In the age of big data, geographic information has become a central means for data scientists of various disciplines to embed their analysis into a spatio-temporal context, from human mobility patterns and social inequality to the investigation of personal health. However, as the variety of data sources and software available on the Web increases, it becomes more and more impossible to comprehend and utilize all tools and data available to answer geo-analytical questions. Hence, whenever a functionality is needed but not available in one tool, analysts are forced to reformulate their questions in terms of technicalities of another tool or other datasets. This procedure does not scale with the increasing variety of geo-analytic sources on the web, preventing analysts from tapping its full potential. Consider, in contrast, how easy it is for a user of a digital smartphone assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa to ask a question like “What is the weather today?” and get back an answer from the Web. It would mean a tremendous breakthrough if analysts could similarly ask questions in order to get the tools and data required to answer them. Unfortunately, geo-analytic technology currently cannot handle questions.
To realize this vision, it is necessary to understand how geo-analytic resources can be captured with the questions they answer. The QuAnGIS project, a 5-year research project at Utrecht University, starting in January 2019 funded by the European Research Commission (ERC), develops a theory about interrogative spatial concepts needed to turn geo-analytical questions into a machine-readable form using Semantic Web and Question-Answering (QA) technology. Concepts include “spatial core concepts” field, object, network, event (Kuhn 2012), as well as analytical concepts such as accessibility, exposure, density, distance and aggregation. In this form, questions can be matched with the capacity of major analytical GIS tools and data sources on the Web.
The 2 PhD positions in this project focus on the semantic concepts required and the information technology needed to enable GIS analysts to formulate questions and to retrieve resources for analysis. This involves the following two questions:
Important tasks of the PhD candidates are:
Your responsibilities are:
|We seek 2 highly motivated PhD candidates who have a strong interest in thinking about data semantics as well as geographic analytics and appropriate technology.
They should have:
|You will initially be offered a full-time position for the duration of one year. Upon a good performance the contract will be extended to a total period of four years, with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period.
The gross monthly salary starts at €2,266 in the first year, and ends at €2,897 in the fourth year (scale P Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities). The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% per year and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%. In addition, we offer a pension scheme, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions.
Facilities for sports and child care are available on our main campus (where the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning is situated), which is located only 15 minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht.
|About the organization|
|A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability._
The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old centre and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the Netherlands.
The Faculty of Geosciences conducts education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and anthroposphere. With a complement of 2,600 students (BSc and MSc) and 600 staff, the Faculty is a strong organisation. The Faculty is organised in four Departments: Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, and Human Geography & Spatial Planning.
The Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning has its focus on the enhancement of long-term economic developments of cities, how to cope with social inequalities and how to ensure a healthy urban living. Research on these topics takes place within our research programme “Urban Futures: Transitions Towards Economic and Social Sustainability for Cities”.
Our research programme is the basis for our Research Master Human Geography and Geographical Information Management and Applications (GIMA) and Professional Master in Human Geography, International Development Studies and Spatial Planning. The Department runs also a large and highly appreciated Bachelor Programme and is part of the Netherlands Graduate School of Urban and Regional Research for PhD candidates.
The project team is part of a new Geographic Information Methods (GIM) interest group within the Social Urban Transitions (SUT) research programme in the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University. It is linked to the Healthy Urban Living research group comprising a wide variety of researchers, for instance with backgrounds in transport Geography, Epidemiology, Urban Geography, and Health Sciences. It is also linked to the Vitality Data Centre, a project involving data scientists and researchers interested in methods for assessing physical activity and health.
|Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from Dr. Simon Scheider via firstname.lastname@example.org.|
|To apply, please use the button below and attach a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae (in English) and e-mail address of at least one referee.
In your motivation letter, please indicate your priority with respect to the two PhD topics.
Apply before December 7, 2018. Interviews will be held in January 2018. The candidate is expected to start in February 2018 or later.
|The application deadline is|