Jobs: PhD positions on Multi-Party Virtual Coaching in European Horizon-2020 project

Three PhD positions on Virtual Coaches
European Horizon-2020 project Council of Coaches

Do you want to put your talents at work to develop a new coaching concept? Do you want to work on an innovative project in an international environment? Are you excellent in what you do and do you have strong social skills?

Come and apply for one of three PhD positions available on Multi-Party Virtual Coaching!

In the context of the European Horizon-2020 project Council of Coaches, the University of Twente and Roessingh Research and Development are looking for three highly motivated PhD candidates to help shape the future of virtual coaching technologies in the healthcare domain. You will be working in a highly interdisciplinary and international research project – Council of Coaches. The project is an international collaboration between Universities and companies from the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Spain and France (see the Consortium page). The project introduces a radically new virtual coaching concept based on multiple autonomous, embodied virtual coaches, which form together a personal council that coaches older adults towards a healthy lifestyle. Each coach has his own expertise, personality and style of coaching; they might not always agree with each other, but they all share a single goal: to support the user across every aspect of well-being, including physical, social, cognitive and mental support.


The three available PhD positions focus on three distinct, but aligned sub-tasks of the project:

  • Position #1: Smart Behavior Mining (University of Twente)
  • Position #2: Human-Computer Interfaces (University of Twente)
  • Position #3: Coaching Strategies and Knowledge Base (Roessingh Research and Development)

See the details of the three positions below. If you have any general questions about the vacancies or the project, please send an email to

Position #1: Smart Behavior Mining

This PhD position will focus on the intelligent sensing, modelling and analysis of the user’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social behavior to nurture the dialogs, arguments and interactions with the virtual coaches. Behaviors will be derived from the user interaction with wearable and mobile devices, e.g., activity detection, mobility tracking, speech processing or facial expression recognition. Behavioral data will be mined over time to discover relevant patterns and to automatically detect behavior changes demanding a prompt or preventive intervention from the coach(es).

For additional information, contact: Oresti Banos (

Click here to apply for this position through the University of Twente Vacancies System.

Position #2: Human-Computer Interfaces

For this PhD position, we are looking for a technical inclined master of science who is keen to do research and write a thesis in the field of intelligent multi-modal conversational interfaces. Besides research into multi-party dialogue with the virtual coaches, the research will contribute to design, implementation and evaluation of the Council of Coaches system indeed works: does interaction with the virtual coaches help them communicate their health-related problems? What are the factors that contribute to the efficacy of the concept? Applicants are expected to contribute and take responsibility for research and development related to:

  • Multi-modal User Interface Design for Mobile and Home applications: multimodal dialogues with multiple embodied conversational characters
  • Implementation of the prototypes: requires approved programming skills
  • Evaluation user experience and user satisfaction

For additional information, contact: Dirk Heylen (

Click here to apply for this position through the University of Twente Vacancies System.

Position #3: Coaching Strategies and Knowledge Base

This PhD position is focused on a number of research questions that are on the cross-section between the technical- and social sciences. As an ideal candidate, you are expected to build up strong theoretical knowledge about motivation and coaching, as well as in personalization in Human-Computer Interaction design. You are able to apply this knowledge in the development of state of the art Human-Computer Interaction tools; formalizing and implementing coaching strategies that the virtual agents in the project should adopt. Ultimately you will be responsible for the content of the virtual embodied agents: the what, when and how of the agent’s interactions with the end-users. The position is highly interdisciplinary in nature and as such you are expected to collaborate and work together with our varied team of researchers and engineers. You have a strong technical background as well as a strong desire to build tools that can be used by- and offer real benefits to its users.

For additional information, contact: Harm op den Akker (

Click here to apply for this position through the University of Twente Vacancies System.

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