Postdoctoral Fellow – Stanford

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Postdoctoral Fellow Position with Megan J. Palmer’s Group at Stanford University: Science of Science and Innovation Policy, Risk, and Responsibility in Biological Engineering

Dr. Megan J. Palmer, a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University, has an opening for a position as a postdoctoral fellow working on projects focused on the science of science and innovation policy, risk, and responsibility in biological engineering. This 1-year position is renewable up to 3 years.

The Projects

The position involves working on a set of projects analyzing the conception and management of safety, security and innovation in biological science and engineering. One project focus is assessing which factors (e.g. training, disciplinary background) are important for individuals (e.g. scientists and engineers) to be willing and able to attend to potential risks in their work. The projects also examine how innovation and risk-taking is incentivized and evaluated in scientific organizations, as well as the capacity of oversight bodies to identify and mitigate risks in rapidly advancing scientific fields.

The projects leverage global testbeds in science and engineering, notably the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. iGEM is a yearly synthetic biology competition in which teams from around the world compete to engineer organisms to perform useful functions. Established in 2004, it is the largest training program in genetic engineering: in 2019, over 6000 participants in 340 teams from 48 countries participated. iGEM also serves as a forum for many leading researchers, entrepreneurs and policy makers to discuss issues in how to guide innovation towards beneficial outcomes. Partnerships with several other organizations involved in research and oversight are also being explored to complement, test and validate studies with iGEM.

The Position

The postdoctoral fellow would join a team of junior and senior faculty collaborators from a variety of disciplines, including network science, sociology, biological engineering, ethics and psychology. Ideal candidates should have a strong methodological background in a social science, and be interested in making contributions in computational social science and the science of science and innovation policy. The candidate should feel comfortable handling large heterogeneous data sets not originally designed for research purposes, and leveraging historical analyses to design future studies and interventions. A background in the biological sciences and engineering and risk analysis is beneficial but not required; an interest and enthusiasm for learning about new fields and methods is essential.

The postdoctoral fellow would serve as project manager and collaborator on research projects. They will also have the opportunity to develop new research agendas and projects, and to foster research collaborations with practitioners in academia, industry, government and civil society. The position will also involve supervising undergraduate and graduate research assistants. They will be supported in these roles by working with an administrative program manager who is also now being recruited to Dr. Palmer’s group.

The postdoctoral fellow will join the interdisciplinary community of natural scientists, social scientists and humanities scholars at CISAC focused on policy-related scholarship in science, technology and international security. They will have the opportunity to participate in CISAC’s policy training program and engage in the rich scholarly community within CISAC and the broader Stanford community. They will be expected to engage with other centers focused on related topics at Stanford, such as the Center for Biomedical Ethics, the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, and the Department of Bioengineering.

The Fellow will receive a competitive salary and benefits for postdoctoral fellows in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Stanford’s Office for Postdoctoral Affairs has additional information and resources on life as a postdoc at Stanford.

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, with review starting immediately and a potential start date as soon as Fall 2019. Documentation of receipt of a doctoral degree or equivalent is required prior to appointment. We especially encourage applicants from underrepresented backgrounds and communities.

Applications can be sent to [email protected] and should include:

(1) CV, including any works in preparation

(2) Cover letter with a statement of interest (up to 2 pages)

(3) Examples of written products (e.g. publications or other work products)

(4) Contact information for two references, and any relevant details on your relationship with them