Assistant Professor in Communicating with Social Robots
VU University of Amsterdam Department of Communication Science
Netherlands

Our top-ranked Department of Communication Science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is looking for candidates in Human-Robot Communication with a background in media psychology or related discipline and affinity with social robotics. Is that you? Then we are curious to get to know you!

Location: AMSTERDAM
FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

The Department of Communication Science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam currently searches for an Assistant Professor in Media Psychology with a focus on communicating with social robots. We particularly seek candidates with expertise in social robotics from a social, communicative and psychological perspective. Candidates with a general background in human-robot interaction, or human-computer interaction that both demonstrate a clear affinity with social robotics and feel comfortable applying media psychological or communication-scientific theory and methods are also encouraged to apply.  

The envisioned position should address questions such as how people use, experience, and respond to social robots. More specifically, the Media Psychology group at the department of Communication Science, chaired by prof. dr. Elly Konijn, examines the communication skills of social robots that are interacting with humans in order to establish social-affective bonds. Scholars in the group aim to build and investigate human-robot communication that is more natural, efficient, and establishes stronger affective bonds between people and robots. They utilize related insights to understand how social robots can help to tackle societal problems like providing effective healthcare for the elderly, provide support in education as well as in clinical settings. This research is conducted through experiments and field studies and in close collaboration with an interdisciplinary team (e.g., computational linguistics, AI).

Our Department of Communication Science has a particular interest in new media technologies, and in bridging social science and computer science. Our department mostly pursues empirical quantitative research, also including computational research. Accordingly, candidates that possess computer science skills next to their profound expertise in media-psychology are particularly encouraged to apply.

The envisioned candidate will also participate in teaching in Media Psychology, Human-Robot Communication, and Communication Science (lectures, seminars, and work groups and supervising theses), both at bachelor and master level. We therefore seek candidates with a demonstrable high level of teaching skills.

If you want to take on this challenge and be part of an exciting team working at the forefront of communicating with social robots, we encourage you to apply!

Given the current composition of the department, we especially encourage female and minority candidates to apply for this position as we strive for optimal diversity in our team.

The Assistant Professor will be involved in teaching and research starting in September 2022. The position starts with 50% research and 50% teaching in the first two years. Thereafter, the position will switch to our standard 30% research and 70% teaching distribution, also depending on the amount of personal research grants acquired. Department members are encouraged to apply for grants to increase their research time.

We trust in the skills of the candidates we are hiring and like to provide stability for early career researchers. Therefore, this UD position will be already tenured (permanency) after 1 ½ years, based on a brief assessment of the candidate’s initial performance. Furthermore, our faculty maintains a transparent career scheme with explicit performance criteria, based on which scholars can request assessment for promotion (e.g., to associate professor).  

Your duties

Our envisioned candidate…

  • conducts state of the art empirical research in his/her respective field according to international standards, publicly available and reproducible, resulting in publications in A or B ranked academic journals, conference proceedings, and brief reports accessible to the public at large, thereby adhering to Open Science principles
  • is active in acquiring external research funding
  • is involved in acquiring and supervising Ph.D. students
  • is bridging science and society and participates in the public debate
  • develops, coordinates and teaches highly valued bachelor and master level courses
  • is a team-player and an active, present, and engaged department and faculty member, involved in management and admin tasks, and taking part in committees relevant to the department and faculty

Requirements

  • a Ph.D. in Communication Science (Media Psychology), Psychology (Social, Cognitive or Emotion Psychology), or a related discipline like Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence)
  • Strong research skills as shown in a solid publication record related to the present position, a good understanding of the scientific debate and research on social robots and related (psychological and mediated) processes, strong expertise in empirical (field or experimental) studies and research designs,
  • advanced statistical and analytical skills (affinity with programming in R or Python, computational techniques or Natural Language Processing is welcomed) and excellent academic writing skills
  • high level didactic qualities (e.g., as proven by a basic teaching qualification, BKO, at Dutch Universities), or experience with various teaching methods/skills, positive teaching evaluations combined with the willingness to acquire a BKO
  • fluency in Dutch and/or English; the ability to teach in English at the C1 level or equivalent is required, and we are looking for a willingness to (learn to) teach in Dutch in the coming years
  • experience with (and preferably success in) applying for external funding

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially engaged organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €3.821 (scale 11.0)
and a maximum €5,230 (scale 11.11), depending on your educational level and experience. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system (UFO) and is vacant for 1.0 FTE, yet 0.8 FTE is also possible. The job involves an Assistant Professor 2 position with a strong outlook for a permanent position after 18 months, and transparent career perspectives. In the first two years, the time devoted to teaching and research is 50/50. Afterwards, the standard share is 70% teaching and 30% research (also depending on grants acquired).

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment, 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, solid pension scheme (ABP), discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance)

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

Faculty of Social Sciences

The Faculty of Social Sciences examines the major social problems of our time from multiple perspectives. From bullying at school to dealing with transnational immigration, from the rise of populist politicians to creating a self-reliant society. Only at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam you will find all the academic disciplines needed to understand these 'wicked problems': alongside the traditional disciplines such as sociology, anthropology and politics, we also research and teach the new social sciences such as communication science and management & organization science. We do not settle for easy answers in our teaching and research. Our researchers and students are critical thinkers and doers who work together to devise surprising solutions to the problems of today.

Working at the Faculty of Social Sciences means working with colleagues from a range of academic disciplines in an inspiring and personal work and study environment with excellent research facilities. We employ more than 500 staff members, and we are home to around 2,500 students.

About the department

Over the past decade, the scientific field of Communication Science has changed profoundly due to the continuous emergence of new media technologies and the rise of a media-saturated digital society, new empirical research methods, and new dynamic communication routes. The department of Communication Science at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam responds to these major trends with an educational program (BA/MA) that teaches Communication Science within a “digital society” framework, and that trains related skills (e.g., on data and computational methods) and knowledge (e.g., on digital marketing) using timely and innovative teaching methods. The department also responds to these major trends by maintaining a pointed and forward-looking research program that is strategically focusing on an examination of Communication Choices, Content and Consequences (CCCC). The department is in a strong position in the field because it has clearly focused on newly emerging communication technologies and solid empirical methods ever since its start in 2003. The department maintains particular expertise in adapting psychology and computer sciences to the study of media. Researchers within the CCCC program are currently organized into three evolving research areas crucial to the discipline of Communication Science: Media Monitoring (focusing on computational methods, mostly in a political communication domain), Media Psychology (including work on experience and effects of Social Robotics and Virtual Reality), and Social Media (focusing on social media, mostly in a marketing, PR, and organizational communication context). The department has been ranked at a strong #10 of all departments/universities worldwide in the prestigious 2020 Shanghai ranking, the CCCC research program received excellent review scores in the last assessment, and the teaching program was positively evaluated and accredited in the last assessment (2018/2019).

Application

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 31 mei 2022. The first round of job interviews will be executed through Zoom and is planned for the beginning of June. Final candidates will be invited to a second round to meet department members (on campus) and provide a short presentation in front of the department (June 27). Afterwards, the hiring committee will take a final decision; contract negotiation should be concluded early July.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Margriet Schager/Sylvia Gielink
Position: secretaries Communication Science department
E-mail: secretariaat.cw.fsw@vu.nl
Telephone: +31 20 598 6854

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