New PhD opportunities with CREST
CREST is inviting applications for seven fully-funded PhD studentships for understanding, mitigating and countering security threats. The studentships are available for three years, starting October 2016. The successful applicants will join a cohort of students who are part of an interdisciplinary community within CREST.
The PhD topics are described below. Students undertaking PhD-1 to PhD-5 will be registered at Lancaster University; PhD-6 registered at the University of Bath; and PhD-7 at the University of Birmingham. Regardless of the place of registration, all students will enjoy interdisciplinary supervision from researchers at Cranfield University (CU), Lancaster University (LU), and the Universities of Bath (UBath), Birmingham (UoB), Portsmouth (UoP) and West of England (UWE). They will also benefit from unprecedented opportunities for interdisciplinary research training and engagement with stakeholders.
PhD-1 (LU 3.5yr studentship): Gender and Violent Extremism (Supervisors: Sarah Marsden [LU], Kim Knott [LU])
This PhD will explore the following questions with reference to terrorist biographies, primary and secondary literature on extremist political and religious movements, and expert knowledge on offender support roles: (1) What are the gendered roles, mechanisms and practices that support violent extremism, whether tacitly or actively? Can underlying structures, drivers and beliefs be identified, and how and when do they differ for men and women? (2) How does gender interact with ideological, political and organizational features of militant groups and to what effect? (3) How have women’s roles as enablers of terrorist engagement or obstacles to disengagement changed? Case studies will be developed, analysed and compared; there is scope to narrow the project to specific groups, or to women only.
PhD-2 (LU 3.5yr studentship): Decision-making in multi-disciplinary team and/or multi-agency contexts (Supervisors: Nicola Power [LU], Emma Barrett [LU])
Effective multi-agency coordination is essential in order to counter national security threats, such as terrorism or proliferation. This PhD will explore the ability of individuals and sub-teams from different organisational backgrounds and/or disciplines to operate cohesively under pressure in high stakes environments. Specifically, it will seek to: (1) identify and explore barriers to interoperability; (2) examine how these barriers influence decision making; and (3) develop interventions to overcome these barriers and enhance the effectiveness of multi-disciplinary/multi-agency working.
PhD-3 (LU 3.5yr studentship): Sense-making in investigative and/or analytical contexts (Supervisors: Paul Taylor [LU], Pending appointment [LU], Lorraine Hope [UoP])
This PhD will examine how individuals make sense of ambiguous information (both factual and behavioural) in real-world tasks that occur in police, military, or intelligence counter-terrorist operations. The PhD will seek to develop our understanding of how investigators make inferences and decisions from this information by testing relevant hypotheses in scenarios of increasing ecological validity. It will therefore test the extent to which evidence-based techniques, which work well in the lab, allow investigators to take effective action in the contexts that they face. By furthering our understanding of how socio-cognition performs under uncertainty, the PhD will seek to enrich existing theoretical models of sense-making, and develop interventions that support robust assessment and accelerate the acquisition of sense-making expertise.
PhD-4 (LU 3.5yr studentship): Enhancing our Understanding of Digital Traces (David Ellis [LU], Lukasz Piwek [UBath], Paul Taylor [LU])
This PhD will explore how digital footprints from wearable and mobile technologies can be used to infer details about their user. The PhD will (1) explore how data from wearable devices (e.g., movement, location and sleep quality) can predict other psychologically relevant traits (e.g., personality, mood); (2) aim to build a series of computational models that can accurately identify changes in an individual’s everyday behaviour; and (3) consider how, in conjunction with other physiological measures (e.g., heart rate), this data could predict more complex psychological states (e.g., depression). Such understanding could be of value in understanding and mitigating security threats from the leakage of personal data through mobile and wearable technology, as well as in monitoring the well-being of security personnel in stressful and dangerous environments.
PhD-5 (LU 3.5yr studentship): Mixed Messages: Uncovering Social Processing of Multi-Channels in Dyadic Cooperation (Paul Taylor [LU], Aldert Vrij [UoP])
This PhD will consider when and how cooperation occurs in mixed-motive interactions by examining cooperation paradoxes. A cooperation paradox occurs when the prosocial/proself orientation implied by one aspect of a person’s behaviour does not correspond with another aspect of their behaviour. This PhD will seek to understand how people respond to, and resolve, such paradoxes—thereby testing the broader hypothesis that such paradoxes underlie communicative misunderstandings (e.g., in cross-cultural interaction). The PhD may use a range of methodologies but is expected in part to make use of a virtual reality paradigm that allows the study of people’s reactions to ‘immersive’ stimuli and train them for contexts too difficult or dangerous to simulate in real-life. By developing our understanding of cooperation, the PhD is expected to contribute to expertise in interpersonal skills and information elicitation.
PhD-6 (ESRC SWDTC studentship): The Nature of ‘Shadow Security’ and Facilitators of Security Ownership (Adam Joinson [UBath], Debi Ashenden [CU], Stacey Conchie [LU])
This PhD will examine the existence and nature of shadow security—employees’ adoption of alternative security behaviours that are invisible to security professionals—within the security sector. Its focus is to provide a method of helping employees act as a resource for identifying more creative approaches to protective security. Specifically, the PhD will: (1) study what types of ‘shadow security’ employees use; (2) examine whether or not all types of ‘shadow security’ mechanisms are equal; (3) attempt to derive a set of heuristics that describe how ‘shadow security’ mechanisms are constructed by users, and understand any ‘dimensions’ on which these heuristics fail; and, (4) examine how this understanding can be leveraged to improve organisational security.
PhD-7 (UoB studentship): Icons and Symbols in Extremism (Cerwyn Moore [UoB], Donald Holbrook [LU], Elizabeth Morrow [UoB])
This PhD will examine how icons, symbols and motifs function. How do extremist groups and movements deploy symbols, and communicate messages? Why do certain symbols gain traction both locally and regionally? In what ways do icons, symbols and images provide a more nuanced understanding of how extremist narratives function? Specifically, the PhD will: (1) study the ways in which icons, symbols and motifs are used by extremist groups; (2) examine how these fit into a broader aesthetic of extremism, including understanding any ‘emotional’ elements of narrative; (3) attempt to derive a set of heuristics that describe how icons, symbols and motifs are constructed by extremist groups and movements; and, (4) provide a method for identifying, cataloguing and the assessment of icons, symbols and motifs shift over time.
How to Apply
Applicants should be motivated, ambitious, and able to demonstrate an understanding of the PhD area for which they are applying. These studentships are open to UK/EU nationals and will cover tuition fee and an RCUK equivalent maintenance allowance.