Start date: October 2019
Deadline for Applications: Monday, August 19 2019
Applications are welcome for a three-year fully-funded PhD studentship for UK and EU citizens in the Leverhulme Trust PhD Centre for Material Social Futures at Lancaster University.
The invention of new materials, such as nanostructures, has created much hyperbole as well as concern. Nanostructures are in the size range of 1 to 100 nm; minute beyond common understanding yet capable, in theory at least, of being assembled into new shapes and structures. In the computing industry, these structures are expected to be revolutionary; offering, amongst other things, the promise of quantum data storage. This development affects not just the way data might be stored and encrypted but the scale of data storage. Indeed, with nanotechnology, manufacturers might be able to produce data storage materials at costs that are so low that the data storage becomes virtually free. As any economist would observe, when the value of a commodity becomes almost nil, demand for it is likely to become infinitely large. Users (individuals, companies or governments) might stop asking why they want to store data or what they want to do with it once stored. Instead, they may start saving everything irrespective of worth or value. With ‘nano-data-storage’, the world might become flooded with ‘digital dirt’. This description is to put it colourfully, but is this ‘store everything’ future desirable? If not, why not? What is the alternative? Besides, is this ‘digital dirt’ scenario misrepresenting how users might leverage nano-storage? Their behaviours might be affected, by, for example, innovative design that makes them think differently about purpose and value. New forms of HCI might be enabled. Indeed, how will people interact with data storage? ‘Digital housework’ that involves clearing out unwanted data might become a norm. All these and more are legitimate topics to be investigated in this forward-thinking research project. The appointed candidate will participate in and contribute to a multi-stranded research programme in Material Social Futures in which the future of data storage and data need is one important part.
The Leverhulme Centre for Material Social Futures
Lancaster University’s Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre in Material Social Futures is a major new strategic collaborative partnership between two of the university’s recently formed research Institutes – the Institute for Social Futures and the Material Science Institute. You will be part of a growing team of PhDs who will work to bring together concepts and approaches from across the disciplines. You will help produce futures that people want and the world needs.
Lancaster University is one of the top 10 universities in the UK. The project will also benefit from access to the vibrant research community of Lancaster's Institute for Social Futures and Materials Science Institute.
Professor Richard Harper and Dr Nicola Spurling will supervise the project and welcome informal enquiries.
- The PhD is for three years duration and is awardable to any EU citizen
- Payment of academic fees
- A Maintenance Stipend (£14,777 pa)
- Access to a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) (£800 pa) for reimbursement of research-related expenses including – but not limited to – conference attendance, training courses and equipment.
- We will support additional research costs (such as entailed in fieldwork) as appropriate
- Access to a range of training and development provided by Lancaster University, the Material Social Futures PhD Programme, and the Institute for Social Futures and the Materials Science Institute
- The Material Social Futures PhD programme will offer optional internships (including international placements) in the second and or third year of training
- Candidates will preferably have a background and academic interest in any combination of HCI and computer science, sociology, anthropology or related science and technology studies;
- Candidates must have qualifications of the standard of Bachelor’s degree at first or upper second class level, and may also benefit from having a suitable Master’s degree or equivalent (or will have completed a Master’s degree by the starting date October 2018) in a relevant discipline.
How to apply
- A full CV, including two named referees (one of whom should be your most recent academic tutor/supervisor);
- A copy of Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree transcript (or a copy of equivalent qualifications);
- A letter of application (not exceeding two pages of A4) outlining your suitability for a PhD and explaining how you would approach the research;
- An example of postgraduate level written work (e.g. a research article, chapter, or essay).
Email your application to either of the supervisors above. Candidates invited for an interview will be eligible to claim reasonable UK travel expenses to attend.