Key role for Edinburgh in new satellite data centre

Support from the Data-Driven Innovation initiative has helped secure a key role for Edinburgh-based researchers in a new centre that will use satellite data and artificial intelligence to tackle global environmental changes.

The University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences will partner with the University of Leeds to deliver the Centre for Satellite Data in Environmental Science (SENSE) – which will equip post-graduate students with the expertise to tackle issues such as climate change and the growing strain on natural resources.

SENSE will combine industry engagement with world-leading research facilities to train 50 new PhD researchers over the next three years.

Dr Edward Mitchard, Centre Co-director and Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said: “We are looking for outstanding candidates from environmental science, maths, physics, engineering and computer science disciplines to undertake a PhD at this exciting and innovative centre.”

“The students will belong to a happy, inclusive and stimulating research environment with supervision from world-leading earth observation scientists.”

As well as Edinburgh, SENSE students will be based in other leading UK research institutions including the University of Leeds, the National Oceanography Centre and the British Antarctic Survey.


Partnership support

The studentships are funded by a £2.2m investment from the Natural Environment Research Council, support from the UK Space Agency and a further £3.4m of matched funding from the Universities of Edinburgh and Leeds, the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal’s Data-Driven Innovation Programme and industry partners.

The centre will also bring together expertise in satellite remote sensing and advanced data science – which makes it possible to collect and analyse data from inaccessible areas that are under threat around the world.


Training programme

All first-year PhD students will receive advanced training in Earth observation systems and techniques and advanced data science methods, such as artificial intelligence.

Each student will have the opportunity to collaborate closely with the space and environmental science industry, through CASE partnerships and three-month industry placements.


Apply now

Recruitment is now open for the first cohort of students for the Centre – the deadline for applications is the 19th January 2020. For more information, visit:


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