Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest higher education institutions with over 37,000 students and about 4,700 employees. The University offers a diversity of high-quality education and world-leading research in several fields. Notably, the groundbreaking discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was made here. At Umeå University, everything is close. Our cohesive campuses make it easy to meet, work together and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture.

The ongoing societal transformation and large green investments in northern Sweden create enormous opportunities and complex challenges. For Umeå University, conducting research about – and in the middle of – a society in transition is key. We also take pride in delivering education to enable regions to expand quickly and sustainably. In fact, the future is made here.

Are you interested in learning more? Read about Umeå university as a workplace

This Phd position is part of a WASP-HS Networking Excellence Project (Netx) involving Umeå University, Uppsala University and KTH, and the candidate will spend time at each institution. NetX is a network initiative by the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program on Humanities and Society (WASP-HS) that aims to advance groundbreaking scientific cooperation between researchers at different universities and between researchers and external partners, with the goal of realizing excellent research and develop competence on the consequences and challenges of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems for humanity and society.

For more information about the research and other activities conducted within WASP-HS please visit; 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 one PhD candidate to design and explore AI for fall prevention among elderly people. Preventative physiotherapy training is increasingly an important part of aging well. Falls present the most common cause of injury in old age, and there is strong evidence that the number of falls and injuries can be greatly decreased through regular strength and balance exercises.

Through the use of AI-based, biosensory-driven technologies the PhD student and the research team will explore how solution can be designed to fulfill the aim of preventing falls. Through participatory methods emphasizing subjective and situated understanding of the individual’s own living bodies and everyday life practices the research will be carried out in close collaboration with the end-users.

The design research will be guided by the question: “How to make AI-based technologies available as a design material for the design of new preventative physiotherapy interventions?”. The aim is to explore how to design novel preventive AI-based physiotherapy interventions for home environments directed at different segments of the population, while at the same time critically reflect on the role of technologies in these types of interventions. Within this main question the candidate may also explore other related questions, such as ethical issues around the adoption of these technologies, investigating physiotherapist and patient perceptions of AI-assisted public-health interventions, and so on.

Through engaging with physiotherapists in the act of co-designing, we make visible interactions that were not possible before, making them come into existence, and become observable through design. Knowledge contributions are expected to be practices, participant needs and ethical questions raised through situated engagements with technology, as well as technical contributions. As such, the research team will engage in design explorations of AI-based training technology together with physiotherapists and, initially, volunteers acting as patients. This allows for the simultaneous development of technologies (data, algorithms, hardware such as tangible robotic materials), while exploring innovative practices around them.

The employment
The candidate will be employed and admitted to the doctoral programme at the department of Informatics, Umeå University, with Pedro Sanches as the main supervisor. The employment at doctoral level corresponds to four years of full-time studies (240 higher education credits) and 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 as possible.

For this position, you are expected to perform most of your work at the department of Informatics at Umeå University Campus. However, there will be regular research visits to the Division of Robotics, Perception and Learning at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and the Department of Informatics at Uppsala University. Additionally, the successful candidate will also be included in the WASP-HS research school, and participate in its courses, conferences, and workshops.

Eligibility and qualifications
We are looking for one candidate with an interdisciplinary HCI background from areas such as interaction design, design informatics, industrial design, or computer science and engineering. The candidate should have engaged in participatory design, or other collaborative design practices. Additionally, the ideal candidate 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. The department's full qualifications for admission to postgraduate studies can be found here

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 (or equivalent) 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 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 

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
First day of employment Enligt överenskommelse
Salary Månadslön
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-181-23
  • Pedro Sanches, 090-7866438
  • Katrin Jonsson, 090-7869387
  • Tina Lundmark, 090-7866438
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-7865365
  • SEKO, 090-7865296
  • ST, 090-7865431
Published 27.Jan.2023
Last application date 15.Mar.2023 11:59 PM CET

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