Vacancy: PhD researcher in Auralization for Extended Reality Applications


About Ghent University

Ghent University is a world of its own. Employing more than 8,000 people, it is actively involved in education and research, management and administration, as well as technical and social service provision on a daily basis. It is one of the largest, most exciting employers in the area and offers great career opportunities. With 11 faculties and more than 80 departments offering state-of-the-art study programmes grounded in research in a wide range of academic fields, Ghent University is a logical choice for its staff and students.

Your task

MusiXR is an interdisciplinary research project aimed at developing and studying realistic musical concert experiences in extended reality (XR, encompassing virtual, augmented, and mixed reality). The project focuses on improving the simulation of room acoustics in XR musical environments (cf. ‘auralization’), in combination with obtaining a better understanding of the behaviour, cognition, and emotion of users (musicians and listeners) engaged in such XR music concert experiences.

The PhD will be oriented towards the development of the auralization engine, starting with the implementation of state-of-the-art algorithms such as wave field synthesis (WFS), higher order ambisonics (HOA) and graphical beam tracking for AR. This state-of-the-art implementation will be used to simulate different music concert scenarios in order to study the feeling of ‘presence’ (this work will be carried out by another PhD student embedded in the humanities department). The feedback/quantification of presence should, in a second stage, be fed back to the auralization engine to improve user immersion.

The research will be conducted in the Art and Science Interaction Lab (ASIL) at Ghent University. The ASIL is a lively interdisciplinary research facility, equipped with, amongst others, an 88-speaker 3D setup (IOSONO), an advanced motion capture system, EEG/fNIRS systems, movement and physiological sensors, and wireless VR technologies.  

The project is supervised by Prof. Pieter-Jan Maes and dr. ir. Bart Moens (both from IPEM, UGent), and Prof. Nilesh Madhu (from IDLab, UGent).

What we are looking for

Required qualifications

  • An academic Master’s degree or equivalent (at the time of starting the PhD), in any of the following branches of engineering: Electrical/Computer, Acoustics, Signal Processing, Communications, Artificial Intelligence.
  • A good knowledge of digital signal processing.
  • Fluency in high-level programming languages (C/C++) and some experience with Python and/or Matlab.
  • Excellent communication skills and proficiency in written and oral English.

Welcome (but not essential)

  • Experience in C# and Unity.
  • Prior experience with audio reproduction and/or GPU programming (a big plus).
  • Interest in music.

Soft skills

  • A problem-solving attitude and the ability to take initiative and work independently to deliver high-quality research is essential for a successful completion of the project.
  • Since this is an interdisciplinary project, we also expect the candidates to be capable of critical self-reflection, demonstrate an eagerness to learn, and be a team-player.

What we offer

  • A collaborative, full-time (interdisciplinary) PhD scholarship for 4 years (coupled to a yearly positive evaluation) at Ghent University.
  • A pleasant work climate and collegial atmosphere in the center of Ghent (De Krook), in an international and interdisciplinary research team (IPEM and IDLab).
  • Support by experienced (international) researchers.
  • Competitive remuneration

Further, all Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 35 days of holiday leave (on an annual basis for a full-time job) supplemented by annual fixed bridge days, a bicycle allowance and eco vouchers.


Applications are welcome until January 15, 2021. The application package should contain a CV (and overview of the study results), an application/motivation letter, and copy of the obtained degree(s) (in the case of those who have already obtained their degrees, or expected date of graduation in the case of those finishing their masters). 

The application package may be mailed to Nilesh Madhu and/or Bart Moens.

We are relatively flexible on the starting date, but we expect the successful candidate to start no later than April 2021 (of course, this is subject to the existing COVID-19 situation at the time).