**Fully-funded PhD studentship opportunity** Natural language interfaces to support career decision-making of young people

doctoral studentThe school of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University currently have a vacancy for a fully-funded PhD student to start in October 2020.

The scholarship is part of the same funding scheme as mine and is a Skills Development Scotland Collaborative award, offered through the ESRC-funded Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS).

The research is entitled ‘natural language interfaces to support career decision-making of young people’ and the PhD centres on the development of a dialogue system utilising existing data held by Skills Development Scotland, for young people to engage ‘in conversation’ about their career interests, aspirations, and strengths. The system to be developed is anticipated to take the form of an interactive avatar with identifiable human characteristics. As a previous careers adviser, I know that this is a hot topic and something we need to invest in!

The successful student will be supervised by staff from two research groups in the School of Computing plus a supervisor from the School of Applied Sciences:

  1. Professor Hazel Hall, Director of the Centre for Social Informatics;
  2. Dr Dimtra Gkatzia based in the Nature-inspired Intelligent Systems group;
  3. Dr Pete Robertson from the Social Sciences Research Group in the School of Applied Sciences

I have been supervised and supported by two out of the three of these staff members and can personally recommend the great supervisory team myself!

As a student who has very nearly completed my PhD on this funding stream, I know the fab experience that students have throughout their years of study. For example, apart from being supervised by very experienced and knowledgeable staff (see above), the School of Computing has a very strong track record of supervising SDS collaborative studentships, with two completions to date (in 2018 and 2019) and three on-going studentships.

This knowledge is also extended from the appointed sponsor each SDS student will be given to provide advice and guidance throughout the study. This is imperative to ensure that the research fits with the needs of SDS but also so that you, as the student, are able to understand how SDS and other professionals/practitioners will befit from the outputs of your work. For me, this understanding has been vital in the last two years of my research, especially post-thesis submission when I have been able to work with SDS and present my work to key stakeholders at networking events before writing a final policy briefing on the key findings and applications of my research. This is something not offered by all studentships!

In addition, students will have various opportunities to present their research at conferences, both locally and internationally. My international conference participation took me to more local places such as Aberdeen and Sheffield, and more further afield such as Zadar (Croatia), Krakow (Poland), Vancouver and Finland (not a conference as such but I got t present my work in a local university during my visit) – all of which I presented my work in paper or poster form. I have also been able to network with other students and learn more about my own domain of research and academic life by attending the doctoral workshops offered by most of the conferences.

We are also very blessed in the School of Computing to have some funding available to help doctoral students to travel and take part in these conferences and also attend various training and development opportunities offered both in and outside of Scotland. The training and development focuses on many aspects of developing as a researcher, so no matter which area you feel you would like to improve, there is always training and developmet activities offered to help. For me, I used to hate presenting my work and delivering those nerve-wracking talks. However, this is something I have been able to work on over the past four years and I don’t think twice about saying ‘yes’ if now asked to talk to others about my own work.

You can find more about the specific requirements of the PhD studentship on the blog post from Professor Hazel Hall (https://hazelhall.org/2020/02/04/fully-funded-phd-studentship-opportunity-natural-language-interfaces-to-support-career-decision-making-of-young-people/and also on the SGSSS Grad Hub where you will apply (https://www.sgsss.ac.uk/studentship/natural-language-interfaces/.). The key dates for the studentship application are as follows:

  • Applications for this studentship should be submitted to GradHub by Friday 28th February 2020 at midday
  • Interviews are scheduled at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus for the afternoon of Friday 6th March
  • The start date for successful candidates is Thursday 1st October 2020

Full details of eligibility criteria and the application process (through GradHub) can be found on the Current studentship opportunities page of the SGSSS web site.

For further information about this studentship, please contact Dr Professor Hazel Hall (h.hall@napier.ac.uk) or Dr Dimitra Gkatzia (d.gkatzia@napier.ac.uk).