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Department: Department of Biology
Full time position at University of Antwerp (10% senior academic staff and 40 % post-doctoral researcher) and Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium (50 % SW2 – work leader): Reconstructing disease dynamics in Central Africa using historical museum collections and archives (RECORDED#2)
This senior researcher position is opened in the framework of the FED-tWIN programme supported by the Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO). The position will be jointly hosted at the Univeristy of Antwerp (UAntwerp) and the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA).
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The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), established in 1897, is a leading multidisciplinary research institute and knowledge centre on the cultural and natural heritage in Africa, particularly in Central Africa, in an historical, contemporary, and global context. It is a place of memory on the colonial past and strives to be a dynamic platform for exchanges and dialogues between cultures and generations. The aim is to promote – among the public at large and the scientific community – understanding of and interest in this area and to contribute to its sustainable development through durable partnerships. The museum holds the largest biodiversity collection anywhere in the world on Central Africa, offering a complete cross-section of reference material from many central African taxa.
The Faculty of Sciences of the University of Antwerp and the Royal Museum for Central Africa jointly offer a full-time vacancy (100%) in the context of the federal government's FED-tWIN funding program, which aims to stimulate sustainable cooperation between ten federal science institutions and Belgian Universities through the funding of joint research profiles, in particular:
- A part-time (10%) appointment as Senior Academic Staff (ZAP) and a part-time (40%) appointment as postdoc researcher (BAP) at UAntwerpen, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Biology, combined with
- Part-time (50%) appointment as scientific researcher (SW2 – work leader) at RMCA
This vacancy seeks to fill in the FED-tWIN research profile “Reconstructing disease dynamics in Central Africa using historical museum collections and archives (RECORDED#2)” (profile number Prf-2021-033). You implement this FED-tWIN research profile in the UAntwerpen (50%) and RMCA (50%).
Brief description of the FED-tWIN RECORDED research profile
The past century has seen unprecedented changes in natural biotopes due to human activities, in Africa perhaps even more than elsewhere. This has affected the distribution and dynamics of infectious diseases, particularly zoonotic infections, transmitted from wildlife to humans. In addition, changes in human demography, agriculture and other human activities in the environment, including health care interventions, have also changed the disease dynamics. Understanding the relative contribution of these factors may help in predicting what the effects can be of future environmental changes to the spread of diseases. This FED-tWIN profile will use museum collections and historical archives to retrospectively study the impact of environmental and anthropogenic changes on vector and disease dynamics. Despite their enormous potential, this ‘unexplored heritage’ is vastly underused in epidemiological research. This profile will combine longitudinal series of vector collections and zoonotic disease carriers from the RMCA and, in a later stage also from other institutes, with historical archives such as medical records, aerial pictures and scientific publications. By taking a multidisciplinary approach, combining ecology, geography, modeling and semi-quantitative methods, the changes in the presence, diversity and distribution of pathogens, vectors and animal reservoirs can be documented and related to changes in 1) human demography, 2) climate, and 3) land cover and land use on the spread of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. By including socio-ecological studies and historical records of disease control efforts, lessons can be learned in order to improve current health policies (‘historical epidemiology’).
RECORDED#2 has a perspective of 10 years, but as a starting point will focus on three vector-borne diseases that are strongly affected by environmental and anthropogenic change and that fall within the expertise of and/or historical documentation at both institutes: schistosomiasis, sleeping sickness and bubonic plague.
Description of the function
- The UAntwerp 10% ZAP assignment focuses on the three core tasks of Independent Academic Personnel, namely education, research and services.
- The UAntwerp 40% BAP assignment is aimed at research.
- The RMCA 50% appointment as scientific researcher is aimed at research and services.
- You will provide high-quality education in the area of zoology or animal ecology.
- Your teaching role will evolve along with the study programmes. The teaching load for a 10% ZAP will typically involve a single course with approx. 20 hours of teaching per year, either in general zoology courses for undergraduates, or in specialized graduate courses in the area of expertise of the researcher.
- You will play a role in developing activating, student-centred and competence-driven programme components and study programmes.
- You will supervise students and their Bachelor and Master dissertations.
- You will expand high-quality scientific research in the ecology and evolution of infections carried by animals. You will bring expertise in state-of-the-art distribution modelling for hosts and vectors.
- You will participate in ongoing research programmes at UAntwerp and RMCA and contribute to the continuation of research in the areas of host-pathogen ecology and further develop collaboration with African partner institutes.
