Uppsala University, Department of Information Technology

Are you interested in developing methods for the detection of social information threats (such as online disinformation), 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 the Department of Information Technology.

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.

The candidate will join the Uppsala University Information Laboratory (InfoLab), one of the research labs at the Division of Computing Science, Department of Information Technology. At the InfoLab we do basic and applied interdisciplinary research on knowledge extraction from social data. The candidate will also be part of 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.

Project description
The project is in the emerging area of social cybersecurity. Research in social cybersecurity addresses how online communication technologies are used to influence public opinion and attitudes (for example spreading disinformation) and undermine social cohesion (for example polluting online conversations with hateful comments about out-groups). We collectively call these issues social information threats. Work in this field seeks to identify the actors that manipulate narratives (what is talked about and to what intent) and communities (who is talking to whom), and the methods they use. The field contributes to knowledge about how this form of societal manipulation can be identified, measured, but also how it can be countered. Acquiring this knowledge is key to supporting democratic resilience.

The purpose of this project is to develop methods for the detection of social information threats. In particular, a key focus of the project are the new social information threats enabled by recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based multimedia content generation. While phenomena such as disinformation and hate speech are not new, today there are new technologies that can be used to generate content (e.g. creating fake images or videos of public figures) and operate artificial online actors (e.g. bots) to manipulate narratives and communities.

The aims of this PhD project are to:

  1. Understand how AI-powered social media accounts use textual and visual semantics to persuade people, manipulate narratives, and disrupt communities.
  2. Develop novel detection methods for social information threats based on generative AI.
  3. Measure the magnitude and impact of AI-based social information threats in selected contexts (e.g. in the Swedish Internet).

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 data science 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.

We are looking for candidates with:

  • a strong interest in interdisciplinary research,
  • an understanding and/or interest in methods for the analysis of online communication,
  • good communication skills with sufficient proficiency in oral and written English,
  • excellent study results,
  • the ability to independently drive one's own research, but also to collaborate with others,
  • a high level of creativity, thoroughness, and a structured approach to problem-solving.

Additional qualifications
Knowledge of network analysis and text analysis, and advanced knowledge of programming, data mining, and machine learning are 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 1 page) 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 in English), 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 1st of September 2024 or as agreed. Placement: Uppsala.

For further information about the position, please contact: Prof. Matteo Magnani, +46184714021, matteo.magnani@it.uu.se

Please submit your application by 5th of June 2024 UFV-PA 2024/1686.

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
Employment expires 2028-08-31
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 2024-09-01
Salary Fixed salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100%
City Uppsala
County Uppsala län
Country Sweden
Reference number UFV-PA 2024/1686
Union representative
  • ST/TCO, tco@fackorg.uu.se
  • Seko Universitetsklubben, seko@uadm.uu.se
  • Saco-rådet, saco@uadm.uu.se
Published 14.May.2024
Last application date 05.Jun.2024 11:59 PM CEST

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