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Research Studentship/Fellowship on "THE ROLE OF FINE PHONETIC DETAIL IN NOISE"

PhD Research Studentship / Research Fellowship on

University of Sheffield, UK, and Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Two positions are available for research on the role of fine phonetic detail in noise, within the Marie Curie Research Training Network "Sound to Sense" (S2S) (www.sound2sense.eu). S2S involves collaborative speech research amongst 13 universities in 10 countries. The position at the University of Sheffield, UK, is a PhD studentship with the Departments of Computer Science and Human Communication Sciences. The position at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, is a research fellowship, optionally including enrollment for a PhD. Both positions are 36 months in duration and are available immediately.

1) PhD research studentship on audio and visual cues to turn competition in overlapping talk, University of Sheffield, UK

There have been proposals in the conversation analysis literature, based on subjective listening, as to the various phonetic modifications that occur in different types of overlapping talk (i.e. when two or more people speak at the same time), including modification of pitch, loudness and timing. Current work at Sheffield University is developing techniques for objective measurement of these phonetic modifications in corpora of multi- talker recordings involving speakers varying in age, language and accent background. Depending on the interests and experience of the applicant, the proposed PhD studentship could develop this work in a number of directions, such as:

* Integrating visual information about speaker behaviour into the analysis, in order to understand the respective contributions of audio and visual information to the management of turn-taking and overlapping talk.

* Use of state-of-the-art motion tracking hardware to study the use of head-related gestures during overlapping and non-overlapping speech.

* The study of cross-language effects, in order to determine the role of language-specific cues in the management of overlap.

* Investigating the management of overlap in acoustic environments in which background noise (such as speech babble) is present.

* Investigating the management of overlap in talk between adults and young children.

* Investigating the management of overlap in talk involving speakers with communication difficulties (e.g. stammering / dysfluency; autistic spectrum disorders; developmental speech and language impairments)

The project will suit either a computer science graduate who is interested in learning about CA and phonetics; or a linguistics/ speech sciences graduate who has experience of computer programming and is interested in learning about speech technology. The student will be based jointly at the Departments of Human Communication Sciences (www.sheffield.ac.uk/hcs) and Computer Science (www.sheffield.ac.uk/dcs).

2) Research fellowship on the role of fine phonetic detail in noise, Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Why are listeners so much better than machines at recognising speech in everyday conditions? One hypothesis, supported by recent experiments, is that the speech signal contains fine phonetic detail (FPD) which is not noticeable in quiet conditions, but which is essential to decode speech in noise. What is not clear is which aspects of FPD are responsible for increased intelligibility, but two factors that may be implicated are grouping and glimpsing. Grouping refers to the combination of parts of the signal based on evidence that they have arisen from a common acoustic source (e.g. harmonicity). Glimpsing is based on the observation that listeners appear to identify speech based on partial "views" rather than complete signals. The aim of the fellowship/studentship is to determine how these factors might account for speech intelligibility and for automatic speech recognition in noise.

This project will suit a computer science or engineering graduate, who is interested in researching automatic speech recognition in noisy conditions and to learn more about auditory processing and phonetics.

The student will be based at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania (www.utcluj.ro). Enrollment into a PhD program will be possible, and is encouraged. The university provides good technical research facilities as well as very affordable accommodation in an attractive setting.


Applicants must have less than 4 years experience in postgraduate research (i.e. you will have earned your academic qualifications for graduate study less than 4 years before your S2S appointment starts).
The appointed persons will receive a standard EU stipend for the country of work, together with allowances for relocation and language lessons etc. Due to EU mobility requirements, you cannot be appointed to the country of your citizenship or to a country where you have lived for more than 12 of the last 36 months.

How to apply

Both appointments are available immediately and will remain open until filled. Informal enquiries can be made to Dr. Guy Brown (g.brown@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx) or Prof. Mircea Giurgiu (Mircea.Giurgiu@xxxxxxxxxxxxx).

Your formal application should comprise: a curriculum vitae including nationality and residence, 2 letters of reference, and statement of interests. Submit it electronically, preferably in pdf format, to Dr. Brown and Prof. Giurgiu, and also to the S2S Coordinator's assistant, Naomi Hilton:

Miss Naomi Hilton
Phone: +44 (0)1223 760822
Fax: +44 (0)1223 335053