Postdoc Opening

University of Toronto, Bernhardt-Walther Lab and Semantic Technology Lab

A Post-doctoral position in computational modeling of vision and knowledge acquisition is available with Dirk Bernhardt-Walther (Psychology) and Michael Grüninger (Mechanical and Industrial Engineering) at the University of Toronto. We seek a colleague who shares our interest in explaining how structured knowledge about the world arises through visual perception. The project combines formal logic in ontologies with perceptual grouping of visual elements in complex, real-world scenes. Optionally, the project may involve measuring brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The ideal candidate has a strong computational and mathematical background, experience with state-of-the-art computer vision techniques and/or a strong background in computational neuroscience. The ability to communicate with a diverse team of researchers from engineering and psychology is an essential prerequisite.

Current state-of-the-art computational models of visual processing are trained to extract visual features of increasing complexity in a hierarchy of layers, choosing a label from a pretrained set of categories at the apex of the hierarchy. Such systems lack an important aspect of the human visual system – a notion of meaning of visual content. The project aims to develop a new model of visual perception, which integrates the generation of networks of meaning into all levels of the visual processing hierarchy, thus allowing structured visual knowledge to arise naturally from visual perception. Specifically, this will involve the generation of a large database of images of real-world scenes with detailed ontological annotations, development of data structures and algorithms for extracting such ontological structures automatically from images, and testing the viability of our new meaning-based model of vision for explaining aspects of human vision.

The University of Toronto, typically ranked as one of the world’s top 20 research universities, is located in downtown Toronto. The city is one of the most livable and cosmopolitan cities in the world, and has a vibrant academic and information technology community. This full-time position includes benefits and is fully funded for two years, with an initial appointment of one year. There is also the possibility of extending the position beyond the first two funded years by applying for outside fellowships. The earliest start date is September 3rd, 2019.

Applicants should submit a CV, brief research statement, relevant publications, and contact details for two academic references to the addresses below. Please contact us at either address below for more information.

Contact Details:
Dirk Bernhardt-Walther:,
Michael Grüninger:,