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Two PhD Positions in social aspects of smart technology, artificial intelligence and sustainability (6-21008)

Smart technology, machine learning, big data and artificial intelligence will be part of the future and can potentially help us in the sustainable transition. However, for this to actually happen, the interaction between humans and technology, and the social aspects of new technology, needs to be understood and incorporated into technology development. If you have a social science background and want to contribute to this future, and you are interested in an international working life, you might be the right candidate for either of these two PhD positions. <p>The two PhD positions are based in the research group of Sustainable Cities and Everyday Practices, Department of the Built Environment (BUILD) at Aalborg University (Copenhagen campus), within the general research program &quot;Planning and Development&quot;. These positions are open for appointment from 1 August 2021.</p>

Job description

The transition to a low-carbon society includes new prosumer roles linking renewable energy production and consumption by the use of smart technologies. It may also include giving feedback to consumers on their actual energy consumption, to help them stir or maybe automate this. To promote this development, interdisciplinary high-level skills are needed and these two PhD positions are part of a larger international PhD network intended to develop such skills. The network is an Innovative Training Network (ITN) within the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Actions. The network includes several European universities and research institutions as well as private companies, spanning from social science departments to technology specialist within research or development. The successful candidates for these two PhD positions will be part of this network and will be trained in different environments, including internships (secondments) at different universities or companies.

The two PhD positions will deal with different aspects of the project:

PhD no. 1. This PhD focuses on how smart metering and producing your own energy (e.g. from rooftop PVs) influence daily energy-consuming routines of households, including their temporality. This will be explored through qualitative methods and by drawing on theories of practice and relevant theories of learning (e.g. situated learning or experiential learning). Findings will contribute to development of design strategies targeted households with own energy production.

PhD no. 2. This PhD focuses on people living in new-built low-energy homes and will statistically follow their energy consumption and through qualitative interviews try to understand why in real use these buildings often do not display as low consumptions as expected. The project will provide recommendations for smart technologies to work better in terms of assisting residents in using their homes in the most efficient way.

Candidates for both positions are expected to have a relevant social science education, e.g. within sociology, cultural geography or anthropology, maybe in combination with sustainable development programs or STS-studies, and both candidates should have good qualitative methodology competences. Furthermore, basic competences within statistical methods are needed for PhD position no. 2. For both positions, other relevant – but not required – competences or experiences can include previous experience with topics related to the PhD positions from, e.g., previous positions in companies or NGOs. You can read more about the project at https://gecko-project.eu/

You may obtain further information concerning the scientific aspects of position no. 1 from Senior Researcher Toke Haunstrup Bach Christensen, Department of the Built Environment, phone: +45 5142 7387, email: thc@build.aau.dk, and for position no. 2 from professor Kirsten Gram-Hanssen, Department of the Built Environment, phone: +45 2360 5653, email: kgh@build.aau.dk .

PhD positions are allocated to individuals who hold a Master's degree. For these positions there are some further special requirements concerning eligibility. At the first date of contractual employment (appointment), the applicant must:

  • be in the first 4 years from the date when the applicant obtained the first degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctorate and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Denmark for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.

PhD positions normally last for a period of 3 years. It is a prerequisite for allocation of the position that the candidate will be enrolled as a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Engineering and Science in accordance with the regulations of Ministerial Order No. 1039 of August 27, 2013 on the PhD Programme at the Universities and Certain Higher Artistic Educational Institutions. According to the Ministerial Order, the progress of the PhD student shall be assessed every six months. It is a prerequisite for continuation of salary payment that the previous progress is approved at the time of the evaluation.

The qualifications of the applicant will be assessed by an assessment committee. On the basis of the recommendation of the assessment committee, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Science will make a decision for allocating the position.

For further information about positions and salary as well as practical issues concerning the application procedure contact Bettina Wedde, The Faculty of Engineering and Science, email: bew@adm.aau.dk,  phone: +45 9940 9909.

For more information of the research program Planning and Development: https://www.en.plan.aau.dk/doctoral-programme/

The application is only to be submitted online by using the "Apply online" button below.

We wish to reflect the diversity of society and welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.


Appointment and salary as a PhD fellow are according to the Ministry of Finance Circular of November 10, 2015 on the Collective Agreement for Academics in Denmark, Appendix 5, regarding PhD fellows, and with the Ministry of Finance current circular on the employment structure at Danish Universities.

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