Senior Research Associate, Autonomous Systems for Biodiversity Monitoring

The Alan Turing Institute

The Alan Turing Institute

Data Science · Full-time
London, UK
53,576 – 55,123 EUR per year
Posted on Monday, November 20, 2023

Company Description

Named in honour of Alan Turing, the Institute is a place for inspiring, exciting work and we need passionate, sharp, and innovative people who want to use their skills to contribute to our mission to make great leaps in data science and AI research to change the world for the better.

Please find more information about us here


The Alan Turing Institute’s new strategy, Turing 2.0, was officially launched in March 2023 with a focus on three Grand Challenges which directly underpin and support the national priorities. One of these Grand Challenges is focused on Environment and Sustainability. This programme of research will develop UK leadership within the Environment and Sustainability community by developing, deploying, and delivering fundamental digital technologies to address the climate and biodiversity crisis and the need for greater sustainability.

The world is facing unprecedented environmental challenges and the need to address these issues has never been more pressing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Twins present a unique and timely opportunity to address these challenges, providing new insights, delivering new tools and deploying new approaches that can help us mitigate and adapt to the impact of human activities on the environment. We are working closely with the community to develop missions building on previous work in environmental forecasting, the tracking of global resources, the automation of wildlife monitoring and designing net zero solutions for sustainable cities and regions.

The Alan Turing Institute is looking to recruit a Senior Research Associate to work with an interdisciplinary team to develop autonomous decision-making solutions for scientific research questions, under the open-source research project entitled “AI and Autonomous Systems for Biodiversity Monitoring”. The project stems from the observation that global biodiversity decline is a critical issue facing humanity, and, in consequence, biodiversity monitoring is essential to understand the functioning of ecosystems, as well as impacts of human activities and climate change, and to develop policies to address this decline. The goal is to develop real-world exemplars of AI-driven Biodiversity Monitoring, selected to leverage existing efforts towards this direction and address outstanding technical challenges in key areas of autonomous marine monitoring and citizen science-led terrestrial monitoring.


The Senior Research Associate will work closely with an interdisciplinary team of senior scientists, domain experts, and Research Associates at the Turing, as well as external collaborators.

The candidate may be from a scientific or computer science background. Their role will be to develop algorithms for adaptive sampling in the context of autonomous monitoring missions via underwater vehicles (e.g. gliders). The candidate will work on the work package of the project “AI and Autonomous Systems for Biodiversity Monitoring”, which focuses on equipping pilot-less AUVs with advanced information gathering capabilities to optimise the quantity/quality of the data collected, while satisfying safety and environmental constraints using newly developed algorithms (greedy approaches, AI planning, probabilistic reasoning, and reinforcement learning).

The postholder will play an active role in the technical meetings that will take place between the partner institutions, establishing a robust platform for developing future programmes between environmental science researchers, The Alan Turing Institute and the wider scientific community. This is a collaborative research role and so it is crucial that the candidate enjoys working with others and is responsive within an interdisciplinary research environment.


The selected candidate will be expected to work closely with the project leaders, and to:

  • Undertake research on autonomous decision-making for adaptive sampling missions with underwater vehicles within the context of the project “AI and Autonomous Systems for Biodiversity Monitoring”;
  • Take a lead on writing up findings as they emerge, producing reports, and developing publications in peer reviewed journals, in collaboration with the research team;
  • Provide technical project management and leadership for research projects, ensuring successful outcomes;
  • Liaise with partners/funders and colleagues to understand and prioritise project goals, and balancing partners value with research outputs;
  • Define the research direction in collaboration with the PI
  • Develop software to implement decision-making algorithms for adaptive sampling;
  • Run experiments as appropriate to demonstrate the performance of such algorithms;
  • Work collaboratively with researchers, senior investigators from across the Turing and external partners on the project;


  • PhD degree or equivalent qualification/ experience in a field with significant elements of autonomous decision-making (e.g., AI planning, probabilistic reasoning) and/or machine learning (e.g., reinforcement learning).
  • Significant experience in autonomous systems and autonomous decision making
  • Fluency in at least one programming language
  • Familiarity with one or more machine learning toolsets (e.g., SciKit Learn, JAX, TensorFlow, PyTorch, etc.) or autonomous decision-making toolsets (e.g., PDDL planners)
  • Experience in managing, structuring, and analysing research data
  • Evidence of algorithm development for scientific research
  • Interest in methodological advances in biological sciences, environmental sciences or agricultural sciences

Other information


If you are interested in this opportunity, please click the apply button below. You will need to register on the applicant portal and complete the application form including your CV and covering letter. If you have questions about the role or would like to apply using a different format, please contact us on 020 3862 3536 or email

If you are applying for more than one role at the Turing, please note that only one Cover Letter can be visible on your profile at one time. If you wish to apply for multiple roles and do not want to overwrite your existing Cover Letter, please apply for the role using the button below and forward your additional cover letter directly to quoting the job title.

If you are an internal applicant and wish to apply, please send your CV and Cover Letter directly to and your application will be considered.

CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS: Sunday 10th December 2023 at 23:59



This full-time post is offered on a fixed term basis for three years. The annual salary is £53,576 - £55,125 plus excellent benefits, including flexible working and family friendly policies,

The Alan Turing Institute is based at the British Library, in the heart of London’s Knowledge Quarter. We expect staff to come to our office at least 4 days per month. Some roles may require more days in the office; the hiring manager will be able to confirm this during the interview.


The Alan Turing Institute is committed to creating an environment where diversity is valued and everyone is treated fairly. In accordance with the Equality Act, we welcome applications from anyone who meets the specific criteria of the post regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

We are committed to making sure our recruitment process is accessible and inclusive. This includes making reasonable adjustments for candidates who have a disability or long-term condition. Please contact us at to find out how we can assist you.

Please note all offers of employment are subject to obtaining and retaining the right to work in the UK and satisfactory pre-employment security screening which includes a DBS Check.

Full details on the pre-employment screening process can be requested from

The Alan Turing Institute is an equal opportunity employer.