Employment Opportunity – PHD HORIZON EUROPE MSCA DOCTORAL NETWORK “MELOMANES”*

May 17, 2023

Are you interested in improving the relation between science and society? And would you like doing this by developing methods to train lab researchers to navigate complexity and uncertainty, and to critically reflect on their role as researchers in society?  

Location: AMSTERDAM
FTE: 1 – 1

Job Description

Metastatic melanoma is a hard-to-treat disease and it remains as one of the most worrisome cancer. There is an urgent need to improve the current therapies (chemotherapy, radiotherapy) that have a limited efficacy.

A single therapy is not efficient to tackle metastatic melanoma and a combination of therapies is thus emerging as a necessity to efficiently eradicate all cancer cells. Recently, the development of immunotherapies has shown promises, in particular chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells. Nevertheless, the physical barriers represented by cellular and non-cellular components of the tumor microenvironment combined to the abnormal tumor vasculature and high interstitial fluid pressure, hamper an efficient tumor infiltration of CAR-T cells. In this context, thanks to a network of 18 partners (including 10 non-academic partners), MELOMANES aims to train 12 doctoral researchers for the development of a combined therapy exploiting the properties of magnetic nanoparticles to induce damage on the tumor microenvironment by magnetic and optic hyperthermia in order to facilitate the infiltration of CAR-T cells. Research and transferable training of the doctoral researchers will be performed in a highly interdisciplinary, intersectoral, and international environment. In addition to acquiring skills related to the research project, they will be trained also in open science, communication and dissemination, responsible research and innovation, circular economy, ethics, data management, entrepreneurship, marketing, intellectual property, and gender dimension in research. Their competences will be validated through certification and qualification examination, allowing a new generation of highly skilled doctoral researchers to emerge with a high-level training in particular in the multidisciplinary field of nanomedicine.

*Project funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the European Commission can be held responsible for them.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH PROJECT

The doctoral researcher will design and implement a training program that helps the other doctoral researchers of the Melomanes project to become equipped to be researchers of the future. The past decades we have witnessed a change in the relation between the science and society. It has become increasingly important for researchers to not merely have the capacities to conduct the technical and scientific research work that is part of their daily routines, but in addition, to be able to actively engage with society. The skill set of a capable researcher entails among other capacities, the ability to align research practices and agenda’s with societal needs and concerns, and to critically reflect on social and future consequences of the research itself, while navigating its inherent complexity and uncertainty. By following the training program designed by the doctoral researcher, the other doctoral researchers of the Melomanes project will be prepared for the broad and diverse expectations that are part of current and future academic work.

Objectives
1) Create a training program design that helps the doctoral researchers in the project to develop three key capacities: a) navigating complexity and uncertainty, b) being able to critically reflect on the role of research in society and its social and future consequences and c) being able to design and facilitate meaningful dialogue with societal actors.
2) Implementation of the training program in the Melomanes project
3) Obtain insights into how to effectively train researchers to acquire the above capacities, and how to tailor-make such a training program for specific trans- and interdisciplinary research fields.

Methodology
For the design of the training program the doctoral researcher will make use of systems thinking methodologies and artistic methods. While the first type of methodologies will be an important point of departure for designing sessions that focus on developing the skills needed to navigate complexity and uncertainty while doing highly specialized research work; the second type will be of help in designing training sessions with a focus on developing dialogue and reflexive capacities.

Expected Results
The expected results are 1) the design of a training program that can be adapted for other types of trans- and interdisciplinary research practices and 2) Melomanes doctoral researchers that are prepared for the broad range of skills needed to perform academic research work. 

Supervisors and host organisations
Main supervisors and recruiting organisation:
Frank Kupper
Athena Institute, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
The position is offered within the Athena Institute, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences. The institute’s mission is to study and design interfaces between science and society to contribute both to a deeper understanding of innovation processes as well as a responsible implementation of research and innovation in society. Athena’s research program amongst other focuses on analysing complex global health challenges, designing interventions and conducting participatory monitoring and evaluation research. For more information about the Athena Institute visit our website.

Co-supervisor (academic partner):
Roland Hischier
EMPA (Zurich, Switzerland)
Co-supervisor (non-academic partner):
Juha Rantala
MISVIK (Turku, Finland)

Planned mobility track and secondments:
There are two secondments planned for the doctoral researcher:

  1. Mapping the innovation processes to analyse opportunities and barriers for integrating the training program, at MISVIK in Turku, Finland (3 months).

  2. Development of an interface between risk assessment, life cycle assessment and RRI as part of the preparation for designing and implementing the training program in the context of nanomedicine, at EMPA in Zurich, Switzerland (7 months).

Enrolment in Doctoral School:
Athena Graduate SchoolVrije Universiteit Amsterdam

REQUIREMENTS

Academic prerequisite

We are looking for a student with a 5-years degree (Master) in Bioethics, Science and Technology studies, Science Communication or related fields.

Technical skills and knowledge required

  • have experience in both qualitative and participatory research methods and be open to transdisciplinary research work;
  • have affinity with art and design as creative methods of inquiry, reflection and dialogue
  • have experience or affinity with designing and facilitating training
  • have potential for publishing in refereed international journals or books;

Soft skills

  • Team player
  • Great sense of thoroughness and organization
  • Dynamism, reactivity and autonomy
  • Writing and speaking skills in English and ability to summarize are essential

Exclusion criteria

The candidate, at the time of recruitment, must hold a 5-years degree (Master level).
The candidate must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not considered.
The candidate, at the time of recruitment by the Vrije Universiteit (the Netherlands) must not be enrolled in a doctoral school or have been awarded a doctoral degree.

WHAT ARE WE OFFERING?

  • An enrolment in a PhD program;
  • An international work environment, in which doctoral researchers can develop their skills and innovate within a competent team;
  • An attractive 36 months’ salary;
  • An individual and well-structured scientific and transferable training (open science, responsible research and innovation, circular economy, ethics, data management, entrepreneurship, creativity, communication, career plans and gender balance in science) within the Melomanes network.

The gross salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts € 2,960 (PhD, scale 85) per month during the first year (including mobility allowance and, if applicable family allowance) and increases to € 3,247 (PhD, scale 85) per month during the third year, (including mobility allowance and, if applicable family allowance), based on a full-time employment.
VU Amsterdam has a travel allowance of € 0.22 per kilometre, up to a maximum of 75 kilometres one-way. This applies whether you travel to work by public transport, by bicycle or by foot. VU Amsterdam strives to offer the greenest possible travel allowance. 
The job profile Promovendus is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for 2 years. The maximum duration of the trajectory is 3 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge, contribution to commuting expenses

 

ABOUT VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT AMSTERDAM

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity
We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.

APPLICATION

  • Motivation letter (max. 2 pages);
  • CV including the details of education/qualifications, work experience, language skills and other relevant skills; indication of at least two Scientists for reference letters (academic and/or non-academic);
  • Certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of exams taken with relative mark. A certified/signed copy of Master of Science certificate or a letter from the Head of the degree course stating that the Student is going to finish before September 2023;
  • A summary of your research projects (max. 5 pages).

Applicants can apply for up to 3 projects within the consortium, indicating the order of preference.
All applications will be checked for eligibility (in particular, the adherence to the mobility rule). Incomplete applications will be ignored. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview. Candidates will be notified of the outcome. Start of employment is foreseen September 2023.

Equal opportunities
Equal opportunities policy without distinction on the grounds of gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation will be applied.
The selection is not limited to EU citizens; therefore, candidates can be of any nationality.  
Application

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 31/05/2023

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Willemine Willems
Position: Assistant Professor
E-mail: w.l.willems@vu.nl

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