholders, help to develop the next generation of PhD students and undergraduates performing research in collaboration with or within the Edinburgh Imaging Project, and assist Prof. Curtis with administrative, leadership and teaching tasks as appropriate to maintain a healthy academic team (10%)

4. Planning and Organising

• Work with Principal Investigator (PI) Prof. Curtis to organise time to ensure project objectives are achieved.
• Consider operational use of codes and ensure ease of use.
• Work with PI, project partners and stakeholders to organise meetings and training sessions as appropriate

5. Problem Solving

• Develop novel methods to solve unresolved problems in subsurface imaging and uncertainty assessment
• Interpret data and build hypotheses based on results
• Ability to resolve problems constructively as they occur

6. Decision Making

Key decisions will be made collaboratively with input from the PI. The post-holder will undertake day-to-day decision making on method and code development, and on analysis of results. They will need to learn and exercise good judgement as to which decisions must be referred to the PI and which should simply be implemented and documented.

7. Key Contacts/Relationships

The post holder will principally interact with the PI based in Edinburgh. They will also visit, collaborate and discuss as necessary with our external industrial stakeholders who sponsor the EIP. The post holder will be expected to represent the University externally, by presenting their work at specialist meetings or workshops in the relevant research area. They will also be required to provide advice and support to relevant undergraduate and postgraduate students.

8. Knowledge, Skills and Experience Needed for the Job

• Ph.D. (or near completion) in a relevant subject area
• Extensive knowledge of relevant methods of seismic or wave-based imaging or tomography
• Extensive knowledge of relevant methods in mathematics, of uncertainty assessment and of inverse/inference theory
• A proven track record of developing and applying such methods
• Extensive experience in scientific programming, including developing and documenting complex codes
• Track record of publishing work in internationally peer reviewed journals, and of giving presentations at international conferences
• Ability to work in a research team while also being able to work and solve problems independently

• Excellent organisational skills

9. Dimensions

There are no line management responsibilities associated with this post.

10. Job Context and any other relevant information

This PDRA position will be based in Edinburgh and will involve occasional travel to industrial partners in the UK and possibly elsewhere, and to present results at international conferences.

Application Procedure

All applicants should apply online by clicking the apply link at the bottom of this page and submitting an up to date CV. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a CV and other attachments.

We anticipate interviews will be held in the week commencing the 6th of July. You will be notified by email whether you have been shortlisted for interview or not.

The closing date is 5pm on Thursday 18th June 2020.

Right to Work

In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and Immigration Act 2016 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).
To do so, the University requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

For further information on right to work please visit our right to work webpage

If you are from outside the EEA and not currently eligible to work in the UK, there are visa routes that may be available to you, for example:

  1. Global Talent: If you are an academic, researcher or technical specialist in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts, it may be possible for you to apply for a Global Talent visa. This route requires you to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by an endorsing body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech Nation, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)). However, if you are applying for a senior academic role, e.g. Professor/Reader there is an accelerated route to endorsement. Further information can be found on the UKVI website
  2. Tier 2: The University is a UKVI licensed sponsor and is able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to successful candidates who are offered highly skilled roles and meet the eligibility criteria. The CoS enables candidates to apply for a Tier 2 (general visa).

Please note if you were last granted leave to stay in the UK in any Tier 2 category in the 12 months immediately preceding an application and the leave has
• ended or expired.
• the CoS which led to that grant of leave was issued for more than 3 months, and
• you are either:
o applying for entry clearance from outside the UK, or
o you are in the UK and had a previous period of Tier 2 leave, but then changed (‘switched’) into a different immigration category and now wishes to apply again under Tier 2.
You must wait 12 months before applying again.

Further information about whether you require a visa and other visa routes can be found at:

Conditions of Employment

Pension Scheme

This role is grade UE07 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the USS membership criteria, unless they indicate that they choose not to join the Scheme.

For further information please visit our Pensions website.


The role is grade UE07 and attracts an annual salary of £33,797 to £40,322 for 35 hours each week. Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to your Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month. Salaries for part-time staff are calculated on the full-time scales, pro-rata to the Standard Working Week.

The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.

posted: 01 June 2020    Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.