Funded PhD Positions in Computer Science for Data-Driven Agriculture


Funded PhD Positions in Computer Science for Data-Driven Agriculture

University College Dublin, Ireland


About the Role

Growth in food production is not matching growth in global population – the world needs new ways of producing more food to meet this massive demand. More efficient and intensive production systems are needed, but so too is a decrease in the environmental impact of such systems. This challenge presents a huge opportunity for Ireland to position itself as a global leader in ‘data-driven’ agriculture, while also delivering a highly competitive and sustainable agri-food industry.

University College Dublin (UCD), together with Origin Enterprises Plc have established a new research programme, CONSUS, focussed on the application of precision agriculture to crop production with a particular emphasis on optimisation of crop production with lower environmental impacts. CONSUS adopts a data-driven approach underpinned by Big Data analytics, machine learning, IoT and next generation sensor technology. The ultimate goal for CONSUS is to provide a set of decision-support services to provide rapid, relevant and localised information to farmers and agronomists, with recommendations for immediate day-by-day on-farm decisions.

CONSUS is a collaborative programme including the Schools of Computer Science, Agriculture & Food Science, Biology & Environmental Science, Biosystems & Food Engineering and Industry Partner, Origin Enterprises. CONSUS is supported through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Strategic Partnership Programme.

Applications are invited for PhD scholarships in the UCD School of Computer Science. Five scholarships are available across a range of thematic activities. Research themes include:


  • System architecture and design: Design and development of a system architecture appropriate for handling, storing, routing and processing data of various types, with a view to providing timely advice to agriculture professionals. Experience of software engineering, software architecture design, databases, microservices, container technologies, Web of Things, Internet of Things and/or sensor systems is desirable.
  • Data analytics and decision support: Leveraging of machine learning and artificial intelligence on historical and live data streams to generate crop models that can be used to provide decision-support to farmers and agronomists. Experience of machine learning, intelligent agents and/or other artificial intelligence technologies is desirable.
  • Evaluation and trialling: In addition to functional evaluation, this theme also includes evaluation in-the-field with crop-growing stakeholders and validation of the models developed for data analytics and decision support. Experience of system evaluation and/or knowledge of crop production is desirable.

The five available fellowships are broadly related the following themes:

  1. System architecture/Data analytics.
  2. System architecture/Decision support.
  3. System architecture/Evaluation.
  4. Decision support.
  5. Decision support.


This research will be a core part of the project, leading to integration with other streams of interdisciplinary research to deliver intelligent decision-making for the optimisation of the agri-food production process.

Eligibility Criteria

  • First or upper second class honours Bachelor’s Degree and/or Master’s Degree in Computer Science or a relevant subject.
  • Applicants must satisfy the UCD Minimum Language Requirements (as outlined at

Duration and Salary

The scholarship is for a four-year period, and offers a tax-free stipend of €18,000 per annum, plus payment of PhD fees at EU level and an allowance of €1,700 for a computer. Scholarships are to start in January/February 2019.

About University College Dublin

University College Dublin (UCD) is one of Europe's leading research-intensive universities. It is Ireland's largest and most diverse university with over 30,000 students, drawn from approximately 124 countries.

UCD is Ireland's leader in graduate education with over 8,000 graduate students, with almost a quarter being graduate research students. It is home to over 7,000 international students and delivers degrees to over 5,000 students on overseas campuses.

 For information on studying at UCD and the supports provided for PhD Studentships, please consult:


Informal Enquiries

Informal enquiries about these positions may be made to Dr. David Lillis, School of Computer Science, University College Dublin (

Submission Process & Application End Date

Please send your CV (maximum length 5 pages including names and contact details of three referees), a covering letter outlining your suitability for the role (maximum 2 pages), and an example of your writing (publication, thesis, report, dissertation, etc.). Applications should be sent by email to Hilary McDonald ( and include the following text in the subject line: “CONSUS PhD Application”.

The closing date for applications is Monday, 3rd December 2018, 1pm (Irish Time).