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Recruitment for the Doctoral School

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Geomorphological effects of tourism and recreation: quantification and monitoring of trail impacts in mountain areas -

Code SD-NZS-G2
Organizational unit Doctoral School of Natural Sciences
Area/discipline Earth and related environmental sciences
Form of studies Full-time
Level of education Third cycle
Language(s) of instruction English, Polish
Admission limit 1
Duration 8 semesters
WWW address https://amu.edu.pl/doktoranci/szkola-doktorska/rekrutacja/20232024
Required document
  • Documents entitling to study
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There is currently no active phase.

Past phases in this registration:
  • Phase 1 (03.07.2023 00:00 – 14.07.2023 23:59)

Additional recruitment to the Doctoral School of Natural Sciences beyond the limit of places

Project description: 

Project motivations: Mountain protected natural areas (PNAs) such as national parks often constitute regions rich in bio- and geodiversity with beautiful scenery. They are currently under increasing pressure to supply both conservation and recreation, which frequently leads to conflicts of interest. Recreation often brings substantial revenues for conservation and human health, so excluding visitors from PNAs is not a solution that is possible everywhere. However, recreation unavoidably leads to negative impacts. Therefore, management needs to have detailed data about these impacts to minimise conflicts between recreation and conservation. Yet, methodologies to collect comprehensive data about recreational impacts to inform management activities' prioritisation have received little attention in the previous studies, and this gap in the knowledge is addressed in our project.


Objectives: Recreational trails are a key element of infrastructure, which enable visitors to travel through recreation areas and engage in various activities such as hiking, biking, and horse riding. In this project, we will develop and test a novel framework for high-resolution mapping and monitoring of recreational impacts in mountain areas to derive spatially coherent information about indicators of recreational trail conditions. Implementing this framework in a wide range of benchmark settings will enable us to understand and quantify the dynamics of landscape response to direct human impacts. The main objectives of the project are: 

·         To quantify land surface dynamics in cm-scale: This will be achieved by developing and operationalising an integrated framework (close-range terrestrial and aerial remote sensing + ground surveys + geographic information systems [GIS]) to systematically quantify and monitor trail impacts in mountain recreation areas. The framework will enable us to quantify patterns and volume of landscape changes resulting from different types of direct human activities (hiking, biking, horse riding, ATVs) and hydro-meteorological events (e.g., intense rainfalls). 

·         To determine the role of environmental factors (topography, geology, local climate, type of vegetation), managerial factors (trail design, trail location) and use-related factors (level of use, type of use) in the degradation of trails in recreation areas using data mining approach (classification and regression trees, random forest, neural networks) and statistical correlation and regression models.

·         To investigate how spatial patterns of visitors' behaviour influence trail conditions by developing an agent-based approach for classifying recreational trail degradation and modelling soil erosion. Such a bottom-top model will include feedback between different types of human activities and geomorphic processes and a capacity to simulate future human impact over a mountain landscape that is undergoing increasing pressure due to the intensification of recreation use. 

Methods: In this project, we will develop a new methodological approach leading to understanding not only point-specific 2D changes but also to study volumetric transformation and collect time series of spatially dependent data. Our approach includes 3D reconstruction of the trail surface and its vicinity based on low-altitude aerial images from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV, i.e. drones) combined with terrestrial images (for forested sections of trails), which can be subsequently processed through the structure-from-motion (SfM) process to generate detailed digital elevation models (DEMs) and linked with qualitative data about visitors' behaviour collected using map-based interviews, GPS trackers, and time-lapse cameras.

Expected results: From a scientific perspective, the most significant impact will be an increased understanding of the trade-offs between natural environment protection and other external drivers, including recreation. On a broader scale, the project results and their impact on more consistent mapping and monitoring of recreational trail conditions will enhance our understanding of relationships between direct human impact and landscape dynamics, which are among the most critical issues of modern times, not only for scientists and politicians but also for society. 

