PhD Position Socially-Aware Multimodal Behavior Synthesis for Interactive Digital Humans

at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
Published March 23, 2023
Location Delft, Netherlands
Category Machine Learning  
Job Type Scholarship  


Challenge: Generate realistic multimodal behavior for digital humans

Change: Incorporate causal factors dictating social dynamics

Impact: Immersive social XR for education, healthcare, and workplace

Job description

Recent advances in extended reality (virtual/augmented/mixed reality) and artificial intelligence have catalyzed a growing interest in using machine learning methods for the generation of realistic 3D digital humans with believable behaviors. While much progress has been made in achieving spectacular visual realism of synthetic digital humans, the generated behaviors remain far from believable, especially in social contexts. This is because recent work has largely focused on synthesizing digital individuals or their behavioral aspects in isolation. Consequently, a few crucial questions remain: how do we incorporate partner behaviors and social contextual information such as cultural backgrounds and beliefs into generative machine learning models? How do we evaluate the perception and appropriateness of the synthesized artifacts within the context of social outcomes? Exploring such questions requires an understanding of how we coordinate subtle behavioral cues across the visual, vocal, and verbal modalities to express our beliefs, desires, and intents.

We are looking for an enthusiastic, self-motivated person to come work with us on synthesizing and evaluating realistic multimodal social behavior towards not only developing socially-aware autonomous 3D digital humans, but also advancing our understanding of social cognition in real humans. The project will involve incorporating theories and insights from social cognition into deep generative representation learning techniques. Specifically, the project will delve into discovering and integrating causal behavioral patterns into the generation process. Further, the project will also involve using synthetic humans and behavior data to support theory building in the social sciences. Consequently, this endeavor bridges concepts across several disciplines, including multimodal machine learning, vision/graphics, speech, cognitive neuroscience, and social psychology.

We offer a dynamic, stimulating, and diverse research environment. You will work within the Pattern Recognition and Bioinformatics group within the Department of Intelligent Systems, which includes researchers working on the methodology of machine learning, socially perceptive computing, and computer vision. You will be advised by Chirag Raman.



We are looking for a candidate that meets the following criteria:

  • A critical thinker with an open mind to draw upon ideas and research methodologies from different disciplines
  • A strong interest in understanding and developing statistical and machine learning methods applied to human behavior data in social, interactive contexts
  • A Master's degree or equivalent, or about to graduate with one, in a relevant computational field such as computer science, computer vision / graphics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, etc.
  • An ability to program in Python, C, C++, C#, or similar programming language
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English (at the B2 level or equivalent)

The following skills are nice to have:

  • Experience with pytorch
  • Experience with 3D content authoring tools and associated programming languages (e.g. Blender, Unity, Unreal, Maya, etc.)
  • Experience designing experiments with human participants

The topic is inherently interdisciplinary, so we encourage you to apply even if you do not believe you meet all criteria as long as you are willing to acquire the required complementary skills.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.


Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.


TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) brings together three scientific disciplines. Combined, they reinforce each other and are the driving force behind the technology we all use in our daily lives. Technology such as the electricity grid, which our faculty is helping to make completely sustainable and future-proof. At the same time, we are developing the chips and sensors of the future, whilst also setting the foundations for the software technologies to run on this new generation of equipment – which of course includes AI. Meanwhile we are pushing the limits of applied mathematics, for example mapping out disease processes using single cell data, and using mathematics to simulate gigantic ash plumes after a volcanic eruption. In other words: there is plenty of room at the faculty for ground-breaking research. We educate innovative engineers and have excellent labs and facilities that underline our strong international position. In total, more than 1000 employees and 4,000 students work and study in this innovative environment.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.


Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, or if you would like to have a chat before applying, please contact Chirag Raman (


Application procedure

Please provide, using the online application system:

  • A motivation letter (max 2 pages, addressed to Chirag Raman) in which you describe your research interests and background and how they relate to the position. Please describe potential research projects you would like to pursue and share why you are motivated to work on interdisciplinary research problems.
  • A succinct curriculum vitae
  • The name and email address of three references who are willing to provide a letter of recommendation (no recommendation letter is needed at this point)

The deadline for application is April 21, 2023, but can be extended until we find a suitable candidate

A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.

You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.

Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.



Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science








€ 2.541,00 - € 3.247,00


University graduate



Five reasons to work at the TU Delft

1. Impact: for a better society at a top international university
2. Open international community with multidisciplinairy teamwork
3. Excellent facilities for research, education and innovation
4. Room for personal growth
5. Good employment conditions