An Underground Video Tracking System to Characterise Novel Earthworm-Plant Interactions at University of Aarhus

July 7, 2024

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Job Description

Applicants are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at Graduate School of Technical Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark, within the Quantitative Genetics and Genomics programme. The position is available from 01 January 2025 or later. You can submit your application via the above ‘Apply’ button.


PhD in Agricultural Ecology and Machine Learning: An Underground Video Tracking System to Characterise Novel Earthworm-Plant Interactions

Research area and project description:

Summary: Start an innovative PhD focused on developing high-throughput methods using cameras and computer vision to explore the hidden world of earthworm-plant interactions. Earthworms play a crucial ecological role, and this pioneering approach aims to uncover their interactions with plant roots. This project is the first phase of a comprehensive 5-year initiative employing advanced technologies (imaging, acoustics, deep learning, remote sensing, etc.) to enhance our understanding of earthworms.

Context: Soil health is the foundation of our food systems, yet we are losing it at an alarming rate due to our land use. To combat this, we must shift from extractive to restorative, circular agriculture. This paradigm shift requires extensive research on decomposers, particularly earthworms. Earthworms are essential for soil health due to their ubiquity and biomass, but their subterranean lifestyle poses significant observational challenges. Recent advances in remote sensing and deep learning offer a unique opportunity to study these elusive organisms.

Outcomes: As a successful applicant, you will develop “The Wormitron,” an innovative, open-source hardware system featuring cameras and 2D-terrariums to image earthworms and plant roots continuously under semi-controlled conditions. You will test hypotheses on the nature, timing, and implications (both physiological and evolutionary) of earthworm-root interactions. This project promises direct applications for sustainable agriculture and a profound understanding of these hidden ecosystem engineers.

Research Group: You will join the dynamic Digital Approaches for Resilient and Sustainable Agriculture (DARSA) group, established in 2022 at the Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics (QGG). The group and center foster an inclusive, multidisciplinary environment with robust local and international collaborations. Your research will take place at Aarhus University, a prestigious institution located in a vibrant student-friendly city.

Selection Process: Candidates will be evaluated based on their CV, motivation statement, and reference letters. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview (online or in person). The top candidate will be offered the position.

Why Apply?

  • Be at the forefront of integrating technology and ecology.
  • Contribute to groundbreaking research with significant environmental impact.
  • Work in a collaborative and supportive research environment.
  • Gain experience with cutting-edge technologies in a real-world application.

Project description. For technical reasons, you must upload a project description. Please simply copy the project description above and upload it as a PDF in the application.

How to apply:

Please read the full job description and apply at the university homepage

Apply online via the above ‘Apply’ button. 

Application deadline is 31 August 2024 at 23:59

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