Announcement of 12 PhD Positions (m/d/w) at the Research Training Group KRITIS
Would you like to do your doctorate on a highly relevant topic in an inspiring environment? Would you like to work with an interdisciplinary group of doctoral students, renowned supervisors, professional administrative support and a variety of opportunities for scientific networking? – Then apply to KRITIS! The interdisciplinary Research Training Group (RTG) KRITIS “Critical infrastructures: Construction, Functional Failures and Protection in Cities”, Germany, announces twelve
PhD positions (f/m/d)
at the Technical University of Darmstadt for different research foci scheduled to begin 1 October, 2019. The positions are limited to 3 years and comprise, depending on the field of study, 65% (social sciences and humanities) or 100% (engineering) of a full-time job.
Field of Research: The RTG analyses urban technological systems, but also the interactions between technology and (urban) societies in the past and present. The focus is on networked systems of supply and disposal, communication and transport. The members of the RTG are researching particularly the “construction” (How and why does an infrastructure become critical?), “functional crises” (How do failures occur and what consequences do they have?) and the “protection” of infrastructures (How can failures be prevented or their consequences be diminished? How can cities prepare for them?). Our interdisciplinary collaboration is based on the five key concepts of criticality, vulnerability, resilience, preparedness and prevention.
The RTG has been running since autumn 2016 – please inform about the orientation, activities and first scientific results on our homepage.
Most of the current dissertation projects of the first cohort will have been completed by end of this year. Doctoral students will work on individual doctoral projects. For the second cohort, we would like to see a particularly strong interest in temporal and spatial relationships. In addition, the first cohort has noticed a great desideratum with regard to the conception of “criticality”.
Dissertations can be written in the following subjects:
- Modern and Contemporary History
- History of Technology
- Medieval History
- Philosophy of Technology and Technoscience
- Political Sciences
- Urban Governance and Planning/Urban Sociology
- Architecture (Design and Urban Development)
- Informatics in Construction Science
- Railway Engineering
- Informatics (Ubiquitous Knowledge Processing)
Below you can find further information on the subject-specific requirements.
Tasks: The Graduate Fellows must complete a dissertation within three years in their respective fields. All members are expected to engage with the academic concepts of the research program and to closely collaborate across disciplines. A high level of commitment is expected in the exchange among each other and in joint scientific activities. In addition, there should be active participation in the external presentation of the RTG, especially during the on-site inspection of the extension application in 2020.
Requirements: The requirement for the positions is an excellent academic degree in a discipline that matches the above-mentioned research foci. The regular joint activities take place in German and English, so a good command of the English language and (if required) willingness to acquire a good knowledge of German are expected. The place of employment is Darmstadt.
Conditions: The Research Training Group offers an excellent research infrastructure for PhD candidates who would like to complete their dissertations in an innovative, international program. The Fellows will work in common areas with dedicated office space, will have the support of participating professors and their own research support office. You can take advantage of a wide range of support services during the doctoral phase. These include group/individual coaching, writing workshop, debate training and others. Within the framework of the available financial resources, stays abroad financed over several months are also possible.
Opportunity to work on a PhD thesis is given. The provision of the service also serves the scientific qualification of the applicant.
The TU Darmstadt has an affirmative action program to promote equity in the employment of women and members of underrepresented minorities and strongly encourages them to apply. Candidates who have a degree of disability of at least 50 are given preferred treatment if equally qualified. Salaries depend on each Fellow’s qualifications and experience, and will be calculated according to the collective agreement of TU Darmstadt (TV-TU Darmstadt). Part-time employment is generally possible.
Your application: Please submit your application by 28 May, 2019 in English or German to firstname.lastname@example.org (as one pdf file, max. 6 MB) and indicate for which professor you apply (further information on the subject-specific requirements as well as contact data below).
You must enclose:
- a motivation letter
- a CV with information on academic qualifications, language skills and international experience
- scanned copies of academic credentials
- a proposal for a PhD project contributing to the academic programme of the RTG.
Please contact the professor you would like to be supervised beforehand. The job interviews will take place on 27-28 June in Darmstadt. We look forward to your application!
