PhD Students

Eriksholm Research Centre’s team of multi-talented professionals is dedicated to identifying and demonstrating new opportunities within audiology, signal processing and behavioural science. PhD students contribute greatly to our overall scientific advancement. Meet some of them here.

Meet our current PhD students


Bethany Plain

Section Ear & Hearing, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery and APH Research Institute, VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Hello, my name is Bethany.

I am currently a PhD student at the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and neck surgery, Ear & Hearing section at VU Medical Center in Amsterdam.

My background consists of an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Bristol. Following this I completed a Master's degree in Clinical Science (Neurosensory Science) at the University of Manchester, specialising in Audiology. I am a UK state registered Clinical Scientist in Audiology and have 4 years of NHS audiology experience prior to starting this PhD.

In my spare time I enjoy playing the saxophone!

The PhD is part of the HEAR-ECO projects. The main goal of the projects is to measure listening effort and motivation in ecologically valid conditions. My focus is the psychophysiological measure cardiac pre-ejection period (PEP: a measure of sympathetic nervous system activity). I'm investigating whether PEP can be utilised as an outcome measure relating to effort mobilisation in people with hearing loss.

This project involves collaboration between VUmc, Oticon A/S, Eriksholm Research Centre, University of Nottingham, and Liverpool John Moores University. Funding is provided by the MSCA-ITN European industrial doctorates.

My project is supervised by Sophia Kramer at VUmc in collaboration with Dr Richter at Liverpool John Moores University.


Patrycja Książek

Section Ear & Hearing, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery and APH Research Institute, VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Hey, my name is Patrycja Ksiazek, and I’m one of six PhD students in the HEAR-ECO project.

My background is in engineering, mostly within acoustics and computer sciences with BEng in Automatic Control and Computer Sciences obtained from the Silesian Technical University in Poland and MSc Eng in Engineering Acoustics obtained from Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

During the past year, I’ve been employed by Eriksholm Research Centre to support the pupillometry research. My research interest is in enhancing health care and cognition with use of engineering solutions and advanced analytics.

In HEAR-ECO, I will focus on developing an ambulatory, ecologically valid method of evaluating listening effort based on the pupil responses. Thus, my contribution to the HEAR-ECO project will be to further explore the possibilities of applying pupillometry in more realistic scenarios as well as to develop an expertise in the various analysis methods for pupillometry.

The project will be supervised by Prof. Sophia E. Kramer and Dr. Adriana A. Zekveld from VUmc Amsterdam as well as Prof. Thomas Lunner and Dr. Dorothea Wendt from Eriksholm Research Centre. During my PhD, I will be affiliated with Section Ear & Hearing, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery and APH Research Institute, VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

HEAR-ECO is an EU Marie Curie European Industrial Doctorate project funded by the European Union, where several partners are involved: Eriksholm Research Centre (Part of Oticon) as the industry partner, VU University Medical Centre Amsterdam and University of Nottingham Glasgow as academic partners as well as Liverpool John Moores University as supporting partner of the project. Thus, contribution of all partners can be reflected in the outcomes of my PhD.

On a personal note, I like growing plants and spices. Even though it’s not always successful, a taste of fresh herbs in a delicious dinner is definitely worth trying!


Klaudia Edinger Andersson

Research Unit for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Odense University Hospital - Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark

Hi, my name is Klaudia Edinger Andersson.

I’m a PhD student at University of Southern Denmark.

My background is in Audiology (Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science, University of Southern Denmark). My master thesis focused on real-world hearing aid outcome assessment by applying retrospective questionnaire and smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment combined with acoustic data-loggings from hearing aids.

My PhD project will be a continuation of my master thesis topic which will focus on hearing-health behaviour and real-world hearing-aid outcome in children and adults. The project will be supervised by Dr Tobias Neher from University of Southern Denmark and Dr Jeppe Høy Christensen from Eriksholm Research Centre.

