Universiteit Leiden

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PhD Candidate, Domain Adaptation for Conversational Agents

Omvang (fte)
Geplaatst op
11 oktober 2022
15 november 2022 Vacature gesloten

The Faculty of Science and the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) are looking for a:

PhD Candidate, Domain Adaptation for Conversational Agents
Vacancy number: 22-659

Key responsibilities
This position is embedded in the soon-to-be-launched project “Low-Resource Chat-based Conversational Intelligence (LESSEN)”, which is funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The project’s consortium brings together a diverse set of academic researchers and industrial stakeholders from across The Netherlands. Together, the project partners will develop, implement and evaluate state-of-the-art safe and transparent chat-based conversational AI agents based on state-of-the-art neural architectures (https://lessen-project.nl).

The objective of this PhD project (P5 in LESSEN) is to solve domain-specific challenges of developing conversational agents. Smaller retailers lack the amount of data needed to train conversational agents for their domain. Large retailers face the challenge of a large variety of user intents. In this project you will develop (i) transfer learning methods to allow knowledge transfer from high-resource to low-resource domains using limited training data; (ii) conversational agent technology adaptive to domain- and task-specific user requirements, learned from user interactions.

You will be embedded in the Text Mining and Retrieval group, supervised by Suzan Verberne (Leiden University) and co-supervised by Faegheh Hasibi (Radboud University).

Selection Criteria

  • A master’s degree in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Computational Linguistics, or a related field
  • Substantial knowledge of Natural Language Processing
  • Knowledge of deep learning architectures, specifically Transformer models
  • Good research skills
  • Good writing and presentation skills
  • Good programming skills

Research at our faculty
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2.300 staff and almost 5,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

For more information, see  www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/science and  https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at

Terms and conditions 
We offer a  full-time fixed-term position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from € 2,541,-  to €3,247,-  gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science www.graduateschools.leidenuniv.nl. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

D&I statement
Diversity and inclusion are core values of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.

Enquiries can be made to Suzan Verberne, s.verberne@liacs.leidenuniv.nl. If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact Alice Bisschop, email: jobs@liacs.leidenuniv.nl.

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to jobs@liacs.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • Resume
  • Application letter, including your applicability to aforementioned selection criteria
  • Grade list (preferably for both bachelor's degree and master's degree)
  • Examples of Scientific Writing (e.g., scientific publication or master’s thesis)
  • Reference of earlier scientific collaboration(s), that can be contacted by us
  • In case you are interested also in other PhD positions within the LESSEN project, please let us know whether we can share your application to other vacancies.

Only applications received before November 15th, 23:59 can be considered

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