Code Number: 227
Application Deadline: 28 Mai, 2019
Important Information on the Subject Specific Announcements
Modern and Contemporary History
In the field of Modern and Contemporary History (19th-20th century), two positions for PhD researchers (65% of full time) are open. Special attention will be paid to the socio-cultural and political dimensions of infrastructures (construction and maintenance, administration, builders and operators, users and sufferers, visionaries and opponents, conflicts over usages, public debates, symbolism of infrastructures etc.).
“Critical infrastructure” is a heuristic concept, because there has literally been no explicit attribution of criticality to infrastructures before the 1990s. However, historical (urban) communities did consider specific technical systems as indispensable for their well-being. Possibly, infrastructure can become critical for economic, technological, or even political reasons, as in the case of political representation. Long-term historical research can elucidate not only the genesis of criticality, but also the vanishing of criticality of specific systems, be it the effect of economic, technological, or other reasons such as public protest (cf. J.I.Engels/A. Nordmann (eds): Was ist Kritikalität?, Bielefeld 2018).
Historical PhD projects might focus on the topic of temporality. This includes time in the sense of historical context, as resilience and vulnerability often are related not only to a technical system, but to the whole society in question. As well, long-term developments might be addressed (f.ex. slow processes of deterioration as a result of material ageing processes vs. critical events as sudden shocks). Furthermore, temporality has become an important topic in History. Infrastructures may be analysed as producing rhythms in everyday life (cf. H. Lefebvre: Rhythmanalysis), or as being results of time layers, as they grow over decades, materializing components from different times.
We encourage projects on pre-industrial times. Empirical objects of study can be chosen with no restriction, as far as technical networked infrastructures are concerned (supply and disposal, transport, communication, energy in the large sense) – of course they can include additional meanings (e.g. religious infrastructure).
Your application should address one or more of the above mentioned aspects and should reflect the “key concepts” of the Research Training Group. Please address, in your proposal, the conceptual framework, the empirical focus, possibly the source material you have in mind, and sketch a preliminary time schedule for your work. For further questions, please contact your potential supervisor Jens Ivo Engels.
History of Technology
In the field of History of Technology one position for PhD researchers (65% of full time) is open. The historical doctoral thesis should focus on the factor 'time' as well as cultural and spatial specificities. The question of criticality should be at the center of attention. Dissertations that combine history of emotions with the history of infrastructures and that investigate the role and significance of emotions for the attribution of criticality are particularly welcome. Projects dealing with appropriation processes and user behavior, resistance to infrastructure processes, or their failure are also welcome. The objects of study can be chosen with no restriction.
Investigating other aspects than those mentioned above is, of course, possible. For your application, we expect a proposal containing the conceptual framework, the empirical focus, and (if possible) the source material you have in mind. For further questions please contact Martina Heßler.
The Institute of History, Department of Medieval History invites applications for a PHD POSITION (65% OF FULL TIME).
“Critical Infrastructure” is to be understood as a descriptive and heuristic concept. In the Middle Ages, it facilitates the analysis of simple socio-technical systems with a character of a basic net, which today can be regarded as essentially for the societyof the past, which by the contemporaries can be considered as essentially or was even (politically) propagated as essentially. The research focus in the field of medieval studies (6th-16th century) is on the investigation of long-term processes.
The focus is on networked technical infrastructures. The combination of roads with waterways, bridges, stacking areas, port facilities, etc. can, for example, form a network (also for communication purposes). These systems have been considered important and have undergone a process of densification and interconnection in cities. They include, among others: Roads, pathways, bridges; facilities that use water, e.g. water supply and disposal systems (wells, bucket elevators, pipes, ditches); systems for the commercial, agricultural and aquacultural use of water (mills, irrigation and drainage systems, fish ponds); transport and supply systems (roads, waterways/canals/locks, raft ponds and ditches, seaports and river ports, in general port facilities with cranes, dockyards, etc.).
Long-term historical research can elucidate not only the genesis of criticality, but also the vanishing of criticality of specific systems, be it the effect of economic, technological, or other reasons such as socio-political conflicts. Historical PhD projects might focus on the topic of temporality. This includes time in the sense of historical context, as resilience and vulnerability often are related not only to a technical system, but to the whole society in question. As well, long-term developments might be addressed (f.ex. slow processes of deterioration as a result of material ageing processes vs. critical events as sudden disasters). Furthermore, temporality has become an important topic in History. Infrastructures may be analysed as producing rhythms in everyday life, or as being results of time layers, as they grow over decades, materializing components from different times, for example roman streets and aqueducts from late antiquity through the middle ages until the Renaissance, changing function and role several times.