The main purpose of the project will be to investigate how challenging listening situations affect hearing health of individuals with hearing impairment and how do they benefit from the hearing aids in their daily lives. In this project we will apply same methods as used in my master project, that is, smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment combined with acoustic data-loggings from hearing aids. Additionally, we will collect real-world physiological data such as heart rate and heart rate variability from wearables that aim to reflect mental fatigue in challenging listening situations. The real-world data that combine subjective assessments of listening experiences, acoustic data about ambient sound environments and physiological measurements will contribute to a more detailed and better understanding of the auditory ecology of hearing-impaired individuals and the daily-life benefit they obtain from different HA fittings.

In my spare time, I like to travel, hike and in general, I enjoy being in the nature. Also, I like spending time watching sci-fi movies and tv-shows. 


Tiberiu-Ioan Szatmari

Section for Cognitive Systems, DTU Compute, Technical University of Denmark

Hi, my name is Ioan!                                                         

I previously studied Computer Engineering at Aalborg University, and afterwards continued with a Master's degree in Computer Science at the Technical University of Denmark, specializing in Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Currently, I am an Industrial PhD student in Augmented Hearing at the Eriksholm Research Centre, in collaboration with the Section for Cognitive Systems at DTU Compute.                        

My master thesis focused on private machine learning techniques in healthcare. I proposed a method which combines federated learning and secret sharing to train deep learning models locally on users' smartphones while preserving their privacy, such that no sensitive data is shared. Then, I applied the findings to implement a reinforcement learning-based recommender system and used the results to publish a short conference paper in ACM UMAP 2020.

The PhD project continues my master thesis topic and focuses on contextual user personalization by means of privacy-preserving machine learning. The aim is to develop new data-driven, deep learning methods for understanding individual differences in hearing preferences. The goal is to provide solutions capable of personalizing and adapting hearing instruments to dynamic sound environments throughout the day, which current devices are unable to do.

Outside of the project, I enjoy flying and winter sports. I am now training to become a private pilot, which is helped by previous experience on gliders, and looking forward to picking up snowboarding skills.


Peter Leer Bysted

Industrial Ph.D student, Aalborg University, Denmark

My name is Peter.

I’m an industrial Ph.D student here at Eriksholm Research Centre.

My first introduction to hearing research was during my bachelor studies, where I did my final thesis about the application of higher order spectral analysis in measuring nonlinearities present in otoacoustic emissions.

For my master thesis I developed a novel method for creating artificial data of EEG, using a spherical representation of the brain, allowing machine learning models to perform better on data from subjects it had never seen before.

At Eriksholm I’m working on new ways to compensate for hearing loss using neural networks, using models highly conditioned on the physical properties of the peripheral hearing system. The project is supervised by Lars Bramsløw and Jesper Jensen from Eriksholm/Oticon and Zheng-Hua Tan and Jan Østergaard from the Centre for Acoustic Signal Processing Research at  Aalborg University.

In my free time I enjoy grappling, art and philosophy.


Alina Schulte

Auditory Sciences PhD student, Technical University of Denmark


My name is Alina. I am a PhD student of the Comm4CHILD consortium, which aims at improving communication for hearing-impaired children. Within this framework, my project investigates how sound information, presented as a vibrotactile stimulus to the skin, can enhance speech understanding in cochlear implant users. I will use neuroimaging techniques to identify neural activity patterns associated with audio-tactile integration as it leads to enhanced listening performance. Neural correlates of this effect could serve as an objective measure of successful audio-tactile integration and may contribute to the development of effective therapy that integrates tactile stimulation in hearing rehabilitation.

Comm4CHILD is a project under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement and funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. My primary supervisors are Hamish Innes-Brown, senior researcher, here, at Eriksholm Research Center and Jeremy Marozeau, associate professor at DTU. Another collaborator within the training network is the Hannover Medical School, where I am enrolled in the PhD program “Auditory Sciences” and supervised by Prof. Andrej Kral. Finally, Søren Kamaric Riis, senior director of Oticon Medical, is involved as a supervisor in my project.

