Work leader – FED-tWIN researcher: Machine Learning applied to marine forecast – Deadline 18 June 2023

The Operational Directorate ‘Natural Environment’ (OD Nature) at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) and the Earth and Life Institute (ELI) at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) jointly offer a full-time (100%) research position to develop the next generation of marine forecasting and nowcasting techniques, products, and services for the Belgian part of the North Sea. This vacancy is part of the BELSPO FED-tWIN research profile Prf-2022-021 ‘Next-TIDE’.


The FED-tWIN programme is a federal research programme to support sustainable cooperation between the ten Federal Scientific Institutions (FSI) which fall under Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO) and the eleven Belgian universities.

Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), founded in 1846, is one of the ten federal scientific institutions that are governed by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO). The Institute aims to provide the scientific world, public authorities and civil society with good and relevant science, appropriate advice, opening avenues of discovery in nature, its long history, and its sustainable management. 200 skill-full scientists -most of them with a PhD level- conduct world-class research within three scientific Operational Directorates: ‘Natural Environment’, ‘Earth and History of Life’ and ‘Taxonomy and Phylogeny’.

Thanks to 70+ marine scientists (biologists, chemists, geologists, physicists, oceanographers, modelers, mathematicians, geographers, engineers, and bioengineers), OD Nature plays a pivotal role in the transdisciplinary study of the North Sea ecosystems. It operates the Belgian Marine Forecasting Centre, and the Belgian Marine Data Centre. It manages the Reasearch Vessel Belgica. It develops the marine modelling frameworks COHERENS. It contributes to various European Research Infrastructure (EMBRC, ICOS, LifeWatch, JERICO, etc.) and is a production unit for the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service. It is responsible for the follow-up of different legal obligations for the management of the marine environment. It works on environmental impact assessments of human activities at sea, aerial surveillance of the sea, monitoring of the quality of the sea in the framework of the OSPAR Convention and the European Framework Directives (Water and Marine Strategy). It hosts the offices of EuroGOOS AISBL and SeaDataNet AISBL.

Université catholique de Louvain

The Université catholique de Louvain, founded in 1425, is a multidisciplinary university in the heart of Europe, member of the Circle-U European university alliance. Its 14 faculties and 23 doctoral schools offer degrees and research opportunities to more than 30,000 students in almost all fields of study. Its 22 research institutes, 40 technology platforms, 2 university hospitals, and 3 science parks, which include 2 incubators and host more than 280 companies and 84 spin-offs and start-ups, are a testament to UCLouvain’s dedication to conducting fundamental and applied research. They also, along with UCLouvain’s faculties and schools, exercise a cross-disciplinary research approach.

UCLouvain is a diverse and open community. One-third of its professors are women and nearly the same proportion are internationals. One-fifth of its students are international, representing more than 120 nationalities. UCLouvain partners with higher education institutions throughout the world. Hence, it participates in several international initiatives that open doors to new teaching and research projects. Moreover, recognising that exploring major social issues demands a more comprehensive, cross-disciplinary approach, UCLouvain launched a new research initiative, the ‘Louvain4’ consortiums. These bring together researchers from all sectors of the university to study themes of societal interest. Nine key topics have so far been identified: nutrition, ageing, cities and community life, education, energy, water, evolution, space and migration.

The Earth and Life Institute (ELI) of UCLouvain gathers more than 300 scientists, covering a wide range of disciplines in the Earth & Life sciences. The research objective is to understand the basic processes of the Earth & Life System at different scales and to design sustainable solutions to meet some of the major challenges for our societies. Thanks to its critical size, the institute’s role is to promote interdisciplinarity and stimulate interactions between scientists of complementary expertise.



The FED-tWIN Researcher will strive to become a leading expert in applying machine learning techniques to marine forecasting and nowcasting products and services. They will establish their own research group by designing innovative research projects, securing competitive funding, coordinating projects, and mentoring junior researchers, including PhD candidates.

The researcher will foster collaborations with national and international partners, including those within the digital twin of the ocean initiative. They will actively disseminate research findings within the global academic community through publications and conference presentations.

