PhD Position Recommender Systems for Youngsters

PhD Position Recommender Systems for Youngsters

Published Deadline Location
22 Aug 29 Sep Delft

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Job description

Recommender systems play a critical role: helping users make decisions by reducing information overload and offering information, products, or services that are likely to be of interest or relevant to their needs. These systems are seamlessly integrated into digital platforms that offer personalized content across various domains, including e-commerce, travel, education, and social networks. However, technological advancements in the recommender systems area have mainly catered to "traditional" users, mainly English-speaking adults, rather than a diverse user base.

Your Ph.D. work will advance how recommender systems can better support "non-traditional" users– specifically, youngsters, which include children, teenagers, and young adults. Youngsters have particular cognitive, social, physical, and emotional needs that make the information they seek, their experiences, sense-making, and skills different from those of adults. This offers a wide range of open research directions.

Undertaking such a Ph.D. project often entails (a) identifying the challenges and potential harms youngsters encounter when interacting with recommender systems that offer items for learning or leisure, such as books, videos, and TikToks, and (b) designing and developing the technological advances needed to address them. Along the way, you will study how youngsters interact with recommender systems using various perspectives. You will also investigate how to leverage the dynamic human traits unique to youngsters to model users and how such modeling can impact technology design. Moreover, you will explore how to evaluate new solutions, particularly in the absence of benchmarks or when existing restrictions, such as federal regulations or inclusion/accessibility objectives, need to be considered.

During your Ph.D., you will be mentored and supervised by Dr. Sole Pera (, an Associate Professor in the Web Information Systems group ( within the Department of Software Technology of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science (EEMCS). The WIS group offers a dynamic, stimulating, and diverse research environment, providing you with opportunities to collaborate with experts in the field.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We seek motivated individuals interested in pursuing a Ph.D. Ideal candidates would:

  • Hold an MSc degree in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, or a related field.
  • Possess a good understanding of one of the following areas: information retrieval, user modeling and personalization, or natural language processing.
  • Demonstrate a keen interest in applying a human-centered approach to identify and address problems of societal importance.
  • Show willingness to collaborate effectively within multidisciplinary teams, including researchers and practitioners from various areas of computer science, as well as other fields of study, such as education and psychology.

Additional qualifications that would be considered a plus include:

  • Ability to take initiative, along with strong organizational and communication skills.
  • Ability and interest to employ both computational research approaches (e.g., offline evaluation in recommender systems research, data analysis of large data sets) as well as experimental (user) studies (e.g., controlled experiments in the lab or online settings).
  • Eagerness to further develop problem-solving, analytical, (web) software design and development skills.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) brings together three scientific disciplines. Combined, they reinforce each other and are the driving force behind the technology we all use in our daily lives. Technology such as the electricity grid, which our faculty is helping to make completely sustainable and future-proof. At the same time, we are developing the chips and sensors of the future, whilst also setting the foundations for the software technologies to run on this new generation of equipment – which of course includes AI. Meanwhile we are pushing the limits of applied mathematics, for example mapping out disease processes using single cell data, and using mathematics to simulate gigantic ash plumes after a volcanic eruption. In other words: there is plenty of room at the faculty for ground-breaking research. We educate innovative engineers and have excellent labs and facilities that underline our strong international position. In total, more than 1000 employees and 4,000 students work and study in this innovative environment.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD04295


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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