Of particular importance are the criticality of the infrastructure as well as its material, socio-cultural, religious and political dimensions (e.g. planning, construction and maintenance, prevention of breakdowns, engineers as specialists, administration, brotherhoods/cooperatives/foundations as sponsors, safe-conduct, station for charging and storage, guesthouses, conflicting use, representativeness and symbolism of wells and bridges).
Your application should address one or more of the above mentioned aspects and should reflect the “key concepts” of the Research Training Group. Please address, in your proposal, the conceptual framework, the empirical focus, possibly the source material you have in mind, and sketch a preliminary time schedule for your work. For further questions, please contact your potential supervisor Gerrit Jasper Schenk.
Philosophy of Technology and Technosciences
Theories of socio-technical systems are a main concern of STS and of the Philosophies of Technology and of Technoscience. This includes the composition of these systems, their maintenance, knowledge of causal processes or parameter-dependencies. As in music, so in architecture and urban planning – principles of composition change over time and with it normative conceptions of rightness: How are things to be arranged for a proper integration of people and things? Working knowledge of complex infrastructural systems require a „feeling for the mechanism“ in the absence of a cognitive or representational understanding of the relevant causal processes. The simultaneity of the old and the new and thus of different logics of composition requires a kind of hermeneutics of engineering which informs the working knowledge of urban planners, city managers, and the like. The challenge to anticipate the behavior of the sys-tem signifies a limit of knowledge which requires specific management strategies – how can one learn from technological failure? which systems behaviors become salient and which are ex-cluded from view through organizational frames? what might anticipation consist in regarding the known performance and the future of a system? how is prediction related to explanation? Accordingly, dissertation topics might be situated in epistemology and philosophy of science, systems theory and philosophy of technology, methodologies of technology assessment. And accordingly, the dissertations can prepare for careers in academia and in various practice fields. For further information please contact Alfred Nordmann.
In the field of Political Science a position for PhD researchers (65% of full time) is available. Research should address one of the following topics:
- “Adapting critical infrastructures. The governance of climate change related to extreme weather events”: Which challenges for governance does climate change create? What can we learn from experiences (Germany and beyond) made so far – from a policy learning perspective? How are local authorities prepared and how should coordination be set up?
- “Digitization and the governance of critical infrastructures”: Which new governance challenges does digitization provoke? How could current governance concepts work? Which new challenges do appear?
- “Impact of national and international standards and provisions of critical infrastructures on public and private actors in cities“: How does international and national governance influence security strategies of administration and business in cities?
- ”Lessons from critical experiences“: Under which conditions do critical conditions transfer into success in politics, administration and population in cities?
- ”Resilience through cooperation in local critical infrastructure“: Which new forms of cooperation have developed and are aimed at? Are there entrepreneurs in the city? Which role do operators of infrastructure play?
- "Participation in designing critical infrastructures“: How can citizen participate? Which concepts so we witness? Which role does digitization play?
Your application should address these topics and reflect the “key concepts” of the Research Training Group. In your proposal, please formulate a clear research question, conceptual framework as well as an empirical focus and sketch a preliminary time schedule for your work. If you have any further questions, please contact your potential supervisor Michèle Knodt.
Urban Governance and Planning
Within the context of this call for applications, we would like to draw your attention to the following openings of two PhD positions (full-time):
PhD Position Urban Governance and Planning
Candidates applying in this field of are expected to explore the urban governance of infrastructural vulnerability/resilience in an international perspective. The PhD will be conducted within a joint doctorate program between Utrecht University and TU Darmstadt in the form of a cumulative (paper-based) dissertation in English language. While taking up their residence in the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region and being employed at the TU Darmstadt, candidates are expected to visit Utrecht University on a regular basis. Especially welcome are PhD projects focusing on the interconnectivity and coordination of various infrastructure domains, spatial and temporal dimensions of urban infrastructures (and their failures) and the urban governance challenges of crisis mitigation and preparedness. Possible thesis topics include:
- Technopolitics of infrastructure autarky: Island infrastructures in Singapore: Driven by geopolitical conflicts with Malaysia over shared infrastructure, the city state of Singapore has increasingly embarked on water (and to some degree energy) self-sufficiency and waste recycling to secure its ecological and material reproduction. Aiming at both ecological urbanism as well as higher levels of resource and infrastructural autarky and enclosure from its Malaysian hinterland, the city state has leveraged on decentralized water sources (e.g. desalination and wastewater recycling), renewable energy and the recycling of waste. The PhD study will explore this co-production of specialized island infrastructures and security politics at the case of Singapore. Which are the urban and political impacts of cutting of networks from the regional hinterland? Which are the technopolitics of promoting infrastructural autarky and island networks? Which new urban vulnerabilities result from this urban and infrastructural reconfiguration?
