Research Assistant

Job Req ID:  1339
Employee Category:  Research
Department:  ASD Pillar

Singapore University of Technology and Design’s Meta Design Lab (MDL) working closely with the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities (LKYCIC) is calling for a Postdoctoral Fellow for an novel urban analytics project, which will be collaborating with Singapore’s National Parks Board (NParks).



Project Description


This project aims to investigate the relationship between macro-urban configurations and its effect on the wellness of residents, focusing specifically in recreation spaces like parks. It hypothesises that much of a resident’s exercise and positive health aspects of a city are a product of how people use an interact with urban spaces. However, the relationship between spatial configuration and activity has not been empirically correlated specially not by observation and data at scale. This research aims to take a significantly more analytical and spatially focused approach, considering and ideally correlating how an urban area effects users’ activity and decisions. Expanding the domain of urban population health research, and related methodological approaches.


To do this it will explore and integrate three concurrent areas of study:

  1. An AI driven image and network tracking to capture activity on site data and apply analytics and data visualisation to understand and interpret this.

  2. An in-depth ethnographic study of recreational activity and health

  3. Research to understand recreation space design its influence and how to improve it to get better parks and recreation spaces specifically in a Singapore context.


The position advertised here focuses on supporting the first section of this and is intended to be develop a data driven approach to urban recreation analysis, by providing insight into how people use space by using ethical and anonymised image tracking of users of public spaces developing or and/or using ML models to improve aggregate user monitoring and identification of activity and location. This will be correlated with spatial configuration of the spaces, origin-destination modelling, and available route choice analysis (spatial network) provided though other tracking methods. Then using this empirical data as the input source to do analytics for human insight and potentially exploring machine learning to predict space use, computing resultant health metrics, leading to automated appraisal of the wellness of the space.


It is hoped that this work if proven successful may be scaled to wider analysis of recreation areas where possible to develop data for use in deriving more insight into user activity in tandem with the ethnographic study as data triangulation. Combing both these sources to allow for better informed developing of policy and design guidelines to improve future park and recreation space design, potentially building more user focused ML tools for urban planners specifically NParks and other agencies.


The research is highly disciplinary but anchored in Big-Data, Design, Urban Planning, and Applied A.I. and lead by, Belinda Yuen (LKYCIC), Sam Joyce (SUTD), Yuen Chau (NTU), and Falk Müller-Riemenschneider (NUS) each covering aspects of planning for wellness, applied computational design, A.I., and clinical analysis of recreation spaces respectively.


Researcher Description


We are keen to take on someone who is enthusiastic about conceiving, implementing and testing technologies such as AI, ML, and computer vision to spatial problems, specifically urban analytics and design. The project is intended an investigation into the capability of ML to apply to measuring wellness and design effectiveness in the real world. It would suit someone who is more exploratory and curious about applying novel approaches. The job aims to give a motivated self-starter the research freedom and space to explore new concepts, supported and guided within a group of domain experts with strong academic and industrial backgrounds. The SUTD environment is that of a start-up university and so well suited to those with initiative both professionally and socially.


The hire will be directly report to Sam Joyce and act as part of the Meta Design Lab how have experience in spatially applied analytics, AI, ML, and image recognition aspects. They will also work closely with LKYCIC in terms of understanding wellness and health aspects and data needs for the user capture and monitoring. This project has support to capture data from government agencies and for potential wider implementation based on findings. The project may also collaborate with an industry leading company to leverage their image recognition technology-pipeline to support our activities as well as supporting potentially translational efforts if the technology is successful.



Domain Background (one of)

  • Computer Science, ML/AI, Data-Scientist, Computer Graphics, Computer Vision, Architecture or Urban Planning  



  • Relevant bachelors or ideally above in one of the above fields.
  • More senior applications with PhD’s are also welcome.
  • Alternatively, someone from the Engineering, Architectural or Geography background with experience in the above domain areas specifically AI/ML.


Desired Skills 

  • Experience in applied AI and a desire to try new ML and analytics on real problems
  • Ability to work individually, as well as collaborate in small teams
  • A project lead and outcome driven programming approach
  • Open to working in an interdisciplinary way
  • Interest in architecture, urban planning and design in general
  • Happy to explain and involve non-domain experts in ML and AI


Required Proficiency

  • Python
  • Data science and Analytics
  • Experience processing and cleaning data
  • Capability in coding TensorFlow, PyTorch or similar ML frameworks
  • Capability with AWS or similar server/could based systems


Desired Proficiency

  • Analytics and processing of images and/or video
  • Image Recognition
  • Observable Data Visualisation
  • Web development frontend and/or backend.
  • D3.js  and/or Node.js experience
  • 3D modelling
  • WebGL/three.js
  • Rhino/Grasshopper/Dynamo
  • Unity/Unreal Engine


Job Details

Initial one or two-year contract, with potential to extend based on fit and performance

  • Salary is competitive
  • The role is based primarily in SUTD Singapore
  • Partial remote work is acceptable based on demonstrated performance
  • Workstation/laptop and other hardware and software for the role will all be provided



  • Health Insurance
  • Time for publication
  • Funding for international conferences
  • Flexible hours



  • Letter of interest
  • C.V.
  • Recent publication (if any) or work portfolio (if relevant)
  • Links to current online work / GitHub (if relevant)


Application Process

  • Applications will be made on a first come basis until the position is filled
  • Based on suitably of applications they will be asked for an interview
  • The position open can start from now onwards.



For any research or position enquiries and questions please direct to