PhD scholarship in Using Systems Visualisations for Decision Support at Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

DTU, The Technical University of Denmark, Department of Management Engineering invites applicants for a fully-funded 3-year PhD position on "Using Systems Visualisations for Decision Support”, starting ideally on 1 September 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter in 2018. This PhD project will be based in the Engineering Systems Division and supervised by Head of Division Professor Anja Maier. 

The Engineering Systems Division is growing fast and is characterised by a vibrant and supportive research environment with engaged staff and strong research collaborations with leading universities and industry worldwide. Our research focuses on understanding and improving the ways in which complex socio-technical engineering systems are designed, managed, and operated throughout their life cycles. Our research spans the boundaries of 1. interdisciplinary engineering design, 2. engineering project, program and portfolio management, and 3. related policy, public engagement and strategic processes. By focusing on the themes of complexity, human behaviour, and uncertainty, we develop understanding, knowledge, methods and tools for public and private organisations to be more effective in the design, construction and operation of large-scale socio-technical engineering systems.

The PhD project

The project is situated at the intersection of visualisations, human behaviour, design, and complex systems.

The scientific focus will especially be on using visualisations to support R&D decision makers in industry and potentially also research and innovation policy makers. Beyond ‘merely’ summarising information visually, we frame visualisation as an approach, e.g. to gaining insights and understanding systems, to sensemaking, and to communication.

This PhD project is curiousity-driven and the candidate has the opportunity to shape the focus within using systems visualisations for decision support and behaviour change. Visualisations take a great variety of forms and are created in manifold ways. Examples include data-driven information visualisations, diagramming, drawing, sketching, rendering, and more. Ultimately to explore in what way behaviour unfolds and changes through visualisations for decision support, you will be researching how (selected) visualisations are used in practice, used at multidisciplinary interfaces, used in multistakeholder participation processes, and you may select to focus on the study of visual perception, visual attention and cognitive-driven design.

This PhD project is also connected to the EURITO project, a three-year European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation, with Nesta (UK) as co-ordinator and with DTU (Denmark), FOKUS Fraunhofer (Germany), and Cotec (Spain) as project partners. EURITO´s overall objective is to enhance the design of research and innovation policies in Europe. This is to be achieved by modelling large-scale systems, developing a new set of timely, trusted, and open system-level indicators for innovation and research activities as well as analytics and visualisations based on open data sources. In the overall EURITO project, data sources mined may include official and unofficial industry registries, company websites, data traces within social networking and community websites (e.g. and Twitter) generated by emergent communities of practice and other non-traditional bottom-up data sources. Methods applied may include the use of network analysis and interactive data visualisation. DTU’s research in the project is centred on systems architecting and designing and using systems visualisations, with data collection and analysis both at Danish and international levels.

If your passion is exploring the use of visualisations for behaviour change, visual analytics, visual literacy and system thinking applied to large societal challenges, this position is for you.

Responsibilities and tasks 

The research will primarily consist of literature review, requirement elicitation and validation through interviews, diagramming, sketching, and other creative ways of co-designing and testing visualisations in industrial and policy practice.

Surveys, experimental methods, and user studies to explore the impact of the designed visualisations on human behavioural decision-making will also be applied, either individually or in combination.

You have the opportunity to create and select case studies in application domains that include health and care with a focus on digital health and personalised health technology and sustainable futures through cleantech.

You will work in close collaboration with further EURITO project members in the Engineering Systems Division and across Europe, and research partners worldwide.

We are also looking forward to facilitating opportunities for you to experience an external research stay outside Denmark.


Candidates should have a master's degree preferably in Design, Design Engineering, Design and Innovation, Industrial Design, Interaction Design, Graphic Design, Information Visualisation, Data Science, System Design, Complex Systems, Behavioural Sciences, or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree. Training opportunities will be available during the PhD. Useful skills include sketching and information design.

Approval and Enrolment 

The scholarship for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide.


The assessment of applicants will be made by an assessment committee led by Professor Anja Maier.

We offer

DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and an academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms

The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

The position will be based in the Engineering Systems Division, Department of Management Engineering at DTU in Lyngby, just outside Copenhagen, Denmark.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information 

Further information may be obtained from Post Doctoral Research Associate Pedro Parraguez ( or Professor Anja Maier, or +45 4525 6045.

You can read more about the Engineering Systems Division at


Please submit your online application no later than 4 May 2018 (local time).

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application, including your research activities and ideas for the research project (cover letter, max 3-pages)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and copies of your original BSc/MSc diploma, certificates, and lists of subjects with your results as well as their official translation into English Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here)
  • Two reference contacts who may be contacted by the assessment committee
  • Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.
  • All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Management Engineering contributes actively to the development of management tools and optimisation of processes by using and re-thinking theoretical engineering perspectives, models and methods. Through our research and teaching, we ensure an innovative, competitive and sustainable organisation and use of technologies within areas such as energy and climate, transportation, production and health, both domestic and abroad. DTU Management Engineering has 340 employees; including an academic staff of 190 and more than 70 PhD students. More than 20 % of our employees are from abroad and in all 38 different nationalities are represented at the Department.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 11,000 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.

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