Postdoctoral researcher in philosophy (NanoBubbles)

Updated: 25 days ago
Deadline: 30 Aug 2021

The department of philosophy of the University of Twente (UT) seeks to appoint a Postdoctoral researcher in philosophy (3 years) to join the ERC funded NanoBubbles project. In this exciting new role you will primarily undertake philosophical analysis and annotation of scientific texts and articles.

The NanoBubbles Project

NanoBubbles has been awarded ERC Synergy funding of € 8.3 million over 5 years, and began on 1 June 2021: https://nanobubbles.hypotheses.org

Science relies on the correction of errors to advance, yet in practice scientists find it difficult to erase erroneous and exaggerated claims from the scientific record. Recent discussion of a "replication crisis" has impaired trust in science both among scientists and non-scientists; yet we know little about how non-replicable or even fraudulent claims can be removed. This project combines approaches from the natural, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities to understand how error correction in science works and what obstacles it faces. We will also stage events for scientists to reflect on error and overpromising.

The project's focus is nanobiology, a highly interdisciplinary field founded in circa 2000 that has already seen multiple episodes of overpromising and promotion of erroneous claims. We examine three such alleged "bubbles": the claim that nanoparticles can cross the blood-brain barrier; that nanoparticles can penetrate the cell membrane; and the promotion of the "protein corona" concept to describe ordinary adsorption of proteins on nanoparticles. Through the study and practice of nanobiology, we will analyse how, when and why science fails to correct itself, and explore ways to improve the reliability and efficiency of the scientific process.

The position

You will be based at the UT in Enschede, and you will need to live, or to move, to the Twente region or to within a short commute. Within the UT structure, your supervisor will be Prof.dr. C. Aydin, however, your work in NanoBubbles will be supervised by Dr Yasemin J. Erden (philosophy of science and technology, UT) and Prof. Raphaël Lévy (physicist with expertise in nanobiology, University Sorbonne Paris Nord, France).

You will work closely with another postdoctoral researcher from bionano, within the same supervisory team, and alongside a number of postdoc researchers from different fields examining overlapping and related topics. The successful applicant will therefore be engaged not only with their own work, but with complementary lines of investigation in the project.

In this position, working closely with the postdoc in bionano, your main tasks will be to:

  • Explicate a common vocabulary;
  • Build bibliographical corpuses;
  • Analyse and annotate scientific literature.

In synergy with other postdocs you will also contribute to:

  • Work towards mapping, tracing, organising of core scientific content using digital methods stemming from the fields of scientometrics and natural language processing;
  • Analysing the effects of interventions that seek to correct the scientific record.

The role includes plenty of opportunities for personal and career development. This includes giving conference talks and presentations, publishing co-written reports and articles, including deliverables, and participating in the academic life of the UT. You'll join a vibrant research and teaching culture in the philosophy section, and will be encouraged to engage with colleagues across the university working in related fields. Applications that demonstrate commitment to these targets will be especially welcome.


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