Multiple Doctoral and Post-Doc Positions

Website ITI / LARSyS

 

ITI – Interactive Technologies Institute
https://iti.larsys.pt

The eGames Lab is a unique eGames development and creative industries cluster in Portugal, bringing together 14 companies, R&D centers, and public & private entities to leverage the sector’s competitiveness and position itself globally.

It is a national cluster across Madeira, Azores, Lisbon, and Évora; with close ties and cooperation with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (USA), AmazonWebServices (AWS), GameTech in London (UK), as well as with industry players and consultants from game hubs in Copenhagen (Denmark). The consortium has formal support from prominent industry leaders such as Sony Playstation, Dell’s Alienware, and Singapore’s EnjinStarter Launchpad. The consortium will also work with the prestigious University of Canterbury (New Zealand) and the famous HitLab (one of the world’s most well-known Virtual Reality labs).

ITI – the Interactive Technologies Institute – is the eGamesLab central research unit and will focus on advancing state of the art in game-related research areas. Videogame companies will have the opportunity to leverage this research into their products and services.

We are looking for 50 talented, motivated researchers wishing to join a 100+ people team in Lisbon’s Creative Hub and/or Madeira’s Cultural Research Center.

We have Doctoral and Post-Doctoral opportunities in the following areas:
• Advanced in-Game Virtual and Augmented Reality
• Transformational Games for Health and the Green Agenda
• Artificial Intelligence for Interactive Storytelling

For more general info about the eGamesLab, please write to pedro.campos@iti.larsys.pt
Check the specific tracks below and contact the supervisors directly for specific information.

Transformative Games and Storytelling for the Green Deal

This track aims to stimulate the green economy through transformative games and storytelling. The overarching goal is to provide information, engagement and access to nature and biodiversity with the intent to create awareness of the European Green Deal, discussions and interactions between communities and influence behavior change through transformative games and interactive stories.

This track aims to stimulate the green economy through transformative games and storytelling. The overarching goal is to provide information, engagement and access to nature and biodiversity with the intent to create awareness of the European Green Deal, discussions and interactions between communities and influence behaviour change through transformative games and interactive stories.
Digital Interactive Games and Narratives can create innovation and transform engagement and access to nature and protected areas stimulating awareness towards nature conservation and sustainability issues, supporting behaviour change and transforming players into agents into a more sustainable and nature respectful society. This research strand will embed the knowledge generated into actionable game design guidelines, ethical sound, and technologically advanced game prototypes that will lead to sustainable deployments and lower barriers for future development.

This eGamesLab agenda track seeks one post-doc and two PhD students in the areas of computer science and engineering or digital media, depending on their background or profile. All candidates are expected to have excellent spoken and written English skills as well as availability to work in close collaboration with industry partners of the consortium and availability to travel and meet communities and organizations in the broader international consortium:

• One Post-Doc in transformative games capable of coordinating an interdisciplinary team working on interactive stories and implementing concepts through digital storytelling and gaming. This research profile should provide co-design skills for analysing and conceiving interactive narratives with end-user communities and promoting behaviour change through transformative games.
• One PhD Student in Digital Media – conduct a literature review on the opportunities and challenges of the European Green deal in relationship with transformative games and digital storytelling. Following a research through design approach, prototype, develop and test a novel transformative game that tackles a green deal related challenge. Conduct “in the wild” case studies of the transformative game in collaboration with industry partners and end-user organizations of the eGames consortium. Conduct an impact assessment of the transformative potential of the game and the viability for commercial deployment through the eGames consortium.
• One PhD Student in game development – analyse game development frameworks with an emphasis on digital storytelling and games for good. Get familiar with tools and technologies for enhancing the game experience (e.g. AR/VR, AI, etc.), and other development tools for serious game frameworks. Prototype and develop game concepts for the eGames consortium in close collaboration with industry partners and focusing on transformative games for the green deal (e.g. climate change, nature, biodiversity, behaviour change, etc.).

The candidate will enroll in the IST CSE and Digital media PhD programs and work towards a PhD thesis detailing research questions from the topics above.