Working at the intersection of the RBINS Marine Forecasting Centre and UCLouvain Earth and Life Institute, the FED-tWIN Researcher will collaborate closely with colleagues from both institutions, further solidifying the existing partnerships between them.


The FED-tWIN Researcher will supervise Master’s students and research internships at both institutions. The ideal candidate must thrive in a multicultural and multilingual environment, working effectively with students, researchers, professors, and technical/administrative colleagues.


The FED-tWIN researcher will directly enhance the products and services offered by the RBINS Marine Forecasting Centre. They will actively participate in the operational and administrative aspects of both departments, as well as contribute to fundraising efforts for projects related to the research profile. This includes integrating their research activities within the broader research and outreach strategies of both institutions. With a 50% appointment at each institution, the FED-tWIN researcher will have limited administrative responsibilities at the department or faculty level.


The candidate holds a PhD degree in Sciences (Physics, Mathematics, Oceanography, Meteorology, Marine Ecosystems, etc.) or in Applied Sciences (Mechanical Engineer, Applied Mathematics, Bioengineer, etc.).

The PhD degree was obtained at most 12 years prior to the job application submission date. The 12-year period is extended by one year for each maternity, parental & adoption leave of the candidate and for each long-term sick leave of the candidate or immediate family members.


Specific expertise

The candidate will have a solid research expertise in Earth Sciences (preferably in oceanography, meteorology, hydrology, geology and/or marine ecosystem) and in Data Sciences (preferably in machine learning, data mining, etc.).

The candidate must have a good background in statistics and probability.


The candidate is expected to have a strong research curriculum within the domain of oceanography or machine learning. The research quality should be apparent from publications in leading international journals.

Previous work experience in international projects is desirable.

Previous experience in writing research proposals would be a significant asset.

Technical skills

The candidate will have outstanding programming skills, with experience in programming languages such as Python, C/C++ or Fortran 2008.

Experience with neural network frameworks (such as PyTorch, Tensorflow, JAX, etc.) will be an advantage.


The ideal candidate must possess the following skills:

  • A passion for applied marine research in a multidisciplinary context.
  • Proactive approach to achieving objectives within the given timeframe.
  • Flexibility to collaborate effectively in a team on multiple projects.
  • Strong communication skills, with the ability to engage with scientists from diverse backgrounds.
  • Excellent English communication skills, both oral and written. Knowledge of French and/or Dutch is an advantage.


It is offered a full-time researcher position that will take place as two 50% contracts at the RBINS and UCLouvain.

RBINS offers

  • A part-time 50% open-ended employment contract as a “work leader” (SW2 salary scale for senior researcher).
  • You will do 50% of your work in a dynamic, challenging, varied, and stimulating research environment at the heart of Brussels, next to the European parliament.
  • A full reimbursement of public transport for commuting, or a bicycle allowance if you commute by bike.

UCLouvain offers

  • A part-time commitment (50%) as a postdoctoral researcher for the first five years. The initial five-year contract will be an undetermined contract with no intention of termination. An evaluation will be established after the initial 5-year period. After the first 10 years, for which we have a firm commitment, the continuation of the contract will depend on the results and the availability of suitable funding or an academic position for which we cannot make any commitment nowadays.
  • A dynamic and stimulating work environment at UCLouvain’s Louvain-la-Neuve campus.
  • Full reimbursement for commuting via public transport and/or a bicycle allowance.

The start date will be set by mutual agreement with the candidate, but this date shall not be later than 1st March 2024.

How to apply

To apply, please email a single PDF file containing: (i) a concise motivation statement for your application, including an outline of your future research plans (maximum 2 A4 pages, in English); (ii) your curriculum vitae accompanied by a publication list and contact information for 3 professional references; (iii) the academic dossier containing all pertinent elements (degree and diploma copies with associated grades, etc.). The application should be sent to (subject of email: “job application”) before June 18th 2023, 23:59 (CET).

Only applications that correspond to the profile and sent within the prescribed deadline will be accepted and responded to.

The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.

For further information regarding the job itself or the terms and conditions of employment, please contact Dr. Sébastien Legrand ( and Prof. Emmanuel Hanert (

General information about RBINS and UCLouvain research can be found on their respective websites.

Further information about this opportunity can be found here.

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