Researcher in natural language processing at the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON


Agents, interactions and complexity

Site: Highfield Campus
Salary: £ 31,406 to £ 38,587 per year
Full-time fixed term (24 months)
Closing Date: Thursday, November 25, 2021
Date of interview: Be confirmed
Reference: 1562021FP

You will join our team working on Deep Learning-Based Natural Language Processing (NLP) Models for Behavior Classification as part of the ProTechThem (Building Awareness for Safer and Technology-Savvy Sharenting) research project. The position will be in the Agents, Interaction and Complexity (AIC) group, which is part of the Department of Electronics and Computing (ECS) at the University of Southampton. The AIC group runs a number of research centers of national significance, including the Trustworthy Autonomous System Research Hub ( and the UKRI MINDS Center for Doctoral Training (

The ProTechThem project ( explores how criminology and informatics can enable more targeted outreach activities and improve the tools we currently have to study, prevent and mitigate the negative impacts of sharing practices. Sharing is the sharing of identifying and sensitive information of minors and can present significant risks. Beyond the risks associated with the negative psychological repercussions of ignoring children’s desire to have (or not) an online identity, there are concerns about the potential for grooming and child abuse and the potential for fraud and identity theft.

Your role will be to develop NLP models based on deep learning for the classification of risky behaviors applied to short and long online conversations. This will include research on NLP in areas such as NLP models based on little / zero shot learning, augmented memory NLP models, and the use of sentence embeddings to encode online conversation graphics. ProTechThem is an interdisciplinary project with experts in criminology in the project team. You will use standard exploration software to help criminologists analyze and annotate a large body (10,000 messages) of behavioral examples. You will also explore how your behavior classification NLP models can use human AI in-loop approaches such as active learning and / or adversarial training to overcome behavior classes with limited training resources, such as emerging sharing risks.

To be successful, you will have a PhD * or equivalent professional qualifications and experience in natural language processing, artificial intelligence, or a closely related subject. In addition to NLP research, an important part of the role is to interact with project partners in the UK and Italy and become familiar with the area of ​​sharing issues.

The appointment is for 24 months due to funding restrictions.

The Department of Electronics and Computer Science is the leading academic department of its kind in the UK, with an international reputation for cutting-edge research in the fields of computer science, electronics and electrical engineering. Research takes place in a multidisciplinary and collaborative environment and draws on our exceptional facilities. With over 550 researchers from different fields, the research culture in ECS is rapidly changing and dynamic. Our internationally renowned teaching and research has been ranked among the highest in the UK.

Equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the philosophy of the School of Electronics and Computer Science. We especially encourage women, black, Asian and ethnic minority, LGBT and disabled applicants to apply for this position. We are committed to improving the equality of women in science and were successful in securing an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in April 2020. We pay special attention to applicants who wish to work in a flexible manner, including part-time and attention particular will be given to candidates who have taken a break in their career. The University has a generous maternity policy **, on-site childcare, and other perks such as the Cycle to work program.

The University of Southampton is in the top 1% of world universities and in the top 10 of UK research-intensive universities. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and to being a globally responsible university and was recently awarded the Platinum EcoAward. Our vision is to integrate the principles of sustainability into all aspects of our individual and collective work, integrating sustainability into our business planning, policy making and professional activities. This commits all of our staff and students to taking responsibility for managing their activities to minimize damage to the environment, whether by turning off non-essential electrical equipment or using recycling facilities.

For any informal inquiries prior to submitting your application, contact Dr Stuart E. Middleton ([email protected]).

Please include a cover letter and a full CV in your application. You will also need to specify at least two references on the application form.

* Applications for Associate Researcher positions will be considered by applicants who are preparing or completing a relevant doctoral degree. The title of associate researcher will be applied upon successful completion of the doctorate. Prior to the award of the qualification, the title of Senior Research Assistant will be awarded.

** subject to eligibility criteria

Application procedure:

You must submit your completed online application form to The application deadline will be midnight on the closing date indicated above. If you require assistance, please call Hannah Farrance (recruiting team) on +44 (0) 23 8059 2507. Please quote reference 1562021FP on all correspondence.


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