I have a background in Cognitive Science and Neurocognitive Psychology. For my master’s thesis at the University of Oldenburg, I investigated functional resting-state connectivity with respect to multisensory integration in age-related hearing loss. Encouragingly, the findings of this study got published as my first paper i.

In my spare time, I like to do yoga, modern dance or listen to live music. Also, I am a big fan of long hiking trips in the nature.


Rebecca Borum Rusborg

PhD student in EEG, Technical University of Denmark

Hi there, my name is Rebecca!

I have taken my master's degree in biomedical engineering from the Technical University of Denmark, DTU. During my studies I have focused on signal processing and machine learning methods in multiple physiological signals, but with primary focus on brain signals. During my PhD, I will use physiological signals, including in-ear EEG, for characterization and modelling of mental states, which should be implemented for automatic settings adjustment in hearing aids. The project, called “The effect of mental state fluctuation on engaged listening (MENSA HA)”, runs for 3 years and is supervised by Lorenz Fiedler from Eriksholm, Carina Graversen from Aalborg University, Helge B. D. Sørensen from DTU, and Poul Jennum from Rishospitalet Glostrup.

During my project, I can combine the theoretical knowledge within signal processing and brain signals, but also help to improve the quality of life of people with hearing aids, which is what I especially love about my project. The investigation of mental states characteristics, will be helpful for future improvement and automation of hearing aids, and hence for the subjects with hearing impairments. 

In my spare time, I love hanging out with friends and families, just talking and "hygge" or playing games.


Johanna Wilroth

PhD student in ELLIIT, Linköping University

Hey, my name is Johanna!

I am a PhD student working on the ELLIIT project “Brain-Based Monitoring of Sound”, which is a collaboration between Linköping University, Lund University, Oticon A/S and Eriksholm Research Centre. My supervisors are Emina Alickovic at Eriksholm, Martin Enqvist at LiU and Martin Skoglund at LiU and Oticon.

My position is in Linköping, at the department of Automatic Control, where I will develop accurate models of the system from sound stimuli to locations of brain sources using EEG measurements. The focus of the project will be on complex listening environments (i.e. the cocktail party problem) where me and Oskar Keding, a PhD student at Lund University, will provide a better understanding for how the sound is processed at different stages in the brain for both normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners, opening up for future advanced hearing aid solutions.

The first time I heard about the cocktail party problem was in the spring of 2020 when I was working on my master’s thesis “Domain Adaptation for Attention Steering” together with Lund University and Eriksholm – Oticon A/S. My thesis investigated the possibility of using the machine learning approach “domain adaptation” on EEG data from subjects listening to two different voices, one in each ear. The subjects were tasked to pay attention to one of the voices while ignoring the other, which is a classification problem with attention vs unattention as variables.

The field of working with EEG to better understand the brain and with this knowledge improve today’s hearing aids really caught my attention and so far, everything about this PhD-position feels great and I am eager to learn more and develop as a researcher!

In the world outside of the Academica, a huge interest of mine is strength training, powerlifting and bodybuilding. I have also played football for many years and almost all ball sports lay close to my heart.


Oskar Keding

PhD student in ELLIIT, Lund University

Hi, my name is Oskar!

I have previously studied Engineering Physics at Lund University in Lund, Sweden. During my master I gravitated towards computational neuroscience, touching upon a few different subjects.
Now I am a PhD student at Mathematical Statistics, Centre for Mathematical Sciences at Lund University.

The position is part of an ELLIIT funded research project, a collaboration between Lund University, Linköping University and Oticon A/S, named Brain-Based Monitoring of Sound.
The focus of the project is making progress within modelling and signal processing for sound source separation, by investigating EEG responses to multi-speaker sound. The project entails work towards solving auditory challenges in a "cocktail-party" scenario, were single speakers must be attended in an environment with multiple, similarly loud, speakers. My primary focus is time-frequency methods and development of these for applications within EEG analysis and auditory cogntive neuroscience. Developing noise-robust methods retaining a high spectral and temporal resolution for feature extraction is vital for a realistic application within EEG.

