PhD Position MarDATA-8 in Computer Science and Marine Data Science in the project “The digital lab book: Sharing and documentation of immersive visualization workflows” – 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

Marine sciences create vast amounts of diverse and complex digital data sets. To effectively conduct research with that data, many different forms of cutting-edge visualization workflows are needed, ranging from web based kiosks all the way to immersive virtual reality simulation. The research unit in which the project is embedded has strong expertise in all those fields, as creation, analysis and visualization of data range from seafloor maps over ocean current modelling to marine robot motion paths. Yet, in order to fully integrate visualization methods into the research process, open questions in terms of their objectiveness and reproducibility have to be solved first. Since most visualization workflows have not been able to meet such requirements yet (e.g., no recordings possible, personal bias in interpretations) they rarely form the basis for publications and are often dismissed as a scientific method as they struggle with the preoccupation of “just providing a few pretty pictures”.

This project will develop a reproducible visualization workflow to completely record, annotate, play back and even manipulate complex visualization sessions, with a focus on immersive technologies hosted at GEOMAR’s ARENA2 visualization lab (

The project aims at (1) recording the state of a visualization in terms of computer graphics, all user interaction (including motion capture), user annotations of real-time measurements and the interaction between users in a multi-user session (e.g. conversations). This metadata set should then be (2) arranged in a database including a versioning system. Next, (3) a means of exporting meaningful, quantitative reports of observations, playing back and sharing the session recordings, picking up and continuing old sessions, and even creating and jumping between alternative visualization scenarios shall be implemented. Finally this workflow should (4) be tested on a web based, a closed-source commercial, and an open source visualization framework in the context of a fully-fledged usability study.

This is a joint research project of GEOMAR and the Institute for Computer Science (Web Science Group) at Kiel University. The PhD student will work at the interface between Computer Science, Data Science, Open Science and Marine Geology / Oceanography but will have a research focus on the Computer Science aspects. The PhD thesis will allow for developing skills in (1) modern database architecture and data provenance, (2) user experience design and assessment, (3) cutting-edge multi-player visualization and collaborative telepresence methodologies, and (4) academic skills (giving talks, publishing of research results, networking).


Required qualification:

  • A Master’s degree (or equivalent) in computer science or a related field, held by the beginning of the project
  • Broad programming experience, or focus on full-stack development
  • Practical experience in software development in C/C++, Python, or related programming languages
  • Knowledge on relevant frameworks such as GIT, Jupyter, and their integration in complex workflows
  • Experience in presenting and communicating research results in academic settings
  • Ability to communicate fluently and grammatically correct in spoken and written English

Helpful qualification:

  • Knowledge in marine sciences, preferably marine geosciences
  • Knowledge in data base design and/or computer graphics
  • Experience with (immersive) visualization software and/or hardware
  • Knowledge on human-computer interaction and experience with conducting usability studies
  • Proven record of structured independent work and project management skills
  • An outgoing personality, having experience with working in an interdisciplinary team, and being comfortable working with user cohorts and domain scientists

The position is available for a funding period of 36 months. The salary depends on qualification and could be up to the 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 –Visualization” in the subject line. Please send your application not later than July 4th, 2021 to the following email address: bewerbung(at)

More details about the position here.

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