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[ITRDBFOR] wood anatomy meets artificial intelligence

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  • From: Martin Wilmking <wilmking AT>
  • To: itrdbfor AT
  • Subject: [ITRDBFOR] wood anatomy meets artificial intelligence
  • Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2019 11:28:58 +0200

Wood anatomy meets artificial intelligence

DIG-IT! – “Digitalization of natural complexity for the solution of socially relevant ecological problems” – is a new research consortium at the University of Greifswald, Germany. For a period of 36 months, starting 01.07.2019 and subject to the final allocation of funds, we are seeking a Ph.D. student (typical German PhD salary, 13 TV-L Wissenschaft, 65%) for wood anatomical studies.

(for other open positions see the end of this message)

Project background

By exploring the opportunities of digitalization for the ecological sciences, DIG-IT! will meet pressing ecological questions of high societal relevance with a future-oriented arsenal of methods and thereby qualify digitally competent ecologists and ecologically experienced biomathematicians and computer scientists. Dig-It! will address a broad array of questions including (but not limited to) service functions and stability of ecosystems under climate and land use change, species protection and innovative environmental monitoring. The overarching goal is to facilitate a "quantum leap" for the field of ecology through the development of universally applicable methods using self-learning algorithms ("Deep Convolutional Neural Networks"), because in the digital age the challenge no longer lies in the amount of available primary data, but in its evaluation. For this purpose, DIG-IT! will combine the developmental expertise for the automated analysis of image data (Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics, Rostock and Biomathematics University Greifswald, Germany) with the application to urgent ecological questions (Botany / Landscape Ecology / Zoology University Greifswald, Germany).

Your task: You will develop wood anatomical time series from forest trees in Germany (and abroad) under different management options (e.g. under drained or rewetted conditions, natural versus manages forests). You will closely work together with developers of artificial intelligence (machine learning algorithms) to train the algorithms for the automated detection and analysis of samples. Based on calibration studies, you will then apply the results in time (climate reconstruction) and space (influence of management). Your work will help to answer ecological and silvicultural questions with societal relevance (carbon cycle and climate change, sustainable forestry, regional climate reconstruction), since these questions require spatially and temporally highly-resolved information on growth dynamics and stress resistance as well as on climate sensitivity of native and non-native tree species.

You will work in a vibrant and international working group ( and collaborate with other scientists from related fields, e.g. paleoecology or zoology. You will have the chance to participate in additional qualification measures such as summer schools and training events.

Hiring requirements:

We are looking for highly motivated candidates with above-average qualifications, enthusiasm for, and experience in research as well as the willingness to actively participate in the joint project.

Ideally you have:

- an M.Sc. degree (or comparable university degree) in biology, landscape ecology, computer science, forest science, biomathematics or another relevant subject,

- solid knowledge in ecology and experience in dendrochronology, ideally also wood anatomy,

- excellent written and spoken English (lab language is English, all courses are held in English),

- Motivation to participate in an interdisciplinary research and teaching environment.

- A driver's license for passenger cars is an advantage, as is knowledge of German or the willingness to learn German.

The University would like to increase the proportion of women in areas in which they are underrepresented and thus applications from women are particularly welcome and will be treated with priority if they have the same qualifications and as long as there are no clear reasons which make a fellow applicant more suitable. Preference will be given to severely disabled applicants if they can provide equal qualifications. This call is addressed to all persons irrespective of their gender. Unfortunately, the application costs will not be reimbursed by the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. You can find the legally binding text of the job advertisement at

Applications comprising the common set of documents (curriculum vitae, copies of academic certificates, list of publications) should be sent by April 14th, 2019, in electronic form (one pdf-file) by email, to

wilmking AT

For more details, please contact Prof. Dr. Martin Wilmking, +49 3834 420 4095 (direct line) wilmking AT


In total we will have 5 Ph.D. positions, one postdoc position and one technician position open, please contact wilmking AT for more info on those positions.

Prof. Martin Wilmking Ph.D.
Head: Working Group Landscape Ecology and Ecosystem Dynamics (LEED)
Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology
University Greifswald
Soldmannstrasse 15
D-17487 Greifswald

Tel: +49 (0) 3834 420 4095

Group website:

  • [ITRDBFOR] wood anatomy meets artificial intelligence, Martin Wilmking, 04/04/2019

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