PhD’s and postdocs in SFI Smart Ocean

PhD-student Julián Pelaez-Quiñones (UIB), WP1           (Dec. 2023 – Nov 2027)

PhD-student Julián Pelaez-Quiñones

Hei, my name is Julián and I’m pleased to join the Smart Ocean team!

My project at the centre focuses on the use of fibre-optic cables to investigate natural and anthropogenic wavefields (primarily acoustic) in the ocean for diverse purposes, including ambient noise monitoring and source-medium characterization. This will mainly rely on the analysis of Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) data, a trending photonics technology that maps onto tiny strain and temperature changes along optical fibres at meter-resolutions over tens of kilometers, plus the concurrent implementation of existing offshore telecommunication cable infrastructures and numerical models. My project will be supervised by Per Lunde (UiB), Peter Thomas (NORCE) and Steinar Bjørnstad (Tampnet).

A bit about me: Before arriving in Norway, I completed my bachelor studies in Geology/Geosciences at the National University of Colombia and a MSc in Geophysics at the University of Hamburg in Germany. Afterwards, I worked for several months as DAS data engineer at CNRS in France. I feel motivated by constructive environments, multidisciplinary approaches, and socially-aware science. On duty or not, some of the things I can always enjoy are being out in the wild, reading, sharing with friends and making some music 🙂

PhD-student Md Al Shayokh (HVL), WP2           (June 2023 – May 2027)

PhD-student Md Al Shayokh

I completed my B.Sc. in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Yildiz Technical University (Turkey) and later obtained my M.Sc. in IT convergence Engineering from Kumoh National Institute of Technology (South Korea). I have a background in the Wireless Sensor Networks and Bio Inspired Computing as well as swarm intelligence domain.

After working for both industry and academia more than 5 years in several projects, on June 2023 I started my PhD Fellowship at HVL and will be working on developing communication protocols (Work Package 2). Especially, I will focus on network architecture, multi-hop and mesh protocols with respect to efficient data transfer and low energy requirements.

Anne-Lena Kampen (HVL) is my main supervisor whereas Kjell Eivind Frøysa (HVL) and Lars Michael Kristensen (HVL) are my co-supervisors.

PhD-student Amr Abboud (UiB), WP1          (Sep. 2022 – Aug. 2026)

PhD-student Amr Abboud

My name is Amr Abboud, and I started a Ph.D. position at SFI Smart Ocean in September 2022 and I´m working with Ultrasonic guided waves for non-destructive testing in multilayer media. The focus of the project is to measure the integrity of the wind turbine structure.

My main supervisor is Per Lunde from UiB and Jan Kocbach from NORCE is my co-supervisor.  

I obtained a master’s degree in Sound and Vibration from Chalmers Institute of Technology in Gothenburg Sweden. After my studies, I have worked as a Noise control engineer for different automotive companies including Volvo cars, Geely Auto, and Volvo trucks.   

The SFI project offered a fantastic opportunity to explore other domains and applications in acoustics. Instead of just suppressing noise and improving the comfort in vehicles, we are trying to utilize the sound signal to improve structural health monitoring and make the generation of green energy more accessible.

PhD-student Ngoc Thanh Nguyen (HVL), WP3          (June 2021 – May 2025)

PhD-student Ngoc Thanh Nguyen

I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Computer Science at Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City. My master’s research project focused on developing deep learning-based predictive models for traffic congestion prediction. It is fascinating to see how the quality of the data used affects the performance of deep learning models.

In my PhD project, I continue with that research topic, focusing on investigating and developing software-based solutions to automate data quality checks for in-situ marine data. The data collected in the ocean is often contaminated due to numerous physical impacts of the sea and technical limitations of data networks and sensors. For now, it is a labor-intensive task to ensure marine data is of high quality.

My main supervisor is professor Rogardt Heldal (HVL), and my co-supervisor is professor Patrizio Pelliccione (GSSI, Italy).

PhD-student Astrid Marie Skålvik (UiB), WP1        (Jan. 2022 – Des. 2025)

PhD-student Astrid Marie Skålvik

I have a bachelor + master in fundamental physics from Université Paul Sabatier (France) and University of Bergen. My master thesis was about Quark-Gluon plasma, supervised by professor Laszlo Csernai. During my studies in Bergen I worked as a science teacher at Bergen Katedralskole, and after my studies I started at Christian Michelsen Research, now part of NORCE. There I have worked (and still work 25 %) as a scientist in the Measurement Technology-group, with focus on how uncertainty propagates through more or less complex measurement systems. On the side I have also taken some courses in pedagogy/didactics (PPU).

My Ph.D. on sensor self-diagnostics and self-validation in subsea networks is part of work package 1.2 in SFI Smart Ocean. I will first focus on self-calibration possibilities internally in a sensor by use of secundary measurement and signal processing techniques. Then I will look at how measurements from several sensors in a metering station can be used. My starting point wil be to get an overview over methods described in the litterature, and an understanding of additional challenges related to subsea sensing, as battery capacity, signal transfer, environmental factors among others. 

