New PhD studentships available – deadline 7th June 2013

A limited number of studentships are available for exceptional candidates in particular areas (approximately £13,600 per annum bursary plus the payment of the standard UK/EU student fees). Applicants from outside the UK or EU are eligible, but will have to pay half of the overseas fees out of their bursary. Information about the current tuition fees can be found here.

Research in Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire has been recognised as excellent by the latest Research Assessment Exercise, with 55% of the research submitted being rated as world leading or internationally excellent. The Science and Technology Research Institute provides a very stimulating environment, offering a large number of specialised and interdisciplinary seminars as well as general training or researcher development opportunities. The University of Hertfordshire is situated in Hatfield, just north of London.

Application forms should be returned to Mrs Lorraine Nicholls, Research Student Administrator, STRI, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, Herts, AL10 9AB, Tel: 01707 286083, l.nicholls @ Applications should also include two references and transcripts of previous academic degrees. We accept applications for self-funded places throughout the year. The short-listing process for studentship applications will begin on 7 June 2013.

These two topics are available under my supervision:

Topic 1: Application of motor control models in upper limb performance assessment and development of adaptive interfaces

Fitts (1954) presented a model for human psychomotor behaviour for rapid aimed movements. The model provides an index of performance that could be used for analysing performance when aiming at targets. This model has been studied by different groups including MacKenzie (1992) who applied the model to human-computer interfaces. This PhD is aimed at incorporating Fitts model and MacKenzie’s method to assess human performance and compare between healthy individuals and those with impairments caused by some conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.

Furthermore, it will focus on not only assessing and predicting, but also developing adaptive models that can make the interface easier to use for different user groups.

Topic 2: Correlating muscle activity with performing therapeutic games using robots

An exciting area of research in this area relates to progressing robot-mediated therapy using information that can be obtained from EMG electrodes placed on upper limb muscles. This research continues the work of Mrs Radhika Chemuturi conducted with the GENTLE/A system. Radhika investigated the adaptive control for human-robot interaction using kinematic information provided by the robot. PhD research offered by this topic intends to utilise body worn sensors and electrodes alongside kinematics to provide a better estimation of human intention when performing upper limb activities. To support this, PhD candidates would need to develop multiple haptic games while also focusing on incorporating sensory information into game performance.

Technological Platform Used:

Both topics will utilise state of the art haptic devices such as PHANToM Omni, Falcon and HapticMASTER robot for the experimentations on motor control theories.


Applicants should have a very strong first degree or (preferably) a Master’s degree in Cybernetics, Computer Science, Biomechanics or other relevant area, and are expected to have strong interdisciplinary interests (e.g. in robotics, rehabilitation, neuroscience). They are also expected to have very good programming skills and interest in robotics.

The PhD will be conducted under my supervision and candidates are invited to informally contact