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PhD Research Fellow in Psychology-Inspired Computing for Robot Assistants

Deadline: 03.06.2024

Universitetet i Oslo

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest ranked educational and research institution, with 28 000 students and 7500 employees. With its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally recognised research communities, UiO is an important contributor to society.

RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion is financed through the Research Council of Norway’s Centre of Excellence Scheme.

RITMO combines a broad spectrum of disciplines – from musicology, neuroscience and informatics – to study rhythm as a fundamental property of human cognition, behaviour and cultural expression. The Centre is organized under the Department of Musicology, in close collaboration with the Department of Psychology and the Department of Informatics.

Job description

A PhD Research Fellow (SKO 1017) in psychology-inspired computing for robots is available as a part of the research project Predictive and Intuitive Robot companion (PIRC). The project is affiliated with RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion at The University of Oslo (UiO).

The appointment is for a period of three years, starting preferably not later than 15 August 2024. There might be a possibility to extend the appointment up to 4 years depending on the qualifications of the recruited candidate, the department’s need for teaching, and the centre’s need for assistance.

No one can be appointed for more than one PhD Research Fellowship period at the University of Oslo.

RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion

RITMO is a Centre of Excellence funded by the Research Council of Norway. This interdisciplinary centre focuses on rhythm as a structuring mechanism for the temporal dimensions of human life. Methods from musicology, psychology, neuroscience, and informatics are combined to study rhythm as a fundamental property that shapes and underpins human cognition, behaviour and cultural expressions.

All RITMO researchers are co-located and work in a unique interdisciplinary constellation, with world-leading competence in musicology, psychology, robotics and informatics. It is expected that all members of the centre contribute to the general activities and collaborations within RITMO. The researchers have access to state-of-the-art facilities in sound/video recording, motion capture, eye tracking, physiological measurements, various types of brain imaging (EEG, fMRI), and rapid prototyping and robotics laboratories.

More about the position

The PhD Research Fellow will work on psychology-inspired computing for robot assistants. That is, the objective of the position is to create prediction methods for proactive planning of future robot actions and to design robot acting mechanisms for adaptive response ranging from quick and intuitive to slower well-reasoned. We combine sensing across multiple modalities with learned knowledge to predict outcomes and choose the best actions.

The goal is to transfer these skills to intelligent systems in human-robot interactive scenarios to be supporting people in their own homes. This is with regard to everyday tasks and support in physical rehabilitation. Thus, it is relevant to work with implementation and research within robot perception and control for the robot tasks.

In addition, user studies through human robot interaction experiments are to be performed. Three people (PhD fellow, postdoc and researcher) are to be hired for the project and will complement in performing the above outlined research. This will be in collaboration with other researchers working on related topics in the Robotics and Intelligent Systems (uio.no) research group at the Department of Informatics at UiO

Applicants should upload a research outline (uio.no), with research questions and theoretical and methodological approaches.

Qualification requirements

The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences has a strategic ambition to be among Europe’s leading communities for research, education and innovation. Candidates for these fellowships will be selected in accordance with this, and expected to be in the upper segment of their class with respect to academic credentials.

Required qualifications:

  • A Master’s degree in computer science, robotics, computational psychology or other relevant field. The applicant is required to document that the degree corresponds to the profile for the post. 
  • A strong background in programming, as well as machine learning/artificial intelligence and robotics.
  • Excellent skills in written and oral English

The following are also desirable: 

  • Skills in psychology-inspired computing models, user-centered design, human behaviour modelling, human-robot interaction, motion tracking and analysis, and robot simulation, perception and control are an advantage. Further, having scientific publications would be an advantage.

In assessing the applications, special emphasis will be placed on:

  • The applicant’s scientific merit, as well as the quality of the research outline and its relevance to the research objectives of the PIRC project
  • The applicant's estimated academic and personal ability to complete the project within the time frame
  • The applicant's ability to complete research training
  • Very good collaboration skills and an ability to join interdisciplinary academic communities
  • Personal suitability and motivation for the position

Candidates without a master’s degree have until 30 June 2024 to complete the final exam.

Grade requirements:

 The norm is as follows:

  • The average grade point for courses included in the Bachelor’s degree must be C or better in the Norwegian educational system
  • The average grade point for courses included in the Master’s degree must be B or better in the Norwegian educational system
  • The Master’s thesis must have the grade B or better in the Norwegian educa-tional system
  • English requirements for applicants from outside of EU/ EEA countries and exemptions from the requirements

The purpose of the fellowship is research training leading to the successful completion of a PhD degree. 

The fellowship requires admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The application to the PhD programme must be submitted to the department no later than two months after taking up the position.

For more information see here.

We offer

How to apply

The application must include

  • Application letter describing the applicant’s qualifications and motivation for the position
  • Curriculum Vitae (complete list of education, positions, teaching experience, administrative experience and other qualifying activities, including a complete list of publications with links to full version of published papers)
  • Research outline relevant to the PIRC project, including research questions and theoretical and methodological approaches (approximately 2-3 pages, see template for research outline (uio.no))
  • Transcript of records of your Bachelor and Master's degree. Applicants with education from a foreign university are advised to attach an explanation of their university's grading system
  • Documentation of English proficiency
  • Names and contact details of 2-3 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and telephone number)

Please note that all documents must be in English or a Scandinavian language.

Educational certificates, master theses and the like are not to be submitted with the application, but applicants may be asked to submit such information or works later.

Short-listed candidates will be invited for an interview at the University of Oslo or we will arrange for a video-based interview.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Research Fellowships at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The University of Oslo has an agreement for all employees, aiming to secure rights to research results etc.

The appointment may be shortened/given a more limited scope within the framework of the applicable guidelines on account of any previous employment in academic positions.

Inclusion and diversity are a strength. The University of Oslo has a personnel policy objective of achieving a balanced gender composition. Furthermore, we want employees with diverse professional expertise, life experience and perspectives.

Contact information

For questions about the position:

  •  Professor Jim Tørresen, e-mail: jimtoer@ifi.uio.no, phone +47 22852454
  • Head of Administration Pia Søndergaard, e-mail: pia.sondergaard@imv.uio.no, phone number: +47 22 85 44 89.

For questions about the requirements or the appointment process: 

Apply for position

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