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Interspecies Information Systems Design (Advert Reference: RDF22/EE/CIS/VANDERLINDEN)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr Dirk Van der Linden  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Technology for animals is a major market, from companion animals (e.g., pet cats and dogs), working animals (e.g., guide dogs), farm animals (e.g., cows, chickens), and even wildlife (e.g., elephants, birds). This more than human design has seen significant rise in research into the design and use of such technologies across disciplines such as Requirements Engineering (RE), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Anthrozoology.

Far less attention has been given to the interspecies information systems (IIS) (van der Linden, 2021) that emerge with the use of these technologies, what the scope and context of such information systems is, and how they concretely impact human behaviour and policy towards non-human animals. More research is needed to understand how we can design and manage these information systems from the start in order to have concrete positive impacts on human-animal relationships.

This studentship sits squarely within NorSC and not only aligns with, but challenges and extends Northumbria’s strategy for (more than) human digital design; with NORTH Lab providing the glue between NorSC lab’s computer science expertise and needed interdisciplinary insights from psychology and critical design. It will expand NorSC’s capacity to conduct leading ACI research (currently consisting of Dr. van der Linden, Prof. Lawson, and Kliman-Silver) and provide a strong voice towards steering the more than human design discussions across different disciplines.

You will further become a part of the international Technology for Animals Lab (, gaining access to collaborators with expertise in anthrozoology, data analytics, animal behaviour & veterinary sciences, and state-of-the-art IT and AI systems.

Your project would ideally focus on dealing with a concrete challenge within interspecies information systems design, e.g., one (or more) of the following IIS challenges to do with their design and use:

  1. Understanding animal data that is generated by new technologies. a.    For example, but not limited to: what data is necessary and sufficient to inform about a given set of animal physiology? How can animal data reveal information about the humans they interact with?
  2. Transforming animal data into suggested interspecies interventions. a.    For example, but not limited to: how can we motivate users to perform such interventions for long-term benefit? How can we determine the necessary interventions to achieve a given impact?
  3.  Understanding the impact of interspecies interventions. a.    For example, but not limited to: how can we anticipate what actors interspecies interventions will be beneficial for? Can IIS be designed to allow non-human actors to intervene in human behaviour?

Your proposal should include clear definition of the intended focus (i.e., what challenge are you focused on, and in what context such as companion animals, farming, and so on), the research methods you propose to employ to tackle this challenge, and envisioned results in terms of both research output and the real-world impact you want to achieve through this research.

The Principal Supervisor for this project is Dr. Dirk van der Linden.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see 

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for international and part-time applicants.


• Dirk van der Linden. Interspecies information systems. Requirements Eng (2021).
• Dirk van der Linden, Anna Zamansky: Agile with Animals: Towards a Development Method. In: Just-In-Time Requirements Engineering (JITRE), 2017 IEEE Workshop on, Lisbon, Portugal, 2017.
• Anna Zamansky, Dirk van der Linden and Sofya Baskin: Pushing Boundaries of RE: Requirement Elicitation for Non-Human Users. In: Proc. of the 25th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (IEEE RE), RE@Next! track, Lisboa, Portugal, 2017.
For a full overview of work done on the topic please see my Northumbria research profile ( and the website of our Technology for Animals lab (
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