I hope my readers will forgive a bit of “advertising” on my part, but I wanted to say that there are lots of opportunities for NLG people in Aberdeen, including academic faculty positions, PhD studentships, and commercial positions at Arria. So if you’re interested in NLG, please consider joining me and my colleagues in Aberdeen!
Below I describe some of these opportunities, and also say a bit about living in Aberdeen. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
The Computer Science dept at the University of Aberdeen is currently advertising for new faculty members in cybersecurity, machine learning, and AI, at all levels from lecturer to full professor. NLG people can certainly apply for the AI positions and (depending on their research focus) for the ML ones as well; cybersecurity may a tougher fit.
The Aberdeen CS dept is small and friendly, and I’ve certainly enjoyed being a member of it since 1995. We teach an undergrad degree in computing, a masters degree in artificial intelligence, and also a conversion masters (for people whose first degree was not in CS). Teaching loads are relatively light compared to many other institutions, and people who have not previously held academic positions are usually given lighter loads in their first few years. We have a “probation” system for new lecturers, but the great majority of our staff pass this; its very different from the American “tenure-track” system where academics can work hard and be productive, but still get kicked out after 5 years.
Research-wise the Aberdeen CS dept focuses on artificial intelligence, NLP, ML, multi-agent systems, and cyber-security. It has close links with other parts of the university, especially the medical school, and with local industry, especially in oil and gas.
For more information on these positions, see
The Aberdeen CS dept currently has around 40 PhD students, including 6 students working on NLG-related topics. I think we offer a very nice environment for PhD students, and certainly surveys of “student satisfaction” for our PhD students are very positive. My previous PhD students are listed in another blog.
PhDs at Aberdeen usually take between 3 and 4 years, which is quicker than in many other countries. Coursework is optional. PhD students can take MSc courses if they wish, and there are also optional courses for PhD students on topics such as statistics. But PhD students are expected to start their research projects as soon as they arrive, they do not spend a year doing coursework before starting their research.
I will shortly be looking for a PhD student who will work on NLG and Explainable AI, as part of the NL4XAI project. In early 2020 I expect to be looking for another PhD student to work on a collaborative project with the medical school, which looks at providing better information to patients after they have been discharged from hospital. Neither of these studentships have yet been formally advertised, but feel free to informally contact me now if you are interested in either of these! Or indeed if you are interested in other PhD topics, especially if you are a UK citizen (we often have general PhD funding for UK students which is not tied to specific projects; this is less common for non-UK students).
I also welcome people who are interested in NLG to our MSc in Artificial Intelligence, which includes a module on NLG which is taught by Yaji Sripada and I.
Commercial vacancies (Arria)
Arria NLG is looking for people to join their software development group. Arria’s main development office is in Aberdeen. Currently 30 people work in Arria’s Aberdeen office, this number should increase substantially over the next year. Arria needs people who are excited about developing commercial NLG systems, and who have a background in software development as well as in NLG.
Arria is hiring developers, and also looking for people to shape its products and contribute to their maintenance and general adoptability. Positions include senior and mid-level software developers, product owners, product managers, testers, technical writers, and ATL developers (ATL is Arria’s proprietary programming language). People with ability and drive can progress in seniority within Arria, which is a growing company that promotes from within.
Work at Arria is varied, fast-paced, and always interesting. People work in small, cross-functional, action-oriented teams in various domains with customers large and small. Its a fun place to work – no corporate nonsense and a friendly, inclusive, diverse group of people. Newcomers are very welcome!
For more details, visit Arria’s careers page.
I’ve lived in Aberdeen since 1995, and have found it a very nice place to live in and raise a family. The city has around 250K inhabitants, with a similar number in the surrounding “Aberdeenshire” area. The biggest industry is oil and gas (Aberdeen is the centre of the UK North Sea oil industry). Tourists come to the area to see its numerous castles and whisky distilleries, as well as the Scottish Highlands and Balmoral Palace (where the queen goes to relax). The city is on the North Sea, and there are beaches within the city (one of them a 20-min walk from the university). Countryside is close; I like to bicycle, and it takes around 15 mins to cycle from the university to farmland outside the city. Edinburgh and Glasgow (Scotland’s big cities) are about 2.5 hours by train; London is around 1.5 hours by plane.
Housing in Aberdeen is not dirt cheap, but considerably cheaper than in many large cities and tech centres. I’ve lived in decent-sized houses within a 5-minute walk of the university for all the time I have been in Aberdeen, including when I was supporting a family of 5 on a junior academic salary. Shops are reasonable, although I sometimes need to order speciality items over the internet. Weather is mild; it rarely gets below freezing during the day even in the winter, and it rarely gets above 25C even in the summer. Rain is common, but usually its mild showers instead of torrential downpours.
So overall a really nice place, I’ve certainly been very happy living in Aberdeen!