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Postdoc Just Editing

Main purpose of the job:Just Editing is an NWO MVI funded project that aims to develop and apply a comparative responsible innovation approach to novel techniques of genome editing to examine the conditions (if ...

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Bornsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 32 uur


Main purpose of the job:
Just Editing is an NWO MVI funded project that aims to develop and apply a comparative responsible innovation approach to novel techniques of genome editing to examine the conditions (if any) under which the technique can and should be applied to animal breeding applications. Using the anticipate-include-reflect-respond (AIRR) RI framework beta scientists, social scientists, ethicists and breeding companies work together to understand, anticipate, reflect and respond to ethical and societal concerns.

Just Editing employs two postdocs, one with a focus on social science, the other with a focus on ethics. The main purpose of this postdoctoral position is to lead the social science contribution to the project. The postdoc will be based at the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation group at Wageningen but will spend time with all partner groups and organisations.

Main duties and responsibilities:
To be responsible for the delivery of tasks, workpackages and deliverables as outlined in the project proposal:

  1. To plan, co-ordinate and lead on the successful delivery of the research project within the allocated time frame and within the allocated budget.
  2. To analyse the benefits, challenges, risks and uncertainties of genome editing, the driving visions and expectations of the technology in scientific and corporate programmes, and how these compare across animal breeding and human health applications (Workpackage 1). Within this objective:
a. To conduct a desk review of the science and governance of genome editing.
b. To interview beta scientists to examine how responsibility is practiced in human and animal genome editing research.
c. To undertake ethnographic research with our sister Building Blocks of Life (BBoL) project "MICROGUT", aimed at unravelling the functional dynamics between the human gut microbiome and intestinal inflammatory responses.
d. To interview beta scientists and to co-organise a multi-stakeholder workshop on the challenges of safety, regulation and governance of genome editing.
  1. To conduct a public dialogue on animal genome editing and contribute to ethical reflection (Workpackage 2). Within this objective:
a. To design and facilitate 6 in-depth focus groups with members of the Dutch public, following the design principles of 'upstream' public engagement adapted both to the Dutch context and to the particular domain of animal genome editing.
b. To analyse and interpret the public focus groups utilizing a narrative social science approach and, working closely with the ethics postdoc, and with the wider project team, to develop an integrative analysis.
  1. To integrate social and ethical dimensions into scientific and corporate research practices and decision-making processes with the aim of formulating building blocks for the development of reflexive corporate and scientific cultures (Workpackage 3). Within this objective:
a. To review techniques aimed at building societal reflexivity into scientific practice at the laboratory level;
b. To implement the reflexive method through a series of activities - including participant observation, group interviews and interactive workshops - designed to help animal scientists reflect upon the social and ethical dimensions of their research in both academic and corporate research practices.
  1. To disseminate complex and conceptual ideas arising from the project to stakeholders and peers using high level skills and a range of media and to present the results of the research to academic and policy audiences through the writing of peer-reviewed journal articles and at conferences when opportunities arise.


Competency Essential Desirable Attainments/Qualifications
To have a record of scholarly output in one or more fields of: science and technology studies (STS), sociology, development studies, anthropology, innovation studies, human geography, political science, interdisciplinary studies or equivalent
PhD or equivalent in a related field of study and relevant postdoctoral experience. Skills and Understanding
Possess sufficient specialist knowledge concerning the governance and wider dimensions of science and innovation, evidenced through a track record of research output in peer-reviewed publications.

To have skills in qualitative research.
Understanding of debates in the science, governance and ethics of genomics.
Skills in focus group research.
Skills in ethnographic research.
Skills in ethical analysis. Prior Experience
Have experience of working across disciplines relevant to the wider dimensions of science and innovation. Success in obtaining grant funding.

Behavioural Characteristics
Excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Experience of communicating complex concepts in a way that is easily understood by stakeholders and the wider public.

Ability to work effectively with project partners and stakeholders and engage in active research with them.

Ability to build relationships for future activities.

Ability to balance the pressures of research and tight deadlines.


We offer you an employment contract for 0.8 FTE (30.4 hours a week) for 24 months. You will be employed at Wageningen University and Research. You will start with a one year contract. After a positive evaluation the contract will be extended with the remainder period. The maximum gross salary is € 3,427.00 per month (based on fulltime employment), (scale 11.0 Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities with an annual step to 11.1 in the second year). (Starting in scale 10 can be applicable for candidates in the last stage of obtaining their PhD degree). In addition, we offer a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary.

