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    ","datePosted":"2023-11-09T11:28:09.639Z","employmentType":[],"hiringOrganization":{"@type":"Organization","name":"Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)","sameAs":"https://cefas.co.uk","logo":"https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/UJruc6mxQEqkuIijVyLt"},"jobLocation":{"@type":"Place","address":{"@type":"PostalAddress","addressLocality":"Lowestoft, UK"}}}

    Senior Data Scientist - AI Specialist

    Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)

    Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)

    Software Engineering, Data Science
    Lowestoft, UK
    Posted on Thursday, November 9, 2023


    The vacancy is based at Cefas' main location in Lowestoft.

    Job summary

    The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) is a leader in marine science and technology, providing innovation, scientific evidence and impartial professional advice on the aquatic environment. Our work for the UK Government, national and international partners addresses the global problems of climate change, biodiversity loss and food security. The Data Science and Statistics Team collaborate with scientific experts across Cefas’ Science Directorate, providing technical expertise to deliver study design and analysis, novel data capture, input to national and international working groups, and peer-reviewed publications.

    Working in the Data Science and Statistics Team, you will have a prominent role in developing and leading Cefas data science and automated image analysis capability. The work involves identifying and addressing complex research questions, developing end-to-end applications of artificial intelligence and statistical algorithms to address priority questions in marine and freshwater science. Current projects include developing data, systems, and algorithms to automatically monitor plankton, seabed fauna, and fish catches, and remotely detect beach litter. This work will involve large, unstructured data sets, with the post-holder collaborating closely with IT colleagues to specify and deploy high performance computing and data storage infrastructure.

    The team’s remit spans Cefas’ broad science themes, so you will have opportunities to lead the analysis and modelling of fisheries and environmental datasets, and peer-reviewed publications, establishing your areas of research interest. You will also promote reproducible research, contribute to funding applications, and build external relationships, including with our strategic partners such as The Alan Turing Institute and leading UK universities.

    Cefas is proud of a diverse and inclusive work environment, committed to fairness and the promotion of equality of opportunity for all. We know that having a range of experiences, backgrounds, ways of working and thinking, makes us a stronger organisation, better at reflecting the communities we serve. We embrace different views and experiences and value the fresh perspective that people from a variety of circumstances bring to the work we do. We welcome applications from candidates who have not previously worked for the Civil Service, mid- and late-career changers with transferable skills, people from all backgrounds and circumstances regardless of disability, gender, age, ethnicity, LGBT+ identity and socio-economic status. 

    Job description

    Your main duties and responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:

    • Technical leadership – initiating, planning, and leading data science research projects involving novel analytical approaches or applications, in particular using machine learning, deep learning, image processing and computer vision. This will include collaborating with subject specialists to develop methods that ensure the quantity and quality of input data address the research question
    • Scientific computing - deploying cloud computing infrastructure to implement AI algorithms for automated image analysis, identifying current and future data science needs with the Cefas science computing panel, supporting, and training colleagues to use cloud computing in data intensive projects

    You will also contribute to grant applications, develop external research collaborations, and communicate research findings to technical and non-technical audiences, including leading technical reports and peer-reviewed papers.

    Person specification

    The following are essential criteria required for this role and you must be able to demonstrate your skills and experience in the following areas:

    • Evidence of developing bespoke technical applications and data science analyses, in areas such as machine learning, deep learning, image processing and computer vision
    • Highly experienced in handling and manipulating big data from multiple sources, with proven programming skills
    • Excellent scientific computing skills including Linux and Windows expertise and the ability to specify and deploy cloud computing solutions
    • Excellent communication and presentation skills, with the ability to present to technical and non-technical audiences and lead publications in peer-reviewed journals and/or detailed project reports
    • You understand how ethical issues and laws around data and AI fit into a wider context and how to work with relevant stakeholders to address ethical concerns
    • The ability to mentor and train others in data science and coding
    • The ability to lead work packages through to delivery; and
    • An MSc or PhD with a substantial amount of computing and analysis. An equivalent qualification will be considered, as will extensive relevant work experience


    We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

    • Changing and Improving
    • Delivering at Pace
    • Working Together

    We only ask for evidence of these behaviours on your application form:

    • Changing and Improving

    Technical skills

    We'll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

    • In-depth knowledge and experience of data science\statistical tools and techniques, including image classification methods, applied to solve problems creatively (this is the lead technical skill).
    • Highly proficient in programming, for example Python including libraries such as PyTorch, NumPy and OpenCV, and R or Julia.
    Alongside your salary of £37,295, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science contributes £10,069 towards you being a member of the Civil Service Defined Benefit Pension scheme. Find out what benefits a Civil Service Pension provides.
    • Generous annual leave entitlement – Cefas offers 25 days' annual leave on entry (rising to 30 days over first 5yrs) for full-time new entrants to the Civil Service. Employees receive 8 public holidays a year, plus an additional day to mark the late Queen's birthday
    • Access to learning and development tailored to your role
    • A working environment that supports a range of flexible working options
    • A working culture which encourages inclusion and diversity
    • Eligible to join the Civil Service Pension scheme – more information can be found on the CSP website http://www.civilservicepensionscheme.org.uk/
    • Staff recognition vouchers
    • In-year award scheme

    Selection process details

    This vacancy is using Success Profiles (opens in a new window), and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths, Experience and Technical skills.

