[Comp-neuro] [Jobs] Early Stage Researchers (ERS) Positions in the EU-Marie Sklodowska-Curie ETN COBRA (COnversational BRAins)

Alessandro D'Ausilio alessandro.dausilio at gmail.com
Fri Feb 28 14:28:03 CET 2020

Applicants are invited for two Early Stage Researchers (ESR) of EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) to be hosted at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT). 
The positions are for a fixed-term of 3 years and the successful applicants are expected to register for PhD at the University of Ferrara, in Translational Neurosciences and Neurotechnologies. 

The two Early Stage Researchers (ESR) of COBRA H2020 project (G.A. N. 859588), an EU Innovative Training Network of MSCA involving 9 partners, which will train a group of 15 researchers that will be the next generation of researchers to accurately characterize and model the linguistic, cognitive and brain mechanisms deployed by human speakers in conversational interactions with human interlocutors as well as artificial dialog systems.

Objectives: When people are engaged in meaningful social interaction, they automatically and implicitly adjust their speech, vocal patterns and gestures to accommodate to others. Although these processes have extensively been explored at the behavioral level, very little is known about their neural underpinnings. Prior investigations have shown that suppression of alpha oscillations, overlaying sensorimotor regions, are a possible marker of action-perception coupling during non-speech (Tognoli & Kelso, 2015) and speech based (Mukherjee et al., 2019) interactive tasks. The project, by running dual-EEG recordings, will investigate if behavioral speech alignment translates into identifiable brain oscillatory markers. Key objectives are (i) to develop and validate metrics to quantify phonetic accommodation during natural speech interactions and (ii) to identify electrophysiological markers of between-speaker convergence.
Expected results: 
-	A computational pipeline, based on deep-learning methods, to extract phonetic accommodation patterns of speakers engaged in a meaningful social interaction; 
-	A significant contribution to the field of hyper-scanning by exploring the neurophysiological correlates of phonetic convergence during conversations.

Based in Ferrara, Italy
Full-time three-year contract, starting September 2020
PhD enrolment at: University of Ferrara
Main supervisor’s institution: Italian Institute of Technology
Main supervisor: Prof. Alessandro D’Ausilio, Prof. Luciano Fadiga

-	AMU (Aix-Marseille Universitè, France): making-up of linguistic material in both Italian and French, contribution to design of experimental set-up and to phonetic analyses (5,5 months); 
-	HU-ZAS (Humboldt-Universität, Germany): Assessment of a repertoire of metrics for measuring phonetic convergence in conversational speech (5 months).

Contact: alessandro.dausilio at iit.it <mailto:alessandro.dausilio at iit.it>

Objectives: For adults, mastering the segmental and supra-segmental aspects of a second language (L2) is particularly challenging. Although we know that such a capability is partially maintained during adulthood, we do not know yet how to facilitate effective and long-lasting L2 learning. This project is based on the hypothesis that when people engage in meaningful social interactions, they automatically and implicitly align at multiple levels (Pickering, Garrod, 2013), including the phonetic (Mukherjee et al., 2019) and the facial expression ones. ESR10 will tackle the fundamental scientific question of speech alignment in L2 and whether it drives long-lasting improvements in L2 skills. Key objectives are (i) to investigate the dynamics of alignment in L2 (English) and (ii) to quantify improvements when participants are engaged in a conversation with native speakers.
Expected results: 
-	Validation of a set of game-like tools to quantify L2 speech and facial movements alignment; 
-	Exhaustive investigation of alignment in L2, its relation with L2 proficiency before training and long term retention of L2 improvements.

Based in Ferrara, Italy
Full-time three-year contract, starting September 2020
PhD enrolment at: University of Ferrara
Main supervisor’s institution: Italian Institute of Technology
Main supervisor: Prof. Alessandro D’Ausilio, Prof. Luciano Fadiga

-	IISAS (Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia): training on methods for analyzing acoustic-prosodic alignment in dialogues (5 months); 
-	DAVI (DAVI, France): training on how to explore facial movement alignment in L2 (5,5 months).

Contact: alessandro.dausilio at iit.it <mailto:alessandro.dausilio at iit.it> 

The ESR will be contractually employed for 36 months by the main institution, and will be covered under the social security scheme of the enrolling country. The contract will be compliant with the applicable EC Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions-ITN general conditions.
Experience eligibility requirement: 
Eligible applicants must be in the first 4 years of their research careers (full-time equivalent research experience) at the date of the recruitment (measured from the time the Master’s degree has been obtained). Eligible applicants must not hold a Doctoral Degree yet.
Mobility eligibility requirement:
The fellow must not have resided and not have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Italy for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date,.
Selection process
Applications must contain the following:
•	An up-to-date CV, without gaps, in order for the selection committee to easily check the mobility and experience requirements. CVs that either do not clearly show the applicant’s past experience, or have gaps, will be considered ineligible;
•	A letter exposing her/his motivation for a COBRA PhD fellowship, and her preference for two of the fifteen PhD projects proposed in COBRA;
•	At least 1 reference letter (in English) from one former supervisor and/or professor;
•	The scan of the degree (usually the master’s degree) which would formally entitles her/him to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained, or in the country in which the researcher will be recruited. If the degree has not been obtained yet, the applicant will have to provide a declaration of her/his university stating that the degree will be obtained before the expected starting date;
•	Transcripts of records (document indicating the applicant’s ranking and marks within her/his master’s degree as well as the courses/modules she/he has followed).
•	The complete application should be provided in the form of one single pdf file, named as follows: lastname-firstname.pdf.
THE APPLICATION IS DONE VIA THE COBRA WEBPAGE: https://www.cobra-network.eu/ <https://www.cobra-network.eu/>

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