torsdag 15 september 2016

My soon-to-be colleague's name is...?


We will hire a new assistant professor in Human-Computer Interaction with a specialisation in Sustainability at my department. It's getting close to the bone now. The work of figuring out and formulating what professional experiences, skills and abilities that person should have started the better part of a year ago and it was primarily me and Cecilia Katzeff who did that work.

The job ad could be found on the KTH homepage, in Swedish newspapers and it also made the rounds in social media during the spring (and is still available on the web). The last date to apply was at the end of April and around a dozen persons applied. We have now come to the point where only four persons remain on the shortlist. The appointments board will meet with and interview the applicants today! The four persons that have been called by the appointments board are:
- Elina Eriksson (KTH/CSC/MID - my department)
- Björn Hedin (KTH/CSC/MID - my department)
- Somya Joshi (Stockholm University, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (DSV))
- Daniel Schien (Bristol University, School of Computer Science)

I should add that I myself have not seen the applicants' CVs or their applications and I have no insight whatsoever into the appointments process. After interviews and discussions in the appointments board, that process will end with a ranked list and where the #1 person on the list will be offered the job - the opportunity to get a tenure track job and to become my future colleague (of course provided that that persons accepts the offer, is happy with the salary and other conditions etc.)!

Beyond the boilerplate text about KTH and our school ("one of Europe’s leading technical and engineering universities", "Sweden’s largest technical research and learning institution", "research and education covers ... natural sciences and all branches of engineering, as well as in architecture, industrial management, urban planning, history and philosophy"), these are the things that the new assistant professor will actually do:

"Duties of the assistant professor are 30% in education and 70 % in research.
  • Develop, plan and teach at undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral level courses in HCI and sustainability, as well as in other HCI courses.
  • Supervise graduate students as well as students at master level.
  • Share responsibility for developing research in HCI and sustainability.
  • Formulate research projects and seek external funding.
  • Participate in research projects and writing scientific articles.
  • Inform the surrounding society about research results i.e. the third mission.
  • The assistant professor will be given opportunity to develop their independence as researcher and gain accreditation that may allow them to take other teaching positions with higher eligibility requirements ... Following application, the assistant professor shall be assessed for promotion to associate professor."
There are funds set aside for that person to conduct research (and write research grant applications) during 70% of his/her time for a period of four years. Here's what's important about the timeline:

Time limitation: The appointment is for an indefinite term, but no more than four years, and may be extended if, due to the teacher’s absence due to sick leave, parental leave or other special grounds, more time is required to reach the objectives of the appointment. However, the total appointment period may not exceed six years. The appointment is part of the Tenure Track system at KTH and the assistant professor may apply for promotion to tenured associate professor.

It is assumed that the assistant professor will later apply for being promoted to the position of (tenured) associate professor (in Swedish: promoted from "biträdande lektor" to "lektor").

The appointments board and two external (international) experts will weigh and measure (assess) the candidates and will use the following criteria as grounds for their assessment:
  • of highest importance is the applicant’s ability to conduct high-level research in the subject area, shown, for example, through international publications. Furthermore, the ability to initiate and conduct research projects, and to seek and obtain external funding is of highest importance.
  • of second highest importance is the applicant’s ability to develop, plan and implement education in HCI and sustainability of high quality at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. The applicant's long-term development potential is also of second highest importance.
  • it is also important that a person who is appointed as assistant professor at KTH has experience from research environments other than KTH, equivalent to a post-doctorate period or doctorate degree from another institution. In more practical areas, experience from industry can be just as valuable as a traditional post-doctoral residency at another university. The applicant's ability to establish and develop cooperation within research and education is also important. Likewise important is the applicant’s ability to collaborate with the surrounding society and to disseminate information regarding research and development work. In addition, the applicant's expertise in developing and leading activities and personnel is important; this includes having knowledge about matters of diversity and equal treatment, with particular focus on gender equality.

There is also some boilerplate text about human-computer interaction (HCI) and sustainability in the job ad:

"Human-computer interaction (HCI) is the study of interaction between humans and computerized systems. The area is interdisciplinary and includes computer science methods and tools for designing user-tailored system functions, and, social science theory and method to understand evaluate and improve computerized systems for human use."

"Sustainability in the subject field is found at the intersection between media technology, human-computer interaction, ICT, and, sustainability and sustainable development. [It] is today a growing area covering general aspects of the role of and the relationship between ICT and the individual, group, organization and sustainability of the society. Sustainability includes environmental, social and economic sustainability, with focus on sustainability and the environment."

That's the end of my knowledge of this process. It's all very exciting and the only thing I'm sorry about is that we cannot offer jobs to all four candidates!

Addenum (160924): We now know that the competition was tough but that my current colleague Elina Eriksson was ranked #1 and will get the job.

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