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Open PhD Positions

A number of PhD research projects have been selected for funding through the last call of the Microsoft PhD Scholarship Programme. For some of these projects, PhD supervisors are seeking suitable students. The research projects listed on this page are currently accepting applications from PhD students.


Designing the Design of the Internet of Things

Primary supervisor: Prof Ashley Hall, Royal College of Art
Microsoft Research supervisor: Richard Banks, Microsoft Research Cambridge
Application deadline: 3 April 2015
Interview date: 15 April 2015
Expected start date: October 2015

Summary: As designers have shifted activity from objects to networks, a raft of new design challenges have arisen in the move from products to experiences via cloud computing. Amongst these are a series of interconnected questions clustered around the concept of the computer file as a unitary object, the point at which designers engage with technology and how designers can understand when they expose users’ data and privacy. In particular, these questions revolve around how designers can appreciate their agency, methods, and impact while developing designs in the context of the Internet of Things. The aim of this research is to design and build a series of interactive experiments that engage with significant design questions in the Internet of Things that identify the variety of creative design methods that could be used to explore the research questions identified above. A practice-based design research approach will be used where theory and practice are stitched together in reciprocal cycles.We offer a full-time, fixed-term post for a period of three years.

Download the full advert for this position (PDF, 186 KB)

Application: To apply for this vacancy, please ensure you meet all eligibility and entrance requirements of the Royal College of Art. Candidates must create an account and apply apply online. Note: when reaching Course Details under Course, you must select on Designing the Design of the Internet of Things.

Posted 10 March 2015

Fitness maximising approaches for evaluating vegetation functioning

Primary supervisor: Prof. Peter Van Bodegom, Environmental Biology, the University of Leiden
Microsoft Research supervisor: Dr. Matthew Smith, Microsoft Research Cambridge
Application deadline: 1 April 2015

Summary: Recent years have seen an increasing effort to quantifying vegetation functioning, in current and future climates. None of the current approaches has, however, addressed the evergreen-deciduous conundrum: predicting the global distribution of different leaf habits based on their strategies and intrinsic trade-offs. Within this project, the PhD candidate will build a prognostic model to understand and predict how evergreen-deciduous strategies affect plant fitness by applying eco-evolutionary principles (i.e., based on the costs and benefits in terms of carbon and energy for having a particular strategy in a given environmental setting). Trade-offs among key traits in plant carbon, nutrient management and hydraulics will be evaluated and tested in a global vegetation model.

We offer a full-time, fixed-term post for a period of one year with an extension of three years after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility. Ultimately, the appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis.

Download the full advert for this position (PDF, 150 KB)

Application: To apply for this vacancy, please send email to Susanna van den Oever at with your curriculum vitae and a letter of motivation.

Posted 4 March 2015

Reasoning About Side Channels in Cryptographic Protocols

Primary supervisor: Boris Köpf, IMDEA Software Institute, Spain
Microsoft Research supervisor: Cédric Fournet
Application deadline:
until the position is filled

Summary: Side-channel attacks break cryptosystems by exploiting signals that are unwittingly emitted by their implementations. Many defense mechanisms rely on the context in which a cryptographic primitive is used; that is, the protocol. In the course of this project, we will devise techniques that enable reasoning about side-channel leakage in cryptographic protocols. The promise of our approach is to achieve high degrees of security and performance at the same time. To this end, we will tackle two open challenges: first, how to do compositional reasoning about leakage and its aggregation; second, how to embed low-level binary analysis into this compositional context.

Application: To apply, please contact Boris Köpf or Cédric Fournet directly.

Posted: 26 March 2014

GeoGraph: Efficient geographically distributed graph infrastructure

Primary supervisor: Prof. Fernando Pedone, University of Lugano, Switzerland
Microsoft Research supervisor: Dr. Flavio Junqueira
Application deadline: until the position is filled

Summary: Many current online services build on graph data structures. Services in this category, which include social networks, collaborative applications, and recommendation systems, share a number of common characteristics. They typically serve a large user base, possibly geographically distributed; the underlying graph structure has particular properties (such as power-law distributions); users can tolerate certain anomalies (for example, non-serializable behavior) but expect some guarantees from the system (such as preserving causal dependencies among requests and availability in the event of failures and disasters); and most requests are either small graph updates (for example, inserting an edge between two vertices) or relatively large queries (for example, computing a user’s timeline in the case of a social network application). The goal of this project is two-fold: first, we aim to propose consistency criteria well adapted to graph-dependent online services. In this sense, consistency must account for the typical operations performed on graphs by online services. Second, we intend to design, implement, and experimentally assess an infrastructure that implements this isolation level (or levels).

Application: To apply, send your CV and a research statement to Fernando Pedone (fernando.pedone at or Flavio Junqueira (fpj at, and arrange for two reference letters to be sent to the same email addresses. We’re happy to provide further information on request.

Posted: 6 March 2014