Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities

Machine Learning Researcher: Earth Observation & Ecology

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) South Africa is looking to hire a skilled and motivated Machine Learning Researcher to join our team in Cape Town. The successful candidate will play a key role in developing innovative machine learning algorithms and models to analyze satellite imagery, Earth observation and remote sensing data (e.g. acoustic monitoring and camera traps). Use cases could include  disease modelling and prediction, and wildlife monitoring tasks. Recent trends in deep learning open up large potential for impactful research by harnessing the vast data volumes related to Earth observation and remote sensing. The researcher will have a flexi-role: work closely with CLIMADE ( on projects related to climate change and the spread of vector borne disease, and contribute to research in machine learning for ecological tasks.

What we are looking for:

  • Ph.D. in machine learning, computer science or related field.
  • Experience in collecting and processing satellite data, e.g. Sentinel-2 or Landsat-8.
  • A track record of research and scientific discovery, including publications related to deep learning.
  • An ability to communicate research to scientific and public audiences.
  • Experience in developing, debugging and publishing research code.

What you will do:

  • You will lead and pursue a long-term ambitious research agenda related to machine learning using Earth observation data (focusing on arboviral diseases in Africa) or with remote sensing data (audio, camera traps).
  • You will share research findings clearly and efficiently both internally at AIMS and externally to the research community and public, verbally and in writing.
  • You will enjoy working in a multi-cultural pan-African environment, 50 metres away from Cape Town’s #1 surf spot.

If you love making connections between people and ideas, if you love starting new things, enjoy scientific freedom, and you are excited about the idea of advancing machine learning in Africa, then this job is for you. AIMS has a social mission. There are opportunities to participate in activities related to AIMS and the research centre.

To apply, please e-mail the below documents in three pdf files to our recruitment team at

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Cover letter detailing your relevant experience in working with Earth observation data and machine learning
  • Proof of Ph.D. completion

There is no application deadline, and the position will be filled when a suitable candidate is found.

Questions about the position may be addressed to

MSc or PhD Bursary

The Algebra|Topology AIMS research focus of the AIMS South Africa Research Centre is looking for South African candidates for one MSc and one PhD bursary in algebra (pure or algebraic biology) ortopology to join their research team.

AT AIMS was launched at the 20th birthday celebrations of AIMS, the Siyakhula festival. It is headed up by Prof. David Holgate and Prof. Karin-Therese Howell. Our aim is to produce high quality research in algebra, algebraic biology and topology and connect people who are interested in these areas. In short, our aim is to get people excited about topology and algebra!

Not only will you have the opportunity to work in a multi-cultural pan-African environment, 50 metres away from Cape Town’s #1 surf spot, but AIMS offers many opportunities to participate in.

To apply, please e-mail the below documents in pdf files to our recruitment team at

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Cover letter detailing your research interest and experience in algebra, algebraic biology or topology
  • Contact details for two referees
  • Proof of completion of the required degree (Honours for MSc, MSc for PhD)

Application deadline is 30 April 2024.

Successful students will be registered at the institution affiliated with each lead.

The tenure of the bursaries is 2 years for MSc and 3 years for PhD.

Questions about the position may be addressed to

Master’s and doctoral study in the Research Centre

The AIMS South Africa Research Centre offers Doctoral and Masters bursaries for research study in the Centre (details on the research areas supported at the Research Centre may be found at Research). South African students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds are especially welcome.

AIMS South Africa is able to offer funding for bursaries as well as accommodation and meals, supervision and co-supervision of students. Interested students should submit the completed application form, a short proposal of their intended study (not more than two pages) as well as their academic record and a brief CV to the Administrative Officer at Academics who wish to make enquiries about co-supervision of their students in multidisciplinary areas are encouraged to contact the Director of AIMS South Africa.

Visiting Research Fellowships

The AIMS South Africa Research Centre offers a variety of fellowships for visiting researchers. Interested researchers may apply to visit for short (2-week) or longer periods. Research fellows may conduct their own research at AIMS, participate in the teaching programmes and give talks in the journal club.  Visits to local universities can be arranged.

1. Advanced PhD students and postdoctoral fellows can apply for a two-month AIMS Research Fellowship.

2. Researchers who wish to visit AIMS for a period of time (normally between two and six months) are encouraged to  to apply for a longer-term AIMS Research Fellowships. Preference will be given to African applicants, particularly those from SADC member states.

3. Research in pairs initiative: 2-4 week visits by a South African researcher and a local research partner from another university or an international research partner or a PhD or postdoctoral student.

Application process

Each applicant should provide a curriculum vitae including degrees and awards received, and a list of publications, as well as a statement of future research and career plans. Applications should be sent to

Applicants must also arrange for two confidential reference letters from academics familiar with their research to be sent in support of their application. Referees should email reference letter directly to the AIMS South Africa Administrative Officer.

Application for Bursary for Master’s or PhD Study at a South African University

AIMS is offering a matching half bursary (maximum R45 000) to its recent graduates who wish to study towards a Research Master’s or PhD degree at a South African University. Please note that applicants are responsible for their repatriation fee deposits if necessary.

Bursaries are only awarded under the following conditions:

  1. That the university will pay a matching amount from its own funds or from research funds of the
    supervisor towards the bursary.
  2. That AIMS approves the study programme and topic.
  3. That the student will not do more than 10 hours of tutoring services per week to generate additional
  4. That the university will waive the difference between fees for foreign students and local students in
    addition to the bursary offered.
  5. That the student commences the study programme by February of the year following completion of
    completing the AIMS programme.

The bursary is paid in two parts, the first on registration and the second, 9 months later, on receipt of a satisfactory progress report

Prospective applicants are required to complete the application form and to submit this to with the following documentation

  1. A short proposal of the intended research topic.
  2. A letter from the proposed supervisor or department, confirming acceptance on to the programme, and the awarding of a matching half bursary; the amount of the bursary must be specified.
  3. A brief CV of the supervisor, if the supervisor has has not previously supervised AIMS students, or is not known to AIMS