PhD position on Diversity-Aware NLP

30. September 2022 /

The independent research group on Diversity-Aware NLP Intelligent Systems (DANIS) headed by Dr. Agnieszka Faleńska invites applications for a PhD position. The group is a part of the project Reflecting Intelligent Systems for Diversity, Demography, and Democracy (IRIS3D) funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Württemberg. It is located at the Institute for Natural Language Processing (IMS) at the University of Stuttgart, Germany.


The immense influence of NLP systems on human lives raises increasing concerns about the possible harm these tools can cause. Harmful behaviors of such systems are regarded as symptoms of their bias, i.e., the systematic preference or discrimination against certain groups of users. NLP tools are commonly trained on textual corpora that display such biases already at the level of their authors. For example, Wikipedia, which is one of the most commonly used sources of training data, is created by a predominantly white and male group of editors. Such a lack of diversity among authors can lessen the impact of data from minorities and, as a consequence, result in NLP models that reflect the underlying demographic imbalances. DANIS contributes to the discourse of fairness in AI by facilitating the design of NLP intelligent systems that can recognize inputs from underrepresented groups of users and strengthen their role in the training processes.


The successful candidate will work on topics ranging from (i) recognition of textual phenomena that identify distinctive demographic groups, (ii) analysis techniques to investigate the influence of particular training signals on neural NLP models, and (iii) incorporating the knowledge of biases into a standard NLP methodology.

The position is available for four years, starting in December 2022 or soon thereafter. The salary is according to the German university pay scale (TV-L 13 100%, approx. 50k EUR per year before taxes). The PhD candidate will benefit from the support structures offered by the Graduate Academy of the University of Stuttgart (GRADUS) and IRIS. Moreover, they will have the chance to collaborate with other IRIS3D projects as well as the interdisciplinary research group E-DELIB (Powering up e-deliberation: towards AI-supported moderation) and the Emmy Noether research group MisT (Computational Models of Misunderstanding).

Candidate's Profile

  • Master’s degree in computational linguistics, computer science, computational social science, or related fields
  • knowledge of natural language processing (NLP) / computational linguistics (CL)
  • strong programming skills
  • advanced knowledge of machine learning methods, experience in deep learning is a plus
  • excellent communication skills and interest in interdisciplinary work
  • proficiency in English (knowledge of German is not required)

How to Apply?

To apply, please send as a single PDF document:

  • a brief motivation letter including your research interests
  • a CV including a list of publications (if applicable) and contact information of one to two references

Applications should be sent to Agnieszka Faleńska. Applications submitted before October 21, 2022 will receive full consideration. The position will remain open until filled, so do not hesitate to get in touch when you find this opening after October 21st. The (online) interviews will take place at the beginning of November.

The University of Stuttgart aims to achieve equal opportunities for men and women in university studies and science and to increase the number of women in academia. Therefore, people of all genders are equally encouraged to apply. Applications of severely disabled candidates with equivalent qualifications will be given priority.

About IRIS and IRIS3D

The IRIS3D project is embedded in the Cyber Valley ecosystem. It consists of three independent research groups contributing to the reflection on the societal impacts of intelligent systems. The project is a part of the Interchange Forum for Reflecting on Intelligent Systems (IRIS). IRIS provides a platform to stimulate critical reflection on the foundations, mechanisms, implications, and effects of intelligent systems in research, teaching, and society.

About Stuttgart and the University of Stuttgart

The University of Stuttgart is a technically oriented university in Germany. It is especially known for engineering and related topics, with its computer science department being ranked highly, both nationally and internationally. The Institute for Natural Language Processing, which is part of the Faculty of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, is one of the largest academic research institutes for natural language processing in Germany, with three full professors, an assistant professor, three senior lecturers, and a staff of more than thirty researchers. Its activities range from computational corpus linguistics to semantic processing, deep learning, machine translation, psycholinguistics, and phonetics, and hosts several projects funded by the European Commission (EC), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and various foundations. The institute manages dedicated BSc and MSc programs in Computational Linguistics.

The city of Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. It is a lively and international city, known for its strong economy and rich culture. With Germany's high-speed train system, it is well-connected to many other interesting places, for instance, Munich and Cologne (~2.5 hours), Paris (~3.5 hours), Berlin (~5.5 hours), Strasbourg (<1.5 hours), and Lake of Constance (~2.5 hours).


Agnieszka Faleńska

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