PhD Research Fellow in Computer Science

Deadline: 22.08.2021

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

With about 16,000 students, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences is one of the largest higher education institutions in Norway. A broad range of academic programmes are offered at Bachelor, Master and PhD levels, spread out on five campuses Førde, Sogndal, Bergen, Stord og Haugesund.

Our ambition is to build stronger and more solid academic and research environments that will interact nationally and internationally. The aim is to become a recognized actor on the international higher education arena. Increased international cooperation and engagement in externally funded projects will work towards this goal.

The Faculty of Engineering and Science has approximately 300 employees and approximately 3,200 students. The faculty has a broad educational offer at both bachelor's and master's level in engineering and science, as well as PhD education in computer technology. The Mohn Center for Innovation and Regional Development researches innovation and offers master's education in innovation and entrepreneurship. The diving education offers a one-year vocational school education.

The main part of the faculty's activities are in Haugesund, Bergen, Sogndal and Førde, but we also offer education in Stord.

The faculty's activities are internationally based and take place in close collaboration with regional companies, clusters, health trusts and the public sector, including other institutions in the university and college sector. This applies to research, development, innovation and not least education with student projects at all levels.

PhD Research Fellow in Computer Science: High-energy physics data analysis in the ATLAS experiment at CERN

There is a vacancy for a PhD Research Fellow (PhD position) in computer science at the Department of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL).

We are looking for a highly motivated and talented PhD research fellow to be part of the experimental particle physics group at the Department of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. The position is part of the research project “Use Artificial Intelligence to pinpoint Dark Matter at the LHC” co-financed by the Research Council of Norway, and is for a fixed-term period of 3 years. If you are interested in machine learning and the search for Dark Matter in the ATLAS experiment at CERN, this position could be something for you.

About the PhD project

The current paradigm change in computer science based on artificial intelligence (AI), combined with a large increase in data volume from the upcoming Run3 of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, open up unprecedented opportunities to shed light upon the long standing mystery of Dark Matter. With this project you will work on developing new search strategies for Dark Matter candidates in data from the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider using supervised and semi-supervised machine learning techniques, targeting the phase space of soft tau leptons.

Tau leptons are complicated objects to work with in a hadron collider experiment, due to their short lifetime. Nevertheless, the tau lepton sector may be exactly where the Dark Matter hides. With this project, we will therefore also investigate if and how we can improve the reconstruction and identification of tau leptons with low transverse momentum in the ATLAS experiment.

Although powerful, machine learning algorithms are opaque, and the concern that we do not fully understand the underlying decisions made by these so-called black-box algorithms is very much justified. The huge and complex data analysis setting of the ATLAS experiment enables questioning and interpreting AI decision taking. Furthermore, it allows us to analyse how the use of AI is influencing our traditional critical and analytical thinking mindsets. Along with applying supervised and semi-supervised machine learning techniques in the search for Dark Matter, this project will seek to develop reliable and interpretable AI models.

Research environment

The research of this PhD position will take place in the computer science environment at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) and in the Bergen particle physics group at HVL and the University of Bergen.

The computer science research environment at HVL has a strong focus on use-inspired and applied research, and on ICT as an enabling technology. The research environment has cooperation with many national and international research groups, and with national and regional industry partners. Collaboration with experts at or associated with CERN is of particular importance in this PhD project. The research programme includes the research themes of software engineering, engineering computing, sensor networks and measurement technology, grid computing and physics data analysis, machine learning, and interactive and collaborative systems. As a PhD candidate, you will work in close cooperation with staff, current PhD and master students in the particle physics research group.

