Ocean Career: Cefas Principal Data Scientist

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) is a world leader in marine science and technology, providing innovation, scientific evidence and impartial expert advice on the aquatic environment, biodiversity and food security.

You will work across our science themes of Animal and Human Health, Ecosystem Change, Environment and People, and Food from Water, playing a prominent role in driving forward Cefas data science and AI capability. You will provide creative and strategic technical leadership to build and deliver research involving AI, machine learning, computer vision, data analysis, and scientific computing. This includes current projects on end-to-end applications of cameras and automated image analysis for monitoring, and establishing new areas, for example, in the use of large language models. The work will involve large, unstructured data sets, with you collaborating closely with IT colleagues to specify and deploy high performance computing and data storage infrastructure.

You will have opportunities to build national and international research collaborations, with an expectation of regularly publishing your work. You will develop and lead projects and supervise colleagues to deepen Cefas’ technical expertise and promote innovation to make a difference to our understanding of the aquatic environment.

The role requires hands-on technical skills, coupled with thought leadership and strategic planning. Through these activities you will play a leading role in enhancing Cefas’ external profile in the use of data science in global marine and environmental research.

Job description

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

  • Leading research on the development and deployment of innovative data science and AI methods and hardware to transform data collection and analysis within Cefas science;
  • Delivering as a Principal Investigator, leading research proposals and projects with multi-disciplinary teams;
  • Publishing high-quality scientific papers on new methods and applications;
  • Establishing, developing, and maintaining strategic collaborations with other government bodies, academia and commercial partners; and
  • Using detailed technical knowledge to provide advice to senior leaders on AI strategy and application, working with IT specialists to specify big data storage and scientific computing requirements.

In addition, Cefas reserves the right to ask staff to take on additional duties and responsibilities which are commensurate with their grade. Team Leaders and management will have a discussion with staff to explain the changes that are to be made. A new job description will be issued if required.

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:

  • Deep technical knowledge of data science and AI methods, with evidence of creatively leading research topics and programs involving bespoke data collection and analysis;
  • Ability to lead, mentor, and train others, ensuring the integrity and accuracy of data analyses, along with evidence of working with specialists from different disciplines to deliver to deadlines;
  • Ability to communicate clearly between users and developers of technology. Having a broad knowledge of science and computing to help design robust Enterprise solutions provided by Cefas IT professionals;
  • Evidence of national and international research networks, working with external organizations to develop new research and attract funding; and
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills, with evidence of strategic thinking and presenting technical evidence and advice to specialists and non-specialists.


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

  • Leadership
  • Changing and Improving
  • Seeing the Big Picture

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

  • Leadership

Technical skills

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

  • Deep technical knowledge of data science and AI methods, maintaining knowledge of new developments, with an excellent record of publications in peer-reviewed journals, and/or patents and reports.
  • Excellent scientific computing and programming skills, including Python and version control, for processing big data. Experience on Linux and Windows, ideally including Microsoft Azure.


Alongside your salary of £51,685, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science contributes £13,955 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 5 yrs) for full-time new entrants to the Civil Service. Employees receive 8 public holidays a year, plus an additional day to mark the King'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

Closing Date: April 25, 2024

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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