Information about the project and the division
The supervisors work of the past decade centered around software engineering for sustainability, meaning how can we use software engineering to develop systems that are sustainable with regard to their long-term impact in different dimensions (social, individual, environmental, technical, economic). One central piece of work that captures our intentions is the Karlskrona Manifesto on Sustainability Design (see During the past years, it has become evident that not only our software-intensive systems do not necessarily support a sustainable lifestyle of society, but also most computer workers don’t work and live in a sustainable way. Therefore, the supervisor combined her two areas of expertise, the background in engineering and her background in teaching neuroplasticity-supporting practices like yoga, breathwork and meditation (see to bring the benefits of these practices to an audience that may be less likely to engage with it but would hugely benefit – engineers and computer workers. This is where the topic for this PhD position is located, supporting individual sustainability by neuroplasticity practices.

The announced PhD position is located at the Division of Software Engineering at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of University of Gothenburg. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering is jointly hosted by Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg. It is a strongly international department with approximately 80 faculty among a total of 260 employees originating from 30 countries. Located in Gothenburg – Sweden’s second-largest city – the department is surrounded by a vibrant ecosystem of software-intensive companies, such as Volvo Cars and Volvo AB, Ericsson, ABB, Boeing, and SAAB Aeronautics. The department is connected to three science parks in Gothenburg for industrial collaborations in fields including intelligent vehicles and transport systems, mobile internet, energy, nanotechnology, and life sciences. Alumni and members of the department have also created many startups, including revolutionary ones such as Spotify.

With over 20 faculty members, the Division of Software Engineering is arguably one of the largest software-engineering institutes world-wide, conducting research at the highest international level in topics such as model-driven engineering, testing, software product lines, empirical software engineering, requirements engineering, autonomic computing, and cloud computing. The division recently organized two of the most influential software-engineering conferences, ICSE’18 and SPLC’18. For industrial research, the division hosts the Software Center, an associated institute with a network of five universities and ten global companies including Siemens, Axis, and Jeppesen.

Major responsibilities
Your major responsibilities as a PhD student is to pursue your own doctoral studies. You are expected to develop your own scientific concepts and communicate the results of your research verbally and in writing. Your research will be supervised by well-reputed senior researchers at the involved department. These PhD studies also includes a number of doctoral courses, reviewing literature, interacting with both industrial companies and other PhD-candidates and senior researchers in the field, as well as analysing empirical data, and modelling and using models of human behaviour.

Specifically, this position’s PhD candidate will develop an approach to evaluate the benefits and usefulness of neuroplasticity practices specifically for computer workers, based on a previous work of the supervisor as well as literature on psychometrics and related topics. Computer workers are under high stress at the 2nd most likely population to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders, especially under the recent pandemic, leading to decreased creativity and less efficiency in problem-solving. We investigate the effective use of neuroplasticity practices like yoga poses, breathing practices, and meditation exercises for computer workers in three questions:

1) how to integrate neuroplasticity practices effectively into computer work education and practice,
2) how to measure the effectiveness in terms of cognitive abilities and energy levels, and well-being, and 
3) how to predict good timing for interventions so they don't disturb moments of flow.

The research integrates software engineering, yoga science, communication studies, and mindfulness to elaborate a set of tailored interventions to answer these in empirical evaluation. The project promises to increase the wellbeing and resilience of computer workers in an empirically validated way, leading to more efficiency and effectiveness and decreased burn-out rates and lower risk of depression. If the developers of the systems that run most of our world develop individual sustainability, that balance can propagate into the systems we develop.

The larger context is described in a paper published earlier this year at the ICT4S conference as “Where attention goes, energy flows — enhancing individual sustainability in software engineering”
The approach is to be evaluated in exploratory and confirmatory case studies with companies.

Position summary
Full-time temporary employment. The position is limited to a maximum of five years.

Starting the doctoral education requires an academic degree in an advanced level, at least 240 university points, of which 60 are on an advanced level, or similar knowledge acquired in another way. You should like to work independently, and plan and think strategically. You should have an interest in human behaviour and be able to understand and analyse results from surveys, interview data and workshops. You should also like to work in interdisciplinary projects and have the ability to discuss and communicate his/her work with people of different backgrounds. You should be a motivated person, with a genuine wish to learn more across a wide variety of fields, including psychology, human factors, software engineering, and sustainability, to develop your skills and knowledge.

Candidates are required to have a master's degree in computer science or engineering or in a related subject (“filosofie magister” or "civilingenjör”) including the master thesis, with knowledge in one or more of the following fields: software engineering, social science, human factors, cognitive psychology, human machine interfaces, and cognitive modelling.

Employment is expected to start between December 2020 and March 2021.

The position requires sound verbal and written communication skills in Swedish and English. Chalmers offers Swedish courses.

Chalmers continuously strives to be an attractive employer. Equality and diversity are substantial foundations in all activities at Chalmers.

Our offer to you
Chalmers offers a cultivating and inspiring working environment in the dynamic city of Gothenburg
Read more about working at Chalmers and our benefits for employees.

Application procedure
The application should be marked with Ref 20200422 and written in English. The application should be sent electronically and be attached as pdf-files, as below:

CV: (Please name the document: CV, Family name, Ref. number)
• CV
• Other, for example previous employments or leadership qualifications and positions of trust.
• Two references that we can contact.

Personal letter: (Please name the document as: Personal letter, Family name, Ref. number)
1-3 pages where you:
• Introduce yourself
• Describe your previous experience of relevance for the position (e.g. education, thesis work and, if applicable, any other research activities)
• Describe your future goals and future research focus

Other documents:
• Copies of bachelor and/or master’s thesis.
• Attested copies and transcripts of completed education, grades and other certificates, e.g. TOEFL test results.

Please use the button at the foot of the page to reach the application form. The files may be compressed (zipped).

Application deadline: We will start reviewing applications by 2020-10-20. The position will remain open until filled.

For questions, please contact:
Assistant Professor Birgit Penzenstadler, Software Engineering

*** Chalmers declines to consider all offers of further announcement publishing or other types of support for the recruiting process in connection with this position. *** 

Chalmers University of Technology conducts research and education in engineering sciences, architecture, technology-related mathematical sciences, natural and nautical sciences, working in close collaboration with industry and society. The strategy for scientific excellence focuses on our six Areas of Advance; Energy, Health Engineering, Information and Communication Technology, Materials Science, Production and Transport. The aim is to make an active contribution to a sustainable future using the basic sciences as a foundation and innovation and entrepreneurship as the central driving forces. Chalmers has around 11,000 students and 3,000 employees. New knowledge and improved technology have characterised Chalmers since its foundation in 1829, completely in accordance with the will of William Chalmers and his motto: Avancez!