Additional information

Practical information:
The starting date of this position is 1 May 2018. Interviews are provisionally scheduled for 12 March 2018.
Informal inquiries:
Before submitting an application you may wish to discuss the post further by contacting Phil Macnaghten on philip.macnaghten@wur.nl for academic inquiries, or by contacting Vera Mentzel on vera.mentzel@wur.nl/ 0317 483537 for administrative inquiries.

The deadline for applications is 4 March 2018 at 23.59 hours (CET). Please do not email your application, but use the website to upload your application.

How to apply:
  1. A letter of application detailing why you are applying for the job and how the project will benefit from your participation.
  2. A full cv.
  3. A two page document setting out how you see the challenges of embedding animal genome editing in society, the conditions under which frameworks of responsible innovation may or may not be of use, and how you would contextualise these challenges using your own theoretical and methodological interests. You may use the papers below as source material.
Macnaghten, P., Owen, R., Stilgoe, J., Wynne, B., Azevedo, A., de Campos, A., Chilvers, J., Dagnino, R., di Giulio, G., Frow, E., Garvey, B., Groves, C., Hartley, S., Knobel, M., Kobayashi, E., Lehtonnen, M., Lezaun, J., Mello, L., Monteiro, M., Pamplona, J., Rigolin, C., Rondani, B., Staykova, M., Taddei, R., Till, C., Tyfield, D., Wilford, S. and Velho, L. 2014. 'Responsible innovation across borders: tensions, paradoxes and possibilities', Journal of Responsible Innovation, 1: 191-199. (Available at bit.ly/1pe8eny ; open access)
Stilgoe, J., Owen, R. and Macnaghten, P. 2013. 'Developing a framework of responsible innovation', Research Policy, 42: 1568-1580 (Available at dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2013.05.008 ; open access)


About the project team
The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Wageningen University and Research and Utrecht University. The coordinator of the project, Professor Phil Macnaghten, is employed as Professor of Technology and International Development in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation (KTI) group at Wageningen University. He has expertise in the governance of science and technology, in anticipatory research methodologies and in the development of frameworks of responsible (research and) innovation. Leading the ethics activities is Dr Franck Meijboom, Associate Professor in the Ethics Institute at Utrecht University, who has expertise in ethics of animal use, veterinary ethics, agricultural and food ethics, and the role of public trust and debate in these domains. The Wageningen team further includes Dr Han Mulder, Associate Professor at the Animal Breeding and Genomics group, who specialises on animal genetics and who has strong relationships with the breeding companies involved with this project, and Dr Hans Bouwmeester, an expert in nanotoxicology and in vitro models, who is leading our sister Building Blocks of Life (BBoL) project "MICROGUT", aimed at unravelling the functional dynamics between the human gut microbiome and intestinal inflammatory responses. Advising the project is Prof Cees Leeuwis (KTI), who advises on in the development of effective socio-technical innovations, Dr. Sietze Vellema (KTI), who advises on the analysis of technology development and industry cultures, and Prof Bart Gremmen (Philosophy), who will advise on ethics in the life sciences in livestock contexts.

About the university groups
The project is a collaboration between chair groups at Wageningen University and the Ethics Institute at Utrecht University. At Wageningen, the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation (KTI) chair group studies processes of socio-technical innovation and transformation, specialising in interdisciplinary research and design; the Animal Breeding & Genomics group is a centre of excellence for animal breeding and genomics activities. At Utrecht University, the Ethics Institute focuses particularly on ethical questions relating to animal welfare and human health, devoted to the study of practical, moral issues in their societal, social and political context. The project is also linked to the Centre for Sustainable Animal Stewardship, a collaborative venture between Utrecht and Wageningen universities.

About the industry partners
The project has industry partners in the Agri & Food top sector. Coordinated by the Breed4Food, a private-public partnership consortium established by Wageningen University & Research Centre, the project has four international animal breeding company partners: CRV (cattle); Hendrix Genetics (turkeys, layers, pigs, aquaculture and traditional poultry); Topigs Norsvin (pigs) and Cobb Europe (broilers). Breed4Food has the ambition to be the world-leading centre for research and innovation in livestock genetics.

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