Workplace and supervision:
The work will be conducted at ITI (Lisbon or Funchal, Portugal), under the supervision of Prof. Valentina Nisi, Prof Nuno Nunes, and Prof. Pedro Campos as members of the PhD accompanying committee and Principal Investigator of the Funded project.
Contact: valentina.nisi@tecnico.ulisboa.pt

Blockchain Based Games for Social Good

This track will help develop the eGames Lab framework focusin on research that combines blockchain technologies for social good. Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) are transformative and bring about a potential for improvement citizenship and economic growth – enabling decentralised, trusted, transparent, user-centric digital services and stimulate new and improved business models and promote decentralised social innovations.
One particularly are of adoption are Non-fungile Tokens (NFTs) and digital games since they fullfil perfectly the goal of creators and game players: the items they create and own in the digital work are non-fungible, exchangeable, and ideally independent to the service providers.

The blockchain based games for social good will drive the potential of digital games to promote applications targeting social good (e.g. rule transparency, collective ownership and asset reusability) thus pushing DLTs on their potential to profoundly impact business and human experience and values. Through gaming for social good this track will therefore contribute also to nontechnical aspects, which can be equally as detrimental to the widespread adoption of blockchain preventing the principled, effective, and adequate use of this technology.

The eGamesLab track on blockchain based games for social good is seeking one post-doc and two PhD students in the areas of computer science and engineering or digital media, depending on their background or profile.

All candidates are expected to have excellent spoken and written English skills as well as availability to work in close collaboration with industry partners of the consortium and availability to travel and meet communities and organizations in the wider international consortium:

  • One Post-Doc in blockchain technologies capable of working on a broad set of real-world practical problems of massive scale that will have a direct and significant impact in the eGames blcokchain gaming framework. This research profile should provide skills for developing and analysing highly scalable DLT algorithms and to apply these algorithms to the solution of real-world gaming problems.
  • One PhD Student in Game Design – conduct a literature review on the opportunities and challenges of blockchain for gamingl in relationship with social good applications (e.g. personal welbeing and community welfare). Following a research through design approach, prototype, develop and test a novel blockchgain games that tackles social good challenges. Conduct “in the wild” case studies of blockchain based games in collaboration with industry partners and end-user organizations of the eGames consortium. Conduct an impact assessment of the transformative potential of blockchain game and the viability for commercial deployment through the eGames consortium.
  • One PhD Student in game development – analyse blockchain game development and NFTs for good frameworks with an emphasis on the Enjin ecosystem and blockchain PaaS (Platform as a Service). Get familiar with visual minting interface, API, SDKs, and other development tools for blockchain game frameworks. Prototype and develop game concepts for the eGames consortium in close collaboration with industry partners and focusing on games and NFTs for good.

The candidates will enroll the IST CSE and Digital media PhD programs and work towards a PhD thesis detailing research questions from the topics above.

Work place and supervision:

The work will be conducted at ITI (Lisbon or Funchal, Portugal), under the supervision of Prof. Nuno Nunes, Prof. Valentina Nisi, and Prof. Pedro Campos as member of the PhD accompanying committee and Principal Investigator of the Funded project.

Contact: nunojnunes@tecnico.ulisboa.pt

Artificial Intelligence for Gaming

This track calls for two post-doctoral level researchers interested in AI-powered systems for facilitating storytelling in video games. Again, the results will be streamed into the consortium’s video games during the development and production process and will facilitate and reduce time to market.
Our approach differs from the current state of the art in that it intends to build toolkits where artificial agents can form their own strategies and guarantee more fluid, unexpected, and varied experiences. We will investigate new ways of creating dynamic plots between the different characters in order to increase the level of entertainment for the players.

This track’s goals include:
• AI-powered novel ways of creating dynamic plots between the different characters in order to increase the level of entertainment for the players.
• Automatic Summarization of Interactive Narratives as Intelligent Feedback to Assist its Authoring.
• User-friendly interfaces for AI-powered storytelling authoring systems, including multidisciplinary development teams.

These goals will be measured in terms of (i) Reported Player Engagement Levels, (ii)  Satisfaction Levels of the Creators, and (iii) User adoption rates.

