Open PhD student position, Spatio-Temporal Modeling of Dialect Change

The University Research Priority Program (URPP) Language and Space has a focus on communication, which is inevitably linked to geographical and social space. Choosing a language or regional variety allows us to identify with and distinguish ourselves from others. Understanding these choices, however, is far from straight-forward. The URPP approaches relations between language and space with cutting-edge technology, combining methods and insights from linguistics and geographic information science. Within the URPP we seek applicants for a PhD student position, focusing on how languages – in particular dialects – change over space and time and how such changes can be quantitatively modeled. Data sources will range from traditional linguistic atlas data, to written and spoken text and large social media data. Methodological advancements made in the project will be relevant in a broader digital humanities context. The PhD student will be expected to develop a detailed research proposal, in collaboration with an interdisciplinary advisory team from geography and linguistics as a first stage of the PhD research. The PhD student will be supervised by Dr. Curdin Derungs and hosted in the GISLab, one of three laboratories within the URPP. The PhD student will also be a member of the GIS Unit, which is part of the University of Zurich GIScience Center, hosting several research groups working on diverse topics including language and space, geographic information retrieval, digital terrain modeling, movement analysis, digital cartography and mobile systems, geovisual analytics, and spatial cognition. We are looking for a highly motivated, original thinker, with a passion for science and a desire to develop a research career. In return we offer excellent working conditions, embedding in the Zurich Graduate School in Geography, a stimulating intellectual environment, and Zurich’s high quality of life. Applicants are required to have completed an excellent Masters level degree in a relevant field such as geographic information science, statistics, computational sciences, or computational linguistics. Basic programming skills, as well as a willingness to develop these further are a prerequisite. You will also have a very good standard of written and spoken English. Knowledge of German is an asset. Send a curriculum vitae, a motivation letter, academic transcripts, and contact details for two referees (including e-mail addresses) in a single PDF document, and with reference “GISLabPhD” to by 15 September 2017. For further questions, please contact Curdin Derungs ( The project is scheduled to start on 01 January 2018 – or earlier – and runs for three years, with a possible extension of one year.