We invite applications from candidates interested in tourism and recreation, GIS, geomorphology and remote sensing. Applicants must hold a Master's degree at the time of document submission. Demonstrated experience in working with remote sensing data and GIS is preferred. Additional knowledge of geomorphology, or previous field experience, will be a further advantage. The successful applicants must be able to work independently and in a structured manner and demonstrate good collaborative skills. 

The successful applicant will join the geomorphology research group at the Faculty of Geographical and Geological Sciences at Adam Mickiewicz University (AMU) in Poznań, Poland (wngig.amu.edu.pl). Our Faculty is located just next to the AMU Sports Centre (swimming pool, sports halls, gym), and neighbouring parks and communal forests offer perfect opportunities for walking/running – so there is plenty of options for recreation during breaks or after work. Full research training in appropriate techniques (GIS, drones, photogrammetry, field survey, remote sensing) will be provided depending on the student's interests and needs. We will assist you in preparing grant applications and establishing cooperation with renowned research centres in Poland and abroad. You will also have the opportunity to participate in international conferences, courses and workshops to further improve skills related to the project and develop your future scientific career.

Tasks of PhD student:

 Roles and responsibilities of PhD student include:

 ·         Designing and conducting the experiments for investigations of changes of trail surfaces resulting from different types and levels of use and different intensity of rainfall events;

 ·         Taking part in the data collection in a real-world setting;

 ·         Performing statistical analysis of factors influencing trail conditions;

 ·         Classification of trail degradation based on collected data;

·          Preparation of PhD Thesis;

 ·         Participation in conferences and workshops;

 ·         Development of personal research qualifications;

 ·         Preparations of research papers;

·         Data management;

·         Dissemination of the project's results to a non-scientific audience (co-maintenance of the project webpage, social media accounts and public lectures);

·         Cooperation with other team members.

 Principal investigator:             

dr Aleksandra Tomczyk – project NCN OPUS-22 2021/43/B/ST10/00950 (e-mail: alto@amu.edu.pl). 

Selection Panel:      

1.    Dr Aleksandra Tomczyk – chairman

2.    Prof. UAM dr hab. Marek Ewertowski

3.    Prof. UAM dr hab. Leszek Kasprzak

4.    Prof. UAM dr hab. Jędrzej Wierzbicki

5.    Prof. UAM dr hab. Małgorzata Mazurek

6.    Mgr Paweł Kaczmarek - secretary


·           acceptance of documents: from 3 to 14 July 2023

·         admission process: from 21 to 28 July 2023

·         announcement of the list of candidates qualified for admission: 11 August 2023

·          submission of paper documents: from 1 to 29 September 2023.

Recruitment fee

The recruitment fee is 75 EUR.

Form of the selection procedure

Two-stage procedure.

Language of the selection procedure, including interviews:

Polish or English language. 

Required documents:

             An applicant for admission to a doctoral school shall register in the IRK (Internetowa Rejestracja Kandydatów – Candidate Internet Registration) system and submit documents in electronic form.
          Candidates are required to:  
1)    complete the registration form and attach an electronic photograph of 20 mm x 25 mm at a resolution of at least 300 dpi;
2)    specify the scientific discipline in which the candidate will be trained at the doctoral school;
3)    consent to the processing of candidate’s data for admission purposes;
4)    enter the results of the diploma examinations;
5)    attach a CV;
6)    attach a scan of a letter of motivation, signed in their own handwriting, indicating the scientific discipline in which the candidate wishes to obtain a doctoral degree;
7)    enclose a scan of a copy of a higher education diploma confirming the attainment of a qualification at level 7 of the Polish Qualifications Framework, or, in the case of graduates from the academic year 2022/2023, who have not yet been awarded a diploma, a certificate confirming the attainment of a qualification at level 7 of the Polish Qualifications Framework. In the case of candidates who apply for admission to doctoral school on the basis of the highest academic achievement, the following is required respectively: for graduates of first-degree studies, a diploma of completion of these studies with a supplement, and for students after the 3rd year of uniform master's studies, a certificate of the average point score obtained from years 1 to 3, together with a transcript;
8)    attach a scan of a hand-signed declaration that they do not plan to enrol in another doctoral school and that they do not hold a doctoral degree;
9)    attach a scan of a hand-signed statement of documented achievements and documents confirming these achievements - the achievements to be evaluated should be indicated:
a)    up to 3 - in the case of scientific achievements;
                     b)    up to 3 - in the case of other achievements; 
10)  attach a scan of a hand-signed proposal of an original research project, and in the case of admission in connection with the implementation of a research project - the author's concept of the implementation of the grant project, together with a bibliography (up to 8 pages of a standard typescript, max. 15,000 characters with spaces);
11)  attach a scan of the hand-signed application for admission to the doctoral school downloaded from the IRK system, 
              12) pay the enrolment fee.

