PhD position Voice and Speech Technology (1.0 FTE)


Campus Fryslan


Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative university of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 31,000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is an international place of knowledge.

Campus Fryslân is the ambitious eleventh and newest faculty of the University of Groningen, located in Leeuwarden. Campus Fryslân is an interdisciplinary faculty that works closely together with regional, national and international partners on worldwide problems and local solutions. In the summer of 2019, we moved to a state-of-the-art new faculty building De Beurs: the first all-electric, monumental educational building in The Netherlands.

We offer challenging bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degree programmes in four flagship research domains: Governance, Sustainable Economy, Language, Culture & Technology and Health & Food.

Job description

The University of Groningen offers a four-year PhD position to complete a dissertation on a topic related to “voice and speech technology”. The PhD candidate will be supervised by Dr Matt Coler and will be a member of the “Language, Culture and Technology” Flagship team at Campus Fryslân, which is comprised of several PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and visiting scholars from partner institutes.

The PhD candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School Campus Fryslân (GSCF) and can benefit from affiliations at other faculties at the University of Groningen (Linguistics, A.I., among others depending on the scope of the project). If interested, the PhD candidate could also play a role in the new Master’s program in Voice Technology currently under development.

Topics of interest for the doctoral research include (but are not limited to):
● synthetic voice (incl. text-to-speech challenges, such as increasing naturalness, developing tools for under-resourced languages, etc.)
● speech pathology detection (incl. techniques to automatically detect or recognize certain pathologies)
● speaker-state recognition (incl. speaker identification, intoxication detection, etc.)
● techniques to analyze other aspects of spoken language, including e.g. paralinguistic phenomena (coughs, filled pauses, laughter, etc.)
● or similar.

Of particular interest are proposals that consider prosody and/or phonation (modal voicing, laryngealization, creek, vocal fry, etc.) as well as proposals that address challenges relating to under-resourced (minority) languages, e.g. Frisian.

Interdisciplinary proposals that involve expertise from social sciences (linguistics, psychology, anthropology) and physical / data sciences (A.I., data science, acoustics, physiology) and/or which could connect to initiatives outside of academia, including those in the private sector (serious games, speech and language pathology) or the public sector (education, healthcare) are very welcome.


The candidate should have the following qualifications and strengths:
● master’s degree in a relevant academic field
● demonstrable affinity with qualitative and quantitative research
● very good individual and collaborative working and presenting skills
● strong motivation to complete a PhD dissertation in four years
● previous research experience, especially with speech technology and/or spoken dialogue systems is an asset
● very good command of spoken and written English; Dutch proficiency is an asset
● programming skills (preferably Python), experience with version control system (Git, Mercurial, or similar), and basic knowledge in machine learning are assets
● affinity with the open source community
● very good individual and collaborative working skills
● presenting skills
● planning and organizational skills.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 12 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:
- a salary of € 2,325 gross per month in the first year to a maximum of € 2,972 gross per month in the final year (salary scale PhD), based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
- a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
- an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
- a position for four years. The successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected.

A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty. As part of the programme, the PhD student will take part in the Career Perspectives Series, which provides a thorough preparation on the career after the PhD, inside or outside academia. During the course of the doctorate, the student will develop research and teaching competencies as well as leadership skills. For this, the PhD students will receive a tailor-made programme from the GSCF.

Job Application

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include the following documents (each of which should be in PDF):
● your curriculum vitae
● a maximum of two-page motivation letter, which outlines your academic accomplishments and research interests. If relevant, mention how your Master’s thesis ties into the doctoral research you aim to perform
● a maximum two-page description of the doctoral research project you envision. This should include a high-level description of the project, research questions and/or hypotheses, and an indication of the scientific relevance and social value of the project outcomes
● a copy of your diplomas with a list of course grades
● one reference letter from an academic referee (preferably Master’s supervisor) and contact details (name and e-mail) for one other academic referee.

The intended starting date is 1 February 2020. An earlier start is possible provided mutual agreement.

You can submit your application in English until 6 October 11.59pm / before 21 October 2019 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Interviews will be scheduled in October/November 2019. Candidates may be asked to give a presentation.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr Joop Houtman
+31 58 2055111

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 219469

Digital application form