High Performance Visualisation Workflows for The Creative Use of Big Data in Environmental Geohazards.

  • Application end date: 11th February 2018
  • Funding Availability: Funded PhD project (International students only)
  • Department: School of Creative Technologies
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Mel Krokos, Dr Malcolm Whitworth, Prof Kazuya Koyama

Project code: CCTS4350218 - This project is only open to International (non-EU) students.

Project description

Big data is routinely generated e.g. in modern astrophysical sky surveys and in the study and remediation of environmental geohazards such as landslides or volcanic ash dispersion. As an example, field-mapping needs to be supplemented by satellite imagery and data acquired from field-deployed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Further, satellite data such as that acquired by ESA's Sentinel-2 mission can offer an exciting wealth of new information capturing natural colour of 10 m resolution of every landmass on the globe every five days. Numerical simulations are also deployed to quantify impacts, e.g. in overcoming the shortcomings of eruption cloud models as demonstrated by the Icelandic eruption of 2010 or validating complex theoretical models in cosmology. Creative uses of such big data (e.g. through high performance visualisation) that are fully integrated in virtual / augmented reality environments often require execution of lengthy, and hard to scale data pipelines. Emerging technologies for high performance visualisation can provide outstanding aids for data exploration and detailed insight into complex regions of interest to support scientific discovery. There is a need for innovative visualisation mechanisms, e.g. for processing complex pipelines from UAVs, making meaningful comparisons of ash cloud models or integrating with real world observations (historic or current). This project will develop an integrated visualisation toolkit, underpinned by emerging technologies, the first step towards a new generation of high capacity visual tools for applied geoscientists. Similar benefits are envisaged to apply also to the field of cosmology.

The overarching aim of the project is to design and implement appropriate algorithms and interfaces fully exploiting the capabilities of emerging and future technologies in realising visual computing services to support execution of high performance processing pipelines for virtual and augmented reality applications, thus building capacity and home-grown expertise on sophisticated visualisation tools underpinning creative technologies. The project will also make the case for applicability of the outcomes to domains outside geohazards through knowledge transfer activities of developed algorithms and tools to other disciplines such as cosmology. We will build upon our previously developed cloud-based visualisation solutions for multidimensional data analysis and knowledge discovery of a priori unknown patterns / relationships in multivariate and complex datasets. We will extend our previously developed algorithms for high performance rendering based on customised volume ray-casting to harness heterogeneous environments involving multicore processors and GPUs, e.g. the University of Portsmouth SCIAMA supercomputer. Such high performance visualisation solutions have the future potential to underpin field-work activities via mobile, augmented reality applications. This PhD will be in the School of Creative Technologies in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) and will involve a multidisciplinary supervisory team drawn from CCI and the Faculties of Science and Technology. The work will be undertaken in collaboration with a European network of renowned academic and research institutions from Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary and Switzerland, and there will be potential opportunities for student work placements within these institutions.

Candidate Specification

Applicants will have a good first degree (minimum 2.1 or equivalent) in computer games, computer animation, computing or a related subject, with a strong interest in high performance computer graphics and visualisation. The successful candidate will also have experience of some or all of: Virtual / Augmented Reality, Game Engine Programming and Distributed Infrastructures. A good understanding of point clouds, and good programming skills are essential, and cross-platform experience, especially relating to code optimisation and parallelisation using C++, Python, CUDA and OpenCL.

Supervisor profiles

Dr Mel Krokos

Dr Malcolm Whitworth

Prof Kazuya Koyama

Admissions criteria

You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending upon chosen course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.  


Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Dr Mel Krokos at mel.krokos@port.ac.uk (02392 845473) or Dr Malcolm Whitworth at malcolm.whitworth@port.ac.uk (02392 842264).

For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact cci-enquiries@port.ac.uk.

How to Apply

We welcome applications from highly motivated prospective students who are committed to develop outstanding research outcomes. You can apply online at www.port.ac.uk/applyonline. You are required to create an account which gives you the flexibility to save the form, log out and return to it at any time convenient to you.

A link to the online application form and comprehensive guidance notes can be found at www.port.ac.uk/pgapply.

Applications should include:

- Full CV including personal details, qualifications, educational history and, where applicable, any employment or other experience relevant to the application

- Contact details for two referees able to comment on your academic performance

- Research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of a research design you would propose to meet the stated objectives, identifying the challenges this project might present and discussing how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field.

- Proof of English language proficiency (for EU students)

When applying, please quote project code: CCTS4350218

Interview date: TBC

Start date: October 2018.

Funding notes

This project is only open to International (non-EU) students.

Eligible applicants will be considered for the Portsmouth Global PhD scholarship scheme.

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