Ghent University

PhD Researcher on multimodal & knowledge-grounded dialogue systems

2024-06-30 (Europe/Brussels)
Save job

About the employer

Ghent University is one of the top 100 universities in the Dutch language area, with more than 44,000 students and 15,000 staff members.

Visit the employer page

Last application date Jun 30, 2024 00:00

Department TW05 - Department of Information Technology

Contract Limited duration

Degree Master Computer Science, Mathematics, Artificial Intelligence, or equivalent

Occupancy rate 100%

Vacancy type Research staff

Job description

PhD Researcher on multimodal & knowledge-grounded dialogue systems

Job description

Ghent University is a world of its own. Employing more than 15.000 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 its 11 faculties and more than 85 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.
The IDLab Ghent research group is seeking a highly motivated and talented PhD student to join the Text-to-Knowledge (T2K) team. The team has worked for many years on natural language processing tasks (NLP), especially on advanced information extraction, but in recent years, also on other topics, such as conversational agents.

In this PhD you will focus on designing new conversational AI models, based on recent foundation models, and in a multi-modal context, i.e., targeting use cases in human-robot interactions. The key research question is how state-of-the-art language models (including multi-modal versions) can be leveraged and adapted for specific knowledge-grounded tasks in human-robot communication. One of the target applications, is to support conversations with an educational goal, i.e., a robot as teaching assistant in interaction with students.
The PhD is part of the ambitious Flanders AI Research programme. Within this context, you will be able to interact with both fellow researchers across flemish universities and industry stakeholders throughout Flanders. As part of the IDLab text-to-knowledge team (T2K) you will benefit from input/feedback from other PhD students working on related topics. Beyond our own team, you will also work closely with researchers from other groups at UGent, in particular those working on social robots at AIRO and LT3 (at the Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication).

Your main tasks will include:

  • Studying state-of-the-art techniques and benchmarks in the domain of (multi-modal) conversation modelling, both from the NLP perspective, and from the human-machine communication perspective.
  • Design, implement, and train new models for conversational AI, with focus on the text modality, but including other modalities as well.
  • Collaborate towards a proof-of-concept implementation of the created models for tests with human participants on a real-world use case.
  • Writing high quality publications, targeting top journals and international conferences.

In addition to your primary research responsibilities, you will actively contribute to the educational mission of our institution by providing (limited) support for courses in the area of AI, such as Natural Language Processing. In addition, you can take on a mentoring role by supervising master theses related to the subject of this PhD.

Job offer

  • We offer the opportunity to do this research in an international and stimulating environment. Ghent University consistently ranks among the best 100 universities in the world. Located in the heart of Europe, Ghent is a beautiful and welcoming city with plenty of cultural and leisure activities.
  • We offer a full-time position as a doctoral fellow, consisting of an initial period of 12 months, which - after a positive evaluation, will be extended to a total maximum of 48 months.
  • Your contract will start on 1/5/24 at the earliest.
  • The fellowship amount is 100% of the net salary of an AAP member in equal family circumstances. The individual fellowship amount is determined by the Department of Personnel and Organization based on family status and seniority. A grant that meets the conditions and criteria of the regulations for doctoral fellowships is considered free of personal income tax. 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, 36 days of holiday leave (on an annual basis for a full-time job) supplemented by annual fixed bridge days, bicycle allowance and eco vouchers. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits (in Dutch).

Job profile

Job profile
We are looking for a highly creative and motivated PhD student with the following qualifications and skills:

  • You have (or will obtain before the starting date, i.e., a few months after application) a (European) master's degree in computer science, Mathematics, Artificial Intelligence, or equivalent, with excellent (‘honors’-level) grades. Your degree must be equivalent to 5 years of studies (bachelor + master) in the European Union.
  • You have a strong background in machine learning, including Natural Language Processing.
  • You have excellent coding skills; hands-on experience in deep learning frameworks such as PyTorch or Tensorflow is a plus.
  • You have strong analytical skills to interpret the obtained research results.
  • You are a team player and have strong communication skills.
  • Your English is fluent (C1 CEFR level) both speaking and writing. Knowledge of Dutch is an important asset, for the practical use case collaboration.

How to apply

How to apply
Send your application by email to prof. Thomas Demeester ( and prof. Chris Develder (, with the subject ‘Application: PhD at T2K (ConvAI)’.
Applications should include:

  • A motivation letter (highlighting why you believe you are a suitable candidate for the position & why you want this position),
  • An academic/professional resume,
  • Transcripts of study results,
  • At least two reference contacts,
  • A short overview describing your earlier research or technical work (e.g., scientific papers, master thesis, report on project work, etc.). Note: This may deviate from the topic of the advertised position.

After a first screening, selected candidates will be invited for an interview (in person or remotely via MS Teams).
Application deadline: June 30, 2024.
Start of the Ph.D. research: Possible as early as May 2024, but we aim for September 2024, for recently graduated students.

More info on:

Job details

PhD Researcher on multimodal & knowledge-grounded dialogue systems
Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 33 Ghent, Belgium
Application deadline
2024-06-30 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
2024-06-30 23:59 (CET)
Job type
Save job

Application instructions

Please send your application to and

More jobs from this employer

About the employer

Ghent University is one of the top 100 universities in the Dutch language area, with more than 44,000 students and 15,000 staff members.

Visit the employer page

This might interest you

Deciphering the Gut’s Clues to Our Health University of Turku 5 min read
Understanding Users to Optimise 3D Experiences Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) 5 min read
Control Systems: The Key to Our Automated Future? Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (MPI-SWS) 5 min read
More stories