Camilla Sætre, Førsteamanuensis UiB, is the main supervisor, whereas Kjell-Eivind Frøysa (HVL) and Ranveig N. Bjørk (NORCE) are co-supervisors. 

PhD-student Keila Lima (HVL), WP3         (Jan. 2022 – Des 2024)

PhD-student Keila Lima

I have a background in the marine robotics field where I have worked for 4 years in Portugal for different national and european projects. Besides the research work, I also have some experience in field operations in both coastal and open-seas environment. I have a master in Network and Information Systems Engineering and a bachelors’ in computer science.

I have started my PhD Fellowship in January of 2022 and I am going to work in the software architecture for smart monitoring of the ocean (Workpackage 3). And, more especifically, I am very interested in studing how can marine subsystems can be made uniform. The SFI Smart Ocean presents a great opportunity to experiment that, and at the same time bringing together knowledge from partners from different applications within the marine

Furthermore, I am very interested in marine systems domain and their usage in favor of a deeper understanding of our oceans.

PhD-student Wiktoria Karolina Szapoczka (UIB), WP1           (Sep. 2021 – Aug. 2024)

PhD-student Wiktoria Karolina Szapoczka

My name is Wiktoria and since September 2021 I am a Ph.D. candidate at SFI Smart Ocean. I am under the supervision of Bodil Holst (Department of Physics and Technology), Tore Skodvin (Department of Chemistry), and Peter James Thomas (NORCE). 

The main objective of the project is to develop a compact, stable, and affordable optical pH sensor for use in seawater. This will be done by synthesizing an indicator with pH-dependent fluorescence properties and optimizing its response with different spectral filtering and membrane choices. An additional part of the project is to develop and investigate different anti-biofouling nano-treatments to ensure as smooth and maintenance-free user experience of the pH sensor as possible. 

Before this position, I have been a student in the Department of Chemistry, from where I graduated with masters in analytical chemistry. My master project was a collaboration between UiB and the Institute of Marine Research, where I explored metabolites of crude oil in Atlantic Haddock by using mass spectrometry. I have always been drawn to ocean-oriented research, thus why I chose to study in Bergen, and I am extremely grateful and excited to be a part of the Smart Ocean team. 

In my free time, I like to play board games, go to the cinema and, when the weather allows it, relax in my hammock in the mountains around Bergen. 

Associated PhD’s and PostDocs

Postdoc Bichitra Nanda Sahoo (UiB), WP1          (Nov. 2023 – Oct. 2026)

Postdoc Bichitra Nanda Sahoo

I am a postdoc in the nanophysics group under the SEAS fellowship program at UiB. This program focuses on interdisciplinary research within marine sustainability. My postdoc project includes collaboration with SFI Smart Ocean.

My background is in Materials science with a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical and materials Engineering from BPUT Rourkela, India, and a master’s in materials and metallurgical Engineering from IIT Kanpur, India.

I completed PhD in Materials Engineering from DIAT (DU), Pune, India with a specialization in thin films and coatings. My doctoral research was focused on the development of environmentally benign superhydrophobic coatings for defense applications.

My current project focuses on the development of antifouling coatings for oceanographic sensors. This multidisciplinary project aims to develop an anti-biofouling coating, which provides long-term fouling resistance and enhances the life span of both optical and non-optical marine sensors.

My main supervisor is Martin Møller Greve at UiB and co-supervisor is Peter J Thomas at NORCE.

Postdoc Paul Thomas (UiB), WP1          (Nov. 2023 – Oct. 2026)

Postdoc Paul Thomas

I am a postdoctoral researcher at SFI Smart Ocean under SEAS Fellowship Programme, UiB. My research focuses on nanotechnology-based solutions towards sustainability.

My master’s is in Energy and Environment engineering at VIT University, India. The passion I nutrition during my masters inspired me to join the doctorate program at Nanotechnology & Catalysis Research Centre (NANOCAT), University of Malaya, Malaysia. My doctorate research objective is to design nanometal oxide composites and to study its potential suitability for environmental and electrochemical energy storage applications.

My current research investigates the prospective of nanometal oxide composite based coating to prevent biofouling. The new nanomaterial-based coating design is expected to minimize capital costs and to provide better durability without compromising eco-friendly characteristics.

During my free time I love to travel and discover the world.

PhD-student Ivan Spajic (HVL), WP3

PhD-student Ivan Spajic

I received a professional bachelor in software development from Erhvervsakademi Sydvest (Esbjerg, Denmark) and an MSc in Computer Science and Informatics from Roskilde University (Roskilde, Denmark).

My master thesis focused on the theoretical exploration of the syntactic complexity of natural languages in the field of formal languages and computability. Some of my interests include, programming, networking, and exploring new technology. I also worked in the industry for several years as a software engineer, mostly in finance.

