Sorry -- this PhD Scholarship has been taken

Project: Formal language support for ecological modelling
Supervisor: Prof Jane Hillston
Eligibility: UK/EU candidates only.

We are seeking to award a Microsoft PhD Scholarship on the topic of Formal language support for ecological modelling. The PhD scholarship is for UK/EU students only, and it is fully funded for three years. The project will be supervised by Prof Jane Hillston of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with Dr Glenn Marion of BioSS, and Dr Matthew Smith of the Computational Ecology group at Microsoft Research Cambridge.

The Project

Computational modelling has recently been used with great success in ecology. However the models developed are generally developed in low-level programming languages, or directly as MatLab code. This can lead to problems with understandability, maintainability and modularity of the models. We seek to develop a high-level modelling language to aid both the construction and the analysis of ecological models, especially those in which the spatial distribution of entities is important. The high-level modelling language will then be used to automatically derive the underlying computational model. The student working on the project will work on a range of aspects including language and algorithm design, tool implementation and application to a variety of ecological case studies.

Requirements and setting

The project is suitable for a student with a top MSc or first-class bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics or related numerate discipline. Previous coursework or experience in computational modelling and/or formal languages such as process algebras is expected.

The scholarship is an opportunity to join a world-leading research group in quantitative formal methods. The PEPA group is based in the internationally renown Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science (LFCS) in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. The student will also work with members of Process and Systems Modelling group within BioSS, Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland. BioSS is a one of the Main Research Providers for strategic research in environmental, agricultural and biological science funded by the Scottish Government.

The Scholarship and Funding

The Microsoft scholarship consists of an annual bursary for up to three years. During the course of their PhD, the Scholar will be invited to Microsoft Research Cambridge for an annual PhD Summer School. There may also be opportunities for paid internships at Microsoft Research, that is at the discretion of Microsoft Research, Cambridge.

Funding Notes: The studentship is fully funded (fees and maintenance) for UK and EU students. At this stage we not have the means to support the additional fees required for overseas applicants.


It is recommended in the first instance that you contact Jane Hillston directly ( Attach a CV, transcript and a brief statement explaining why you are a good match for this scholarship.

A formal application must be made through the School's normal PhD application process. Select the "Informatics: Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science" research area. The formal application requires a 1-2 page research proposal; you may mail Jane a draft.

Applications will be considered at any time until the position is filled, for a start of January 2015 at the latest. A start in September or October 2014 will be preferred.

Jane Hillston (

School of Informatics,
Informatics Forum,
10 Crichton Street,
University of Edinburgh,
Edinburgh EH8 9AB, UK.

(+44) 0131-650-5199