2 x PhD Studentships – Shape-Changing Security Interfaces for IoT based at Security Lancaster


Interview Date: To be confirmed

Two fully-funded 3.5 year PhD studentships are available within Lancaster University’s institution-wide research centre, Security Lancaster, which is one of the UK’s Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research. The successful candidate will join a major programme of work on security of cyber-physical systems in general and Internet of Things in particular. We play a key role in a number of major initiatives in this area, for instance, leading a project as part of the UK Research Institute on Trustworthy Industrial Control Systems and co-leading the security and safety stream within the EPSRC Hub on Cyber Security of Internet of Things.

The proposed PhDs are in collaboration with the Interactive Systems Lab within the School of Computing and Communications. The Lab focusses on innovations in Human-Computer Interaction and is internationally recognised for its novel shape-changing display research that transforms visual displays into surfaces with physically-reconfigurable geometry.

The vision of an Internet of Everything is expected to deliver transformational benefits. Industry estimates project 25–50bn connected devices by the year 2020. Yet such figures hide major complexities with regards to usability of current security configuration mechanisms for such devices and the cognitive load of understanding information flow both within and between IoT devices. The PhD students will pursue an ambitious programme of research on developing novel Shape-Changing Interfaces that employ physically-dynamic shapes, surface geometries, and visual output to convey information and support direct manipulation via touch and physical deformation. These interfaces will radically transform the landscape for security interfaces for IoT by exploiting users’ rich visual and tactile senses and humans’ inherent ability to understand, process and interpret physical 3D artefacts. Users will be empowered to intuitively manage security and information flows in complex IoT settings without cumbersome GUIs and dialog boxes.

As these PhD opportunities crosscut Cyber Security and Human-Computer Interaction, potential candidates may come from a variety of backgrounds, including Computer Science, Security, Computer Systems Engineering, Mechatronics, or Electrical Engineering. It is not expected that candidates will already possess the complete skillset required to conduct this research, but they must demonstrate a willingness to learn. Desirable experience includes some background in security or human-computer interaction, hardware (both electronic and mechanical) and software prototyping skills, or empirical user evaluation.

The successful candidates will join a thriving inter-disciplinary community of 100 researchers in Security Lancaster. The Centre and the School of Computing and Communications offer a highly inclusive and stimulating environment for research career development. There is a strong expectation that the students will actively contribute to the strong profile of the Centre and School through participation in the development and publication of research results.

Both studentships cover fees at the Home/EU rate. Studentship 1, funded by HM Government, will focus on the application area of IoT in industrial environments. It offers a stipend of £22K per annum. The successful candidate will need to be eligible for and willing to apply for DV clearance. Studentship 2 will focus on the application area of IoT in home environments. It offers a stipend of £14,296 per annum. Comprehensive lab facilities are available for developing and evaluating the novel shape-changing interfaces.

The studentships are available from the 1st of October 2017 for a period of 3.5 years. An earlier start may also be possible. The studentships will be jointly supervised by Professor Awais Rashid (a.rashid@lancaster.ac.uk) and Dr. Jason Alexander (j.alexander@lancaster.ac.uk). Informal enquiries can be addressed to either supervisor.

Prospective candidates will have a Bachelor’s (First Class with Honours) or Master’s degree (with Distinction). Candidates should email a CV and a cover letter highlighting their research interests and suitability for this studentship to Prof. Rashid (a.rashid@lancaster.ac.uk) by 28 February 2017.