Short term scientific missions

Short term scientific missions
Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) are exchange visits in a Host Institution located in a different country than the country of affiliation of a Researcher or Innovator.

A call is currently open until 15 May 2023, check the tasks and requirements beside, or apply here (Userguide).

What is an STSM?

Short-Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) are exchange visits in a Host Institution located in a different country than the country of affiliation of a Researcher or Innovator. STSMs aim to strengthen collaboration among researchers and Institutions or improve knowledge and skills of individuals. It specifically contributes to the scientific objectives of the OFF-SOURCE (Offshore freshened groundwater: An unconventional water resource in coastal regions?) CA21112 COST Action, whilst at the same time allows the Grantees to learn new techniques, gain access to specific data, instruments and/or methods not available in their own institutions/organisations. At the same time, the Host will expand its international contacts and develop long lasting collaboration

The STSM must have a minimum duration of 5 calendar days that includes travel. The STSM needs to be carried out in its entirety within a single Grant Period and always within the Action’s lifetime.

A STSM Grant is a contribution to the overall travel, accommodation, and meal expenses of the Grantee. STSM Grants do not necessarily cover all expenses related to undertaking a given mission. During Grant Agreement Period 1, the Management Committee of COST Action CA21112 has allocated up to a maximum of €4000 for each individual STSM. STSM Grantees must make their own arrangements for all provisions related to personal security, health, taxation, social security, and pension matters. The amount granted for each individual STSM will be determined during the evaluation process. Grants are normally processed only after the STSM has taken place and the reporting requirements have been satisfied and approved by the Grant Awarding Coordinator or the Coordinator for the STSM. However, STSMs Grantees may request up to 50% prepayment of the approved grant. This amount is subject to availability of funds and approval by the Grant Holder Institution. The request of prepayment shall be submitted to the Grant Holder Manager. In such cases, the representative of the Host Institution must confirm by e-mail to the Grant Holder that the STSM applicant has officially started the mission on day 1. Only then the Grant Holder can arrange the payment of 50% of the STSM grant. The remaining 50% of the Grant is payable once the administrative requirements have been satisfied after the presentation of the scientific report.

Proper acknowledgement of COST Action 21112 OFF-SOURCE must be done for all work and publications that benefited from the action.

Creation and provision of contents for OFF-SOURCE social networks and official web page.

The STSM must take place in a different country from the applicant’s Host Institution country.

The candidate needs to get in touch with the proposed Host Institution.

Within 30 days from the end date of the STSM, the Grantee must submit a scientific report to the Host Institution and to the Action MC. The scientific report should cover the purpose of the STSM, the work developed, the main achievements of the STSM and the planned future follow up activities. It is obligatory to use a scientific report template that is available within the Grant Awarding user guide and on the e-COST Supporting documents page.

After the submission of the scientific report to the Host Institution, the Grantee must obtain an official acceptance confirmation from a researcher affiliated to the Host Institution formally accepting the scientific report. The Host approval of the report can be an email confirming that the STSM took place and the goals outlined in the Work plan were reached.

The Grantee must upload both documents (scientific report and Host acceptance confirmation email, both in pdf) to the e-COST system, otherwise the completion procedure will not be possible.

The submission of the supporting documents is mandatory or the Grant is cancelled. Late submission can also lead to the cancellation of the Grant and the obligatory reimbursement by the Grantee of the amount received in cases of a pre-payment.

To learn more about COST rules and about Short-Term Scientific Missions please refer to the COST Grant Awarding user guide and the COST Annotated Rules.

The applicant is responsible for choosing and contacting the Host institution and for organizing the application process. All applicants must register for an e-COST profile at, fill in their profile (including bank details and CV), and then complete the online application form (as described in the Grant Awarding user guide).