My supervisors are Maria Sansten and Rachele Anderson in Lund as well as Emina Alickovic and Martin Skoglund at Erikholm Research Centre.

On my free time I enjoy cooking and sports (most sports really). Recently I have picked up disc golf which I thoroughly enjoy!

Meet some of our former PhD students:


Sergio Luiz Aguirre

MRC/CSO Institute of Hearing Research – Scottish Section, University of Nottingham, UK

Hi, my name is Sergio.

I studied Acoustical Engineering in Santa Maria, Brazil. In my Master's studies, I specialised in the assessment of sound localisation using an implementation of virtual sound sources.

Now I am a PhD student at the Institute of Hearing Research, Scottish Section, at the University of Nottingham. I am part of the H2020 EC Marie-Curie ITN project 'Innovative Hearing Aid Research – Ecological Conditions and Outcome Measures' (HEAR-ECO), a collaboration between Eriksholm Research Centre, VUmc Amsterdam, and the University of Nottingham.

HEAR-ECO will assess how task demands, motivation, and invested effort modulate speech understanding and hearing-aid benefit in daily life. The team of six PhDs students will work together to creatively combine three established measures of listening effort and to develop innovative conditions for testing hearing aids. The main objective for my part of this project is to work and develop realistic communication scenarios and estimate the effort benefit of hearing aids using physiological measures to evaluate novel hearing-aid technologies.

My primary supervisors are Dr William Whitmer in Glasgow and Prof. Thomas Lunner here at Eriksholm.

A fun fact about me: Before my engineering studies, I was a professional radio DJ, and my favourite sport is running.


Defne Alfandari

MRC/CSO Institute of Hearing Research – Scottish Section, University of Nottingham, UK

Hi, my name is Defne Alfandari Menase.

I am an Early Stage Researcher within the H2020 EC Marie-Curie ITN project 'Innovative Hearing Aid Research – Ecological Conditions and Outcome Measures' (HEAR-ECO), and a PhD student at the University of Nottingham, Medical Research Council Institute of Hearing Research – Scottish Section.

My background is in Psychology (Bachelor of Science, University of Groningen) and in Cognitive Neuropsychology (Master of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).

In the HEAR-ECO project, I will assess the influence of motivation and fatigue on the pupillometry measures of listening effort. Motivation and fatigue will be manipulated by varying stimulus complexity, reward, and feedback in communication settings. I will also examine the interaction between the effects of motivation, fatigue, and hearing aid settings on listening effort. This will be measured using pupillometry and possibly by EEG indices.

My main supervisor in this project is Dr. Graham Naylor. I will also collaborate with Dr. Michael Richter from the Liverpool John Moores University.


Hidde Pielage

Section Ear & Hearing, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery and APH Research Institute, VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Hi, I am Hidde!

I studied Psychology at the University of Amsterdam, and now I hold the Brain and Cognition specialization Master’s degree. Currently I am a PhD student in the HEAR-ECO project at the VUmc and Eriksholm Research Centre.

My master thesis was about visual illusions and consciousness. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging and machine learning, I tried to find where in the visual cortex subjective experience is represented, rather than the ‘raw’ visual signal.

Currently I am working on the HEAR-ECO project, which focuses on creating hearing tests that are representative of real-life situations. Existing hearing tests use lab environments which provide unnatural situations. This means that the tests are not representative of hearing aid functionality or listening in real-life situations. Together with five other PhD students I will try to create a test that captures more life-like situations so that hearing-aid technology can be tested using ecologically valid standards.

Specifically, I will be looking at the role of social influences during listening. Is there, for example, a change in listening effort - or maybe even speech intelligibility - when a social component is introduced?  

