Vacancy for a Fully Funded PhD Position

Area: Dynamic Data Physicalisation and Interaction

Application deadline: closed
Earliest start date: January 2023 (or as soon a possible)
Duration: up to 5 years


The WISE research group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Brussels, Belgium) is looking for a highly motivated candidate for a fully funded 5-year PhD scholarship under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Beat Signer.


The PhD candidate will be one of the two PhD students working on our recently funded project on 'Real-Time Cross-Media Data Exploration and Analysis for Next-Generation Knowledge Workers'. While the candidate applying for this PhD scholarship will mainly work on the project's HCI aspects, a second PhD student (under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Bas Ketsman) will deal with data processing issues.

Research Project Abstract

With the ever-growing amount of data produced by humans as well as embedded sensors, there is a strong need for tools to analyse these large datasets forming part of the Big Data era. There has been a lot of research on how to efficiently batch process large datasets and create some static reports for the analysis of the underlying dataset, but recently there is an increasing interest in real-time processing and query adaptation in Big Data environments, enabling so-called human-in-the-loop data exploration. While the majority of user interfaces for data exploration and analysis are based on traditional screen-based visualisation, the emerging field of data physicalisation offers new opportunities since data can no longer only be explored visually, but also by making use of other senses such as touch. This new form of cross-media interfaces further enables the multi-user and real-time interaction and exploration of datasets since there is no longer a single user in control of the interface via keyboard and mouse. Dynamic data physicalisation also enables innovative forms of higher-dimensional data representation where various physical properties, such as temperature or tactile feedback, can be used in combination with a 3D data visualisation. The proposed research agenda will address a number of challenges on the data processing side, such as special types of dynamic index structures, as well as on the data physicalisation side (e.g. design guidelines for the use of physical variables or multi-user interaction) to realise real-time cross-media data exploration and analysis for next-generation knowledge workers. Further, an algebra defining the supported operators will serve as an interface between data processing and data physicalisation.

The candidate is expected to have a strong research interest in one or multiple of the following areas:

The candidate should fit into the research culture of the WISE Lab where there is a strong emphasis on conceptual modelling and UI/UX design as well as the development of general frameworks and platforms for innovative information systems. The candidate will investigate the use of dynamic data physicalisation in real-time cross-media data exploration and analysis for next-generation knowledge workers. In this regard, the candidate should have a strong interest in design methodologies and user studies as well as the development of a general software framework for dynamic data physicalisation. More information about our ongoing research is available on the WISE website.


In addition to the research carried out in the WISE lab, the candidate with have the possibility to improve their teaching skills by assisting the labs and projects for specialised courses in the Master’s programmes in Computer Science and Applied Informatics in the domain of Web & Information Systems and Data Science (e.g. 'Information Visualisation', 'Next Generation User Interfaces' or 'Advanced Topics in Big Data'). There is further the possibility to supervise Master's thesis students working on related topics. The language of instruction is English for all Master-level courses. Applicants are expected to have sound knowledge of the English language.


The candidate is expected to have a Master in Computer Science or a related field. The candidate is further expected to have sound knowledge of the English language.


Your application should be sent to Prof. Dr. Beat Signer ( Please mention 'WISE DataPhys Vacancy 2022' in the subject of your email.

Your application should include the following documents:

  • a CV listing all relevant aspects such as academic achievements etc.
  • a motivation letter also mentioning the candidate's research interests
  • diplomas

For more information (e.g. language requirements etc.) you can always contact Prof. Dr. Beat Signer (