CoCoDev offers a fully-funded PhD research position in the framework of our ANR grant MACoMiC (Mastering the Art of Conversation in Middle Childhood) (See description of the project on the ANR website). The detailed research proposal is available upon request.

The broad goal of the PhD researcher is to lead the development of deep learning models of child-parent multimodal communication, across several cultures, using data from Zoom-mediated calls as well as face-to-face conversations recorded using portable eye-tracking systems.

We are interested in studying the development of various conversational skills including turn-taking dynamics, mechanisms of building shared understanding (i.e., communicative grounding), multimodal synchronization, and discourse coherence/contingency. We are also interested in the application of this research both to help design more effective clinical interventions (for children with communicative difficulties) and to build child-oriented conversational AI. The selected candidate can focus on one or several of these dimensions, defining a research program together with the main advisor.

Scientific context

The PhD researcher will work mainly with Abdellah Fourtassi and will be encouraged to collaborate with other members of our highly interdisciplinary and supportive team made of senior and early career researchers in computer science (with expertise in conversational AI), developmental psychology, and neuro-linguistics (CoCoDev members). They will also be part of the PhD program of the Institute of Language Communication and the Brain (to which CoCoDev belongs) (ILCB), including scientific activities with other PhD researchers in the institute (e.g., annual retreats, summer schools, seminars, and workshops). Additionally, the PhD researcher will enjoy interacting with CoCoDev’s international community of collaborators, especially researchers involved in this project from the University of Aarhus, the University of Radboud, and the University of Amsterdam.

Geographical context

The PhD researcher will be primarily located in the computer science lab (LIS) at Luminy campus of Aix-Marseille University (20 min by bus from downtown Marseille) right next to the Calanque National Park. There is also workspace in other campuses both in Marseille center and in Aix.


  • A PhD takes 3 years to complete in France but requires a master’s degree. Bachelor graduates without a master’s degree are not eligible.

  • The ideal candidate for this position should have a strong background/training in computer science and experience with deep-learning modeling.

  • Interest in cognitive and communicative development (though no prior experience is required).

  • Mastery of English (French is not required)

Monthly Salary

Around € 1,500 after taxes (Note that this salary is standardized across all public universities in France). The salary is perfectly compatible with the costs of living in Marseille (e.g., rent prices are 50% lower in Marseille than in Paris) (More info).

Key dates

Open until filled:

Please send (as soon as possible for full consideration):
1) a CV
2) A recent transcript (a university document with courses taken and grades)
2) Contact info of one reference
3) (Optional) Evidence of prior experience with deep-learning modeling (a publication, dissertation, code on GitHub, etc.)

September/October 2022: Starting date


All kinds of inquiries (scientific project, the university, life in Marseille, etc), as well as the application (CV, etc.), should be addressed to Abdellah Fourtassi (