           Candidates who have obtained the necessary education outside the territory of the Republic of Poland, shall additionally submit:

1)    a photocopy of a document which confirms their education, certified to be a true copy of the original document, i.e. a diploma with a supplement confirming completion of first cycle studies (Bachelor degree) and a diploma with a supplement confirming completion of second cycle studies (Master degree, MSc, MA) in the original language and in a certified translation into English or into Polish,

            2)    a photocopy of their passport.

       Evaluation criteria

The following shall be taken into account during the admission procedure:        

 1)    the grade awarded for the diploma of the second cycle studies or single cycle five year master’s studies - maximum 10 points; in the case of candidates who seek admission on the basis of superior academic achievements ("Pearls of Science") - 10 points;

 2)    evaluation of the candidate's scientific activity and scientific achievements; the candidate indicates for evaluation up to three documented scientific achievements, in accordance with the achievement criteria adopted by the selection committee for a given discipline - maximum 15 points;

 3)    evaluation of the candidate's other documented activity, based on a maximum of three achievements consistent with the achievement criteria adopted by the selection committee for a given discipline - maximum 5 points

 4)    the result of the interview, with the scope of the interview including:

 a)    the candidate's knowledge and competencies relevant to the planned research and appropriate to the indicated scientific discipline,

 b)    elements of research methodology appropriate for the discipline indicated.

 No more than 50 points can be awarded for the interview; the maximum duration of the interview is 30 minutes.

 5)    evaluation of the research project prepared and submitted for assessment to the selection committee (maximum 20 points), with particular emphasis on:

 a)    the ability to formulate the research objective and present the research problem;

 b)    research idea and the ability to propose a solution;

 c)    methodology appropriate to the discipline indicated;

                          d)    knowledge of the state of research with a basic bibliography. 

Condition of admission to the Doctoral School 

Each candidate may be awarded a maximum of 100 points in the selection procedure.A candidate will be admitted to a doctoral school if he or she is awarded a sufficient number of points awarding a place on the ranking list, within the limit of candidates for a given scientific discipline; the candidate must also obtain at least 60 points from the entire selection procedure.

Education Program

Education at the doctoral school lasts 8 semesters. Education at the Doctoral School  is offered on the basis of a framework curriculum and an individual research plan and ends with the submission of a doctoral dissertation.

The framework curriculum at the doctoral school includes a catalogue of modules of compulsory classes, elective compulsory classes and optional classes. It also:

1)    defines their schedule

2)    defines the way in which the classes are taught

3)    defines how learning outcomes are verified.

Education begins on 1 October, 2023.


A doctoral student works under the supervision of a supervisor or supervisors, or a supervisor and auxiliary supervisor, who will be appointed by the Deputy Rector at the request of a doctoral student (within 3 months of the start of his or her studies at the Doctoral School).


Scholarship: 5000 PLN gross per month (about 3700 PLN net per month)


Rules of admission to doctoral schools of Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań in the academic year 2023/2024, Appendix to Resolution No. 287/2022/2023 of UAM Senate of 30th  January 2023.