PhD Position MarDATA-5 in Computer Science and Marine Data Science in the project “Automated Event Detection and Data-Analytics in Distributed Seafloor Sensor Networks” – Deadline 04 July 2021

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel is a foundation of public law jointly financed by the Federal Republic of Germany (90 %) and the state of Schleswig-Holstein (10 %) and is one of the internationally leading institutions in the field of marine sciences. Currently GEOMAR disposes over an annual budget of approx. 80 million Euro and has approx. 1000 employees.

Project Description

Due to rising sea levels and growing populations, coastal communities have never been as vulnerable to natural hazards as today. Moreover, we see an ongoing transformation of the energy sector through, for example, the booming offshore wind energy and the planned storage of CO2 beneath the sub-seafloor. In this context, the project aims at a paradigm shift in seafloor monitoring technology away from today’s inflexible, costly, and mostly cabled networks with highly specialized instruments requiring sophisticated infrastructure towards cost-efficient, distributed, and intelligent approaches. By devising swarms of intelligent underwater sensor nodes, each equipped with sensing, computing and communication capabilities, we will enable resource- and energy-efficient, distributed data-collection and analytics at (quasi) real-time on the seafloor. The underwater sensor network will coordinate to analyze and detect events of interest and intelligently adapt sensing protocols to, for example, save energy when few events of interest occur. Envisioned applications include monitoring of sub-seafloor operations or early warning systems for active submarine volcanoes.

This is a joint research project of GEOMAR and the Institute of Computer Science at Kiel University. The Doctoral researcher works at the interface between Computer Science, Data Science and Marine Geoscience, but has a research focus on the Computer Science aspects. The overarching research aim of the PhD thesis will be to devise approaches to distributed and adaptive data analytics in resource-constrained seafloor sensor networks that can reliably achieve complex autonomous monitoring. Each sensor node will be equipped with a variety of sensors and while each device is cheap and resource-constrained, the novelty of the approach and its advantages stem from the number of devices, their distributed deployment, and their ability to compute and communicate. This enables new approaches to cooperatively analyze data and to intelligently react as a community to events building on top of a lander platform being developed by GEOMAR. The project will focus on novel approaches to (1) devise resource-efficient, autonomous and distributed event detection and data analytics algorithms for seafloor sensor nodes, and (2) design communication strategies and distributed network architectures for seafloor sensor swarms. Finally, the sensor swarms will be (3) tailored for one or multiple test applications under real word conditions as demonstration project(s).


The applicant needs to:

  • hold a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Computer Science or a related field by the beginning of the project with a focus on Networked, Distributed and/or Embedded Systems.
  • In addition, knowledge in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence is helpful
  • be able to communicate fluently in spoken and written English
  • have experience in software development in C/C++, Python, or related programming languages

Ideally, the applicant is interested or has experience in one of more of the fields of (marine) geoscience, electronic engineering and distributed systems and is willing to participate in coastal and sea-going expeditions.

The position is available for a funding period until August, 30, 2024. The salary depends on qualification and could be up to class 13 TVöD-Bund of the German tariff for public employees. This is a full-time position. The position cannot be split. Flexible working time models are generally possible. The fixed-term contract shall comply with Section 2 Paragraph 1 of The Act of Academic Fixed-Term Contract (German WissZeitVG).

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel seeks to increase the proportion of female scientists and explicitly encourages qualified female academics to apply.

GEOMAR is an equal opportunity employer and encourages scientists with disabilities to apply. Qualified disabled applicants will receive preference in the application process.

Please send your application for this post via email in a single pdf-file mentioning the keyword “MarDATA –Distributed Seafloor Sensor Networks in the subject line. Please send your application not later than July 4th, 2021 to the following email address: bewerbung(at)

For further information regarding the position and research unit please contact Prof. Dr. Olaf Landsiedel (ol(at) and Dr. Jens Karstens (jkarstens(at)

More details about the position here.

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