PhD scholarship in Characterizing the Effects of Compression and Reverberation on Spatial Hearing

Monday 20 Jun 22

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Are you interested in combining engineering and audiology to help create better healthcare for individuals with hearing impairment? The Hearing Systems Section at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), together with the Ear, Nose, and Throat and Audiology Department at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, seeks a qualified candidate for a 3-year PhD position. The project focuses on the investigation of the effects of compression and reverberation on spatial hearing in bilateral cochlear implant (CI) and bimodal listeners. Clinical guidelines for fitting compression to optimize spatial hearing remain limited, especially for bimodal fittings. Given the severity of compression in CIs, as well as the susceptibility CI users have to distortions in interaural level differences and to reverberation, CI recipients stand to gain tremendously from more optimized fittings that lead to better spatial hearing outcomes. However, the fact that each hearing aid and CI manufacturer implements compression schemes differently, and that clinically available fitting parameters alter these schemes and the resulting spatial cues in different ways, clinicians are left with little guidance on how to fit their patients binaurally. Therefore, clinicians need better evidence-based, manufacturer-independent strategies for decision-making in the binaural fitting process. The primary aim of this project is to investigate spatial perception in bilateral CI and bimodal listeners, and how their devices affect it, by systematically studying the impact of clinically available fitting parameters related to compression on the encoding of spatial cues in various reverberant conditions. The end goal is to develop more detailed best practice guidelines for optimizing spatial hearing in the clinic for bilateral CI and bimodal listeners.

As a PhD student you will be joining a cross-disciplinary research team in the Copenhagen Hearing and Balance Centre (CHBC), which is a center at Rigshospitalet dedicated to combining daily treatment of hearing and balance with world-class research via collaborations with the medico-technical world and the Hearing Systems Section at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). At DTU, you will also be linked with the Hearing Systems section of DTU Health Tech and part of an internationally leading research environment covering a range of hearing-related topics, including auditory signal processing and perception, computational auditory modelling, audiology, acoustics, and hearing aid and cochlear implant signal processing. CHBC and DTU Hearing Systems house outstanding facilities for hearing research in this direction, including a 64-channel loudspeaker array in an anechoic chamber at DTU and a 41-channel loudspeaker array embedded into an acoustically shielded clinical room at CHBC, as well as fully equipped psychoacoustic and communication labs at both DTU and CHBC that help provide synergies between the research and clinical domains.

Responsibilities and tasks
You will work with psychoacoustics, signal processing, and audiology in this project, with a strong focus on spatial perception and hearing aid and cochlear implant technology. You will conduct a theoretical investigation of the spatial cues provided through hearing aid and cochlear implant signal pathways (e.g., with physical measures of the output signals or through auditory models) and then look at how spatial cues are best preserved in clinical devices by investigating the effect of specific clinically available tuning parameters. You will evaluate whether, and to what extent, clinical devices can be optimized to preserve spatial cues for the individual patient, which will consist of conducting listener studies with individuals with hearing impairment at Rigshospitalet. This includes interfacing with clinicians to define relevant clinical protocols, coordinating patient recruitment, administering both novel and traditional diagnostic tests, analysing the results, and communicating the outcomes scientifically. Based on the combination of the theoretical and clinical investigations, you will develop best practices for optimizing bilateral CI and bimodal fittings for spatial hearing.

Qualifications
Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points), or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree, within the area of technical audiology, acoustical engineering, or a related field of study within hearing and healthcare. The candidate should be very well-versed in acoustics, hearing, and/or audiology and have practical experience with designing experiments and conducting research. The ideal candidate should be well-versed in Matlab, as well as familiarization with clinical fitting tools and procedures, or otherwise have a willingness and determination to learn. The candidate should be curious about hearing healthcare and be passionate about bridging engineering and audiology. Experience within loudspeaker arrays, psychoacoustic testing, or clinical research is a plus. The candidate should enjoy working in a cross-disciplinary research field, be able to work independently, and communicate research in English. An ability to communicate in Danish is advantageous, but not a requirement.


Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see DTU's rules for the PhD education.

Assessment
The assessment of the applicants will be made by Assistant Professor Abigail Anne Kressner, Professor Torsten Dau, and Clinical Professor Per Cayé-Thomasen.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation, and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

The workplace is CHBC at Rigshospitalet and DTU’s Lyngby Campus.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Abigail Anne Kressner, aakress@dtu.dk.  

You can read more about Copenhagen Hearing and Balance Centre at CHBC and about DTU Health Technology at www.healthtech.dtu.dk/english.

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark. Furthermore, you have the option of joining our monthly free seminar “PhD relocation to Denmark and startup “Zoom” seminar” for all questions regarding the practical matters of moving to Denmark and working as a PhD at DTU.

Application procedure
Please submit your online application no later than the 15 August 2022 (Danish time)Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma (in English) including official description of grading scale

You may apply prior to ob­tai­ning your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Health Tech engages in research, education, and innovation base on technical and natural science for the healthcare sector. The Healthcare sector is a globally expanding market with demands for the most advanced technological solutions. DTU Health Tech creates the foundation for companies to develop new and innovative services and products which benefit people and create value for society. DTU Health Techs expertise spans from imaging and biosensor techniques, across digital health and biological modelling, to biopharma technologies. The department has a scientific staff of about 210 persons, 140 PhD students and a technical/administrative support staff of about 160 persons, of which a large majority contributes to our research infrastructure and related commercial activities.

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