PhD student on the topic of computational modelling of lexical innovation W/M

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Update on 08/03/2024
  • Subsidiary :  Computation, Cognition & Language

  • Contract type:  Fixed-Term contract

  • Work time:  Full time

  • Location Martigny


Idiap is an independent, not-for-profit, research institute accredited and funded by the Swiss Federal Government, the State of Valais, and the City of Martigny.

Idiap offers competitive salaries and working conditions at all levels in a dynamic, multicultural environment. Idiap is an equal opportunity employer. We specifically encourage women and minorities to apply.


Idiap is located in the town of Martigny in Valais, Switzerland, offering exceptional quality of life, exciting recreational activities, including hiking, climbing and skiing, as well as varied cultural activities. It is within close proximity to Lausanne and Geneva. Although Idiap is located in the French part of Switzerland, English is the official working language.


For frequently asked questions (FAQs) about living in Switzerland, please go to


Job description

The Computation, Cognition and Language group at Idiap in Martigny (Switzerland) invites applications for a 4-year PhD position that aims to investigate how new terms emerge and how they spread in different contexts, thereby comparing Western societies with hunter-gatherer societies. 



The position will be part of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Evolving Language, a Swiss consortium with the ambitious goal of creating a new discipline, Evolutionary Language Science, that targets the past and future of language. The consortium consists of leading scientists from traditionally separated academic domains, which allows us to harvest the diverse expertise from the humanities, social sciences, computational sciences, natural sciences and medicine towards a broadscale interdisciplinary collaboration. Within this framework we offer a position in an interdisciplinary team of computational linguists and evolutionary anthropologists from the Idiap research institute and the University of Zurich (UZH). The candidate can be registered at the UZH or the EPFL pending admission to a doctoral school.

The expected start date is between 1 June and 1 Sep 2024. 

For more information, please contact Applications are to be made at

Sought profile

You should hold, or expect to obtain before the start of your appointment, a Master’s degree (or equivalent) with a background in computational linguistics, evolutionary anthropology, computer science, communication systems, mathematics, and/or related fields. The ideal candidate combines an interest and expertise both in computational linguistics and evolutionary biology, but because this is a very rare profile, we are also strongly encouraging applications from candidates with expertise in one and interest in the other field. Either way, you should have a strong interest in pursuing fundamental research on language evolution. You are proficient in spoken and written English. Proficiency in or willingness to learn additional languages is a plus.

The candidate will be located at Idiap, in the Computation, Cognition, and Language Group under the supervision of  Prof. Lonneke van der Plas (natural language processing) at Idiap. They will be co-supervised by Prof. Andrea Migliano (evolutionary anthropology at UZH), and Prof. Lena Jäger (computational linguistics at UZH). (Virtual) participation in lab meetings both at Idiap and UZH is expected. Furthermore, some fieldwork in Congo or Australia is to be expected.

We take gender balance and diversity seriously in our hiring decisions.


Required languages

  • English English - Level advanced

Réf: 1b87a70f-111c-498c-8b46-c85baa3d2344

This position has been filled.

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