Open Position: Postdoctoral Researcher on Social Study of Microbes

University of Helsinki is looking to hire a POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHER ON SOCIAL STUDY OF MICROBES for a three-year fixed term period from 3 September 2018 onwards (or as agreed).


The postdoctoral researcher will be positioned in Sociology at University of Helsinki in a Finnish Academy funded research group studying Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in West Africa. The group is part of an interdisciplinary consortium of clinical researchers, microbiologists and sociologists studying the spread of AMR genes in the region that has extensive gaps in data regarding AMR. AMR has increased rapidly, especially in low income countries which lack controlled antibiotic policy, and have poor infrastructures enabling the flow of AMR genes between the environment, animals and humans. The study joins environmental, microbiological, sociological, and medical expertise to explore the evolving and transfer of AMR genes between water, soil, animals, food, and humans (“One Health approach”).

Available position

The sociological group wishes to recruit an enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher who is interested in developing social scientific research on microbes. The position will be in an exciting new group that is exploring the emerging field where microbes are given increasing attention through the study of microbiota, gut wellbeing, microbes’ role for mental health, etc. The postdoctoral position gives the right candidate an opportunity to explore microbes in the context of development: how are infrastructures, understandings of bacteria, social practices, antimicrobial resistance, and ecologies connected?

The ideal candidate will have a good understanding of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, and global health, and ideally have past experience of ethnographic work in relevant sub-fields such as, but not limited to, social study of international collaboration, emerging technologies in low income countries, pharmaceuticals, non-human subjects, or indeed, microbes.

The position entails ethnographic fieldwork in West Africa (in Burkina Faso, Mali and/or Benin) that is expected to last between six months to a year and to study people’s understandings of microbes, how antibiotics are used, and how people ‘live with microbes’ in these contexts. During the third year, the project will develop participatory videos (PV) through a participatory research process with the help of a PV team that the candidate can be part of making.


The appointee must hold a doctoral degree in a relevant field of social sciences (sociology, science and technology studies, anthropology, development studies, gender studies, geography etc). Period following the completion of doctoral degree must not exceed five years, excluding family leave and equivalent periods of absence.

Moreover, the candidate is expected to have the ability to conduct independent ethnographic research. The candidate is expected to develop her/his own research on the topic and contribute to the joint research agenda.

Please see the full job description here

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