Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Information Technology

Are you interested in working with social robotics and large language models in cybersecurity applications, with the support of competent and friendly colleagues in an international environment? Are you looking for an employer that invests in sustainable employeeship and offers safe, favourable working conditions? We welcome you to apply for a doctoral student position at Uppsala University. 

The Department of Information Technology holds a leading position in both research and education at all levels. We are currently Uppsala University's third largest department, have around 350 employees, including 120 teachers and 120 PhD students. Approximately 5,000 undergraduate students take one or more courses at the department each year. You can find more information about us on the department of Information Technology’s website.

At the Vi3 Division, we have a unique combination of expertise in human-machine interaction, computerized image analysis and computing education research.

In the Human-Machine Interaction (HMI) unit we study the interplay between people and machines (e.g., information technology, automation, robots and intelligent interfaces). From a global perspective, we aim to improve the relationship between people and technology and foster positive social change through technology.

Project description
The project will investigate the use of social robots in cybersecurity applications. 

The overall objective is to investigate social robots as both a potential vehicle of cybersecurity attacks and a mechanism to protect users from them. First, it will explore the effect of large language models (LLMs)-powered social robots on user’s privacy and safety risks.  Second, it will develop and evaluate new, user-centred mechanisms that leverage social robots and human-robot dialogue to successfully deliver the communication of cybersecurity risks to human users.

This is an interdisciplinary project which will be supervised by an interdisciplinary team with expertise in  social robotics and human-robot interaction (Ginevra Castellano and Katie Winkle), LLMs and deep learning (Ekta Vats), and privacy and cybersecurity (Boel Nelson).

The successful candidate will work with social robots and LLMs in cybersecurity scenarios. The candidate is expected to program robots to develop robot’s capabilities and conduct empirical human-robot interaction studies for data collection and evaluation.

The candidate will join the Uppsala Social Robotics Lab at the Vi3 Division of the Department of Information Technology, Uppsala University. Our vision is to develop computational social abilities that allow robots to behave in a socially intelligent way in natural interaction with humans. The natural testbeds for our research are socially assistive scenarios where robots provide not only physical, but also social support to humans, where robotic technologies have the potential to bring benefits to the society we live in, for example in application areas such as education and assistive technology, by enhancing the lives of children and other groups that require specialised support and intervention. The lab is equipped with a range of different robotic platforms, including Furhat, Pepper, NAO and Cozmo.

The candidate will also be integrated into the Graduate School in Cybersecurity at the Department of Information Technology. The Graduate School provides an environment where students and researchers in cybersecurity and related areas work together, through a core PhD-level curriculum of joint courses and research activities. Regular seminars are planned with presentations from the school’s participants and by invited speakers. Active participation in the Graduate School activities is expected.

A Ph.D. student is expected to devote their time to graduate education mainly. The rest of the duties may involve teaching at the Department, including also some administration, to at most 20%.

To meet the entry requirements for doctoral studies, you must

  • hold a Master’s (second-cycle) degree in computer science, human-computer interaction, robotics or related areas relevant to the PhD topic, or
  • have completed at least 240 credits in higher education, with at least 60 credits at Master’s level including an independent project worth at least 15 credits, or
  • have acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way.

The specific requirements are met by having passed courses relevant for HCI corresponding to at least 90 higher education credits. Of these 90 credits at least 30 needs to be at an advanced level.

We are looking for candidates with

  • a strong interest in interdisciplinary research and an understanding and/or interest in human-robot interaction and LLMs
  • good communication skills with sufficient proficiency in oral and written English,
  • excellent study results,
  • personal characteristics such as a high level of creativity, thoroughness, and/or a structured approach to problem-solving are essential

Additional qualifications
Proficiency in programming (preferably Python) and documented ability to conduct user studies are valued. Experience with large language models and machine learning for human-robot interaction is valued. 

Rules governing PhD students are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5, §§ 1-7 and in Uppsala University's rules and guidelines.

The application must include:

1. a statement (at most 2 pages) of the applicant’s motivation for applying for this position, including a self-assessment on why you would be the right candidate for this position;
2. a CV;
3. degrees and transcript of records with grades (translated to English or Swedish);
4. the Master’s thesis (or a draft thereof, and/or some other self-produced technical or scientific text), publications, and other relevant documents;
5. references with contact information (names, emails and telephone number) and (if possible) up to two letters of recommendation.

Applicants who meet at least one of the entry requirements are strongly encouraged to apply. All applicants should state their earliest possible starting date.

About the employment
The employment is a temporary position according to the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5 § 7. Scope of employment 100 %. Starting date 1 September 2024 or as agreed. Placement: Uppsala. 

For further information about the position, please contact: Professor Ginevra Castellano
(phone +46 704250200, email ginevra.castellano@it.uu.se).

Please submit your application by 23 May 2024, UFV-PA 2024/1533.

Are you considering moving to Sweden to work at Uppsala University? Find out more about what it´s like to work and live in Sweden.

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
Salary Fixed salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100%
City Uppsala
County Uppsala län
Country Sweden
Reference number UFV-PA 2024/1533
Union representative
  • ST/TCO, tco@fackorg.uu.se
  • Seko Universitetsklubben, seko@uadm.uu.se
  • Saco-rådet, saco@uadm.uu.se
Published 02.May.2024
Last application date 23.May.2024 11:59 PM CEST

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