Job: Research Associate for “Using AI-Enhanced Social Robots to Improve Children’s Healthcare Experiences” project

Call for Applications

Research Associate
ESRC-funded international collaborative project “Using AI-Enhanced Social Robots to Improve Children’s Healthcare Experiences”
University of Glasgow – School of Computing Science
Glasgow, Scotland

Application deadline (extended): 13 April 2020

The School of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow is looking for an excellent and enthusiastic researcher to join the ESRC-funded international collaborative project “Using AI-Enhanced Social Robots to Improve Children’s Healthcare Experiences.” This is a new 3-year project which aims to investigate how a social robot can help children cope with potentially painful experiences in a healthcare setting. The system developed in the project will be tested through a hospital-based clinical trial at the end of the project.

[Project abstract from

Children experience pain and distress in clinical settings every day, and the negative consequences of unaddressed pain can be both short-term (e.g. fear, distress, inability to perform procedures) and long-term (e.g. needle phobia, anxiety). In a series of small, innovative studies by project team members, a Nao humanoid robot has been used to deliver cognitive-behavioural therapy-based interventions during needle-based procedures. The results of these early studies have been positive, showing high acceptance among the target population as well as promising initial clinical results. However, these studies were all hindered by a critical technical limitation: in all cases, the robot was remotely operated and employed purely scripted behaviour with limited AI support, diminishing the flexibility and robustness of its behaviour as well as its potential to offer personalised, adaptive procedural support to children. In this project, we aim to address this limitation by developing and evaluating a clinically relevant and responsive AI-enhanced social robot. We believe that interaction with a robust, adaptive, socially intelligent robot can effectively distract children during painful clinical procedures, thereby reducing pain and distress.  –ML]

In Glasgow, we are looking for a researcher with expertise in applying deep neural network models to the automated analysis of multimodal human behaviour, ideally along with experience integrating such systems into an end-to-end interactive system.

You will be working together with Dr. Mary Ellen Foster in the Glasgow Interactive Systems Section (GIST); you will collaborate closely with Dr. Ron Petrick and his team from the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics at Heriot-Watt University, and will also collaborate with medical and social science researchers at several Canadian universities including University of Alberta, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, McMaster University, and Dalhousie University.

GIST provides an ideal ground for academic growth. It is the leader of a recently awarded Centre for Doctoral Training that is providing 50 PhD scholarships in the next five years in the area of socially intelligent artificial intelligence. In addition, its 7 faculty members have accumulated more than 25,000 Scholar citations and have been or are leading  large-scale national and European projects (including the ERC Advanced Grant “Viajero”, the Network Plus grant “Human Data Interaction”, the FET-Open project “Levitate”, and the H2020 project MuMMER) for a total of over £20M in the last 10 years.

The post is full time with funding up to 27 months in the first instance.

For more information and to apply online, please see

Please email with any informal enquiries.

It is the University of Glasgow’s mission to foster an inclusive climate, which ensures equality in our working, learning, research and teaching environment.

We strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equality.

Dr Mary Ellen Foster, Senior Lecturer in Human-Robot Interaction


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