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12 PhD open positions on Remote Sensing for Ecosystem modelling

The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN-ETN) TRuStEE: Training on Remote Sensing for Ecosystem modElling

Grant Agreement n. 721995

Coordinator: Micol Rossini

Funding: EU under project number H2020-MSCA-ITN-2016 – 721995

Timeframe: 2016-10-01 — 2020-09-30

University/Department: University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Network Partners: University of Milano-Bicocca (Coordinator), Italy; University of Exeter, UK; Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain; University of Twente, Netherlands; Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy; AeroVision BV, Netherlands; Max Planck Institut fur Biogeochemie, Jena, Germany; Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek (VITO), Belgium; Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Germany; QuestUAV Ltd, UK.

Twelve PhD positions are offered in the frame of TRuStEE – Training on Remote Sensing for Ecosystem modelling, a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network Action. This project aims to capacitate the next generation of scientists to understand and deal with the increasing pressure of environmental change on ecosystem functioning and land-atmosphere interactions. Specifically, TRuStEE will train a new generation of scientists with complementary and interdisciplinary skills in ecosystem modelling, plant physiology, remote sensing technologies and big data analysis, addressing the specific objectives: 1) to identify essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) and the link with plant traits (PTs) and ecosystem functional properties (EFPs), inferable from remote sensing, 2) to investigate a completely new avenue for assessing vegetation photosynthetic efficiency from remote sensing measurements of canopy fluorescence, 3) to assimilate diverse remote sensing data streams with varying spatial and temporal resolution in dynamic ecosystem models and 4) to exploit new satellite missions (e.g. ESA-FLEX, ESA-Sentinels, NASA-GEDI) and Earth Observation products for the upscaling of PTs, EBVs and EFPs. The early stage researchers (ESRs) involved will strongly benefit from the network of internationally recognized scientists and private companies with relevant expertise in these topics through training courses, summer schools and secondments.

Each of these positions is for a period of 36 months starting in January – March, 2017. The recruitment is done on a competitive basis across all applicants for each project.

Details on the 12 individual positions are provided by following the links below:

ESR position 1 – University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy):

Characterisation of temporal variability of plant traits and ecosystem functional properties using optical signals.

ESR position 2 – University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy):

Investigation of the topographic control on essential biodiversity variables, plant traits and ecosystem functional properties using multiple remote sensing sensors and platforms.

ESR position 3 – University of Exeter (UK):

Vegetation structure and function measurement and modelling using drone based sensing techniques.

ESR position 4 – Max Planck Institut (Germany):

Deciphering the factors controlling the relationship between Ecosystem Functional Properties and sun-induced fluorescence and canopy reflectance in time and under different nutrient conditions using model-data integration approaches.

ESR position 5 – Max Planck Institut (Germany):

Developing (machine learning) methods to derive ecosystem functional properties.

ESR position 6 – Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas – CSIC (Spain):

Monitoring seasonal changes in Plant Traits from the combination of Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2 time series analysis: exploring the relationship between vegetation water status and water fluxes.

ESR position 7 – Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (Germany):

Sun-induced and laser-induced fluorescence –novel indicators of vegetation stress and resource use efficiency.

ESR position 8 – University of Twente (Netherlands):

Developing operational radiative transfer models for Plant Traits and Ecosystem Functional Properties estimation from multi source remote sensing data.

ESR position 9 – Fondazione Edmund Mach (Italy):

Remote sensing tools for monitoring grassland plant leaf traits and ecosystem functioning along an altitudinal gradient.

ESR position 10 – AeroVision BV (Netherlands):

Operational application of Ecosystem Functional Property maps to diagnose anomalies in crop production due to vegetation stress.

ESR position 11 – Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek (VITO) (Belgium):

Multi-temporal and multi-source assessment of plant traits and ecosystem functional properties in agriculture.

ESR position 12 – QuestUAV Ltd (UK):

Hyperspectral sensing from UAV platforms for agricultural monitoring and precision agriculture.


Who can apply

Applicants should meet the following eligibility criteria:

– have the background and expertise required for the position;

– be at the time of recruitment in the first four years of research career (full-time equivalent research experience) calculated from the date on which the Master degree was obtained;

– not have been awarded a Doctoral Degree;

– not have resided or carried out his/her main activity in the country of the host institute for more than 12 months in the last three years immediately prior to the reference recruitment date;

– be proficient in both written and spoken English.

How to apply

To apply for the position, please email the following documents to by the deadline: 12 December 2016. Your application will be forwarded to the involved supervisor(s) for further evaluation.

i) A curriculum vitae, including contact details, education (at University level and other), work experience, prizes/awards, language skills, etc… (max. 2 pages). The CV should reflect a representative array of achievements and qualifications appropriate to the post for which application is being made.

ii) Official academic record of undertaken courses & grades for Bachelor (and Master if required in specific criteria) degree.

iii) A motivational letter in which the applicant describes his or her motivation to pursue postgraduate studies and to conduct the research project applied for. The applicant is asked to mention the ESR project number on the motivational letter and on the subject of the email. In case of application to multiple projects, the applicant is asked to indicate the order of preference if any, and to motivate the interest in the projects selected.

iv) Contact details of three referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation.

After this first round each institute will contact successful candidates. You may be required to attend an interview.

Applications received shortly after the deadline are likely to be considered. Priority will be given to applications received before 13 December 2016.


Salary and benefits

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme offers highly competitive and attractive salary and working conditions. Exact salary will be confirmed upon appointment. It consists of:

  • a living allowance (= 3110 euro/month [the Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie rules apply a correction factor to this amount to allow for the cost of living in different countries: 1.067 to Italy, 0.988 to Germany, 1.043 to Netherlands, 0.976 to Spain, 1.000 to Belgium and 1.203 to United Kingdom])

  • a monthly mobility and family allowance (= 600 and 500 euro/month depending on the family situation).

It must be noted that the living allowance is a gross EU contribution to the salary costs of the researcher. Consequently, the net salary results from deducting all compulsory (employer/employee) social security contributions as well as direct taxes (e.g. income tax) from the gross amounts. The rate indicated here is for researchers devoting themselves to their project on a full-time basis. The mobility and family allowance is a fixed amount, regardless of the country of recruitment, and may be taxable depending on the country in question. More details in Sections 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 of the guide for applicants to H2020-MSCA-ITN-2016.

Furthermore, PhD tuition fees for the ESR are covered and the research project is aimed at defending a thesis and obtaining a PhD degree. In addition to their individual scientific projects, all positions will benefit from further continuing training, which includes summer schools and secondments (All ESRs will be seconded at least once at another partner premises), a variety of training courses as well as transferable skill courses, active participation in workshops and conferences, and exposure to SMEs and Universities from the different European countries involved in TRuStEE. For further info, please email to

Event date: Dec. 16, 2016
Originally published on Nov. 14, 2016
Last update on Nov. 14, 2016

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