The following supporting documentation will also have to be uploaded:

  • Confirmation of the agreement from the Host Institution in receiving the applicant
  • Work plan: it should include the objectives of the visit (and their alignment with the tasks assigned), the timeline, the core tasks to be undertaken, the expected outputs and deliverables, and a dissemination plan.
  • Written agreement from the Host Institution that the STSM applicant can perform the activities detailed in the STSM work plan on the agreed dates.

The proposals will be considered eligible, evaluated, and approved based on the following criteria:

  • Quality of the scientific proposal of the applicant (up to 17 points):
    • How will the proposal respond to the scientific scope of the action? (up to 5 points)
    • Innovative aspects of the proposal in respect to the action scope (e.g., interaction among countries, new knowhow inputs related to OFF-SOURCE targets, interdisciplinarity)? (up to 5 points)
    • Feasibility to meet the proposed objectives within the STSM time frame. (up to 5 points)
    • How will the activity have a positive impact on the applicant’s career? (up to 1 point)
    • Access to facilities/equipment/expertise not existing in the home institution. (up to 1 point)
  • Qualification of the applicant (up to 15 points):
    • CV of the applicant (up to 5 points)
    • Publication list, with preference for themes within the action scope. (up to 5 points)
    • Priority will be given to Young Researcher and Innovator (YRI) (under the age of 40) and PhD students, with a preference for applicants with a primary affiliation in an institution located in an ITC. Proposals from candidates affiliated to Institutions not based on ITCs are also welcome. (up to 5 points)

OFF-SOURCE is fully committed to promote gender equality.


This call is open from 27 March 2023 until 15 May 2023. The deadline for applications to be submitted is 15 May 2023. The evaluation period will be 16-30 May 2023. The STMSs should be carried out until September 2023, at the latest. Beyond this period, the COST Action OFF-SOURCE will not reimburse any expenses. Notification to Grantees through the e-COST system will be effective before 5 June 2023.

What will be the tasks to carry on?

The applicant will focus on one or more of the following action tasks:

1.1. Compile a database of known OFG bodies and their characteristics in waters of COST Member Countries from published literature and data sets (e.g., borehole logs, geophysical data) – 1 STSM.

1.2. Compile a database of available geological and geophysical data from margins of COST Member Countries from published literature and data sets (e.g., EMODnet, SeaDataNet) – 1 STSM.

1.3. Generate 3D geological models of selected margins (based on good data coverage) by integrating data from 1.2 with available onshore geological and hydrogeological data (e.g., Gleeson et al., 2014; Hartmann and Moosdorf, 2012; Huscroft et al., 2018; Zamrsky et al., 2018) – 2-3 STMS.

1.4. Run transient hydrogeological simulations over at least two glacial cycles, calibrated with data from 1.1, to predict the occurrence, salinity, and volume of OFG at the selected margins – 3-5 STSMs

2.1. Synthesise and critically analyse available instruments and approaches for OFG mapping and characterisation (e.g., geophysics (2 STSMs), geochemistry (2 STSMs), well logging (1-2 STSMs), numerical modelling (1-2 STSMs), integrated interpretation and joint inversion of seismic reflection, and electromagnetic data (1-2 STSMs)).

2.2. Compile standard guidelines for the operation of the instruments, processing of the data they generate, and their interpretation. (2-4 STSMs)

2.3. Identify avenues for future method development and propose new instrument designs. (2-4 STSMs)

A total of 13 STSMs will be funded.

What set of skills is required?

The applicant should have the following skills:

  • GIS and database organisation (Tasks 1.1, 1.2)
  • Geological, hydrogeological, geophysical and borehole data interpretation (Tasks 1.1, 1.2, 1.3)
  • Geological modelling (including geostatistics) (Task 1.3)
  • Groundwater modelling (Task 1.4)
  • Practical experience in using geophysical (seismic, electromagnetic), geochemical or well-logging tools and methods applicable for OFG (Tasks 2.1, 2.2, 2.3)
  • Practical experience in numerical modelling tools applicable for OFG (Task 2.1)
  • Knowledge in joint interpretation and joint inversion of seismic and electromagnetic data (Task 2.1)

