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Marine and Coastal Environmental Monitoring using Drone and Aerial Hyperspectral Imaging Sensors

   Department of Built Environment

   Monday, April 10, 2023  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

PhD Postgraduate Research Fellowship

Ref. No:   CW_2023_01_MI

Position:   PhD Postgraduate Research Student

Project:   Marine and Coastal Environmental Monitoring using Drone and Aerial Hyperspectral Imaging Sensors

Project details:

Applications are invited to undertake a full-time four-year PhD by research project in the Department of Built Environment, South East Technological University, Carlow on the following project:

“Marine and Coastal Environmental Monitoring using Drone and Aerial Hyperspectral Imaging Sensors"

An outstanding PhD student is sought for a Marine Institute funded project with the overall objective of developing and testing UAV-hyperspectral remote sensing methods for mapping and monitoring intertidal and coastal ecosystems in Ireland.

The availability of a state-of-the-art UAV-hyperspectral system represents an opportunity to potentially revolutionise monitoring of the coastal and marine environment by collecting imagery at an unprecedented spectral and spatial resolution, while also optimising operational flexibility and low cost. However, this is not without its challenges.

Hyperspectral imaging systems acquire images over hundreds contiguous spectral bands. The high spectral resolution of a hyperspectral imager allows for detection, identification and quantification of surface materials, as well as inferring biological and chemical processes. This, when combined with aerial drone deployment and remote sensing technologies, makes this methodology advantageous for many applications including geology and mineral exploration; forestry; marine, coastal zone, inland waters and wetlands; agriculture; ecology; urban; snow and ice; and atmosphere. For these applications, ground truth signatures collected in the field and indexed in spectral libraries are critical for many methods of analysis, in particular in challenging coastal environments where species (e.g. seaweed or other vegetation) are influenced by such a wide range of environmental conditions.

A lack of proven and standardised mapping methodologies, surveying time restrictions during the intertidal period and similarity (visual and spectral) of complex vegetation in ecosystems all represent significant barriers to the operational use of UAV-hyperspectral data. In this context, the objective of this research is to develop and test a suite of reproducible UAV-hyperspectral remote sensing protocols for quantitative mapping and monitoring of ecologically significant ecosystems in Irish intertidal and coastal environments.

The position is fully funded for four years and brings with it a stipend of €18,500 per annum plus tuition fees, together with provision of €3,000 per annum for fieldwork, conferences and external course attendance.

The successful candidate will join a growing Environmental Engineering research group at South East Technological University (SETU), Carlow, and will also work in collaboration with the Marine Institute including placement in Oranmore, Co. Galway.



This project (Grant-Aid Agreement No. CS/22/009) is carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Government of Ireland.

Research Profile

First Stage (R1)

Required Education Level

Main Research Fields

Engineering                                                       ☒

Environmental Sciences                                    ☒

Geosciences                                                       ☒

Information Science                                          ☒

Education Level

Bachelor Degree or equivalent                         ☒

Master Degree or equivalent                             ☒  


Required Experience

Engineering                                                       ☒

Environmental Sciences                                    ☒

Geosciences                                                       ☒

Information Science                                          ☒

Minimum years of experience required

1 - 4                                                                   ☒



Excellent                                                           ☒

6.0 IELTS Min                                                  ☒


Website for additional details and application form.

SETU Carlow, South East Technological University Carlow Campus (

Supervisor: Dr Owen Naughton

For any informal queries about the research project, please contact Dr Owen Naughton on

For general queries relating to the scholarship, please contact Sarah O’Brien, Graduate Studies Office on  


·      Scholarship: €18,500 p.a.

·      Tuition Fees

·      Research Expenses: €3,000 p.a.

Entry Requirements

Essential Criteria:

·      Applicants must hold a First-Class Honours Degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline (Engineering, Earth Science) from an internationally recognised institution;

·      Strong proficiency in written and oral English is required, together with excellent written and oral communication skills. Applicants for whom English is not their first language will require at least IELTS 6.0 or equivalent.

·      Demonstrate a strong motivation for research and be able to demonstrate ability in data analysis, programming and remote sensing or demonstrate the capacity to develop such skills;

·      Applicants must demonstrate a strong interest in and knowledge of the broad research area of the PhD topic;

·      Applicants must demonstrate a clear commitment to co-produced research; 

·      Demonstrate organizational skills, time management and communication skills with ability to work to priorities and deadlines;

·      Willingness to carry out work in the field under physically demanding conditions and uneven terrain;

·      Applicants who are currently registered at another Higher Education Institution cannot be offered a scholarship until they provide evidence that they have completed their studies at the other Institution. 

Desirable Criteria

·      A Masters level qualification in remote sensing/environmental engineering/machine learning would also be desirable.

·      Demonstrate ability to write research reports or other publications to a publishable standard.

·      Demonstrate experience in the use of fixed wing or rotor commercial drones.

·      Drone pilot licence would be an advantage.

·      A full EU Drivers Licence is desirable.

Application Process:

To be considered for interview, please download the Postgraduate Application Form and return the completed application to with the Project Title and Reference number CW_2023_01_MI in the subject field.

Application Deadline

10th April 2023 at 1600.

Envisaged Starting Date

May 2023

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