In case the spamming — I mean, discreet, surgically targeted advertising — through the other channels miraculously hasn’t reached you yet, you should know about an open PhD student position in my research group. The official ad is online. In this post I’d like to give a more informal description and clarify a few aspects that may not be obvious to every prospective candidate.

There are a total of 4 openings in the Software Technology division that are currently open; you will often see them advertised together. One of the PhD student positions is under my direct supervision, and it’s the one I describe here.

There are only loose constraints on the research topic for the to-be-hired PhD student. Obviously I expect it to be something around the areas I’m interested in, so software engineering and formal methods. But there’s plenty of room within these general denominations for a variety of concrete topics that span from theoretical to practical. To get an idea, have a look at the description of my past research. If anything there tickles you’re fancy then… great! We have a match. If nothing does… great! It’s a chance to start working on something new and exciting. Seriously, that page describes my past research; it doesn’t predict the future. Of course I still expect a match in the general area of interest. If you want to do research in, say, ornithology you may want to look elsewhere (or not, if you find a good connection to my research interests :-).

I refrain from giving a list of the ideal candidates. You can find plenty of good recommendations, and I subscribe to pretty much all of them. The fact is, there’s no such thing as the ideal skills set for PhD students. Rather, different great students often have incomparable skills: some are better at analytic reasoning, some are outstanding programmers, others excel at communicating; regardless of what they’re less good at, they’ll make up for it by cultivating new skills and honing existing ones to perfection. So perhaps the only universally required qualities are meta-qualities (potentialities): the ability to learn and adapt skills, including meta-skills, and a passion for pawing through new problems “like some starving raccoon!

A few organizational points. A PhD in Sweden normally takes 5 years, including 20% of the time spent on teaching assistantship. As a PhD student you are an employee not just a student; and you get a salary not a stipend, which is a pretty decent way of making a living. If you’re concerned about not speaking Swedish, don’t be: what they say about everybody in Sweden speaking good English is not a myth.

So should you apply? Yes, everybody with a genuine interest should!