PhD Position, Cybernetics Approaches for Personalized Biofeedback

6 days left

Trondheim, Norway
29 Nov 2019
End of advertisement period
31 Jan 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

The focus of the project is on approaching theoretical, algorithmic and practical problems relative to the personalization of biofeedback devices used for the treatment of dyspareunia (pain during penetrative sexual intercourse) and the promotion of Kegel exercising (repeatedly contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, aiding thus the solutions of problems ranging from urinary incontinence to other postnatal phenomena).

More specifically, the project will consider opportunely gamified biofeedback devices, and focus on developing theoretically grounded control formalisms to cast and solve therapeutic-stimuli-design problems.

In other words, the project will consider biofeedback devices that are camouflaged as games and that enable to: a) measure physiological signals of interest, b) collect information about the psychological status of the patient by posing suitable questionnaires and collecting relevant data, c) display the collected information to patients and practitioners in different formats. The PhD will then focus on answering questions such as:

  • How shall the game levels be adapted to the individual patients’ conditions?
  • How shall new exercises (i.e., game levels) be designed?
  • What are the best rewarding strategies for the players?

using rigorous, quantitative, control-theoretic formalisms. For even more details, see for example and citations therein.

The project will be executed under the supervision of professors Damiano Varagnolo, Adil Rasheed, and Kristin Tøndel from NTNU, and of Steffi Knorn from OvGU Magdeburg. Moreover, the project will be in collaboration with St. Olavs Kvinne-barn-senteret, the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, and Maastricht UMC+. The main workplace will be the Department of Engineering Cybernetics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, an equal opportunity employer described in details at The project will require visits to Magdeburg, Maastricht, and Auckland.

Main duties and responsibilities

We expect the candidate to:

  • be comfortable and motivated in working with topics regarding female sexual health;
  • commit adequate time and effort to the project;
  • display initiative in identifying and resolving problems relating to the research;
  • manage the work efficiently so as not to place unreasonable demands on supervisors;
  • be well organised and capable of setting and meeting deadlines for various phases of the research;
  • acquire any new skills required as part of the project;
  • maintain frequent and regular contacts with the supervisors;
  • seek and accept in good faith advice from supervisors and advisory panels;
  • fulfil tasks required by the supervisors as part of the project;
  • meet the normal scholarly and professional standards required by the discipline;
  • ensure that all written work is of a high standard of expression and organization;
  • report the results through both written work (especially scientific papers) and oral presentations (specially seminars to various audiences).

There exists the possibility for participating to departmental duties, such as teaching assistance; these shall be negotiated during the job interviews.

Qualification requirements

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is completion of a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in engineering cybernetics or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. Applicants with no letter grades from previous studies must have an equally good academic foundation. Applicants who are unable to meet these criteria may be considered only if they can document that they are particularly suitable candidates for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

Other qualifications

Candidates shall have a background in automatic control and expertise in statistical methods; persons with knowledge within system identification and machine learning are particularly encouraged to apply. Good written and oral English language skills are a non-negotiable prerequisite.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

Personal characteristics

We seek for candidates that are strongly committed to keep an open, honest and professional interaction with the colleagues at the department, based on mutual respect, trust and good-will.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 479 600 per annum before tax. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is for three years, extensible to four in case the candidate will serve for departmental duties such as teaching assistance. Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in engineering cybernetics (

As a PhD candidate, you undertake to participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period. A condition of appointment is that you are in fact qualified for admission to the PhD programme within three months.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criterias in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. Under the Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova), information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have their name entered on the list of applicants.

The national labour force must reflect the composition of the population to the greatest possible extent, NTNU wants to increase the proportion of women in its scientific posts. Women are encouraged to apply. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life ( Having a population of 200 000, Trondheim is a small city by international standards with low crime rates and little pollution. It also has easy access to a beautiful countryside with mountains and a dramatic coastline.

Questions about the position can be directed to Damiano Varagnolo, phone number +47 481 28 922, e-mail .

About the application:

Publications and other academic works that the applicant would like to be considered in the evaluation must accompany the application. Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify the individual applicant's contribution to joint works, the applicant must include a brief description of his or her contribution.

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI):

Applicants invited for interview must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters.

Please refer to the application number 2019/38662 when applying.

Application deadline: January 31st, 2020.

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Engineering Cybernetics (ITK)

Engineering cybernetics is the study of automatic control and monitoring of dynamic systems. We develop the technologies of tomorrow through close cooperation with industry and academia, both in Norway and internationally. The Department contributes to the digitalization, automation and robotization of society. The Department of Engineering Cybernetics is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

Deadline 31st January 2020
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Project
Place of service Trondheim

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