Workplace and supervision:
The work will be conducted at ITI (Funchal, Madeira Islands, Portugal), under the supervision of Prof. Pedro Campos, Dr. Vanessa Cesário and Prof. Frederica Gonçalves.
Contact: pedro.campos@iti.larsys.pt

Arts and Gaming, Convergent Feminism and Speculative Futures

This track calls for 1 post-Doctoral and 2 PhD candidates in the field of arts and gaming, convergent feminism, and speculative futures. The aim of this area of research is engaging future candidates in speculative arts and design-based research who will reflect about the art of living on a damaged planet. Taking advantage of playful interactive technologies and transmedia strategies to inquire how arts, play and gaming methodologies can integrate women studies to generate convergent and sustainable futures. The role of NTFs and the convergence of analogue and digital technologies in transmedia arts will also be considered.
The goal of this research is to generate knowledge in arts and design environments that take advantage of the internet as a mass popular medium. Workshops to engage participants in civil discussions about ethics and moral choices concerning future challenges will be developed under this area of expertise.

This track also calls for 2 PhD candidates in the field of social sciences and game studies, convergent feminism, and speculative futures. Preference will be given to research projects that focus on qualitative analysis of the impact of media and technology on everyday life, as well as research that focuses on diversity, inclusion and social justice in the digital games sector.

Media technologies, and technologies as media, permeate all aspects of contemporary life in advanced societies, and play an increasingly important role in regulating social and individual behavior. In the emerging context of the digital transition, research that explores ecosystems diversity and inclusion in the games sector will be prioritized. Research that includes workshops to engage participants in civil discussions about ethics and moral choices concerning future challenges will be well accepted in this area of expertise.

Workplace and supervision:
The work will be conducted at ITI (Lisbon or Funchal, Portugal), under the supervision of Prof. Patrícia Gouveia, Prof. Luciana Lima, and Prof. Pedro Campos as members of the PhD accompanying committee and Principal Investigator of the Funded project.
Contact: p.gouveia@belasartes.ulisboa.pt

Storytelling for Gaming

This track calls for four PhD candidates who will explore the possibilities of storytelling based on literary studies, theater studies, philosophy, and film and media studies of the History and Culture of Portugal, which can be applied to the eGaming industry. One of the things that makes a game so enjoyable is the dialogue. Good dialogue serves up interactions and narrative in bite-sized portions that draw the player in, rather than pushing them away with overly long ramblings on motives or what end up being glorified exposition dumps. Much of the research and investigation will focus on defining narrative structures and the base morphology of storytelling for gaming, thus having the PhD candidate capable of developing
scripts, narratives, and dialogues from common content base structures.

• Task #1: State of the Art Analysis
Study the possibilities of storytelling starting from literary studies, theater studies, philosophy, and film and media studies of the History and Culture of Portugal, which can be applied to the eGaming industry.

• Task #2: Creative Writing of Scripts, Narratives, and Dialogues
Creation of flowcharts for the major stories, character and plot development, adding side quests, non-playable characters, and other small details.

• Task #3: Narrative structures
Define narrative structures and the base morphology of storytelling for gaming as a basis for creating intelligent in-game dialogues.

• Task #4: Transmedia Storytelling
Engage the script in Transmedia Storytelling by telling the story across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. Ideally, each medium makes its unique contribution to the story’s unfolding.

• Task #5: Guidelines to engage different publics with storytelling for gaming
Testing different narratives/plots with varying publics of age to understand which features trigger their engagement to pursue the story/game. Distill guidelines for practice on engaging various age publics in storytelling for gaming as a basis for creating intelligent in-game dialogues.

Workplace and supervision:
The work will be conducted at ITI (Lisbon or Funchal, Portugal), under the supervision of Prof. Pedro Campos, Dr Vanessa Cesário as members of the PhD accompanying committee and Principal Investigator of the Funded project.
Contact: pedro.campos@iti.larsys.pt

Advanced in-Game Virtual Reality

This track calls for four post-doctoral level researchers interested in VR/AR for videogames. This track aims at achieving more realistic and more immersive content and mechanics for the video games. It will leverage the state-of-the-art VR and motion capture equipment that will be installed in the Funchal Cultural and Creative Center in order to bring more life to the animations and characters of the games produced by the consortium.

