torsdag 17 oktober 2019

Help save the world! We are hiring a ph.d. student!

The image comes from the web page "Being a doctoral student at KTH"

I've haven't blogged much in the last 12+ months. I did however write a blog post in January about a research grant application we submitted, "Decreased CO2-emissions in flight-intensive organisations: From data to practice" and I did in fact end that blog post like this:

"If there ever was an application where it felt like we hit all the marks, well, then this is it. We were definitely on a high as we handed in the application. The Energy Agency will hand out funds for at least 10 projects and we have so much faith in our application that we were confident there just can't be 10 other applications that are better than our. We hope."

I really ought to have written a blog post before the summer when we found out that the project was approved. I might in fact still do that retroactively (I will then edit this introduction) and I should also write a blog post about what has happened in the project this far/during the start-up phase (e.g. during the autumn). Do however also see this blog post where the first three master's-level project course proposals are related to this particular research project.

This blog post is however an announcement that we just placed an ad and that we are hiring! We are looking for a ph.d. student who wants to join our project and our research group! 

The job ad is available here (in English) and here (in Swedish) and the deadline to apply is Thursday November 7. We will then set aside time to sort out applications that do not fulfil the formal requirement and then try to further winnow down the applications to get between 3-5 applicants that we think are highly interesting.

Me and my colleague Elina Eriksson put together the ad. Much of it consists of boilerplate text - text that will be found in any ad for a ph.d. position at KTH (e.g. we offer "Work and study in Stockholm, one of Europe’s fastest-growing capitals, which is close to both nature and the sea"). I will here point out the significant parts of the ad that makes it different from other ads.

1) The super-short description of the project that the ph.d. student will work in and what his/her tasks mainly will consist of:

You will join an interdisciplinary research project that aims to decrease carbon emissions in flight-intensive organizations. We work collaboratively with other ongoing efforts to decrease carbon emissions at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The project will develop interaction tools and methods to visualize, engage and help individuals and departments to become aware of and decrease unnecessary flying. You will help us explore and develop novel concepts and design proposals to support behavior change on an individual and organizational level. Our project will contribute to KTH’s overarching sustainability goal to decrease carbon emissions from flight with 20% during the current four-year period.

2) We are looking for someone who wants to work with sustainability and design and has (some kind of) background in design is a requirement:

To be admitted to postgraduate education (Chapter 7, 39 § Swedish Higher Education Ordinance), the applicant must [...]
• have a specialisation (or prior experience) in design, for example interaction design. 

Comment: there are several requirements that are non-negotiable such as for example having passed a degree at an advanced level (same for all ph.d. positions at KTH). We added this requirement to this particular ph.d. position and it means that many who might have wanted to apply will not be able to do so (or will be sorted away in the first pass). While design background/experience is a requirement, we are pretty open about what kind of design. While we exemplify with "interaction design" (something that allows students from our own engineering programme in media technology to apply), other types of designers are also welcome to apply, for example industrial designers, service designers, (user) experience designers etc. 

3) While some kind of design experience/background is a requirement, there is also a less binding wish list of characteristics of which most (again) consists of boilerplate text (e.g. the applicant should have the "ability to independently pursue his or her work" but also the "ability to collaborate with others"). The following two criteria have however been added by us for this ph.d. position in particular:

In order to succeed as a doctoral student at KTH, you need to be goal oriented and persevering in your work. In the selection of the applicants, the following will be assessed: 
• ability to come up with ideas and new approaches (creativity), and
• English proficiency in reading, writing and speaking.

Comment: it is hard for me to imagine hiring someone who isn't good or at least decent at writing. For someone who finds writing to be tedious and difficult, my general advice would be to not apply for a ph.d. position. Five years as a ph.d. student for for the person who hates writing would mean a world of pain. I'm surprised that proficiency in reading and writing in English isn't a requirement for all ph.d. positions at our university. 

Comment: the creativity criteria will be a bit tricky to evaluate but we felt that the project really needs a person who has an innovative way of thinking which can be put into practice and which leads to results. This criteria also fits together with the design requirement above. The project will include various "design interventions" and we want someone who is creative and can contribute with new ideas!

4) As to what background material to hand in as part of the application, we added the following two elements (besides a CV, a degree certificate etc.):

• Contact information for at least two reference persons. 
• Your master’s thesis or a representative equivalent publication or technical report. 

Comment: we will in fact check this up carefully for the last 3-5 applicants that we will choose between!

5) To those who have studied at KTH, who have met me elsewhere or will get a tip about this ph.d. position from someone who knows me, I imagine this could in fact make a difference:

Supervision: The doctoral student will be placed at the Royal Institute of Technology and supervised by associate professor Daniel Pargman.

6) Lastly, we want to emphasise that the ph.d. student will become part of an up-and-coming research group with many different research projects and and that he/she will become part of an exciting research environment:

What we offer: [...]
• You will be part of the sustainability research group at the Department of Media Technology and Interaction Design. This group has recently started several new research projects and is at the forefront of research and teaching in the area of computing and sustainability. For more information, see our web page.

Me and Elina spent half a day this past week disseminating the ad in various networks such as:
- Our department, our research group and in other research groups at KTH.
- Facebook, Twitter.
- In various relevant distribution lists.
- To people/in networks of researchers who look at problematising or reducing (academic) flying.
- To individuals we know personally who work with sustainability and/or design.
- We also hope to reach alumni from our media technology engineering programme through colleagues of ours but don't know if this has or will happen.

Some colleagues have helped further disseminate the ad on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you! Please disseminate the link to this blog post too!

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