- International Seaports and the Fight against Terrorism: the Case of Rotterdam: Action to combat terrorism has increasingly mobilized attention to technical infrastructures. Among the key sites of societal vulnerability and potentially privileged targets of terrorism are urban seaports. Those nodes in the seamless flow of goods, services, people, resources, waste and energy have become highly critical for modern societies. At the same time, those critical infrastructures have emerged as an object and place of insecurity given their vulnerability to malicious attacks and their dependency on the smooth operation of multiple interconnected infrastructures that sustain their functioning. The PhD project analyzes the Port of Rotterdam, one of the largest ports worldwide, supplying a European hinterland with 40 million users. How do experts in European, national and local governments, the Port Authority and other infrastructure providers define which objects and localities are critical and to be protected from terrorist attacks and which are not? How do they mitigate and prepare for the risks of malicious attacks? What are the urban and broader spatial impacts of the securitization of specific sites and objects?
Please contact professor Jochen Monstadt, Utrecht University, for advice on possible research topics/designs.
PhD Position Urban Governance/Urban Sociology
Candidates applying in this field of are expected to work at the interface of urban governance/planning (see above) and urban sociology/sociology of space. The PhD candidate will be conducted within a joint doctorate program between Utrecht University and TU Darmstadt in English language. S/he will be jointly supervised by professors from both disciplines. Especially welcome are PhD projects focusing on the complex interrelationships between infrastructures (and their failures), society and urban space/time. How does (denied) access to urban infrastructures shape urban space/time, how is space/time in this context negotiated by various, often conflicting human actors and, in turn, how does it reshape human identities and behaviors, enable and constrain social action and interaction? Possible thesis topics include:
- The Cape Town Drought: Urban Vulnerability and the Governance of Infrastructural Resilience: Due to limited rainfalls between 2015 and 2018, the City of Cape Town was hit by the most severe water crisis in Cape Town’s history. Facing considerable social, economic, health and safety impacts, the city government initiated various conservation and punitive measures. While the crisis particularly hit the poor neighborhoods, effluent water users demonstrated adaptive capacity through new back-up and off-grid technologies to reduce their dependency on centralized water networks. The PhD study will critically explore the spatially uneven urban vulnerabilities of Cape Town’s water system and the socio-technical responses by various stakeholders—city governments, utility companies, user groups—in coping with water shortages. How do they mitigate and prepare for future water crises? With what impacts for specific neighborhoods? Which are the social and governance responses to water scarcity?
- Urban rhythms of infrastructural breakdowns: When a power blackout occurs, the internet or public transport break down, urban temporalities come to the fore that are mediated by infrastructures. Such periods of crisis, failure and breakdown reveal various interruptions in the urban temporalities, asynchronisms, and misalignments—technologically mediated temporalities that are otherwise invisible or neglected. At the same time, they require new forms of time management and temporal alignment to make cities and infrastructures work. While knowledge on the spatialities of infrastructures has greatly advanced in recent decades, the PhD study will explore and conceptualize the urban temporalities of infrastructures that have attracted surprisingly little attention so far. Based on ex post empirical studies on infrastructural breakdowns and crises the question is how do such crises affect established urban rhythms and which temporal coping strategies and realignments can be observed?
Design and Urban Development
A doctoral position (100% full-time) is open in the field of urban development.
Cities are complex adaptive systems of networked services and structures. The growing urban population, the concentration of resources and capital, unclear mandates for crisis situations, often inadequate water and wastewater management with consequences for the environment, the progressive destruction of ecosystems with far-reaching consequences, outdated urban infrastructures and building stock represent major challenges for planning.
