PhD on autonomous detection of marine benthic resources

Memorial University
St. John's, NL, Canada
Job Type:
  • PhD (Fully funded)
Degree Level Required:
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PhD on autonomous detection of marine benthic resources

Applications are invited for a PhD position in autonomous detection of marine benthic resources funded in part through the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI; and based at the Department of Ocean Sciences ( of Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) in St. John’s, NL, Canada.

The PhD candidate will contribute towards the development of advanced ROV capacity for intelligent, semi-autonomous recognition and collection of sea urchins and other marine benthic resources under natural environmental conditions and habitat characteristics. This multidisciplinary project will (1) build sea urchin identification capacity based on image recognition and machine learning; and (2) address computer vision tasks, including the implementation of control systems techniques for ROV stabilization under wavy conditions. The candidate will interact with researchers at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Kraken Robotics, a Newfoundland-based leading marine technology company.


The candidate will work under the supervision of Drs. Patrick Gagnon (Ocean Sciences, MUN), Lourdes Peña-Castillo (Biology / Computer Science, MUN), and Andrew Vardy (Computer Science / Electrical and Computer Engineering, MUN) and in close collaboration with government and industry partners and other graduate and undergraduate students involved in the research program.


Requirements for the position include: • M.Sc. in computer science or a related discipline with a strong background in computer vision, machine learning, and digital image processing. Desirable skills/experience for the position include: • Knowledge of deep neural networks and 3D laser imaging. • Experience with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), particularly control systems techniques. • Fundamental knowledge of marine ecosystems is an asset.

  • How to Apply

    Your application package will include 1) a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications for the position; 2) a detailed curriculum vitae with the names and contact information of three references; and 3) a copy of your most recent university transcripts (official or unofficial). Start Date: 6 January, 2022 (start of the winter semester at MUN). We will accept candidatures until a suitable candidate is identified.

Additional Information

The Department of Ocean Sciences of MUN is located at the Ocean Sciences Centre (OSC) in Logy Bay. The OSC is a major facility for marine research on the Atlantic coast and is one of Canada’s largest marine laboratories. By virtue of its location, the department provides Canadian and international scientists and students access to the flora and fauna of the northwest Atlantic Ocean and is uniquely situated for shore-based studies of the cold-ocean processes and subarctic, Arctic and deep-sea organisms. A strategic goal of the department is to carry out world-class research that focuses on organisms and processes in the cold ocean and to provide education and training opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Memorial University is Atlantic Canada’s largest university. By offering diverse undergraduate and graduate programs to 18,000 students (, it provides a distinctive stimulating environment for learning in the Province’s capital city, St. John’s which is a safe, friendly city with great historic charm, a vibrant cultural life and easy access to a wide range of outdoor activities. Memorial plays an integral role in the education and cultural life of Newfoundland and Labrador. NL has strong cultural, social and economic linkages to the oceans and fisheries.

Therefore, there is great interest, support and engagement in marine research by the public, industry, NGOs and government departments across the province.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply. However, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority. Memorial University is strongly committed to employment equity and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates, including women, members of visible minorities, Aboriginal persons, members of sexual minorities and persons with disabilities.