HEAR-ECO is a collaboration between VUmc (the Netherlands), Oticon A/S (Denmark) and the University of Nottingham (United Kingdom). The project is primarily funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme.

Outside of my career I love to sail and play the bass guitar when I have the time for it. Seeing the beautiful surroundings of Eriksholm, I hope I will be able to pick up sailing some more as well as spending time hiking or cycling through Denmark.


Tirdad Seifi Ala

MRC/CSO Institute of Hearing Research – Scottish Section, University of Nottingham, UK


My name is Tirdad, and I am one of the six PhD students of the HEAR-ECO project.

The title of my project is "EEG to assess listening effort", and my main focus will be on conducting experiments and analyzing ear (and scalp) EEG. The project is supervised by Carina Graversen and Thomas Lunner at the Eriksholm Research Centre and William Whitmer at the University of Nottingham.

A little about myself: I am from Iran, Tehran. I studied biomedical engineering both as a bachelor and master student. I studied at Sahand University of Technology in Iran before going to Amirkabir University of Tehran to do my master studies. My master thesis was about auditory stimulation of the brain, namely binaural beats and how it can alter the brain signals, evaluated by EEG recordings.

I am a huge NBA (basketball) fan, but also watch and play a lot of football. Having said that, I am up for any sports!


Barbara Ohlenforst

Ear and Hearing section of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

My name is Barbara, and I was a PhD student at the Ear and Hearing section of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, which is part of the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research at the VU University medical centre in Amsterdam.

I hold a Master’s degree in clinical audiology and I have an engineering education in the field of Hearing Technology and Audiology. Furthermore, I have an extensive experience as a clinical audiologist developed over several years of work.

Recently, I achieved a M.Sc. in Engineering Acoustics at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). My studies at DTU included a research project with the focus on the relationship between working memory, compressor speed and background noise characteristics. The project was carried out at the Northwestern University in Chicago (USA).

I was enrolled in a EU Marie Curie European Industrial Doctorate project based on the collaboration between VUmc Amsterdam and OTICON-Eriksholm Research Centre in Denmark. The project was called "LISTening Effort in the European Population: a New innovative program of research and training" or LISTEN607373.

LISTEN607373 intended to investigate which current and new hearing aid technologies can successfully decrease listening effort required during speech perception. Several aspects of the pupil response in relation to hearing loss and hearing aid technologies will be assessed together with OTICON A/S, a leading hearing aid manufacturer. This project will be advised by Prof. Sophia Kramer and Dr. Adriana Zekveld from the Audiology department at VUmc Amsterdam and by Dr. Graham Naylor and Adj. Prof. Thomas Lunner from OTICON-Eriksholm

Yang Wang 

Ear and Hearing section of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

My name is Yang Wang, I am from Beijing China, and I am currently working as an Early Stage Researcher (ESR) under Marie Curie Initial Training Networks (ITN) program, and I was also a PhD candidate at the Section Audiology, Dept. of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and EMGO Institute.

I have a background in Electronical Engineering as I finished my undergraduate study from Beijing University of Post & Telecommunication. Then I finished my research Master's degree at University College London majoring in Speech, Language and Cognition.

From April 2014 until April 2017 I was conducting the following research:

"LISTening Effort in the European Population: a New innovative programme of research and training". An European Industrial Doctorate project collaboration between VUmc and OTICON-Eriksholm Research Center. This project was funded by EU, with project number: LISTEN 607373.

The major purpose of our study is to examine which current and new hearing aid technologies can successfully decrease listening effort required during speech perception. Specifically, the following questions are going to be answered in the end of our project:

  • What are the effects of hearing loss on speech intelligibility, the Peak Pupil Dilation response (PPD) and Pupil Light Reflex (PLR)? 
  • What is the relation between the PPD, PLR and (long-term) stress, fatigue, need for recovery from stress, and activities in daily life as assesed by questionnaires
  • What is the influence of different hearing aid technologies on speech perception and the PPD during listening?
  • What is the relation between verbal inference making, working memory, speech perception and the PPD and PLR?

