PhD Studentships available in UCLIC - now closed

We have a number of funded PhD opportunities available to UK/EU applicants at the moment! These include EPSRC funded studentships as well as one Demonstrator position. All studentships are for up to 4 years from October 2018, and cover tuition fees at the UK/EU level, and a stipend.

Eligibility

Please be aware that EPSRC funding is only available to UK/EU candidates who have (a) settled status in the UK, with no restrictions on how long they can stay and (b) been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (for education purposes is fine). For more information: epsrc.ac.uk/skills/studentships/help/eligibility
Please be aware that the UCL Demonstratorship covers PhD fees only to the UK/EU level.

Research Themes and Projects

The studentships will be aligned with one of several themes, listed below - for more information on specific projects please find more information at the bottom of this page, refer to recent publications of the listed supervisor(s), or contact them directly via email.

Designing and Evaluating New Digital Technologies for HealthCare in Hospitals
Supervised by Prof Yvonne Rogers and Prof Ann Blandford.

Designing interaction around smart and autonomous systems.
Supervised by Dr Enrico Costanza.

The Paradox of the New Digital Age: Struggling to Get Things Done Despite Being Always-On.
Supervised by Dr Duncan Brumby and Prof Anna Cox.

Designing and Evaluating Interactive Systems in the Research Areas of Cross-Device Interaction or Dynamic Interactive Floors
Supervised by Dr Nicolai Marquardt.

Person Specification

In general, applicants should possess a strong bachelor's degree (1st or 2:1) or Master's degree in Human-Computer Interaction or a related discipline. Candidates will ideally have some relevant previous research experience and should have excellent communication and presentation skills. Additional skills relevant to each specific project are listed below the details of that project.

Application Procedure

Applications should submit their applications through the online UCL Select system by 5pm Friday 16 February 2018 - applications must include:

  1. A personal statement and research proposal describing the preferred research question, a summary of some relevant literature, and an outline of the type of research to be conducted (including ideas about which methods would be appropriate).
  2. Examples of academic writing and outputs from past work (e.g. a dissertation or assignment)
  3. Academic transcripts
  4. A CV

Interviews with short-listed applicants will begin around 21st February 2017.
Questions about the studentship can be made to the individual academics listed with each project. Queries about the application process can be made to Louise Gaynor.

Research Theme and Project Details

Designing and Evaluating New Digital Technologies for HealthCare in Hospitals
Supervised by Prof Yvonne Rogers and Prof Ann Blandford.

A central concern facing NHS hospitals with resource limitations is determining which of the many technologies, that are being promoted by tech companies for improving health and well-being, will deliver improved patient outcomes and be sustainable. Many remain untested in a clinical setting with real patients and clinicians. Whether it is virtual reality, augmented reality, wearables, machine learning, AI, data visualization, robotics, public displays, IoT, new platforms for sensing, diagnosing and aggregating electronic patient data, or other - how should a hospital decide which to invest in and how best to develop specific services and processes to improve patient experience and outcome while also enhancing hospital healthcare practices? Furthermore, what is the optimal process for handling new streams of digitized data that will result from such technologies?

In collaboration with one of the world's leading hospitals for children, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), we are investigating how to design new technologies for future hospitals. The aim is to improve the lives of patients, their families and clinicians by co-creating a people-centred approach to designing and deploying future interfaces and intelligent healthcare systems in hospitals that are usable, cost effective and safe using an innovative 'living lab'. The space includes a dedicated 'virtual hospital' in which mock-ups of scenarios such as outpatient clinics, inpatient beds, and procedures, as well as non-clinical areas, can be modelled while allowing for systematic monitoring, collection of data and evaluation. The PhD student will have access to this living lab; conducting studies to investigate the impact of different configurations of new technologies.

Within this broad remit, there are a number of possible PhD projects that could be explored. These include, but are not limited to: (i) monitoring parents and patient experiences with a view to sharing and presenting the data back to them. (ii) exploring 'intelligent' result presentation for clinicians (e.g. data streams from laboratories or theatres but also 'active intelligent' results presentation). This requires considering how to depict and display the many streams of data that will be engaging for patients, visitors, clinicians, researchers and others, using smart walls, physical visualizations, public installations, and artistic events. (iii) developing new forms of result presentation that can help surgeons and consultants make sense of the ever-increasing forms of data monitoring (e.g. data streams in theatres but also 'intelligent' pathology results presentation; for example, how does this patient's result compare to previous and other similar patients).

