5-year PhD position in Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence: Adaptive Emotional Support for Groups (1.0 FTE)

5-year PhD position in Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence: Adaptive Emotional Support for Groups (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
25 Mar 30 Apr Utrecht

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Job description

The Human-Centered Computing group currently offers a 5-year PhD position. You will work under the daily supervision of Professor Judith Masthoff. The position includes research as well as teaching, where the teaching commitments account for 30% of employment time.

Emotional support plays an important role in keeping people motivated. Previously, we have investigated automated adaptive emotional support for individuals. In this PhD project, this will be extended to emotional support for collaborative groups.

You will investigate how a computer using Artificial Intelligence (AI) can automatically provide emotional support to individual group members as well as the group as a whole, adapted to individual and group characteristics (for example, personalities, affective states, effort, performance). You will build on previous research on emotional support by computers / affective computing, e-coaching, computer-supported collaborative work/learning, personalization, and user/group/context modelling. 

You will use a mixture of qualitative (e.g. interviews, focus groups), quantitative (e.g. empirical studies), design, AI (e.g. user modelling, personalization), and prototyping methods. You will have some freedom in selecting the domain of collaboration and how the support will be provided. Your research should result in high-quality scientific publications as well as real world impact. 

You will be involved in supporting the preparation of Bachelor's and Master's courses, offered by the Department of Information and Computing Sciences. Furthermore, you will teach such courses and supervise student theses.


Utrecht University


We are looking for a candidate that meets the following profile:

  • a master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction, Artificial Intelligence, Psychology, Computer Science, Information Science, or a related field (or graduation from one within the next months);
  • a strong interest in conducting research in the area of adaptive interactive systems;
  • experience of human-centered (qualitative, quantitative, AI) research and design methods;
  • well-developed prototyping skills;
  • committed to inspirational teaching;
  • good communicative skills in English, both in writing and speech;
  • good critical thinking and collaboration skills.

Conditions of employment

We offer an exciting opportunity to contribute to an ambitious and international education programme with highly motivated students and to conduct your own research project at a renowned research university. You will receive appropriate training, personal supervision, and guidance for both your research and teaching tasks, which will provide an excellent start to an academic career.

In addition, you will have

  • the opportunity to work in a collaborative, social, and dedicated team of researchers;
  • a full-time position for 5 years;
  • a full-time gross salary starting at €2,395 in the first year and increasing to €3,061 in the fourth year (scale P Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.


The Department of Information and Computing Sciences is nationally and internationally renowned for its fundamental and applied research in computer science and information science. In our constantly changing (digital) society, the department of Information and Computing Sciences is constantly looking for new, realistic ways to push the boundaries of both science and social application. We contribute to innovative information technologies through the development and application of new concepts, theories, algorithms, and software methods. Relevant areas of interdisciplinary research include Game Research, Foundations of Complex Systems, Applied Data Science, and Artificial Intelligence.

The Department has, among others, close collaborations with the University Medical Centre, the Departments of Physics and Mathematics, and the Faculties of Humanities and Geosciences. The Department offers Bachelor's programmes in Computer Science and Information Science, and six English language Research Master's programmes in Artificial Intelligence, Business Informatics, Computing Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Game and Media Technology, and Applied Data Science. High enrolment figures and good student ratings make education very successful. The Department currently comprises 17 Chairs and 109 other scientific staff, including Postdocs and PhD candidates.

You will work at the Human-Centred Computing group of the Department of Information and Computing Sciences. This group, led by Professor Judith Masthoff, is composed of researchers who are experts in various areas of human-centered computing, including human-robot interaction; mobile and wearable computing; personalized, adaptive, and recommender systems; affective and empathic computing; persuasive technology, e-coaching, and serious games; computer-supported collaborative work and crowd computing; and interactive data analytics.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do mentality of our people. This lively and inspiring academic environment attracts professors, researchers and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the University and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international community and wonderfully diverse.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1145911



Domplein 29, 3512 JE, Utrecht

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