As a group project in collaboration with Barbara Ohlenforst, we plan to divide some of the task mentioned above and I'm going to focus on research relevant to PLR


Benjamin Johansen

Cognitive Systems Section at DTU Compute, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark

Hey, I’m Benjamin and hold a MSc. Eng. degree in Design & Innovation from the Technical University of Denmark. I’m currently a PhD student at Cognitive Systems section at DTU Compute. 

During my masters I specialized in User Experience (UX) in health care, cognitive interfaces and Human-Machine Interaction.

In the PhD I’m investigating how hearing care can be personalized using various techniques. These include using wearables, hearing aids and smart phones to investigate the context of a hearing aid user. The project furthermore investigates novel interfaces to hearing aids. This combined with qualitative input and clinical experiment aims to investigate how hearing aids can be better personalized. The outcomes of this project is to investigate which parameters, wether it being related to context, physical environment, or user intents, to improve the user (and sound) experience in hearing aids.

This project is a collaboration between DTU Compute, Copenhagen Center for Health Technology (CACHET), Eriksholm Research Centre, and Oticon A/

S. The project is also sponsored by the Oticon Foundation. The collaboration in reflected by the supervisors, Jakob Eg Larsen (DTU Compute), Michael Kai Petersen (Eriksholm & DTU Compute), Niels Henrik Pontoppidan (Eriksholm) and Per Sandholm (Oticon).

A more detailed description of the project can be found here


Antoine Favre-Felix

Hearing Systems section of the Department of Electrical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark

My name is Antoine, and I am a PhD Student at the Hearing Systems section of the department of Electrical Engineering at the Danish Technical University (DTU).

I hold a Master’s degree in general engineering, with a specialization in signal processing from the École Centrale de Nantes in France.

I am part of a Horizon 2020 European project: COCOHA (COgnitive COntrol of a Hearing Aid). COCOHA’s goal is to help steer a hearing aid using brain signals (EEG).

The PhD project, titled “Controlling a Hearing aid by electrically assessed eye-gaze”, specifically focuses on trying to steer a hearing aid using one’s eye-gaze, retrieved thanks to in-ear electrodes that measure electrical signals originating from the eyes (EOG). One of the main obstacles to overcome to obtain an exact eye-gaze using the EOG is the issue of a baseline drift, present in all bio-electrical signals. This eye angle relative to the head will then be combined with a head-tracking system to have an absolute angle of attention. A typical application would be in helping to solve the cocktail party problem: amplifying the voice that comes from the direction the user is looking. The source separation issue is avoided by assuming the sources are obtained using remote microphones.

The project is supervised by Torsten Dau at DTU, and by Thomas Lunner and Carina Graversen at Eriksholm Research Centre


Niclas Alexander Janssen

Hearing Systems section of the Department of Electrical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark

Hi, I'm Niclas and before I started my PhD studies at the Hearing Systems Group of Denmark's Technical University, I studied Engineering Physics in Oldenburg, Germany. In my Master studies, I specialized towards biomedical Physics and Acoustics.

My PhD project is concerned with the hearing of patients who use both a cochlear implant and a contralateral hearing aid, so-called bimodal users. Specifically I investigate the question whether they can fuse the sounds from both ears into a central percept. This is also related to the abilities to localize sounds and concentrate on one sound source in difficult listening situations. The differences in the working principles and therefore sounds from hearing aids and cochlear implants might make this rather difficult for bimodal users.
I hope to understand what is necessary for them to fuse sounds and find ways to improve the devices, so that it becomes easier for them.

This project is a collaboration between Oticon, Eriksholm and DTU, reflected by the three supervisors: Dr. Søren Kamaric Riis from Oticon, Dr. Lars Bramsløw from Eriksholm and Adj. Prof. Dr. Jeremy Marozeu from DTU.

A more detailed description of the project can be found here