PhD-Position in Cooperation with JRC

We are 

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) provides independent, evidence-based knowledge and science, supporting EU policies to positively impact society.

JRC and Universität der Bundeswehr München have engaged in a research program in which they will jointly supervise a PhD student as well as work together in other areas of research.
The PhD thesis will be awarded by the Universität der Bundeswehr München whereas the successful candidate will be co-supervised by mentors from JRC and Universität der Bundeswehr München. The position will be in the Directorate for Space, Security and Migration as well as at the chair of Operations Research at Universität der Bundeswehr München.

More concretely, the vacancy is within Unit E2 – Technologies for Space, Security and Connectivity. Its mission is to foster EU’s resilience and citizens’ trust by enhancing the security and resilience of essential space-based, terrestrial and connectivity infrastructures and services. The unit does this through research, assessing current and emerging technological trends, and by anticipating the geopolitical security landscape including hybrid threats and technological risks.

Furthermore, the position will be at the Universität der Bundeswehr München in the research group COMTESSA of Prof. Dr. Stefan Pickl which has a strong focus on Operations Research in the special context of Safety & Security.

We propose 

We propose a post as PhD student working in the areas of resilience and protection of critical entities and Hybrid Threats, especially in the context of Operations Research. 

The recent COVID-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine made it clear the building resilience is paramount in many fields of policy making. Regarding Critical Infrastructure (CI), focus has shift from the pure protection of CI to building resilience of Critical Entities, as reflected in the commission Directive on the “Critical Entities Resilience” (CER)[1]  which is replacing the limited scope European Critical Infrastructure (ECI) Directive[2]. Regarding Hybrid Threats, JRC in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for countering Hybrid Threats (HCoE) has developed a conceptual model[3] to characterize and describe Hybrid Threat related activities and a model that allows to examine the effects of Hybrid Threats have in a holistic manner and also support resilience building through the whole of society approach[4].

In order to address Hybrid Threats from a special Operations Research (OR) perspective, it is important to obtain a better understanding of vulnerabilities and their respective root causes which can be leveraged by adversaries in order to conduct a successful hybrid activity. In addition to the consideration of Hybrid Threats, implementing the CER Directive requires an all-hazards approach considering infrastructure dependencies but also entities preparedness, mitigation, adaptation, response, and recovery capabilities. Decision analysis techniques, such as multi-criteria decision analysis (and multi-attribute utility theory) can then be used to assess resilience attributes and objectives to propose alternatives and strategies to enhance the resilience of the critical infrastructure system-of-systems.


We look for 

The candidate should have familiarity with the security domain ideally an OR-analyst combined with state-of-the-art expertise in machine learning, reinforcement learning and prescriptive analytics. Any experience in cybersecurity, physical security, critical infrastructure protection, geopolitics would be considered as an asset.


Employment conditions

The post is located in Ispra, Italy as well as in Munich, Germany. The successful candidate will spend 1.5 years in Ispra and 1.5 additional years of the PhD program in Munich. For the 1.5 years spent at JRC Ispra, the candidate will we employed full-time by the JRC by a Grantholder Contract (Cat. 20) in accordance with Grantholder rules and the applicable Vademecum. Interested candidates will be able to find the Vademecum for Ispra and a draft of the Grantholder contract, among other useful information here:


The selection will be made in two steps, first by Universität der Bundeswehr München and afterwards by JRC (in agreement with the Universität der Bundeswehr München). The selection will be based on CV screening and an interview.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates must, prior to the start of the employment contract with the JRC:

  • have the nationality of a Member State of the EU or a country associated to the Research Framework Programmes or being resident in a EU Member State since at least five years and
  • be enrolled in the PhD programme („Promotionsliste“) with the Universität der Bundeswehr München.
  • Candidates who are already enrolled in the doctoral study program with Universität der Bundeswehr München for fewer than 12 months can also be considered eligible.
  • The selected candidate will have not more than 6 months from the request for confirmation of interest in the position, to produce proof of enrolment in the doctoral study program.


Selection Criteria

The following elements will be evaluated: 

  • A Master's degree in Operations Research (OR), engineering, computer science or
  • similar is a must
  • Familiarity with EU policies in the field of security and defense and in particular
  • critical infrastructure and Hybrid Threats
  • Experience with OR-based analysis and data-driven optimization combined
    with state-of-the-art experience in machine learning and reinforcement learning is a must
  • Experience with innovative Digital Twin concepts in Security is desirable
  • Experience with Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis is desirable
  • Very good knowledge of English language both written and spoken is a must.


Closing date



How to apply

Please send your detailed application documents to Prof. Dr. Stefan Pickl,