MaREI 2021 Platform PhD Monitoring, Mapping, Tracking Wave Driven Rocks & Boulders


The 2021 ‘Platform PhD Programme’ supports the undertaking of five fully-funded PhD studentships supporting the strategic aims of the MaREI Strategic Plan and Phase 2 Proposal with inter-institutional collaboration through co-supervision. The project below is one of these PhD opportunities.

· Minimum Qualification Required: Applicants should have at minimum a primary degree (Level 8 NFQ) or equivalent first class or upper second honours in Mathematical Science, Engineering or Equivalent.

· Funding: The candidate will be funded through to May 2025 at SFI PhD scholarship rates: €18,500 p.a. (€1,540 per month) tax free stipend + €5,500 fees, total value €24k per calendar year.

· Commencement Date: As soon as possible from June 2021. Funding for the PhD studentship will expire on 31st May 2025, with no option for extensions under MaREI P2 to this timeframe. Accordingly, funding will be allocated to PhD project on a pro-rated basis, which will be dependent on the registration date of the PhD candidate. The candidate must be registered by 1st September 2021.

· Application Deadline:   You can apply as an approved graduand once your University exam boards are finished, even ahead of your graduation ceremony. Submission of completed application before 24 June 2021 is recommended to accommodate registration ahead of the September deadline. 


Additional information

· Successful PhD candidates will be required to participate in the structured MaREI doctoral training programme, and to adhere to all reporting and training requirements therein.


Project Title: Monitoring, Mapping, Tracking Wave Driven Rocks & Boulders.


Lead PI/FI:  Prof Frederic Dias, UCD, Research Area 1. (See here)

Co-Supervisory PI/FI: Prof Dan Toal, UL, Research Area 3 & 1. (See here)


Project Summary:

The project investigates the interaction of breaking waves with small rocks and structures which is of interest in areas of climate change/ coastal erosion and in marine renewable energy infrastructure deployed in the marine environment.

The project is thematically linked to MaREI and ERC funded research in wave breaking and wave run-up (e.g. ERC HIGHWAVE project). Wave breaking represents a key physical process that affects the evolution of ocean waves, the interaction between the overlying atmosphere, the underlying ocean and the seabed and structures introduced into the ocean such as vessels, ocean energy converters, cables, piles, foundations, or rock armour.

Inter alia the ongoing research in MaREI and HIGHWAVE is developing and deploying new concepts in wave measurement with improved characterisation of wave breaking using: real-time instrumentation to quantify erosion by powerful breaking waves. The objectives of this PhD project will support this with research and development for repeated robotic measurements of the marine environment at target wave breaking sites to measure and quantify change over time and specifically the motion of small rocks at the seabed caused by wave breaking. This will be achieved with combination of modelling and simulation and experimental field work with ROV and UAV imaging (laser/3D sonar/photogrammetry) from the submerged seabed through the intertidal zone to above high water line to generate high definition 3D models of seabed boulder fields.

The research will provide information about wave action and effects on boulder deposits, erosion, and structural damage.


Funding: The candidate will be funded through to May 2025 at SFI PhD scholarship rates: €18,500 p.a. (€1,540 per month) tax free stipend + €5,500 fees, total value €24k per calendar year.


Project Objectives: The project supports the following MaREI Phase 2 Stated Project Objectives:

Objective RA1.1: Develop technologies, tools and processes that will accelerate the progress of Wave Energy Converters (WEC) through the Technology Readiness Levels to open sea sites and commercialisation

Objective RA3.1: Advanced close quarters ORE Infrastructure Inspection and intervention

Objective RA3.2: Persistent advanced Robotics for monitoring and evaluation of ORE sites including UAV systems with remote pilot.

Specific Project Objectives:

  • Development of processes and methods for repeated surveys of inter tidal boulder fields.
  • Integration/fusion of multi sensor (laser/3D sonar/photogrammetry) data acquired from ROVs and UAVs to yield seamless models.

Change analysis on data sets to yield temporal effects of erosion and boulder movements.


Collaborative Plan: The candidate will work closely with Prof Dias and his team in UCD in the wave modelling, wave structure interactions and seabed interaction aspects of the project. The candidate will work with Prof Toal and the UL Robotics Team in aspects of seabed Laser/sonar/camera imaging, ROV and UAV operations for field trials/data acquisition. 


Strategic Alignment: The following text extracts in italics are resonant extracts from the MaREI Phase 2 project proposal and strategic plan documents for this PhD.

“Enable positive climate action through the provision of leadership in the areas of climate mitigation, climate adaptation, climate science, and climate dialogue”.

Objective 2.1: Develop technology pathways to support climate mitigation and adaptation, ….

This project will develop capability for directly monitoring the effects of costal change resulting from climate change through increased storm activity and wave energy. 

“Better understand and sustainably utilise the potential of our significant marine and coastal resources”.

Objective 3.1: Assess and develop both the scientific and societal indicators of a Healthy Marine Ecosystem and characterise the potential impacts of anthropogenic activities on ecosystem health.

Objective 3.2: Build the framework and tools to facilitate improved understanding and management of coastal and marine areas.

This project will develop tools for change analysis and management of marine areas.   


Impact Statement: “Facilitate the transition to a low-carbon energy future through the provision of the under- lying research and innovation, and the training of the highly skilled leaders of tomorrow”.

Objective 1.1: Develop technologies, tools and processes to support the advancement and integration of renewable energy resources, including offshore renewable energy and bioenergy.

“Inform policy on the energy transition, climate action, and the blue economy by increasing and improving the scientific evidence base for policy-makers”.

Objective 4.2: Continue to inform National and International policy and practice with regard to the Energy Transition, Climate Action, and the Blue Economy

The project provides tools, techniques and data on the effects of wave and storm driven erosion in difficult to monitor coastal zones and on installed renewable energy infrastructure and will thus inform Energy Transition, Climate Action, and the Blue Economy as roll out of Marine Renewable Energy is in a phase of significant growth and coastal erosion and inundation is a significant aspect of climate change globally. The project thus will significantly advance the state of the art, specifically as the intertidal zone is a very challenging zone to acquire data within and remains a significant Gap zone in data such as within the National Seabed Survey and Infomar programmes (challenge for monitoring and mapping, left till last in the seabed mapping for reason of the challenges involved in gathering the data).

“Support societal engagement on grand challenges to facilitate participatory action on the energy transition, climate action and the blue economy”

Objective 6.1: Facilitate and advance engaged research by supporting stakeholder engagement and involvement across the research life cycle.

Objective 6.2: Facilitate informed decision-making and changes in practice by providing accessible information and support to stakeholders.

Objective 6.3: Collaborate on raising awareness and literacy in the areas of the energy transition, climate action, and the blue economy through outreach, education and training opportunities.

Objective 6.4: Measure, monitor and evaluate education and public engagement activities to gauge impact and continuously refine our approach.

The project addresses the above points through the development of the tools and techniques within the project for monitoring and recording change in the dynamic wave affected zones of our seas and coasts. The project will further develop highly qualified expert researchers/ practitioners and disseminate the results through to the wider community through MaREI EPE and outreach activities.


For further details or to apply contact: Prof Frederic Dias   ei.dcu@said.cirederf; Or Prof Daniel Toal; 087 9650671 

We can provide you with detailed instructions for PhD application including application forms.

 For further detail on the research teams and current projects see: , , .