STSM Grantees

Michela Giustiniani 
Topic: Identification of potential areas for exploration of Offshore Freshened Groundwater (OFG)
Start date: 2023-07-29
End date: 2023-08-14

Home Institution: Institute for Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (OGS)

Host Institution: Earth Science Department, University of Oxford

Duration of stay(days): 17

Objectives: The objectives of this STSM are to create thematic maps on the occurrence, characteristics and extent of OFG identified in the waters of European countries, and to identify areas of interest, with potentially significant volumes of OFG, where additional studies are required. It will deliver a GIS project with several layers summarising the data collected during Year 1 of the COST Action, and integrated with the existing literature, as well as a set of thematic maps of known and predicted OFG distribution in the waters of the European countries. These thematic maps will be an indispensable tool to better visualise the obtained results and to identify the area where there is a lack of data and plan future exploration activities.

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Daniel Zamrsky
Topic: Offshore freshened groundwater in Israeli continental shelf
Start date: 2023-06-19
End date: 2023-07-03

Home Institution: Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht

Host Institution: University of Malta, Faculty of Geosciences

Duration of stay(days): 15

Objectives: The main goals are to build 3D stochastic geological model of Israel continental shelf (or part of it), to use it as input into a numerical groundwater model to study salinity trends in past glacial-interglacial cycles, to combine open-source tools such as Python scripts and imod-WQ parallel code, and to create a procedure that can be replicated (and adjusted) for other study areas during the OFF-SOURCE project.

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Ariel Thomas
Topic: Offshore Freshened Groundwater Data collection in Israeli continental shelf
Start date: 2023-06-01
End date: 2023-06-15

Home Institution: Marine Geology Seafloor Surveying Msida

Host Institution: The MarCoast Ecosystems Integration Lab, at the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology

Duration of stay(days): 15

Objectives: The primary goal of this STSM is to collect and prepare data that will be utilized to assess the Offshore Freshened Groundwater (OFG) potential on the Israeli continental shelf. The expected technical outputs include a data repository including seismic and other geophysical data, geological cross-sections, borehole and water quality data, a summary of the depositional environment of the Israeli continental shelf and its implications for the potential reservoir distribution, and a definition of model domain for subsequent 3D numerical shelf modelling of groundwater salinity distribution on the continental shelf.

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Marina Flores
Topic: Hydrogeological simulations of offshore aquifers in the Levant Basin, Eastern Mediterranean
Start date: 2023-05-21
End date: 2023-04-06

Home Institution: University of Oxford

Host Institution: Institute for Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (OGS)

Duration of stay(days): 15

Objectives: The general objective of the project is to identify potential unconventional water resources, in line with the COST Action WG1 tasks, through targeted hydrogeological simulations. The study area to undertake the simulations is the Eastern Mediterranean. The core tasks tp be undertaken will be to complete and update database on hydraulic properties and other model parameters of the aquifers that will be modelled; to run transient hydrogeological simulations over at least two glacial cycles, and possibly going back in time as early as the Messinian Salinity Crisis (ca.5-6My). The expected outputs and deliverables will be the estimation of the occurrence, salinity and volume of OFG in the study area, and the quantification of changes in volumes over the latest glacial cycles.

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Damiano Chiacchieri
Topic: 3D Model of the Gela platform carbonate reservoir along the SE coast of Sicily, Italy
Start date: 2023-03-16
End date: 2023-03-31

Home Institution: University of Roma Tre

Host Institution: University of Malta

Duration of stay (days): 16

Objectives: The main objective of this STSM would be to generate a 3D model of the carbonates of the Gela platform as a possible reservoir of fresh groundwater. The main goals of the STSM are 1) to work on deep well data from South-Eastern Sicily (focus on Gela Carbonate Platform), 2) to analyze Composite Logs and associated data (formation top, stratigraphy, facies, Electrical Logs, etc..), and 3) to assess whether the Gela platform is a possible reservoir of fresh groundwater.

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