- You will initiate new lines of research, coordinate the progress of scientific research projects and contribute to attracting external funding.
- You will exploit the archives and collections of the RMCA, and make them more visible and accessible to the public
- You will help in the curation of the museum’s collections
- You will disseminate research results to the international academic community through scientific publications and conferences.
- You will develop an international scientific network.
- You will assist in the supervision of PhD students and help in training of international visitors and students.
- You will play a role in the provision of both academic services and service to society, within the institutions and externally.
- You will participate in student recruitment, boards and committees, popular science communication, and so on.
- You will provide input for, and sometimes participate in, the educational activities organized at RMCA with respect to tropical diseases and biodiversity education for schools and visitors, including public thematic days and training sessions for guides.
Organisation and leadership
- You will accept coordinating responsibilities in the areas of education, research and/or services and you will contribute to policy.
- Your leadership style will be motivating and coaching. You will be attentive to your employees’ growth and development processes.
- You hold a PhD in Biology or Geography or a related discipline linked to the profile (e.g. epidemiology, ecology, parasitology, distribution modelling)
- You have good knowledge about statistical approaches to describe changing species distributions, and/or geo-spatial modelling
- You obtained a PhD no more than 12 years before the predetermined deadline for submitting the application files February 17, 2022. This 12-year period is extended by one year for any absence due to pregnancy, parental or adoption leave, as well as any long absence due to illness of the candidate or long absence due to illness of a first degree relative.
- We are looking for a postdoc researcher with a rather broad experience in different types of activities.
- Minimal 3 year post-doc (at the time of start of the appointment)
- Excellent publication track (incl. as first author) in A1 journals on relevant topics
- proven experience in different research environments, preferably different countries
- Work experience in multi-partner projects and networks, collaboration with researchers from other scientific disciplines and from developing countries
- Fieldwork experience in Africa
- Documented ability to obtain research funding (grants, fellowships)
- Good communication skills including popularization of science
- Some experience with teaching at university level and supervising students
- Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies.
- Your teaching competences are in line with the University of Antwerp’s educational vision. You are motivated to develop your teaching skills further through the professionalisation opportunities
- If you do not speak Dutch, the administrative language of the university, you should be willing to obtain a CEFR B2 level of proficiency in Dutch. As soon as you take on teaching duties as a programme component coordinator, you should be able to demonstrate a CEFR C1 level of proficiency in the language of instruction. The University of Antwerp supports international staff members through an integration trajectory and offers tailor-made language coaching in compliance with Flanders’ statutory language regulations.
- You demonstrate leadership potential and organisational skills.
- You act with attention to quality, integrity, creativity and cooperation.
What we offer
We offer a combined position at UAntwerp and RMCA
- A part-time 10% appointment as a member of the Senior Academic Staff for a period of 3 years and a part-time (40%) contract (indeterminate duration) as postdoctoral researcher
- The appointment as Senior Academic Staff can be renewed, following a positive evaluation. The level of your appointment (assistant professor, associate professor, professor or full professor) is determined on the basis of your professional experience and academic qualifications. Your gross monthly salary as Senior Academic Staff is calculated following the salary scales for “Zelfstandig Academisch Personeel”, proportional to the part-time appointment.
- Your gross monthly salary as postdoctoral researcher is calculated following the salary scales for doctor-assistent (“Bijzonder Academisch Personeel”), proportional to the part-time appointment.
- Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here and discover all the other benefits.
- A part-time (50%) appointment as SW2 (senior onderzoeker) with the salary scale SW21 for a contractual appointment.
- A contract of indeterminate duration
- Minimum salary (gross amounts adjusted to the current salary index, regulatory supplements not included: 56.612,50 euro (for 100% appointment)
- You will do 50% of your work at Campus Drie Eiken (Antwerp) and 50% at the museum in Tervuren, in a dynamic and stimulating working environment.
- Full reimbursement for commuting by public transport, and/or a bicycle allowance.
- The planned start date: second half of 2022, by mutual agreement with the candidate
How to apply?
- You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including February 17, 2022 ( by midnight Brussels time). Click on 'apply', complete the online application form and don’t forget to include the following documents: (1) your motivation letter, (2) the completed job application appendix for ZAP, (3) your academic CV
- The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.
- If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact dr. Tine Huyse (email@example.com) or prof. dr. Herwig Leirs (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.