The University of Florence is seeking candidates interested in performing PhD research activities in BioRobotics and BioEngineering topics at the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Florence, Italy.
Two PhD positions are available on the following research topics:
1) Research and development on modelling cognitive and motor interplay using Biorobotics technologies and neuroscientific approaches.
The PhD program aims to develop novel technologies in the field of robotics and Internet of Things for studying the cognitive and motor interplay in healthy subjects and patients with neurodegenerative diseases. The idea is to investigate how these technologies could be used to improve, objectify, and standardize the current clinical practice that is performed without the use of technology and to identify novel clinical protocols and methods to better study the impact of motor and cognitive decline on humans. In this sense the PhD candidate is requested to develop a comprehensive digitalized intervention for assessment and rehabilitation purposes, ranging from the development of neuropsychological battery encompassing tests to assess subjects’ proficiency in several cognitive domains, such as memory, language, attention, visual ability, and executive functions, to the development of intelligent algorithms extracting digital biomarkers for clinical classification purpose on neurodegenerative diseases. The PhD candidate is requested to follow a multimodal approach, using different instruments and devices able to acquire physiological and behavioral data from subjects and to implement artificial intelligence techniques, such as machine learning or deep learning. Similarly, the PhD is requested to development innovative and clinically meaningful kinematic features, starting from a Neuroscientific Framework to better understand the Motor‐Cognitive Interface.
2) Bio‐cooperative approaches in social robotics for neurocognitive assessment and rehabilitation
The PhD program aims to dramatically enhance kinds of means, both software and hardware, that allow interaction processes and bridge capabilities between users and service/machines. One of the key challenges in Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA) concerns the implementation of interaction with dependable perception capabilities and context awareness, with high acceptability and usability, adaptability, and multi‐modal AI‐based approaches. This will be pursued by investigating, designing, developing and testing novel “social machines”, namely social robots, apps, VR/AR tools and devices that will be conceived and integrated to interact and communicate with humans by means of social behaviors and rules. Bio‐cooperative systems represent the new generation of robotic platforms that promote a bidirectional interaction between the robot and the patient based on multimodal interfaces. Here the idea is to additionally integrate also augmented/mixed reality systems with wearable inertial sensors (for motion capture) and haptic/thermal actuators (for closing the feedback loop). Such a system will be employed through the adoption of innovative bio‐cooperative HRI protocols that will take advantage of the combination of motor, cognitive and social aspects. This task will rely on Motor and Cognitive Dual‐Task (MCDT) protocols, as well as Social Grasping, for the HRI setting. With such advanced and human‐like interacting capabilities, the PhD candidate will aim to demonstrate that machines and devices will be more believable, easier to be adopted and not be abandoned, contributing to support healthy living during daily activities and manage diseases; interestingly, the PhD candidate will demonstrate that “social machines” will be also able to measure and characterize the way humans interact with themselves, generating a number of digital biomarkers of interaction that could be used for early identification and rehabilitation of motor and cognitive decline in frailty and dementia.
Successful candidates should have good communication and project management skills. Conference and journal publications are desirable.
Applications should be sent online following instructions at the following link: https://www.unifi.it/p12246.html (deadline 10/11/2022, h12 Italian Time).
The position is funded by the Minister of Research and University (MUR) under the PNRR program. Further information on the project could be asked to Prof. Filippo Cavallo (firstname.lastname@example.org).