Postdoctoral Researcher, The Microbial Bioeconomy Transition: Reconfiguring the Food, Energy, and Land Use Sectorsl, Faculty of Humanities, History, Culture and Communication Studies:

The University of Oulu is one of the biggest and most multidisciplinary universities in Finland. We create new knowledge and innovations that help to solve global challenges. We offer you an international and inspiring working environment where you are given responsibility and can use your skills, develop yourself and do work that matters. Our flexible and family-friendly workplace makes it easy for you to balance work and leisure. The University of Oulu is ranked in the top 3% of the world´s universities.

We are looking to hire a highly motivated Postdoctoral Researcher to join the University of Oulu’s Faculty of Humanities, Unit of History, Culture and Communications. The researcher will work with Dr. Anna Krzywoszynska (University of Oulu) and Dr Erika Szymanski (Colorado State University) on the new FARIA-funded project “MicroBio. The Microbial Bioeconomy Transition: Reconfiguring the Food, Energy, and Land Use Sectors”.

MicroBio is a pilot project into the transition to a microbes-based bioeconomy. Taking a social science perspective, the project investigates how microbial knowledges and practices impact existing food networks, knowledge-cultures, and land use and management practices in agricultural and natural resource management in Finland and the USA. The project also builds a stakeholder and academic network for further research on the microbial bioeconomy transition.

You will support Dr Krzywoszynska (PI) and Dr Szymanski (Co-I), who are experienced social science researchers of human-microbe relations, in the delivery of this pilot project. The position offers a unique opportunity to conduct original research and publish in a dynamically growing research area, to create new academic networks, and to acquire experience of grant-writing. The work will involve a research visit to Colorado, and networking with leading members of the renowned Food Systems Institute at Colorado State University.

This project benefits from an affiliation to the Biodiverse Anthropocenes programme. Biodiverse Anthropocenes is a Research Programme of the University of Oulu supported by the Academy of Finland PROFI6 funding (2021-2026).

This innovative and transdisciplinary research initiative brings together scholars from across the social and natural sciences to collaboratively investigate the biodiversity loss currently threatening multi-species well-being and planetary sustainability, and to generate future-oriented solutions both in the Arctic and around the planet.

The postdoctoral researcher will be invited to join as a member of Biodiverse Anthropocenes and take part in the programme’s exciting calendar of interdisciplinary activities and events.They will also join the growing research lab investigating human-microbe and human-soil relations, led by Dr Krzywoszynska.

Located on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia in Northern Finland with over 13,000 students and over 3,000 employees, the University of Oulu is one of the Nordic countries’ largest universities and a global leader in studies of Arctic environments and peoples. The research unit of History, Culture and Communications, where this post is based, combines cutting-edge expertise of cultural anthropology, archaeology, history, information studies, and the history of science and ideas.

About the job:

You will work with Dr. Anna Krzywoszynska and Dr Erika Szymanski to deliver the MicroBio project. Finland plans to double the contribution of the bioeconomy to the national economy by 2035, and microbes are central to achieving this ambition. Microbes can provide new food products via ‘cellular agriculture’, replace mined and fossil fuel-based agricultural inputs, and sequester atmospheric carbon.

As ‘working with microbes’ becomes part of agriculture and natural resource management, it is urgent to understand how microbial knowledges and practices will impact existing food networks, knowledge-cultures, and land use and management practices. MicroBio project will produce initial data on these issues, and create a Nordic-US network for further research into the microbial bioeconomy.

The research element of the project will:

  • 1 Map out the emerging stakeholder communities within the microbial bioeconomy in Finland, in the Nordics, and in the US;
  • 2 Assess how these stakeholders seek to employ microbial capacities within the bioeconomy, how their objectives are influenced by regulatory and socio-economic contexts, and what the consequences of the microbial innovations are to other sectors;
  • 3 Show emerging areas of convergence and/or conflict between stakeholder and societal groups.

In parallel, MicroBio will organise stakeholder and academic workshops. We will identify areas of expertise across social and natural sciences in the US and in Finland. We will create a new network of excellence and write a consortium project proposal to further research into the microbial economy transition.

As a postdoctoral researcher in the MicroBio project, you will support Dr Krzywoszynska and Dr Szymanski in delivering the project. Primary duties attached to the position will include:

  • Carrying out collaborative social scientific research on the microbial bioeconomy, including but not limited to: desk-based research, grey literature analysis, stakeholder mapping, interviewing, qualitative data analysis, and writing academic publications;
  • Organising and facilitating stakeholder and academic workshops in Finland and the USA (with support from PI and Co-I);
  • Engaging in writing and submitting applications for further research funding;
  • Participating in outreach initiatives that engage both academic and non-academic publics;
  • Contributing to or leading the writing of policy briefs;
  • Taking part in teaching activities, subject to your own teaching/research capabilities and interests, and to faculty needs;
  • Carrying out other administrative support functions.

What we offer:

  • Supportive and transparent research environment in which your work is valued and your contribution is recognized;
  • You will be supported to lead-author academic papers, and you will have funding to attend and present at key academic conferences;
  • A world-class research environment in a multinational, high ranking research group working to solve globally significant scientific and environmental challenges;
  • A lively community of committed scholars in an innovative and internationally focused programme keen on generating new research ideas;
  • Wellness benefit (ePassi) covering sport, culture and well-being.
  • Development and career options of the big organization;
  • Work that matters and a workplace that promotes both flexibility and work-life balance; Read more about working with us.

Who are you?

In order to succeed and enjoy the position, we expect from you:

  • An applicable Doctoral degree in a relevant field (anthropology, geography, social studies of science, environmental humanities, or a related field in human sciences) that has been awarded not more than ten years ago;
  • An interest in (and ideally experience with) issues related to human-microbe relations, including in the fields of food production, agriculture, forestry, natural resource management, or within scientific and other knowledge communities;
  • An experience in qualitative social scientific research, especially if evidenced by peer-reviewed publications;
  • Excellent written and interpersonal communication skills in English (the working language of the MicroBio project is English).

We also appreciate:

  • A transdisciplinary research orientation, with work anchored in approaches from across the social, natural sciences and/or humanities;
  • Capacity to collaborate in research and research dissemination activities;
  • Proficiency in Finnish or a Scandinavian language is an advantage, but not a requirement.

Salary: The position is fixed-term for 18 months beginning on 1.5.2023 or as soon as possible thereafter and ending on 31.10.2024.

The salary will be competitive and based on the levels 5-6 of the demand level chart for teaching and research staff of Finnish universities. In addition, a salary component based on personal work performance will be paid (maximum of 50 % of the job-specific component). In practice, this means the starting gross salary will be approximately between EUR 3500-4000 per month (before taxes). A trial period of 6 months is applied to the position.

How to apply?

Interested? If yes, please apply by 18th March 2023 at 23:59 (EET) through our recruitment system. The application should be written in English and include the following:

A cover letter (max. 2 pages) summarizing your professional experience and expertise, describing how your previous experience has equipped you to work in this position, explaining why you are interested in this position, and detailing your personal research interests and career plans.

Contact information of two to three senior/experienced researchers senior/experienced researchers who may be asked to give a personal statement about you (note that these will only be requested if you are shortlisted for this position). Only applications containing all relevant appendices and submitted through the online recruitment system will be considered. The top candidates will be invited to an on-site or remote interview. All applicants will be notified at the various stages of the selection process, including once it has been completed.

We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, such as people of different ages, genders, and lingual, cultural or minority groups. Contact Information; If you have any further questions, please contact Dr Anna Krzywoszynska


Last application date: 18.Mar.2023

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