PhD position: "Massively multi-task deep learning for wildlife sound monitoring"

PhD position: "Massively multi-task deep learning for wildlife sound monitoring"

Published Deadline Location
14 Sep 16 Oct Tilburg

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Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences has a job opening for a PhD researcher:
PhD position: “Massively multi-task deep learning for wildlife sound monitoring”.

Job description

Are you an enthusiastic researcher with a completed master's degree and programming skills? Would you like to develop deep learning algorithms to understand animal sounds? To collaborate with AI and biodiversity experts, as part of a team and with partners in many European countries?

PhD position: “Massively multi-task deep learning for wildlife sound monitoring”

We are now looking for PhD Doctoral Candidates in Bioacoustic AI. We have ten fully-funded positions available, within a prestigious EU funded project that reaches across Europe ( As a PhD candidate you will be based at Tilburg University, and you will work on your project in teamwork with experts in both AI and ecology/zoology. You will also collaborate with project partners in other European institutions, including extended research visits for in-depth collaborations.

About the project
This PhD project concerns “Massively multi-task deep learning for wildlife sound monitoring”. New results in AI for text, images and speech find that massively multi-task learning, i.e. training a model on many loosely-related objectives, can lead to “emergent” highly robust and flexible AI. This project aims to apply this to animal sound, to address the many difficult inference problems we face in acoustic surveying. 

In this project, you will:

  1. Design and implement deep learning algorithms to train deep learning for animal sounds, across many different datasets, using techniques such as federated learning and few-shot learning.
  2. Evaluate the extent to which unified systems are possible across many situations (e.g. on-land, underwater, on-body biologging, ultrasonic). 
  3. Develop low-footprint deep learning methods that can run on low-power devices.
  4. Explore applications of this strategy, such as in biologging animal behaviour monitoring or animal welfare monitoring. 
  5. While the main focus of this project is on AI algorithm development, you will collaborate with other researchers on various other aspects of BioacAI, such as animal behaviour. In addition to conducting your own research, you will attend network-wide training workshops and seasonal schools.


Tilburg University


General requirements and skills
Essential knowledge, skills and experience:

  • An MSc (completed, or soon to be awarded) in a topic relevant for the PhD such as machine learning, signal processing, quantitative biology, bioinformatics, bioacoustics, ecology, zoology, animal behaviour or similar;
  • Evidence of the ability to conduct high-quality research and write scientific text;
  • Good written and oral communication in English;
  • Good planning and time management skills;
  • The ability to work independently as well as collaboratively within the research group;
  • Proficiency in programming e.g. Python, R, C/C++, PyTorch, Tensorflow;
  • Willingness to learn skills from multiple disciplines (e.g. computer science, ecology)

Desirable knowledge, skills and experience:

  • Experience of working with audio data (sound recordings)
  • Experience of working with machine learning algorithms, especially deep learning
  • An interest in/affinity with biodiversity, and the field of natural sciences and biology

Eligibility requirements: Candidates can be of any nationality. You must fulfil the EU’s “mobility rule” for this funding scheme, which means you should not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the PhD host country for more than 12 months during the 36 months prior to starting the PhD. You must not already have a doctoral degree. You must also be eligible to work according to your host country’s regulations (e.g. visa requirements), and also to travel/work to other European countries for collaborations and workshops.

The PhD is planned to begin in Jan/Feb/Mar 2024.

Conditions of employment

The funded positions include a monthly full-time gross salary of €2.770 (first year) - €3.539 (fourth year), plus allowances for family/special needs if required, under the terms of EU MSCA funding.


Tilburg University

Research and education at the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences (TSHD) has a unique focus on humans in the context of the globalizing digital society, on the development of artificial intelligence and interactive technologies, on their impact on communication, culture and society, and on moral and existential challenges that arise. The School of Humanities and Digital Sciences consists of four departments: Communication and Cognition, Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence, Culture Studies and Philosophy; several research institutes and a faculty office. Also the University College Tilburg is part of the School. Each year around 275 students commence a Bachelor or (Pre) Master Program. The School has approximately 2000 students and 250 employees.
Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences



  • PhD
  • Language and culture; Behaviour and society
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 21863



Warandelaan 2, 5037 AB, Tilburg

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