PhD position in the area of statistical evaluation of complex forensic DNA evidence bei IT University of Copenhagen

Are you interested in advancing the use of statistical reasoning in criminal casework? The IT University of Copenhagen welcomes applications for a PhD position supervised by Associate Professor Therese Graversen. The 3-year position is fully funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark as part of the project A Unified Statistical Framework for Complex Forensic DNA Evidence. The proposed starting date is 1 November 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.


The project is driven by current needs in criminal casework at one of the main Forensic Science providers in the UK and offers not only a collaboration with experts there, but also a unique opportunity to make a direct impact on daily casework.
Broadly speaking, methods exist for establishing the presence of DNA from a specific person in a mixed sample of DNA, and there are also methods devoted to establishing familial relationships in a group of people. From a statistical point of view these two types of forensic problems share many important characteristics and would thus benefit from a more holistic approach to development of statistical models and methodology, not least as such a framework would be able to cover many types of evidence that currently fall outside the two main categories. Further to this, a well-known issue for DNA models (here STR markers) is their computational complexity, and thus a main challenge is to establish efficient algorithms to perform the required computations.
In summary, the project aims to unify and generalize the existing methods and provide concrete software implementations with good computational performance.
Previous efforts by Graversen into creating a framework that allows for a full statistical treatment of evidence based on DNA mixtures have been highly successful, and their implementation in R-package DNAmixtures has been used several times for criminal casework in the UK and in Denmark. For statistical details, see the associated development of statistical and computational methodology. Current research by Green and Mortera has made the first promising steps towards extending the underlying Bayesian network representation of the statistical model to allow for close familial relationships.
You are welcome to reach out informally to Associate Professor Therese Graversen at before applying for the position.


You are attentive to detail and able to work both independently and in close collaboration with scientific peers and stakeholders. You find it interesting to come up with creative technical solutions to practical problems. You have a track record for being academically versatile and high performing. The main focus of this project is on developing statistical and computational methodology, though the project will also involve an element of scientific programming. Prior knowledge in genetics and forensic science is a plus, but not expected. Familiarity with R is an advantage, but not a requirement.

Qualification Requirements

The following qualifications are required:
  • MSc in Statistics or a closely related field with a significant component of statistics. If you have not completed the degree at the time of applying for this position, please submit documentation for the expected completion date.
  • Detailed knowledge in statistics both within statistical theory and statistical methods.
  • Basic programming skills and a general interest for programming and/or exploring the possibilities that computers offer.
  • Ability to engage in scientific discussions across multiple scientific fields.
  • Strong communication skills both written and orally.

Job tasks

The tasks include amongst others:
  • Engage in ongoing international collaborations both in academia and with industry partners.
  • Co-author scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals and participate in international conferences both in statistics and in forensic science.
  • Contribute to open-source software development and documentation.
  • Contribute to student supervision and/or teaching at ITU, particularly within the study programmes in Data Science.


Appointment and salary will be in accordance with the Ministry of Finance’s agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC).


The application must be in English and include:
  • Letter of motivation that demonstrates clearly why you are interested in the position and why you are a good match to the position (max 2 pages)
  • Curriculum Vitae (max 2 pages)
  • Documentation of academic degree(s) including grade transcripts

The application may also include:
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A copy of your MSc thesis (or working draft)
  • List of scientific publications (if any) that you have co-authored

Applications without the above-mentioned required documents will not be assessed.
The applicant will be accessed according to the Appointment Order from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of 13 March 2012.
The IT University may use shortlisting in connection to the recruitment process. In case of shortlisting, the Chair of the hiring committee selects applicants for assessment in consultation with the hiring committee after the application deadline. All applicants are notified whether their application has been passed for assessment. The shortlisting of candidates for assessment is based on the criteria in the job posting.

General information

The IT University of Copenhagen (ITU) is a teaching and research-based tertiary institution concerned with information technology (IT) and the opportunities it offers. The IT University has more than 160 full-time Faculty members. Research and teaching in information technology span all academic activities which involve computers including computer science, information and media sciences, humanities and social sciences, business impact and the commercialization of IT. The IT University’s vision is to create and share knowledge that is profound and leads to groundbreaking information technology and services for the benefit of humanity. The Computer Science Department seeks to conduct research and education that are both foundational and have impact on industry and society.

Working at the IT-University of Copenhagen

Note that, in Denmark, a PhD is a paid position and comes with pension and paid parental leave. Working in Denmark offers universal healthcare and affordable childcare. Copenhagen offers a strong and vibrant community in Statistics and Data Science in general. ITU is part of the newly opened Danish Data Science Academy and the Pioneer Center for AI.

Application procedure

You can only apply for this position through our e-recruitment system. Apply by pushing the button "Apply for position" in the job announcement on our website.
Please read the guidelines for applicants carefully before filling in the application form. You can see the guidelines through this link.
Applications must be written in English. All other documents, such as transcripts must be accompanied by a translation in English or Danish.
Please note that all application material will be destroyed after the assessment.
Application deadline: 1. September 2022, at 23:59 CEST.
Applications/enclosures received at ITU after the application deadline will not be taken into consideration. If you submit an application, it is your responsibility to ensure that it arrives before the deadline so please allow sufficient time for upload of publications and other documents.
The IT University invites all qualified researchers regardless of age, gender, religious affiliation or ethnic background to apply for the positions.

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