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Do you have what it takes to make serendipity happen? We are hiring!

We are looking for a post doctoral researcher to join our Serendipity Engine research team. You will join research group SMIT (Studies in Media, Innovation and Technology) and become part of a large group of researchers working on recommender systems. Interested? Apply before March 10, 2023.

SMIT is seeking a full-time post-doctoral researcher to lead and conduct research in two research projects related to media usage, personalization and recommender systems.

  • You will conduct research and help supervise the SBO project “Serendipity Engine” (funded by the Research Foundation – Flanders, FWO). This is a four-year research project that aims to develop recommender systems to help users explore and discover new items, or “fight filter bubbles” in the urban context. By developing alternative recommendation strategies, we explore how technology can contribute to a vibrant and healthy urban fabric. You will be part of a large interdisciplinary team of researchers from VUB, UGent, UAntwerp and imec. The team consists of experienced researchers and several PhD students. You will work closely with Flemish culture organizations such as publiq ( and the users of their applications.

  • You will also coordinate the large-scale Media Living Lab “Streaming affordances in small media markets”, which aims to gain fundamental insights into the user behavior of streaming consumers in order to strengthen the offer, positioning, visibility, findability and experience of Flemish streaming platforms. In this project, we are building an experimental environment with Flemish media companies and researchers and setting up (collaborative) innovation experiments to improve the findability and visibility of Flemish streaming video services.

Research tasks include

  • Take a leading role in team of researchers dedicated to research on recommender systems.

  • Supervise and analyze experiments with the end-users of the developed applications and platforms.

  • Interviewing developers, vendors, and users of digital applications and platforms for cultural and leisure experiences in the city on the one hand, and online streaming on the other.

  • Collaborate with private partners on the architecture of the Media Living Lab and coordinate the user research to be developed in collaboration with Flemish media stakeholders.

  • Act as a liaison between the various stakeholders and communicate the research findings to them.

  • Support a communication strategy for the results of the research project. This includes engaging in science communication and popularizing publications aimed at the general public, civil society, industry and policy makers.

  • Actively exploring research opportunities at regional, national and European level.

Who are you?

  • PhD degree in a relevant domain (e.g., social sciences, communication sciences, economics, or computer sciences with a strong emphasis on user evaluation).

  • Strong interest in digital technologies such as personalization and algorithms and their societal impact. Technical knowledge of these technologies is preferred, but not a requirement.

  • Knowledge of both qualitative and quantitative research methods, and an ambition to continue to develop these skills.

  • Excellent communication skills and proficiency in English (oral and writen)

  • You have an open and flexible attitude in a multi-disciplinary work environment with diverse counterparts.

  • You are able to work proactively and independently.

  • You are an excellent planner and willing to take on the project management of two ambitious research projects.

Additionally, we would like it if you have:

  • Proficiency in Dutch (oral and written) or a strong commitment to learn.

  • Experience with user-centered evaluation methodologies or digital methods.

  • Experience with supervising junior or doctoral students.

Our offer

  • A dynamic and stimulating work environment with young scientists and experienced senior researchers in an international setting.

  • Opportunity to take a leading role in two ambitious projects with high involvement from societal and industrial actors, and support from an interdisciplinary team.

  • A unique SMIT spirit of enthusiasm, excellence and solidarity;

  • Flexible working conditions with opportunity for personal initiative;

  • Attractive remuneration package.

  • A full-time, renewable VUB contract for 1 year and long-term career perspectives.

About imec-SMIT

SMIT (Studies on Media, Innovation and Technology) is a research center of the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. SMIT is also a core research group of imec, Europe’s leading research institute on nano-technology and digital innovation. SMIT specializes in economic, user and policy research on digital innovation in such domains as media, health, robotics, green and resilient cities, telecommunications and mobility. With over 150 colleagues from many nationalities and educational backgrounds, and an annual turnover of around 7 million EUR realized through more than 60 Flemish and European projects, SMIT is among the top European centres for social science research into digital innovation. It is a trusted partner of top companies and governmental agencies nationally and internationally, known for striving to both scientific excellence and to making a real difference on the ground. Via its knowledge centres on Media Literacy and on Data & Society, SMIT also translates its research findings into actionable guidelines and tools for citizens, governments and companies

Sounds like the job for you?

Apply before 10 Mar 2023 by sending your CV

and motivation to

For questions about this position, please contact Annelien Smets at

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