PhD studentship available: Internet of Living Things: Smart monitoring of urban biodiversity


Prof. Jonathan Silvertown, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh. Prof. Graham Stone,  Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences,  University of Edinburgh; Dr Sally Eaton, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

Project description

Most people live in cities and their first-hand experience of biodiversity is therefore of urban nature. This provides both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is that in urban environments, large numbers of people can be reached and can participate in the conservation of biodiversity. The challenge is that urban nature is little known and largely invisible to most people. This PhD project will explore the exciting possibilities to remedy this situation that are provided by internet technology. The idea is to test, through experiments in the City of Edinburgh, how electronic sensors designed to capture the sounds made by bats and other wildlife can be used to monitor urban biodiversity in real time as it changes from hour-to-hour and day-to-day. Sensor data can be gathered through Edinburgh’s Internet of Things network and shared with scientists and the public through Edinburgh Cityscope. This is a demanding project requiring wide collaboration across disciplines, but will be supported by supervisors and others in Edinburgh who are leaders in the fields of biodiversity research and informatics.

Key research questions

In the urban environment:

1. How do environmental variables influence bat activity?

2. Does local bat activity show top-down and/or bottom-up effects through the food chain?

3. How can IoT technology be used to involve the public in making an internet of living things?

Requirements and how to apply

Applicants should have a good degree in informatics (computer science) and a strong and demonstrable interest in ecology, or a first class degree in ecology and demonstrable skills in quantitative methods including coding (for example Python). An MSc in any relevant field would be an advantage.

Open to UK and EU citizens, check here for eligibility and how to apply

Pre-application enquiries are welcome to Jonathan.Silvertown at

Application deadline is Thursday 8 June 12pm. Interviews are anticipated on Thursday 22 June. Skype interviews can be accommodated.

The successful candidate will start in October 2017. 

Date of the event: 
Friday, June 9, 2017
Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh