PSL University launches a call for thesis projects in 2023 as part of the COFUND AI4TheSciences doctoral program

PSL University launches a call for thesis projects in 2023 as part of the COFUND AI4TheSciences doctoral program

Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences (AI4theSciences), a doctoral program led by PSL University with the support of the European program Horizon 2020 – Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions-COFUND, launched at the end of November a call for thesis projects for its third cohort. Doctoral students from institutions affiliated with PSL University or their associate members must submit their applications by January 31.

Horizon 2020 is the European Union’s research support program. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) – COFUND funding of Horizon 2020 aims to foster excellence in the training, mobility and career development of researchers. The funded projects have a very high level of transparency in the selection, recruitment and career follow-up processes of young winning researchers.

Cofund actions disseminate MSCA best practices by promoting high standards and excellent working conditions, sustainable training and international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility through two forms of programs:

  • Doctoral programs that provide research training activities to enable doctoral students to develop and broaden their skills and competencies in preparation for their doctorate;
  • Postdoctoral programs that fund individual fellowships for advanced research training and professional development for postdoctoral researchers.

The COFUND “Artificial Intelligence for the Sciences”

Bruno Bouchard – Denize, researcher at CEREMADE, and vice-president of research at Dauphine – PSL, is the scientific leader of this doctoral program initiated in 2020 for a duration of 5 years.

AI4theSciences aims to co-finance theses at the interface of AI and Big Data, and is at the heart of PSL’s “transverse DATA” program, which organizes numerous multidisciplinary training activities, bringing together specialists in AI and application disciplines.

The theses of the selected projects will start in September 2023. As with the two previous editions, they are open to all PSL disciplines (physics, chemistry, history, economics, etc.), as long as they involve AI or massive data processing techniques. However, for this latest cohort, the call is also open to mathematics and computer science insofar as the subject will largely involve an application to another discipline (a co-supervision from the application discipline is then desired).

Beyond the activities of the doctoral school of their discipline, the laureates of the program are trained in AI andmachine learning techniques, in writing popular articles, in Open Science, in acquiring non-academic transversal skills… during two dedicated pre-entry weeks, weekly seminars and conferences organized throughout the training.


The supervisors must be researchers or teacher-researchers currently working, experienced in supervising students, doctoral students or post-doctoral students, and must have an international dimension.

Each doctoral student benefits from dual supervision: the thesis director must be a researcher or teacher-researcher employed by a PSL component or partner institution, while the co-supervisor may be employed in the non-academic sector. There is no limit to the number of thesis proposals per laboratory.

Doctoral students may consider periods of secondment, within an academic or non-academic structure, in France or abroad, and these are even recommended as long as their duration does not exceed 10 months. Contributions from non-academic partners can take different forms: short visits, secondments, sharing of data or equipment, mentoring, contribution to dissemination activities…

During the thesis, the Commission will pay close attention to the quality of the supervision as well as to the development of scientific and non-scientific skills.

Eligibility of candidates

To be eligible for this project, the applicant must have lived in France for less than twelve months during the three years preceding the closing date of the call for applications, i.e. March 31, 2023.

The financing

Co-financing is provided by the European Commission and either the host institution or a private partner. For the latter, the remaining cost is approximately 53,640 euros for a 36-month doctoral contract (salary + management fees).

In the case of a private partner, a total contribution of 80,000 euros is required to cover the environmental costs. These partners may also contribute to the project activities (secondments, short visits, interventions during seminars, …).

On its side, the AI4theSciences program will finance, thanks to the management fees, activities such as the organization of seminars and various communication and dissemination actions.

Evaluation criteria

The proposed topics will be selected by the Executive Board, a committee composed of the scientific coordinator of the project and six researchers from the PSL community, all of whom have expertise in the application of AI techniques and represent different disciplinary fields.

The evaluation criteria are:

  • Interdisciplinary dimension of the project, guaranteed by a double supervision of the thesis projects (a thesis director specializing in his or her discipline and a co-supervisor specializing in AI or massive data techniques)
  • International dimension, e.g. with international partnerships allowing the PhD student to be hosted during his thesis, future collaborations, etc.
  • Cross-sectoral dimension (non-academic), in line with the future needs of the sectors of activity concerned
  • Interest and relevance of the project in the field of research concerned
  • Feasibility of the project within the 3 years allocated

After verification and eligibility, the projects are published on Euraxess as part of a call for applications open to applicants (February – March 2023 but also on the PSL website and various international networks.

The selection of the winners will take place between April 17 and 24, 2023.

Translated from L’université PSL lance un appel à projets de thèse 2023 dans le cadre du programme doctoral COFUND AI4TheSciences