The equipment is typically used to animate characters for animated films, visual effects, gaming, sports science, vTubing, virtual production, virtual reality, and other immersive 3d applications. Traditionally, motion capture required big budgets, custom-made studios, and countless pre- and post-production hours.

With the advent of mainstream technologies and fast adoption by studios, motion capture is now relatively more affordable. We will employ the well-known Rococo framework for motion capture (Mocap), structured into three different aspects: (i) Capture intricate finger and hand movements; (ii) Capture detailed full-body motion in any environment, using a smart suit; and (iii) face capture using lidar scanners, to better express emotions. Therefore it is expected to achieve more realistic and immersive content for video games.

Additionally we will pursue the following goals:
• Use and evaluate Social gaze interaction as a novel game mechanics.
• New physical and virtual modes of locomotion achieving low latency times for realistic, immersive gameplay experiences.
• Using Smart Spatial Sound systems as the main mechanics of a game.

These goals will be measured in terms of (i) Reported Player Level of Realism, (ii) Latency times, and (iii)  Player Engagement Levels.

Work place and supervision:
The work will be conducted at ITI (Funchal, Madeira Islands, Portugal), under the supervision of Prof. Pedro Campos, Prof. Augusto Esteves and Prof. Élvio Gouveia.
Contact: pedro.campos@iti.larsys.pt

Pro-Social Computing for Energy Communities

This track aims to leverage data science and artificial intelligence to manage assets and resources in energy communities. The main focus will be on developing so-called pro-social agents that will act on behalf of the energy community members (typically one per house/dwelling) to make decisions in near real-time. Pro-social behavior occurs when people and agents perform costly actions that benefit others on the basis that others will behave the same in the future, hence returning the “favor.”

To this end, several aspects have to be considered, including understanding the conditions and mechanisms that lead societies to become more pro-social, modeling and developing Digital Twins of Energy Communities, and creating demand management control strategies that are themselves pro-social.

The finalobjective is to conduct a real-world pilot with a minimum sample of 10 dwellings.

This track will require two full-time researchers (1 Ph.D. Student – RH1 and 1 Post-Doc – RH2) and another with 50% dedication (Ph.D. Student – RH5).

• RH1 (Ph.D. Student 1): with a profile in CS and a background in AI, the researcher will focus on modeling and developing energy communities and evaluating different business models, including baselines (e.g., greedy meta-heuristics) and pro-social control. Will also be responsible for developing the digital twins and real-world demonstration in year 3.

• RH2 (Post-Doc 1): will be an agent-based computing expert, preferably with experience in developing pro-social agents. Will be responsible for the initial developments of the pro-social load balancing schemes, developing, validating, and executing the evaluation protocols. This researcher will also assist in the coordination of the real-world pilot. Finally, one of the main goals of this person is to seek additional funding through writing grants at regional, national, and international levels.

User-Centric AI4EO: Applications to Agriculture at Multiple Scales

The track aims to leverage Artificial Intelligence for Earth Observation (AI4EO) from a user-centric perspective to improve current practices in agriculture at multiple scales, i.e., from tiny fields on Madeira Island to large farms on mainland Portugal.

The main focus will be twofold: first, develop mechanisms to engage farmers in the AI4EO loop by providing annotated data (i.e., ground-truth) and validating AI algorithms. Second, study the fundamental limits of AI and EO using satellite data in agriculture by matching end-users’ expectations with the actual capabilities of AI4EO in this domain. To this end, several aspects will have to be considered, including the development of a distributed social network with gamification and persuasive technology features for user engagement and recruitment, the development of low-cost sensing for measuring soil properties, development of AI algorithms for different challenges in agriculture (e.g., soil nutrient estimation), and user-centric performance evaluation.

The final objective is to conduct a real-world trial with at least 100 participants in Madeira and mainland Portugal.

