PhD fellowship in Geoinformatics/Remote Sensing

PhD Project in remote sensing for characterization of savanna woody vegetation dynamics
Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management
Faculty of SCIENCE
University of Copenhagen

Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Section of Geography invites applicants for a PhD fellowship in remote sensing for characterization of savanna woody vegetation dynamics. The project is part of the research project “Unravelling climate change impacts on savanna vegetation ecosystems” (CLISA), which is financed by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF).

Start date is (expected to be) February 1st 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project

Savanna ecosystems host 20% of the Earth’s human population, cover around 20% of the Earth’s surface and include the majority of global rangelands used for livestock production. Also, savannas contribute 30% to the total terrestrial net primary production, and are therefore key in quantifying the global carbon cycle. Savanna ecosystems are characterized by the balanced coexistence of woody and herbaceous vegetation, the distribution and abundance of which are controlled by land management, climate and possibly also increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Changes in any of these controlling factors can lead to an imbalance of a long established coexistence, and global change. The complex interactions between the forcing mechanisms of the observed changes in savanna ecosystems are not well understood, but is key in understanding the consequences for livestock production and subsistence of indigenous communities. Given the pressures of climate change and population growth, there is an urgent need for this research to support adaptation and mitigation strategies as highlighted in the global goals for sustainable development. The CLISA project aims at developing satellite remote sensing-based techniques for detailed characterization of global savanna woody vegetation dynamics and carbon stocks over recent decades used to analyze forcing mechanisms of savanna vegetation dynamics.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for candidates within the field(s) of geoinformatics/remote sensing. Applicants can have a background from biogeography/geoinformatics/remote sensing/environmental/enginering sciences.

  • A strong background in optical, lidar and/or microwave remote sensing of vegetation ecosystems and time series analysis will be preferred.
  • Candidates should have strong quantitative skills (statistics and modeling) and have experience with one or more coding languages (e.g. Python, R, IDL, Matlab) as well as having proven experience in cloud-based handling and processing large remote sensing datasets.
  • Proven experience of working with vegetation ecosystem analysis and understanding of vegetation structure/functioning.
  • Proficiency in spoken/written English, including skills in academic writing are essential.

Our group and research – and what do we offer?

The successful candidate will be ancored in the section of Geography within the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. We are located in Copenhagen. The remote sensing group includes more than 20 PhDs and Postdocs and the candidate can expect a lively and dynamic working environment with a lot of synergy and collaboration within the group. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in a dynamic and highly international research environment. Our research facilities include modern laboratories and IT facilities including acces to HPC systems. The project also offers acces to global cover PlanetScope data as well as funding for acquiring VHR imagery of selected regions.

Principal supervisor is Professor Rasmus Fensholt Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Section of Geography, University of Copenhagen, Oester Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark. DIR +45 35322526, MOB +45 20885383,

The PhD programme

A three year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme), if you already have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master’s degree.


Qualifications needed for the regular programme
To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.

Terms of employment in the regular programme
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Responsibilities and tasks in the PhD programme

  • Complete and pass the MSc education in accordance with the curriculum of the MSc programme

(ONLY when you are attending the integrated MSc and PhD programme)

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project

We are looking for the following qualifications:

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Relevant publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other relevant professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in remote sensing of the environment
  • Good language skills


Application and Assessment Procedure

Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include:

  1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  2. Reflections on how the CLISA research project aims can be approached methodologically.
  3. Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  4. Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
  5. Publication list (if possible)
  6. Reference letters (if available)

Application deadline:

The deadline for applications is 15th November 2023, 23:59 GMT +1.

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at

Interviews with selected candidates are expected to be held in week 50-51

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website:

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 

Deadline: 2022-11-15 at 23:59
Unit: Faculty of Science

Read the job description at the university homepage or apply.

Post expires on Tuesday November 15th, 2022