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The Department of Communication and Cognition at Tilburg University is looking for an enthousiastic new colleague. This PhD researcher will work within the project “Look Who’s Talking? Towards Engaging Long-Term Interactions with Conversational Agents”, funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), within the Open Competition Digitilization (SSH). This 4-year project aims to develop and evaluate digital conversational agents ("chatbots") that are capable of understanding human utterances and can automatically generate appropriate, human-like responses. The main aim of our project is to study the long-term ‘relationships’ between such conversation agents and human users, with the goal of assisting people to engage in a healthier lifestyle (in particular, smoking cessation and safe sex promotion).
“Look Who’s Talking” is a collaboration with key academic expertise on communication, technology and computational linguistics (Tilburg University), artificial intelligence (Radboud University), and behavioural change, health technology and psychology (University of Amsterdam), and with national stakeholders regarding smoking cessation (Trimbos Institute) and sexual health (Soa Aids Nederland). Three PhDs will be hired on this project, one at each of the participating universities. Although the three PhD candidates will work on related but different subprojects, a close collaboration between the PhD candidates is important for successful completion of the project. In collaboration with the project supervisors, the PhD candidates will also work on a paper regarding the ethical implications of the use of conversational agents in health promotion.
The Tilburg PhD will co-develop and evaluate the conversational agent for supporting smoking cessation, and will be co-supervised by researchers from Tilburg University and the University of Amsterdam. Tasks include:
· building a corpus of motivational dialogues to support stopping with smoking, together with our
· designing the interaction for a digital conversational agent that supports stopping with smoking,
· conducting experimental user evaluations and studying how people build relationships with their
conversational agent, and
exploring the ethical considerations for the developed technology
Candidates for this position should have a recent master’s degree (preferably a research master) in communication science, psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, health communication, or a related field. In addition, the successful candidate:
· has solid experimental and statistical skills,
· has affinity with interpersonal communication as well as language & communication technology (programming skills are a bonus),
· has excellent organizational and social skills;
· is willing to learn and think across disciplines;
· has good communication skills and is well able to communicate with fellow researchers as
well other stakeholders, and societal partners;
· is collaborative and likes to work in a team;
· has excellent English writing and presentation skills, and preferably speaks Dutch.
Fixed-term contract: Fixed-term contract: 4 year.
Fixed-term contract: 4 year.
· A full-time position. Starting date is negotiable.
· The selected candidate will start with a contract at Tilburg University at the Department of Communication and Cognition for one year, concluded by an evaluation. Upon a positive outcome of the first-year evaluation, the candidate will be offered an employment contract for an additional 3 years.
· The PhD candidate will be ranked in the Dutch university job ranking system (UFO) as a PhD-student (promovendus) with a starting fulltime salary of € 2,325 gross per month in the first year, increasing up to € 2,972 the fourth year.
· A holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% (annually);
· Researchers from outside the Netherlands may qualify for a temporary tax-free allowance equal to 30% of their taxable salary. The University will apply for such an allowance on their behalf;
· The University will provide assistance in finding suitable accommodation (for foreign employees);
· Tilburg University is rated among the top Dutch employers and offers very good fringe benefits (it is one of the best non-profit employers in the Netherlands), also including excellent technical infrastructure, savings schemes and excellent sport facilities. The collective labor agreement of the Dutch Universities applies.
Warandelaan 2, 5037 AB, Tilburg