This track will require two full-time researchers (1 Ph.D. Student – RH3 and 1 Post-Doc – TH4) and another with 50% dedication (Ph.D. Student – RH5).

• RH3 (Ph.D. Student 2): with a profile in CS/ECE (or related) will have three main tasks: 1) developing low-costing sensing technology for annotating soil samples, 2) developing distributed social-network features for continuous user engagement, and 3) developing AI algorithms for specific agriculture applications and perform the user-centric evaluation.

• RH4 (Post-Doc 2): with a background in AI and experience with EO data for agriculture applications. This researcher will be responsible for the initial development of agriculture applications and for developing and validating performance evaluation protocols that assess the fundamental limitations of AI4EO for agricultural applications (e.g., minimum data resolution to achieve the performance required by the end-use application). Finally, this person will also seek additional funding through writing grants at several levels, including, for example the European Space Agency (ESA).

• RH5 (Ph.D. Student 3 with 50% in each project): with a background in social sciences or humanities, this person will be responsible for conducting the tasks related to user recruitment and engagement for the two lines of work. To this end, one of the main tasks of this student is to design and implement recruitment strategies that are adequate for the two target samples (electricity consumers/prosumers and agriculture practitioners). The student will then study the potential of social agents and distributed social networks for long-term user engagement and pro-active participant recruitment (e.g., recruitment by existing participants or opt-in).

Workplace and supervision:
The work will be conducted at ITI (Lisbon or Funchal, Portugal), under the supervision of Dr Lucas Pereira and Prof. Pedro Campos.
Contact: lucas.pereira@tecnico.ulisboa.pt

Sports Science
Games for Health and Well-being
From Sports Science:
• 1 post-doc
• 2 Ph.D. students
• 1 master student

Main tasks:
• Run different sensor technologies and applications, e.g., position, level and displacement, speed and acceleration, force, and physiological (temperature, ECG, EMG, EDA, EEG).
• Develop the different types of research: analytical, descriptive, experimental, and qualitative on the following topics: Games for Health and Well-being; Games for education and learning curriculum, and Games for sports training and rehabilitation.
• Perform/support interventions based on customized exergaming programs
• Conduct assessments with the general population or people with special considerations (i.e., cardiovascular, metabolic, brain-related disorders) on the physiological parameters during intervention based on customized exergaming programs.

Topic A: Games for Health and Well-being

Main goals:
• Change behaviors – Improve healthy lifestyles choices – Games for health education promotion: [local partner: Madeira Regional Directorate of Health]
• Improving general health – Games for people with special considerations [local partner: Pain Department of SESARAM
• Games to fight loneliness in older people– SAVES project [local partner: Junta de Freguesia de São Martinho or gymnasiums of  the Funchal City Hall]

The researcher will work and manage the following equipments:
Heart rate monitors 10 units
Accelerometers – 10 units wGT3X-BTB: Games for education and learning curriculum

Main goals:
• Better learned curriculum contents – [local partner: Secretaria Regional da Educação]
• Games for civics behavior change

The researcher will work and manage the following equipment:
HTC Vive Cosmos

Main goals:
• Decision making into sports – Clube Sports Marítimo and Clube Desportivo Nacional
• Develop physical and mental capacities  –  Clube Sports Marítimo and Clube Desportivo  Nacional
• Games for rehabilitation

Researcher will work and manage the following equipments:
Sensors:
HTC Vive Cosmos
Sensors: 3 GPS [Statsports]

Workplace and supervision:
The work will be conducted at ITI (Funchal, Portugal), under the supervision of Prof. Élvio Rubio.
Contact: erubiog@staff.uma.pt

Critical Perspectives on Digital Reproductive Health Technologies

Digital technologies for reproductive health consist of systems and devices that support intimate health and wellbeing through the lifecourse. These technologies include body-tracking apps, platforms, as well as mobile and wearable devices. They provide opportunities for users to learn about and discuss sexual and reproductive activities, share contraceptive knowledges, materials, and practices, as well as allowing users to monitor and graph numerous bodily functions and habits, to inform family planning and ensure informed choice.

