VACANCY: 2 PhD researchers, Project MusiXR, Ghent University, Belgium

(20-08-2020) VACANCY: 2 PhD researchers, Project MusiXR, Ghent University, Belgium

VACANCY: 2 PhD researchers, Project MusiXR, Ghent University, Belgium


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 TASKS

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.
A first 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. Based on this state-of-the-art implementation, different music concert scenarios will be simulated in order to study the feeling of ‘presence’ (work of the second PhD). The feedback/quantification of presence should, in a second stage, be fed back to the auralization engine to improve user immersion.
A second PhD will focus on the empirical testing of musical concert scenarios in XR. The aim is to better understand the sense of ‘presence’ that users experience in XR musical concerts. Presence will be rooted in the study of behavioral, cognitive, and emotional responses of users (musicians and listeners). This will involve quantitative measurement, analysis and modelling of body movement and (neuro)physiological data, as well as qualitative assessments.
The research will be conducted in the Art and Science Interaction Lab (ASIL) at Ghent University (http://asil.ugent.be/). 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 Pieter-Jan Maes (pieterjan.maes@ugent.be) and Bart Moens (bart.moens@ugent.be) from IPEM, UGent, and Nilesh Madhu (nilesh.madhu@ugent.be) from IDLab, UGent, Belgium.


WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR


Profile of candidate 1:
Applicants should hold an academic Master’s degree or equivalent (at the latest on October 31, 2020), in any of the following branches of engineering: Electrical/Computer, Acoustics, Signal Processing, Communications, Artificial Intelligence.
Experience in music will be greatly appreciated.
Fluency in high-level programming languages (e.g., Python, Matlab) and digital signal processing knowledge are essential. Experience with real-time audio processing (in Python/C/C++) is desirable. Prior experience with audio reproduction and/or GPU programming is a big plus.
Experience (and/or interest) in empirical research.
Candidates are expected to have excellent communication skills and proficiency in written and oral English.  
In addition, 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.


Profile of candidate 2:
Applicants should hold an academic Master’s degree or equivalent (at the latest on October 31, 2020), preferably related to musicology, (experimental) psychology, or/and computer science.
Knowledge of music, and experience with music production or performance.
Knowledge on programming (e.g., Python, C#, Unity), technological tools (such as audio recording, motion caption, EEG, VR) and data processing.
Experience with empirical approaches.
Excellent didactical and communicative skills.
Ability to show initiative, to work independently, and to tackle problems.
Flexible, accurate, critical, reflective attitude, eager to learn, and team player.
Candidates are expected to have excellent written and oral English.


WHAT WE CAN OFFER YOU

Two collaborative, full-time (interdisciplinary) PhD scholarships 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.
Your remuneration will be determined by salary scale WM1. Click here for more information about our salary scales.
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. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits (in Dutch).

INTERESTED?

Applications must be submitted before October 1st, 2020 via the UGent's WP Career Opportunities website and should contain a CV (and overview of your study results), your application/motivation letter, and copy of the obtained degree(s).  Questions concerning the vacancies can be mailed to Bart Moens (bart.moens@ugent.be).