COFUND "Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences" : Call for PhD projects now open


Led by Université PSL, the "Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences" is co-funded by Horizon 2020 – MSCA – COFUND, a strongly selective european program. This unique and structuring project will allow to fund for 26 doctoral fellowships on the interfaces of AI or massive data processing. Université PSL's scientific communities are invited to submit their application and PhD projects before October 16, 2020.

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Led by Université PSL and co-funded by the European Commission for 2.1 million euros over five years, the "Artificial intelligence for the Sciences" project will enable PSL's component schools to benefit from PhD fellowships on subjects at the interfaces of artificial intelligence, possibly in partnership with the socio-economic sector.

Twenty-six doctoral students will join the university's doctoral schools to carry out work on subjects suggested and defined by PSL's scientific community. Each PhD project will focus on one of PSL's disciplines (physics, chemistry, history, economics, etc.) and will require the use of artificial intelligence or massive data processing techniques.

The future PhD fellows selected for the "Artificial intelligence for the Sciences" project pursue a wide array of concentrations and they will benefit from a shared set of trainings in connection with the Data Science Program. Thus, an introductory training course on artificial intelligence and massive data processing techniques will be organized in autumn 2021 so that everyone can acquire the same academic background. A seminar will also be organized each week to help the feedback between members. The PhD students, hosted by various PSL laboratories, will form a close-knit community that will meet regularly.
They will also be trained in dissemination and communication techniques. The Conversation (online medium and partner of the project) will train them to write popular science articles and, eventually, each doctoral project will be the subject of an article published on the website. Similarly, with the partner 100,000 Entrepreneurs, doctoral fellows will be invited to speak, if they wish, in high schools to explain the nature of the research conducted in their discipline and the contributions of AI techniques.

With the same methods, the laureates of the program will be trained in Open Science and the complementary university-wide courses.

The first fifteen doctoral projects will start in September 2021. PSL researchers interested in co-supervising a PhD student are invited to submit a doctoral project before October 16, 2020 at midnight. A committee, composed of the scientific coordinator of the project and six researchers from the PSL community, will be in charge of selecting the projects. The selection of the winner projects will take place during the spring of 2021 and will be conducted by a jury representative of PSL disciplines. A new call for doctoral projects will be launched in autumn 2021 for the next eleven doctoral projects starting in September 2022.


Key information about the call for PhD dissertations

  • Type of eligible subjects and supervision: Funding of dissertation in at least one of the PSL disciplines (physics, chemistry, history, economics, etc.) that will require the use of artificial intelligence or massive data processing techniques. A co-supervision including a specialist in the discipline and a specialist in artificial intelligence or massive data processing techniques is mandatory. The main superviser must be a member of PSL. There is no maximum number of doctoral projects a laboratory may suggest.

  • Funding: The salary of doctoral students will be € 3,100 gross employer's salary per month for a total duration of 36 months. Excluding European co-financing, the remaining costs are €53,640 for a 36-month fellowship (salary + management fees). This remaining amount will be funded by the PSL component schools or by a private partner. In the case of funding by a non-academic partner, a contribution of €80,000 (instead of €53,640 euros) is requested, to cover hosting costs.
  • Eligibility of applicant fellows: Any applicant who has lived in France for less than 12 months in the three years before the closing date of the call for applications, i.e. February 26 , 2021 for this first call, is eligible. Any citizenship is eligible. Thus a French person who has been living in Germany for 3 years is eligible, whereas a German person who has always lived in France is not.

The scientific team of the "Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences" project has been helped for the setting up and submission of the project by the PSL's Service d'appui à l'activité partenariale (SAAP).

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The call is currently closed. The next call will be open in May 2021.