As a PhD research fellow, you will receive an annual work expense funding which can be used for conference participation, research visits, and equipment. The place of employment is Campus Bergen, with the possibility of research stays at CERN

Qualifications and personal qualities:

  • Applicants must hold a Master's degree in computer science/informatics/software engineering or in a closely related field, including candidates with a master degree in high energy physics with a strong emphasis on computing and documented background in data analysis. Candidates who are in the final stage of completing a Master’s degree (but who has not yet been awarded a Master’s degree) may also qualify for the position. In this case, a draft of the master thesis and a transcript showing grades of completed course work must be submitted with the application. If the candidate is called for an interview, then the final version of the master thesis and a complete transcript of grades on the master’s degree must be provided to the interview committee.
  • Research experience in particle physics or computer science is a requirement, for example, from work on a Master's thesis.
  • Experience in machine learning and/or high-performance computing (HPC) is a strong advantage.
  • Applicants must be able to work independently in a structured manner, and demonstrate good collaborative skills.
  • Experience from working in an international research collaboration is a strong advantage.
  • Interest or experience in search for new physics and/or tau lepton physics is a strong advantage.
  • Applicants must be proficient in both written and oral English.
  • Ability to carry out high-quality research and to publish the results in international workshops, conferences, and journals
  • Personal and relational qualities will be emphasized. Ambitions and potential will also count when evaluating the candidates

In addition to the required educational and scientific background, the following criteria will be evaluated:

  • competence and grades on completed course work, quality of the Master's thesis (excellent grade, equivalent of grade B or better on the ECTS grading system),
  • publications (if any),
  • research,
  • data science skills.

A possible outline of a research plan for the potential PhD project will also be taken into account.

About the research training

The PhD research fellow will be part of the PhD programme in Computer Science: Software Engineering, Sensor Networks and Engineering Computing (https://ict.hvl.no) and must be enrolled in this program. The successful candidate must thus meet the formal admission requirements for admission into the PhD programme. The research programme in Computer Science currently includes 20 professors and associate professors, more than 30 PhD and post-doctoral fellows, and a large number of master’s students. ) The employment period may be reduced if the successful applicant has held previous employment as a research fellow. Candidates already holding a PhD within this field are not eligible for this position.

The PhD candidate will be assigned two academic supervisors at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences/ University of Bergen. An application for enrolment should first be submitted after an appointment is made and the supervisors will help with this procedure. The candidate must be enrolled as a PhD student within 3 months from the start of the employment.

Application procedure:

Applications will be evaluated by an expert panel of three members.

Applicants are asked to submit their application and CV online. Please use the link “Apply for this job” (“Søk stillingen”). The following documentation should be uploaded as an attachment to the online application:

  • Master thesis
  • Copies of selected academic publications (no more than 3)
  • A CV with a complete list of academic publications
  • Diplomas and certificates
  • Cover letter highlighting qualifications and motivation for applying for this particular position
  • Transcript of records for both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree

Applicants should indicate which publications or parts of publications should be given special consideration in the evaluation. If the documents submitted are not in a Scandinavian language or in English, the applicants must submit certified translations of these. The transcripts must specify the topics, the course works, and the grades at the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree levels.

Applicants should note that the evaluation will be based on the documentation submitted electronically via Jobbnorge within the submission deadline. The applicants are responsible for ensuring that all the documentation is submitted before the closing date. It is of utmost importance that all publications to be considered in the evaluation are uploaded as an attachment with the application, since these are sent electronically to the expert panel.

Applications cannot be sent by e-mail or to individuals at HVL.


  • Good occupational pension, insurance and loan schemes from The Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • Exciting academic environment with the possibility of competence enhancement and development
  • Opportunities for training within the working hours

Initial salaries will be offered at grade 54 (code 1017) in the Civil Service pay grade table scale.

There is a compulsory 2 % deduction to the pension fund (see http://www.spk.no for more information). The successful applicant must comply with the guidelines that apply to the position at any time.

General information:

The appointment will be made in accordance with the regulations for State employees Law in Norway ("Lov om statens ansatte)". Organizational changes and changes in the duties and responsibilities associated with the position must be expected.

State employment shall reflect the multiplicity of the population at large to the highest possible degree. Western Norway University of Applied Sciences Bergen has therefore adopted a personnel policy objective to ensure that we achieve a balanced age and gender composition and the recruitment of persons of various ethnic backgrounds.

Information about the applicant may be made public even though the applicant has requested not to be named in the list of applicants. The applicant will be notified if his/her request is not respected.

Short-listed applicants will be called in for an interview.

For further details about the position, please contact:

Apply for this job

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