The group of Interaction Design at the University of Twente’s (UT) Faculty of Engineering Technology has a vacancy for a 4-year, fully funded PhD. We are looking for a candidate to join us in studying, designing and deploying novel technologies for supporting people’s personalized and evolving health goals.

New digital devices, including wearables and mobile applications, promise opportunities for tracking and managing personal health goals more than ever before. However, people often approach these devices without knowing what goals to set and struggle in expressing their goals. This often leads to the adoption of goals which are misaligned with people’s abilities and personal interests. For example, recent studies (Gouveia et al., 2016) have found that people tend keep using the pre-default goals suggested by activity tracking devices, despite consistently failing to achieve them. Misaligned goals not only fail to motivate behaviour but can also harm self-integrity and fuel negative mindsets towards these devices.

Even when people have well-defined, achievable goals, they often face challenges when tracking and analysing resulting data (Munson et al., 2019). This can be emphasized as health datasets persist and are no longer representative of people’s current goals, abilities or identities. For example, while some activity tracker users may enjoy looking at and reflecting on how active they were before having children or their sleeping patterns before starting a new job; for others, past data can be confronting and out of touch with one’s current goals and reality.

The aim of this research is to design and evaluate functional, interactive systems that support people in setting, pursuing and transitioning between personal health goals. The initial focus will be on studying people’s existing goal-directed practices with commercially available health devices and how these practices change as people’s goals evolve. Results will lead to new design approaches for how digital devices can best support people in their goal practices.


To be considered, candidates should:

  • Have a MSc degree in Human-Computer Interaction, Health Sciences, Industrial Design Engineering, Interaction Technology, Computer Science, or in the broader area of the social sciences, like Social Psychology;
  • Be proficient in spoken and written English;
  • Be able to work independently, but also work in teams, and self-regulate their work;
  • Prior demonstrated research experience will be considered an advantage;
  • Proven experience on Android and/or iOS development will be an advantage.


We offer a position in a multidisciplinary and international environment. The UT is a front runner in conducting research, providing education and valorizing enabling technologies in healthcare! Besides running a number of Bachelor and Master’s programs centered around healthcare, the UT also has multidisciplinary facilities, such as the DesignLab and the TechMed Center – a brand-new innovation hub equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure, ranging from research labs, preclinical testbeds and simulated hospital environments where novel technology interventions can be investigated and evaluated to see how they might be effectively used by clinicians and patients.

We also offer:

  • A full time four-year position;
  • Access to a network of leading researchers and clinical partners in the field of digital health and human-computer interaction;
  • A gross monthly salary starting at €2.395, increasing yearly to a maximum of €3.061 in the fourth year;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%;
  • Minimum of 29 holidays in case of full-time employment;
  • Full status as an employee of the UT, including a pension scheme and health benefits;
  • Access to professional and personal development programs.


Please apply by clicking on the button below before 15 December 2020. The application should include:

  • A motivation letter of at most a A4 page, explaining specific interests, the motivation for the application, and why you qualify for this project.
  • A detailed CV, summarizing your education, previous work experience and contact details of at least 2 referees,
  • A list of all courses attended and grades acquired during your MSc and BSc courses.

For additional information on this position, please contact Assistant Professor Rúben Gouveia at: r.h.gouveia@utwente.nl


University of Twente (UT)

University of Twente (UT) has entered the new decade with an ambitious, new vision, mission and strategy. As ‘the ultimate people-first university of technology’ we are rapidly expanding on our High Tech Human Touch philosophy and the unique role it affords us in society. Everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people, society and connections through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We want to contribute to the development of a fair, digital and sustainable society through our open, inclusive and entrepreneurial attitude. This attitude permeates everything we do and is present in every one of UT’s departments and faculties. Building on our rich legacy in merging technical and social sciences, we focus on five distinguishing research domains: Improving healthcare by personalised technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

As an employer, University of Twente offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With us, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customisable conditions.

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