Postdoctoral Research Associate X2
School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences, Queen Mary University of London
11 October 2023
(application date has expired)
£37,182 to £44,722 per annum, inclusive of
Prof Lars Chittka
About the Role
Two Postdoctoral Research Associate positions are available at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) on the Open Philanthropy-funded project: Addressing key evidence gaps in the science of insect sentience.
Are insects sentient? The question is urgent. Insect farming is on the rise, presented by its supporters as a creative solution to the problem of feeding the world while combating climate change—but feared by critics to be an animal welfare catastrophe. Recent work on bees (emotion-like states and cognitive biases, play behaviour, cross-modal object recognition, interval timing, metacognition and motivational trade-offs based on memories) points to a capacity for conscious experiences in these insects. There is fragmented evidence across insects to indicate there may be a substantial risk of pain-like experiences in some species. Nonetheless, one of the perceived advantages of insect farming is that there are (supposedly) no ethical concerns. Globally, trillions of insects are slaughtered annually by methods such as microwaving, baking or boiling without anaesthesia; many are simply starved to death.
The successful candidates will work under the supervision of Profs Lars Chittka (QMUL) and Jonathan Birch (LSE) to explore the question of sentience, and its ethical implications, in two commonly farmed insects, black soldier flies and house crickets.
Candidates should have a PhD (or close to completion) in Biology, Psychology, Neuroscience or a similar field. Experience with behavioural tests, video analyses, statistics and data evaluation are essential, as is a track-record of high quality publications. Self-motivation, ability to work as part of a team and excellent research management and presentation skills are essential.
About Queen Mary
At Queen Mary University of London, we believe that a diversity of ideas helps us achieve the previously unthinkable.
Throughout our history, we’ve fostered social justice and improved lives through academic excellence. And we continue to live and breathe this spirit today, not because it’s simply ‘the right thing to do’ but for what it helps us achieve and the intellectual brilliance it delivers.
We continue to embrace diversity of thought and opinion in everything we do, in the belief that when views collide, disciplines interact, and perspectives intersect, truly original thought takes form.
We offer competitive salaries, access to a generous pension scheme, 30 days’ leave per annum (pro-rata for fixed-term), a season ticket loan scheme and access to a comprehensive range of personal and professional development opportunities. In addition, we offer a range of work-life balance and family-friendly, inclusive employment policies, flexible working arrangements, and campus facilities, including an on-site nursery at the Mile End campus.
The posts are based at Mile End campus. They are full time (35 hours per week), fixed term for 2 years, with an expected start date of January 2024.