In my PhD project at HVL, I will work on digital twins in the maritime domain and the software tools and middleware surrounding them. My main focus will be within the shipping industry, however, I will embed with the SFI Smart Ocean project to work on a digital twin case study.

My main supervisor is Lars M. Kristensen (HVL), and my co-supervisor is Volker Stolz (HVL).

Postdoc Håkon Sandven (UiB), WP1            (May 2023 – Apr. 2026)

Postdoc Håkon Sandven, picture by Trine Lise Sviggum Helgerud, NPI.

I’m a post-doc in the Marine Optics group and the SEAS Fellowship Programme at UiB. My background is in physics, with a bachelor’s degree in physics from UiB and a master in Electrophysics from KTH in Stockholm. After my master thesis within fusion plasma physics, I switched my focus to towards more marine applications of physics, with a PhD in marine optics at UiB. There, I worked with field measurements of light scattering and other optical properties, mainly in the Arctic and Norwegian coastal waters.

After my PhD, I’ve done some work for the Norwegian Polar Institute within the large interdisciplinary project Nansen Legacy. The goal of the Nansen Legacy project is, in short, to learn more about the present and future Barents Sea. I worked with improving our knowledge on optical properties of the Barents Sea water masses, and conducted fieldwork in the central Arctic Ocean. Present and future sea ice decrease will fundamentally change the marine ecosystems of this region, for instance through increased amount of light penetrating the ocean.

My post-doc project will largely extent upon the research I started in the previous project; improving our capabilities to model and measure underwater light in a changing climate. This will also be applied to Norwegian coastal waters, where increased erosion from land may decrease the available light for life underwater. This project will be conducted together with UiB collaborators and David McKee at University of Strathclyde.

In my free time I like to run, ski, hike and climb around Bergen.

PhD-student Shea Cheatham (UiB), WP1           (Dec. 2022 – Nov. 2026)

PhD-student Shea Cheatham

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Marine Optics group at UiB, with Dr. Børge Hamre as my primary advisor and Drs. Camilla Sætre, Arne Kristoffersen, and Christian Pedersen as my co-advisors.

My PhD project aims to improve the knowledge of how laser and solar light propagate in Arctic environments. I am accomplishing this through the testing and development of radiative transfer models simulating the light field under various types of sea ice. I am especially interested in how the rapid degradation of sea ice affects light transfer in Arctic environments, and what that might mean for under-ice primary production and ice-albedo feedback.

Before coming to UiB, I received two Master’s degrees from Stanford University (one in Earth Systems Sciences, and the other in Philosophy with a focus on environmental ethics and philosophy of science).

In my free time, I like to knit, read, and play the guitar.

Postdoc Daniel Koestner (UiB), WP1                 (June 2022 – May 2025)

Postdoc Daniel Koestner

I am a postdoctoral researcher in Marine Optics. I am part of the SEAS Fellowship Programme at UiB which focuses on interdisciplinary research within marine sustainability, including collaboration with SFI Smart Ocean.

I received my PhD in Oceanography from the University of California San Diego. My doctoral research focused on understanding the roles of particle composition and size distribution in angle-resolved polarized light scattering by natural seawater samples. This knowledge is essential for the development of underwater optical applications such as optical communication and characterization of particulate matter.

My current research is centered around improving the capabilities of autonomous platforms to measure the concentration of particulate organic carbon (POC) with optical sensors for applications in all ocean environments. A better understanding of the spatial and temporal distributions of POC may prove essential to the advancement of many topics in marine sustainability, such as sustainable fisheries management and the characterization of oceanic carbon sequestration. I’m particularly excited about the expanding networks of gliders, floats, and moored platforms which contain optical instrumentation. 

My work allows me to travel to some incredible places. My favorite trips have been to the Arctic waters of Svalbard and Northern Alaska. In these rapidly changing environments, variability in the optical properties of seawater relate to the complex sourcing of material from glaciers, permafrost, snowmelt, sea ice, and phytoplankton.

When I’m not doing scientific research, I love to explore nature and compose, record, and produce music. I like to experiment with a variety of musical styles and appreciate all types of sounds!

PhD-student Håvard Stavn Ugulen (UiB), WP1         (Aug 2019 – Nov. 2023)

PhD-student Håvard Stavn Ugulen

I started my Ph.D. at the University of Bergen in August 2019. I work in the Marine Optics group, with Camilla Sætre as main supervisor, and Børge Hamre and Arne Kristoffersen as co-supervisors.  

My project revolves around radiative transfer simulations using the Monte Carlo method. The developed simulations are currently used to simulate optical instruments, as well as the channel impulse response for underwater optical communication. The simulations allow us to investigate how light-particle interactions in water affect measurements under different conditions, without having to deploy the instruments in the ocean.

Before starting my Ph.D., I received a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in energy technology, both from the University of Bergen. For my master’s degree, I studied the coupled resonance between localized surface plasmons and dielectric waveguides. 

When I am not at work, I enjoy sports, games of all sort, and spending time with friends.