    Application Process

    As part of the application process you are asked to provide a CV (job history, qualifications, past skills and experience), and a 500-word personal statement on how you meet the essential criteria as stated in the person specification section. In addition you will need to provide a 250-word statement on how you meet the advertised lead behaviour - Changing and Improving.

    You will also need to provide two, 250-word statements on how you meet each of the advertised technical skills:

    • In-depth knowledge and experience of data science\statistical tools and techniques, including image classification methods, applied to solve problems creatively
    • Highly proficient in programming, for example Python including libraries such as PyTorch, NumPy and OpenCV, and R or Julia

    Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form.


    Should a large number of applications be received, an initial sift may be conducted using the lead behaviour, Changing and Improving and the lead technical skill, In-depth knowledge and experience of data science\statistical tools and techniques, including image classification methods, applied to solve problems creatively. Candidates who pass the initial sift may be progressed to a full sift or progressed straight to assessment/interview.

    If more applicants pass the sift than can be interviewed, we will rank the applications on total score, then the lead technical skill (stated above) and then the lead behaviour (stated above).

    Sift and interview dates are to be confirmed.


    If successful at application stage, you will be invited to interview where you will be assessed on your previous experience, behaviours, technical skills and strengths.

    If shortlisted for interview, candidates will be sent a short programming exercise to complete and return in advance of your interview. You will need access to a computer with a programming environment such as Python. We expect the exercise to take no more than a few hours of your time. 

    If scores are equal following interview, an assessment of the lead behaviour, Changing and Improving and the lead technical skill, In-depth knowledge and experience of data science\statistical tools and techniques, including image classification methods, applied to solve problems creatively, will be used by the panel.

    The interview will be undertaken in person or remotely.


    Please be aware that this role(s) will be contractually based in a Defra group workplace/office. The successful candidate is required to carry out all their duties from a UK location, and cannot do so from an overseas location at any time.

    This role is based at the Lowestoft Laboratory.

    Blended Working

    Cefas operates a blended working policy subject to business need, giving people the flexibility to choose when and where they work and collaborate with others.

    Our staff are expected to work the office/lab location in Lowestoft, as required by their role and business team needs. There is flexibility to split the working week, spending a minimum of one day in the workplace.

    Reserve List

    A reserve list may be held for a period of 12 months from which further appointments can be made.


    New entrants are expected to start on the minimum of the pay band.

    Visa Sponsorship Statement

    Please take note that Defra does not hold a UK Visa & Immigration (UKVI) Skilled Worker License sponsor and are unable to sponsor any individuals for Skilled Worker Sponsorship.

    Reasonable Adjustment

    If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes. 

    If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should: 

    • Contact Government Recruitment Service via defrarecruitment.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs
    • Complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional


    If you are experiencing accessibility problems with any attachments on this advert, please contact the email address in the 'Contact point for applicants' section.

    Criminal Record Check

    If successful and transferring from another Government Department, a criminal record check may be carried out.

    In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service on your behalf. However, we recognise in exceptional circumstances some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing Pre-EmploymentChecks.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk stating the job reference number in the subject heading. 

    Internal Fraud Database Check

    Applicants who are successful at interview will be, as part of pre-employment screening subject to a check on the Internal Fraud Database (IFD). This check will provide information about employees who have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty offences. This check also applies to employees who resign or otherwise leave before being dismissed for fraud or dishonesty had their employment continued. Any applicant’s details held on the IFD will be refused employment.

    A candidate is not eligible to apply for a role within the Civil Service if the application is made within a 5-year period following a dismissal for carrying out internal fraud against government.

    Childcare Vouchers 

    Any move to Defra from another employer will mean you can no longer access childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for other government schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. Determine your eligibility at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

    Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.


    Successful candidates must undergo a criminal record check.
    People working with government assets must complete baseline personnel security standard (opens in new window) checks.

    Nationality requirements

    This job is broadly open to the following groups:

    • UK nationals
    • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
    • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
    • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) (opens in a new window)
    • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities who have made a valid application for settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
    • individuals with limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain who were eligible to apply for EUSS on or before 31 December 2020
    • Turkish nationals, and certain family members of Turkish nationals, who have accrued the right to work in the Civil Service
    Further information on nationality requirements (opens in a new window)

    Working for the Civil Service

    The Civil Service Code (opens in a new window) sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

    We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles (opens in a new window).
    The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.
    This vacancy is part of the Great Place to Work for Veterans (opens in a new window) initiative.
    The Civil Service welcomes applications from people who have recently left prison or have an unspent conviction. Read more about prison leaver recruitment (opens in new window).
    Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

    Contact point for applicants

    Job contact :

    • Name : Cally Wiles or Alec Wilson
    • Email : resourcing@cefas.co.uk

    Recruitment team

    • Email : defrarecruitment.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk

    Further information

    If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment Principles and you wish to make a complaint, in the first instance, you should contact:
    Government Recruitment Services via email: defrarecruitment.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk

    If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the Department, you can contact the Civil Service Commission: Click here to visit Civil Service Commission.

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