Resilience is understood in planning as a forward-looking approach that goes beyond risk mitigation and seeks to mitigate system failures and build capacity. The focus is on principles that promote sustainable urban development, integrate ecosystem services and nature-based solutions, take climate change into account and promote resilience of urban communities.
Doctoral projects that deal with urban infrastructures (water, energy, communication, transport) and the planning challenges in the national and international context of crisis prevention and crisis management are of interest.
Exemplary PhD topics are:
- The resilient city and the Smart Nation Singapore.
- Integrated planning in water-sensitive urban development
The suggestion of own topics is welcome. The application should be related to the key concepts of the Research Training Group. In addition to the conceptual framework, please also state your method design in your exposé and submit an initial timetable. You can contact Annette Rudolph-Cleff for further information, advice on research topics and research design as well as for clarification of organizational questions in advance of your application.
The Chair of Railway Engineering is looking for a research associate designated to the team of “Railway Operations Research”. The vacancy announced is a full-time position. Your responsibilities are the independent processing of your research theme and the support of teaching responsibilities, especially in the supervision of topic related student research papers.
The advertised research topic deals with the planning and dispatching of disruption programs including passenger flow, customer information and intermodal transport management.
Since the need for innovation in the railway system can be implemented only within an interdisciplinary collaboration, your educational background can be in the fields of transport and civil engineering, computer science as well as mechanical-engineering.
Exemplary dissertation topics are:
- Spatial and temporal impacts for the simulation of disturbances and disruption programs in suburban railway traffic
- “Preparedness” vs. “Prevention” in suburban railway traffic: a cost/benefit analysis in consideration of the spatial/temporal distribution of commuters
The proposal of themes is not only possible, but highly desirable. For advice on possible research topics, to sharpen and discuss your own ideas and for the clarification of organizational matters please contact Professor Andreas Oetting!
Informatics in Civil Engineering
The area of expertise Informatics in Civil Engineering deals with the research of computer based methods for modelling and simulation in engineering science tasks. In the focus of this announcement is the research on digital methods for modelling, simulation and analysis of critical infrastructures for interdisciplinary engineering safety services in the urban context. Particular in the focus are the areas of digital building modelling with BIM (Building Information Modelling), Sensor Technology, Big Data with Data Mining and Machine Learning, Virtual and Augmented Reality as well as Serious Gaming.
Exemplary topics for PhD Theses are:
- User behaviour during loss of urban traffic junctions- A Serious Game simulation
- Process based networking of engineer planning and measures for discipline-comprehensive danger prevention in urban areas
- Safety for smart buildings as-built: Interdisciplinary engineering services for safety procedures of public buildings
Suggestions for new topics are welcome. Ideally you have a diploma or master of science degree in civil and environmental engineering with the main subject Informatics in Civil Engineering. The vacancy announced is a full-time position. If you have questions for technical or organisational issues then please contact Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uwe Rüppel.
Ubiquitous Knowledge Processing
The communication of argumentation and discourse on controversial topics has a major influence on how public opinion is shaped. Therefore, a quantitative and qualitative analysis of argumentative text structures in everyday media helps us to better understand the development of topic argumentation and stance.
With the recent success of statistical models in natural language processing, we are provided the tools to conduct such analysis on large-scale text corpora. In the course of the research training group “KRITIS” we will use such methods to analyse the development of public discourse. Possible, but not mandatory topics are the analysis of temporal changes in argumentation with regards to a certain topic (“topic drift”) or automatic aggregation and summarization of argumentative discourse in large-scale text data.
- excellent university degree in computer science, statistics, mathematics or a comparable field of study
- motivation and ability to conduct research in a highly interdisciplinary team of researchers
- strong interest in scientific research in natural language processing and the publication in top-rated international conferences/journals
- very good command of the English language both written and verbal
- very good programming skills (e.g. python)
- (optional) knowledge in text mining and natural language processing
- (optional) experience with machine learning and deep learning frameworks (e.g. sklearn, pytorch, tensorflow)
The vacancy announced is a full-time position. If you have any further questions, please contact your potential supervisor Iryna Gurevych.