PhD position on Machine and Transfer Learning under Distribution Shifts for Agricultural Applications and Food Security

PhD position on Machine and Transfer Learning under Distribution Shifts for Agricultural Applications and Food Security

Published Deadline Location
1 Dec 27 Dec Wageningen

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Job description

The Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing (GRS) at Wageningen University and Research is looking for an aspiring PhD to develop modern machine learning methodologies around deep learning towards artificial intelligence for agricultural applications and food security questions. Currently established deep learning models often fail unexpectedly when tested with data that is different from their training setting, even in subtle ways.

In this project, you will advance this research field by investigating how to develop and design dynamic deep learning models that benefit from multi-model heterogeneous data for several agriculturally highly relevant problems like crop type classification, crop yield prediction, field boundary delineation, disease and anomaly detection, and the data-driven integration of environmental covariates and machining practices in current models.

The research builds upon recent advancements in self-supervised, contrastive, and transfer learning, and it involves designing and evaluating model architectures for image and time series data. Processing and integrating remote sensing and satellite data alongside other relevant data modalities also will be key to the research objective of developing dynamic and intelligent systems that provide further insight into modern agricultural applications and food security problems.

You will work together with an interdisciplinary and international team of experts in deep learning, artificial intelligence, remote sensing, crop modelling and food security, within the AgrifoodTEF project.

You will work here
The research is hosted within the Laboratory for Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing, and Wageningen Data Competence Center. You will be co-supervised by prof. dr. Ioannis Athanasiadis and Assistant prof dr. Marc Rußwurm


Wageningen University & Research


You have:
  • a M.Sc. degree in artificial intelligence, computer science, environmental or agricultural science, remote sensing, geodesy, or a similar relevant field;
  • demonstrated experience in applied machine learning, preferably in remote sensing or agricultural applications;
  • proficiency in programming in Python and experience in Pytorch, Scikit-Learn or related modern machine learning libraries;
  • an understanding of machine learning principles and concepts;
  • a high motivation, self-driven curiosity alongside enthusiasm to work in a highly dynamic team towards a common objective.

Candidates should meet all the entry requirements of the WUR PE&RC PhD programme.

The position is available from February 2024 with a duration of four years. A later start is possible, but later than September 1st, 2024. Mention clearly in your application letter since when you are available.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation hours by working more, per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team. The gross salary for the first year is € 2.770,- per month rising to € 3.539,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the project's duration (4 years total) if performance is sufficient.There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling. For instance under the "30% rule", certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.


Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

These are the points our employees list as good reasons to come work at WUR: read the 5 reasons to come work at WUR

About laboratory of Geo-information science and Remote Sensing (GRS)
We are the laboratory of Geo-information science and Remote Sensing (GRS) of Wageningen University. Our fundamental research and education concerns our living environment: nature, landscape, land use, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, water management, and various claims on space. The laboratory is very international in terms of staff and student composition. In Wageningen, we are active in several B.Sc. programs and M.Sc. programs especially the one in Geo-Information Science. We lead fundamental and applied research towards Science for Impact.

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • P1380214-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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