However, reproductive health has to take into account different complex contexts, and often technologies can either erase these contexts, or play a part in upholding problematic and discriminatory aspects. Technologies for reproduction are never neutral, and have been found to perpetuate gender binaries. They can also be a threat to gender equality, as the data generated by these technologies can be reused outside of its context and sustain systems of interpersonal violence as seen in cases of abortion rights, and migration control. It is therefore critical to understand how the digitalized reproductive body intersects with issues of equity and justice.

This track aims to integrate feminist perspectives to critically analyze the production of reproductive technologies, as well as create tools to facilitate the design of more equitable technologies, attentive to aspects such as gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, or disability. We depart from the notion of reproductive justice – built on the legacies of reproductive health and rights –, which provides the conceptual means to examine the differentials embedded in such ongoing data practices.

This track calls for one PhD student and one Post-Doc in the areas of human-computer interaction (HCI), feminist HCI, intimate digital health, and social justice informatics, depending on their background or profile.

  • 1) PhD candidate in Intimate Data in Digital Technologies for Reproductive Health

As we are currently experiencing an emergence of data-driven and AI-based technologies, it is crucial to critically inquire into how these technologies are designed and which biases and inequalities they are reproducing. Data-intensive technologies, with the ability to track and find patterns in data through e.g. machine learning algorithms, have successfully contributed to reproductive technology and people in, for example, understanding their menstrual cycle or their most fertile days or fertile window, or assisting in processes of infertility and in vitro fertilization. However, they have also been found to produce discriminatory outcomes.

This PhD candidate will follow a research-through-design approach, which includes literature review, prototyping, development and “in the wild” testing. Through this process, the candidate will document decisions and the conditions surrounding the design process: who gets included or excluded in the datasets, which systems of inequality are in operation, which materials, data and models are used, and how the wider context (such as business models) influences design decisions around data and the designed products.

Requirements

The candidate is expected to have excellent spoken and written English skills. They will enrol in the IST CSE and Digital Media PhD programs and work towards a PhD thesis detailing research questions from the topics above.

  • 2) One post-doc in Designing Digital Technologies for Reproductive Health

Beyond data collection and tracking, an aspect often overlooked of bodily and body-worn technologies is how their materiality intersects and affects the body, the ways bodies touch and are touched by intimate tools or devices, how they touch us and how we are expected to touch them, and which practices of intimate care they require from their users and others. This calls for designing more care-full interactions and putting attention to the materiality and sociality of the body.

This postdoctoral researcher position is based within the research focus areas of human-computer interaction (HCI), feminist HCI, intimate digital health, and social justice informatics. Desirable skills and experience include:

An interest in (and ideally experience with) issues related to intimate health and care and working with sensitive topics and creative research methods;
A transdisciplinary research interest (and ideally orientation), with work anchored in approaches from across the technical, social, and/or artistic that explore the intersections of biomaterials, physical computing, craft, and design.

The candidate is expected to have excellent spoken and written English skills. Ability to publish in HCI conferences such as CHI, DIS, CSCW, as well as other Design Research venues such as DRS.

The research will entail studying current wearable designs, with attention to their materials and computational capabilities, as well as reimagining technological practices around intimate materials, towards future wearable technologies that are better integrated with different bodies and ways that the volatile materiality of the body can contribute to future tracking and monitoring of everyday conditions. To do so, we apply speculative design methods and engage with feminist epistemologies, to critique and explore new design spaces around reproductive health knowledge practices, and articulate relations between bodies and wearable AI-based systems. You are encouraged to bring your own unique perspectives, methods, vision, and ways of working to the team.

You will also develop your own research program at the intersection of HCI design and critical feminist health and participate in funding applications to acquire your own funding.

Workplace and supervision:

The work will be conducted at ITI (Lisbon, Portugal) under the supervision of Prof. Teresa Almeida, Prof. Pedro Sanches (ITI/LARSyS), and Prof. Pedro Campos as member of the PhD accompanying committee and Principal Investigator of the Funded project.

Contact: pedro.campos@iti.larsys.pt or teresa.almeida@tecnico.ulisboa.pt

To apply for this job email your details to pedro.campos@iti.larsys.pt

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