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Message posted on 09/07/2018

PhD Position in STS at the MCTS, TU Munich

The Professorship of Science & Technology Policy (Prof. Dr. Ruth
Müller), based at the Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS),
Technical University of Munich, announces an open position for a
doctoral researcher in Science & Technology Studies (STS)
(TV-L E13,
65%, 3 years, fixed term) as part of the DFG project “Situating
Environmental Epigenetics.” The position should start on October 1st 2018.

About us
The research group “Science & Technology Policy” at MCTS explores the
interactions between science, society and policy, with a distinct focus
on the social studies of the life sciences. The group is based at the
MCTS, an interdisciplinary research center in Science and Technology
Studies (STS), and is affiliated with the School of Life Sciences and
the School of Management at TUM.
About the research project
*Situating Environmental Epigenetics: A Comparative, Actor-Centered
Study of Environmental Epigenetics as an Emergent Research Approach in
Three Research Fields. (DFG-funded)

Epigenetics explores changes in gene expression that do not result from
gene mutation, but from chemical modifications on the DNA. In recent
years, such epigenetic modifications have been found to respond to
numerous stimuli from the environment – such as toxins, nutrition,
trauma or stress – giving rise to the field of ‘environmental
epigenetics’. By proposing mechanisms for how such factors can alter
gene expression, environmental epigenetics offers important novel
perspectives for understanding body, health and illness as ‘biosocial’.
However, it is yet unclear what the specific impact of such perspectives
might be in different research areas within the life sciences and how
approaches from environmental epigenetics might affect understandings of
body, health and illness differently in different fields.
In this project we thus take a comparative approach and study how
approaches from environmental epigenetics are adopted and adapted in
three research fields of great relevance for public health: nutritional
epidemiology, environmental toxicology, and the pathophysiology of mood
& anxiety. To this end, we will use qualitative social science research
methods such as interviews, ethnographic observation and document
analysis. By taking this comparative approach we give room to the
possibility that environmental epigenetics might constitute different
“epistemic things” (Rheinberger, 1997) in different research contexts
with different social and political implications. This approach builds
on insights from Science & Technology Studies that emphasize the
situated character of knowledge production (Haraway, 1988; Knorr-Cetina,
1999) and the need for context-sensitive research approaches (Jasanoff,
2004). Beyond contributing to social science debates the project will
also promote constructive interdisciplinary dialogue between social and
life sciences.

Your tasks as a doctoral researcher
As a doctoral researcher, you will work as part of a project team that
consists of the project leader, Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller, and the other
project researchers, Dr. Michael Penkler and Georgia Samaras, MA. Your
work will specifically focus on the area of environmental toxicology and
thus complement the expertise of the other project researchers. Your
tasks will include empirical research and data analysis, preparation of
results for publication, presentation of results at international
academic meetings, contributions to the teaching portfolio of the group
and support for organizing project-related academic events. You will
develop an innovative research question for you PhD thesis as part of
the project and in collaboration with the project leader. You will
regularly meet with your supervisor to discuss and support the progress
of your thesis. Beyond the project, you will be part of the Science &
Technology Policy research group at the MCTS and the lively STS research
community at MCTS more generally. You will actively participate in the
academic life of the group and the center, which both regularly host
international guest researchers and academic events. As a PhD student at
TU Munich, you will be enrolled in the TUM Graduate School, which
provides a structured PhD program and offers a rich program of courses
in academic and transferable skills.

Who can apply?
Applicants should hold a Master’s degree in the social sciences,
humanities, or the life sciences. Familiarity with STS concepts and
experience with qualitative social science research methods is highly
desirable. You should be interested in working across the disciplines
and in engaging with other knowledge cultures. You should further be
capable of and interested in working both as part of a team and
independently. Fluency in English is essential for the academic life at
the center and for the research project. The project further requires a
willingness to travel internationally for fieldwork. We are looking for
inspired and inspiring new talents who want to work in and contribute to
an exciting, interdisciplinary STS research environment.

Application documents
Your complete application documents must include your CV, your Master’s
degree certificate, a letter of motivation (max. 2 pages), 1-2 writing
samples (e.g. thesis chapters), and names and contact details of 2
references, including a brief statement explaining your relationship to
each of the named references.

Please send your complete application as a single pdf document to We will accept and review all
applications received up until and including Wednesday, July 25, 2018.

We are committed to raising the number of women and gender-non-binary
individuals in research and teaching, who are especially encouraged to
apply. Applicants with disabilities are treated with preference given
comparable qualification.

If you have questions about the application procedure, please contact If you have content-related questions,
please contact

Dr. Michael Penkler
Postdoctoral Researcher - Science & Technology Policy

Technical University of Munich
Munich Center for Technology in Society

Augustenstraße 46
80333 München, Germany

+49 (89) 289 - 29228

[demime 1.01d removed an attachment of type application/pdf which had a name of PhD Position STP DFG Epigen July 2018.pdf]
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