Ruralia Institute is seeking for two doctoral students

5.2.2019
Two grant-funded PhD positions: Societal and environmental consequences of post-animal bioeconomy

The University of Helsinki is among the leading multidisciplinary research universities in the world. In addition to its 11 faculties, the University includes several independent institutes, some of which are jointly operated with other universities. More than 30,000 students are currently pursuing a degree at the University of Helsinki. The Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry is an expert in the responsible use of renewable natural resources both in Finland and worldwide. The Faculty focuses on the agricultural and forest sciences, food and nutrition, microbiology, as well as on economics and management.

The Ruralia Institute of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry at the University of Helsinki offers high-quality research and innovation partnerships for rural development. The focus areas of the Institute are local development, sustainable food chains and new bioeconomy. The Institute performs extensive international, national and regional cooperation with about 50 experts (www.helsinki.fi/ruralia).

We are seeking for

TWO DOCTORAL STUDENTS

for a four (1+3) year fixed-term scholarship aiming at doctoral dissertation. We seek highly qualified and motivated individuals with an enthusiastic attitude towards high-quality interdisciplinary research. We look for pioneer spirit and eagerness for setting the stage for the research field of post-animal bioeconomy.

Project description

The grant-funded researchers will join a project funded by the Kone Foundation: "Cultured meat in post-animal bioeconomy – changing relationships between humans and farmed animals” led by Senior Researcher Toni Ryynänen and Associate Professor Hanna Tuomisto.

The project explores critically the possibilities and challenges of post-animal bioeconomy and cellular agriculture (i.e. producing agricultural products by using cell-culturing technologies) by anticipating prospective futures and conditions for their realisation. Starting point of the project is a vision for the post-animal bioeconomy: novel food technologies, such as production of cell-cultured meat and plant-based meat substitutes, will give rise to a new food system. The working hypothesis is that conversion from the traditional food chains to new food systems will result in tensions, unexpected challenges and novel possibilities that ultimately change the relationships between humans and farmed animals.

The project will address novel post-animal bioeconomy from the perspectives of 1) societal meanings and the changing relationships between humans and farmed animals, and 2) technological and environmental impacts of replacing livestock production with novel food systems and how these development courses transform the roles of farmed animals.

Position 1: Grant-funded PhD-researcher in Societal Meanings and Impacts of Post-Animal Bioeconomy

The objective of the doctoral work is to study the characteristics and boundary conditions of post-animal bioeconomy from the social science perspective. The research task is to explore what kind of meanings individuals, groups and food system organisations associate with farmed animals in this changing landscape. Societal challenges and possibilities are examined through literature analyses, interviews and scenarios, which aim at identifying stakeholders’ perceptions of post-animal bioeconomy and cellular agriculture. The goal is to identify cultural and socially constructed perceptions, and utilise them in scenario building.

The other part of the work will consist of building justified future scenarios towards understanding the workings of post-animal bioeconomy where products of cellular agriculture and meaning systems maintained by the people will provide a future vision for farmed animals. An essential question is, how visions for the future could be realised and what will be the preconditions when natural- and social science based observations are combined.

Examples of suitable disciplines are (but not restricted to) Consumer Economics, Social-, Behavioural and Societal Sciences.

Position 2: Grant-funded PhD-researcher in Future Food Systems and Post-Animal Bioeconomy

The objective of the doctoral work is to examine post-animal bioeconomy from the food system’s perspective by utilising natural science approach. The main task of the doctoral student is to model the environmental impacts of transforming the food systems, and especially livestock production, with novel technologies such as cellular agriculture. The aim is to identify opportunities and but also possible unintentional consequences that the transformation might cause as a result of reduced livestock production and introduction of the novel technologies. The scenarios modelled will be built based on the results of the stakeholder interviews carried out in the project (tasks related to the position 1).

The research methods used include life cycle assessment, carbon and water footprinting, land use modelling, literature reviews and other modelling techniques. The candidate is expected to have strong quantitative skills and understanding of environmental impacts. Previous experience in mathematical modelling and especially use of life cycle assessment or carbon footprint methods is seen as a benefit.

Examples of suitable disciplines are (but not restricted to) Science, Engineering, Ecology, Environmental Science and Agriculture.

Qualifications

The grant-funded researchers are required to hold a relevant master degree. The applicants are expected to have a strong drive towards excellence in science and have an ability for innovative thinking both individually and within a team. Excellent skills in spoken and written English are required. The selected persons are required to apply for the right for doctoral studies from the University of Helsinki within six months after starting as grant-funded researchers unless they already have the right for doctoral studies.

We offer

The grant is € 2400/month. The applicants should read the documentation related to the pension and insurance as these will affect the net amount of the grant. The University will provide working space and equipment in Mikkeli or in Helsinki. The grant-funded researchers will join a multidisciplinary team consisting of ~10 doctoral students, postdocs and senior researchers studying future food systems from societal, environmental, economic, health and consumer perspectives.

The doctoral students will also have an opportunity to apply for membership of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), which will give an access to wide network of researchers from different disciplines interested in sustainability issues.

Application

The application consists of the following documents:

  1. A cover letter explaining the applicant’s motivation for research work and a short research plan (e.g. approach, research materials and methods). We welcome also innovative research approaches to post-animal bioeconomy that are not outlined above (up to 3 pages)
  2. Curriculum vitae showing the applicant's education, completed qualifications, work experience, possible list of publications and contact information of 2 persons for references (up to 3 pages)
  3. Copies of Master's and Bachelor's degree certificates and official transcripts of records, and their translations, if the originals are not in Finnish, Swedish or English.
  4. A proof of proficiency in Finnish, Swedish or English, if the applicant is not a native speaker or educated in any of them.

All materials should be submitted in English in a single pdf-file to ruralia-instituutti(at)helsinki.fi by 1.3.2019 at 23.59.

Additional information

For more information, please contact Senior Researcher Toni Ryynänen (Social Sciences), +358 50 311 9398, toni.ryynanen(at)helsinki.fi or Associate Professor Hanna Tuomisto (Sustainable Food Systems), +358 50 312 6089, hanna.tuomisto(at)helsinki.fi.

Grant recipient's statutory pension and work accident insurance: https://www.mela.fi/en/grant-and-scholarship-recipients

Taxpayer Taxation: https://tieteentekijoidenliitto.fi/en/employment/grants_and_scholarships

General information for international candidates: As a living and working environment, Finland consistently ranks high in quality-of-life. For more information about living in Finland: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/university/working-at-the-university