[Elsnet-list] CORRECTED DATE: PhD Studentship on "Gaze and Gesture in Human-Agent-Interaction" at University of Saarland, Germany

Maria Staudte mariastaudte at googlemail.com
Wed Dec 11 17:50:23 CET 2013

PhD Studentship "Gaze and Gesture in Human-Agent-Interaction" in 

Saarland University, Saarbruecken, Germany

The Embodied Spoken Interaction (ESI) group at the Saarland University, 
headed by Dr. Maria Staudte, invites applications for a PhD studentship, 
available now - but at the latest to be filled by July 1st, 2014.

People interact using speech as well as other non-verbal cues. Gaze, for 
instance, ubiquitously accompanies utterances in face-to-face 
interaction and may provide additional referential information from the 
speaker or may reveal whether the listener has understood. Following the 
partner's gaze and interpreting her posture and gestures can not only 
enrich but even be essential for successful and efficient communication.

Understanding and modeling the dynamic interplay of speech and 
non-verbal cues such as gaze and how they combine to encode a particular 
message is a complex enterprise. The use of virtual characters as 
interaction partners provides one way to approach this problem: The 
artificial partner introduces a precise, controllable, and yet dynamic 
component to the interaction with humans. Using them enables us to 
observe, model and test complex multi-modal behaviors.

The proposed PhD project will develop interactive behaviors of a virtual 
character that process and respond to the user (e.g. by means of data 
capture through modern eye- and motion-tracking systems and/or dialog 
systems). Besides the developing component, this research is also 
empirical and will involve the design of user studies and data analysis 
in order to tackle questions such as how joint attention and/or certain 
gestures or facial expressions are or should be employed and how they 
affect the spoken content.

Applicants should hold a Master degree in computational linguistics, 
computer science, cognitive science, psychology or psycholinguistics (or 
equivalent) and should have an interest in modeling and understanding 
the dynamics of human interaction. Basic programming skills are 
necessary. Experience with experiment design and statistics are an 
advantage but not required. Most importantly, the successful applicant 
should be enthusiastic about the general research questions and be 
prepared to learn new methods.

The Embodied Spoken Interaction (ESI) group is part of the "Multi-modal 
Computing and Interaction" Cluster of Excellence 
(http://www.mmci.uni-saarland.de/) at Saarland University which provides 
a very fruitful and constructive research environment with excellent 
opportunities for exchange and cooperation. The group has access to 
numerous state-of-the-art eye-tracking laboratories, a 64 channel 
EEG/ERP lab, and modern computing infrastructure, and conducts research 
at the level of international excellence.

The candidate will be expected to contribute to the high standards of 
the group and to be actively involved in the preparation and publication 
of new results. Further information about the group can be found at: 

Applicants should submit their research statement, a CV, a copy of their 
school and university degrees, a representative reprint (thesis or 
paper), and names and contact information of two references. The 
position remains open until filled, but preference will be given to 
applications received by **15 January**2014**.

All documents should be e-mailed as a single PDF to:

Dr. Maria Staudte
e-mail: masta at coli.uni-saarland.de
Department of Computational Linguistics
Saarland University 66123 Saarbruecken, Germany

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