PhD Position in Security of Smart Transmission Grids

Gjøvik, Norway
19 Sep 2019
End of advertisement period
30 Sep 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), in Gjøvik, (, invites applications for a PhD candidate in the Security of Smart Transmission Grids in support of a project funded by the Research Council of Norway on “Stability under Adversarial Influence of Transmission Grids”.  

The position is based at the Department of Information Security and Communication Technology (IIK). IIK is Norway’s largest research group in information security and part of a research group focused on the security of cyber-physical systems with an emphasis on energy systems in collaboration with the Department of Power Engineering at NTNU’s Trondheim Campus and SINTEF Energi’s National Smart Grid Laboratory, also based in Trondheim.

The department hosts both the Centre for Cyber and Information Security (CCIS), a leading public-private partnership on cyber security research and the Norwegian Cyber Range. The group collaborates with relevant agencies in the security and energy sectors, ensuring relevance to the wider stakeholder community.

The PhD position is funded by the Norwegian Research Council. The period of employment for the positions as a PhD candidate is for 3 years.

The position reports to the Head of Department.

Main duties and responsibilities

Reliable power systems are critical to the functioning of a modern society, and increasingly must not only accommodate more variable demands such as from electric mobility, but also become less reliant on fossil fuels. The resulting changes require the topology of power networks to change, but also for them to become more intelligent as part of a move to a truly smart power grid.

These enhancements require the use of more advanced monitoring and control architectures with a higher density of sensors including phasor measurement units (PMUs) placed in the network and shorter measurement scan cycles, but also of using interconnectors to other power networks where visibility is limited to a network operator.

To maintain stability and efficiency, power network transmission system operators (TSOs) rely on state estimators to form an accurate picture of the state of the network at all times. The potential for this to be attacked has recently been studied extensively, but only for conventional AC networks. Future networks will rely more on HVDC interconnectors, also necessitating more advanced state estimation algorithms.

The PhD candidate will study how the measurement and state estimation algorithms in such networks can be attacked so as to force false state estimates, degrade performance, or deny convergence outright, and will develop novel algorithms for attacks as well as mechanisms for attack detection including the introduction of deliberate disturbances to aid detection. This work is to be conducted in parallel with efforts by a postdoctoral fellow studying robust hybrid AC-HVDC state estimation and topology processing algorithms and is part of a larger research group on energy systems cyber-physical security.

We are looking for a candidate with knowledge, academic training, or experience in one of the following fields: Computer science, mathematics, or electrical engineering where prior knowledge of the information security domain is highly valued. Skills and experience in mathematical modelling, the ability to study, design, and analyse novel algorithms are highly desirable, while the ability to communicate and collaborate both with other researchers and stakeholders is an advantage.

The PhD candidate will be supervised by Prof. Stephen Wolthusen in collaboration with Prof. Kjetil Uhlen (Power Engineering). For further information please contact Stephen Wolthusen (


Qualification requirements

PhD candidate:The PhD position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is completion of a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in Information Security, Computer Science, Mathematics, or Electrical Engineering or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. Applicants with no letter grades from previous studies must have an equally good academic foundation. Applicants who are unable to meet these criteria may be considered only if they can document that they are particularly suitable candidates for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, postdoctor and research assistant

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

Other qualifications:

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills. Applicants who neither are native English speakers nor from Scandinavia, must provide evidence of English language proficiency by means of one of the following tests: TOEFL, Academic IELTS and Cambridge CAE or CPE. Minimum scores need to be:
    • TOEFL: 600 (paper-based test), 92 (Internet-based test)
    • IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic IELTS test accepted)
    • CAE/CPE: grade B or A.
  • An applicant with fluency (oral and written) in one of the Scandinavian languages would be preferred when other conditions are equal. 

All candidates must be able to secure a residency and work permit in Norway. The university is committed to a policy of equal opportunity in employment practices, and we particularly would like to encourage female candidates to apply. Owing to the nature of the research, successful candidates should hold Nordic or NATO member state citizenship.

Personal characteristics

  • High motivation for research work in a multidisciplinary way and ability to work independently.
  • Good organization and communication skills with interest in wider context of own research and ability to engage in cross-disciplinary teams.
  • Eagerness to disseminate research results through publications and presentations at international conferences. 

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as motivation, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidate:

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 479 600 per annum before tax. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is for 3 years. Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in Information Security  (

As a PhD candidate, you undertake to participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period. A condition of appointment is that you are in fact qualified for admission to the PhD programme within three months.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU.

Appointment takes place on the terms that apply to State employees at any time, and after the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

General information

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. Under the Freedom of Information Act (offentleglova), information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have their name entered on the list of applicants.

Questions about the position can be directed to Stephen Wolthusen (

About the application:

Publications and other academic works that the applicant would like to be considered in the evaluation must accompany the application. Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify the individual applicant's contribution to joint works, the applicant must include a brief description of his or her contribution.

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applicants invited for interview must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters.

The application must contain:

  • A cover letter (1 page) explaining your motivation and how your skills and experience relate to the research focuses of the position applied for
  • A draft research proposal outlining a possible approach for each position applied for (1 page per position).
  • CV with a list of publications and English language test scores or other supporting documents (as proof of the candidates’ study and language abilities)
  • A description of M.Sc. work (1 page)
  • Relevant transcripts of grades, diplomas, and certificates
  • Candidates from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a Diploma Supplement or a similar document, which describes in detail the study and grade system and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree:
  • Two letters of reference, preferably from academic supervisor(s).

Incomplete applications will be rejected.

Desired starting date is as soon as possible after 01.11.2019.

Application deadline : 30.09.2019

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Information Security and Communication Technology

Research is vital to the security of our society. We teach and conduct research in cyber security, information security, communications networks and networked services. Our areas of expertise include biometrics, cyber defence, cryptography, digital forensics, security in e-health and welfare technology, intelligent transportation systems and malware. The Department of Information Security and Communication Technology is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering .

Deadline 30th September 2019
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Gjøvik Trondheim
omfang Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service NTNU Gjøvik