Prospective candidates should have an interest and experience in physical computing, data analytics, interaction design or "in the wild" studies.

Designing interaction around smart and autonomous systems.
Supervised by Dr Enrico Costanza.

With increasing volumes of data becoming available (from sensors, from the IoT, and from the web) machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are tools increasingly necessary to help us people make sense and take advantage of such data. One step further, these techniques can be used to build systems that autonomously react to data on our behalf. Integrating ML, AI and autonomy into applications and services, especially those designed for casual users (such as IoT appliances, or AI-powered digital health services), promises opportunities to help us make better decisions, work and live more efficiently and sustainably. However, ML and AI involve complex algorithms, often based on probabilistic methods, which are difficult to understand, if not even impenetrable, not only for end-users, but also for the designers of interactive products and services. The aim of this PhD project is to advance our understanding of human interaction with smart and autonomous system, and to identify best design practices through a principled experimental approach or through in the wild deployments.

In addition to what listed in the "person specification" above, interest and experience in one or more of the following areas would be desirable: software development or prototyping, interaction design, AI, ML, autonomous agents, behavioral economics.

The Paradox of the New Digital Age: Struggling to Get Things Done Despite Being Always-On.
Supervised by Dr Duncan Brumby and Prof Anna Cox.

New digital technology permits working at home for many knowledge workers. Greater flexibility over when and where work is done comes at a cost: juggling work with other activities and obligations. Constant switching between these different spheres can be overwhelming. For example, opening a laptop to watch Netflix might result in an urgent work message being read, and so disrupting a relaxing evening. These digital intrusions that result from being always-on can be stressful and lead to burnout, costing the global economy £255bn. As a result, there are myriad experts and apps all promising to help us focus, avoid digital distraction, and avoid feelings of being overwhelmed by reminding us about what needs to be done. Do any of these really work?

We seek an exceptional PhD student who has a desire to understand how new digital technologies are impacting the way that we live and work. Our previous work to understand how people multitask with digital technologies, has made use of a wide range of different research methods and approaches: from controlled lab experiments (Farmer et al. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12513), to online studies with crowdsourcing platforms (Gould et al. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2928269), to interview studies on the strategies that people use (Cecchinato et al. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2702123.2702537 ), to situated observational studies of daily living (Rigby et al. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3077548.3077560). The ideal candidate for this project will be a deep analytical thinker who is equipped with the necessary technical skill to conduct research using one or more of these empirical methods (i.e., quantitative experiments conducted in the lab or in the field, or qualitative interview or observation analysis methods).

Designing and Evaluating Interactive Systems in the Research Areas of Cross-Device Interaction or Dynamic Interactive Floors
Supervised by Dr Nicolai Marquardt.

There are a number of different possible PhD projects in the areas of cross-device interaction, ubiquitous computing, physical computing and interactive floors. In particular, the PhD research can be in one of the following two research areas:

  • The design and evaluation of novel cross-device applications and interaction techniques. In this research area, we are interested in designing new ways to interact and creatively engage with digital information that spans across multiple connected devices (e.g., using multiple tablets

to visualise and interact with information). The focus will be to design novel cross-device systems for visual analytics, financial computing, or health applications (e.g., new ways of interacting with medical data and visualisations). This work might build on our SurfaceConstellations platform from ACM CHI '18 (https://goo.gl/jN5LWM).

  • Designing and evaluating dynamic visual markings on interactive floors (relates to earlier work: https://goo.gl/j1hAQA). Such visualisations shown on interactive illuminated floors can be used to guide people's movement (e.g., showing where to move in a train station, or navigating floors of a hospital building) or warn in critical situations (e.g., in a factory manufacturing workplace). The goal of this project is to design new kinds of interactive floor visualisations and investigate the effectiveness of feedback shown with these dynamic visual floor markings. Of particular interest is the application of dynamic floor visualisations in the context of train stations, factories, or hospitals. This project could also be combined with research area of proxemic interaction (e.g., digital devices that consider the presence or spatial relationship of nearby people or devices, see https://goo.gl/FFzzXn).

The student working on one of these projects would need excellent design and prototyping skills for building novel interactive systems and devices/software. Interest or experience in the following areas are desirable: visual analytics, information visualisation, computer vision and cross-device interactions.