Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest institutions of higher education with over 37,000 students and 4,800 faculty and staff. We are characterised by world-leading research in several scientific fields and a multitude of educations ranked highly in international comparison. Umeå University is also the site of the pioneering discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic scissors - a revolution in genetic engineering that has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

At Umeå University, everything is nearby. Our cohesive campus environment makes it easy to meet, collaborate and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture where we rejoice in each other's successes.

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These Phd positions at the department of informatics is a part of the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program on Humanities and Society (WASP-HS), which aims to realize excellent research and develop competence on the consequences and challenges of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems for humanity and society. This 10-year program is initiated and generously funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation (MMW) with 660 million SEK. In addition to this, the program receives support from collaborating industry and from participating universities. For more information about the research and other activities conducted within WASP-HS please visit; WASP-HS. The successful candidate will be integrated in the national graduate school of WASP-HS, gaining access to a vast network of leading researchers in this area.

The research
We are looking for two PhD candidates to approach the design of biodata-driven technologies from a somaesthetic, feminist, critical and/or speculative perspective that emphasizes subjective and situated understanding of the individual’s own living bodies and everyday life practices, as they live with biodata- and AI-based systems.  This will involve a range of methods, for example first-person (e.g. auto-biographical design, autoethnography, micro-phenomenology) as well as second-person participatory design methods.

AI-based systems play an increasingly important role in our everyday lives – as tools for automation or collaboration at work, surveillance, for artistic purposes, or for play. Human-centred AI is a research field that addresses the complexity of human-AI relations, focusing on how AI-based systems can be developed to live alongside humans, entangled in their everyday lives. Designing these relations needs to be immersed both in understandings of how technology is made and used, and how it contributes to create new practices. As we develop technologies that can make use of biodata, intimately produced with human bodies, to track, predict, advise, and live alongside us, it matters to ask the questions of “how will biodata-driven technologies change the conceptions of health and wellbeing, at individual, community and societal levels?” and "how to design these technologies in a way that they work for a plurality of bodies, lifestyles, and ways of being in the world?”

The goal of the research is to develop new methods and tools for assisting in the development of AI-based systems with regards to articulating ethical issues in participatory design processes and as part of everyday living; what risks may arise in terms of self-determination and autonomy and how they may be mitigated; how trust, transparency and sense of control can be promoted; and how individuals relate socially, culturally, and emotionally to AI systems in their everyday lives.

The specific PhD research plan will be adapted to the candidates’ research plan, profile, and interests.

We are looking for 2 candidates with an interdisciplinary HCI background from areas such as interaction design, design informatics, industrial design, or computer science and engineering. The ideal candidate should have a strong interest in ethics, aesthetics, and design, has engaged in autobiographical and/or participatory design, and has also demonstrated capacity to engage with technical subjects, through collaborations in projects around the subjects of biodata/biosensors, machine learning, and/or other forms of AI.

The applicants must have a degree at advanced level in informatics or equivalent. Basic eligibility for admission to doctoral education is a completed degree at advanced level or completed course requirements of at least 240 higher education credits, which of at least 60 credits at an advanced level, or in some other way within or outside the country acquired essentially equivalent knowledge. In order to meet the requirement for special eligibility to be admitted to doctoral education in informatics, the applicant must have a university education in informatics of at least 90 credits, and 60 credits on advanced level in informatics (master's level) or other education of equivalent scope and specialization. The requirements are also considered to be met by those who in other ways, within or outside the country, have acquired substantially equivalent knowledge.

Other qualifications
In selection among eligible applicants, great emphasis is placed on the ability to assimilate the education, previous study results and the quality of the submitted research plan. In other aspects, reference is made to agreement on employment as a doctoral student (Chapter 5) and access to education (Chapter 7) in the Higher Education Ordinance.

The employment
The candidates will be employed and admitted to a doctoral programme at the department of informatics, Umeå University. The education at doctoral level corresponds to four years of full-time studies (240 higher education credits) and intends that you complete your doctoral studies within the department with a doctoral degree as the goal. A Ph.D. student can also participate in teaching or other departmental activities up to 20% of the time. Salary is paid according to agreement for doctoral positions. The employment starts as soon a possible. For this position, you are expected to perform your work at Umeå University Campus.

The application must include:

  • An introductory letter / personal letter (1 page)
  • Research proposal (research sketch) presenting your research ideas (max. 4 pages excluding references)
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Copies of previous degrees (MSc / MA and / or BSc / BA)
  • Copies of study grades including documentation of completed academic courses and grades and other merits
  • Copies of published own research and thesis (if any)
  • Contact information for two reference persons

The application must be complete for it to be processed in the recruitment process. The application must be made via the e-recruitment system Varbi.

Department of Informatics
At the Department of Informatics, research and education are conducted with a focus on digitization of society, organizations and interaction. Read more about our research environment at

Additionally, this position is also part of the UMeHealth research environment (, an interdisciplinary initiative for AI and eHealth, combining the Faculties of Medicine, Technology and Social Sciences at Umeå University, as well as multiple industry and public partners in Sweden.

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
Contract type Full time
First day of employment February 2022
Salary Montly Salary
Number of positions 2
Full-time equivalent 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-1858-21
  • Katrin Jonsson, Head of department,
  • Tina Lundmark, Hr-coordinator,
  • Pedro Sanches, Project leader,
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-786 53 65
  • SEKO, 090-786 52 96
  • ST, 090-786 54 31
Published 07.Dec.2021
Last application date 05.Jan.2022 11:59 PM CET

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