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Funded PhD position: machine learning in cancer detection with dogs

Animal-Computer Interaction Lab, School of Computing and Communications
STEM Faculty, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Application deadline: 30 November 2017

Applications are invited for a funded PhD studentship to work on an ongoing research and development project at the Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI) Lab, School of Computing and Communications, The Open University, in collaboration with UK charity Medical Detection Dogs. The successful applicant will be required to develop innovative machine learning algorithms applied to sensor-enabled interfaces to support the work of cancer detection dogs.

Project description
Cancer detection dogs are trained to recognize the odour of volatiles from cancer cells in biological samples. Controlled medical trials have shown that sample screening by dogs has significant potential for the non-invasive secondary testing of cancer in humans. This project aims to research and develop an interactive system combining sensor technology and learning algorithms to enable the rapid and accurate interpretation of the dogs’ responses to biological samples.
Your main supervisor will be Dr Clara Mancini, project lead and head of the Open University’s ACI Lab. You will be based at The Open University’s campus in Milton Keynes, UK, but will frequently conduct empirical research at the nearby Medical Detection Dogs’ headquarters.

Person description
You will have a solid background in computing, electronic engineering or equivalent. You will demonstrate either strong skills in machine learning or the ability to rapidly develop such skills. You will also have the ability to do system prototyping using a range of sensors, and a broad understanding of user-centred design with regards to requirements, design and evaluation.
Throughout the research, you will work closely with cancer detection dogs and their trainers, thus it is essential that you be personable and respectful towards both humans and dogs, and enjoy working with both. This doctoral work is expected to contribute to ACI, thus you should demonstrate a commitment to working in this emerging discipline.
If you have any questions, please contact Dr Clara Mancini: C.Mancini@open.ac.uk

To apply, in the first instance, email Clara.Mancini@open.ac.uk and STEM-CC-Research@open.ac.uk the following documentation:
• curriculum vitae
• a cover letter discussing your interest in and suitability for this position

We will subsequently send you and ask you to complete an application form.

Applications closing date: 30th November 2017
Start date: as soon as possible following appointment

Background reading
Johnston-Wilder, O., Mancini, C., Aengenheister, B., Mills, J., Harris, R., Guest, C. (2015). Sensing the shape of canine responses to cancer. Intl. Congress on Animal-Computer Interaction, ACI’15, ACM Press.

Mancini, C., Harris, R., Aengenheister, B., Guest, C. (2015). Re-Centering Multispecies Practices: a Canine Interface for Cancer Detection Dogs, 33rd International ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM CHI’15, ACM Press.