Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine

Global Health & Social Medicine

London, Strand Campus


  • Posted on: 05th Nov 2021
  • Salary: £38,826- £39,882 per annum, including London Weighting Allowance
  • REF: 036188
  • Closes: 05th December 2021
  • Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
  • Hours: Full Time

Job description

The Department of Global Health & Social Medicine is seeking to appoint two Postdoctoral Research Associates to work with Dr Michelle Pentecost on the UKRI funded Future Leaders Fellowship project ‘ Trajectories: The social science of developmental pathways to health from preconception to childhood in South Africa’.

Trajectories: The social science of developmental pathways to health from preconception to childhood in South Africa is hosted by King’s College London in collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand and the Graduate Institute, Geneva. This UKRI-funded project partners with the Healthy Early Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI), a World Health Organisation-supported study that aims to test preconception interventions for the prevention of childhood obesity. HeLTI is a multi-country study with cohorts in Canada, India, China and South Africa; Trajectories works with the latter, hosted by the SAMRC Developmental Pathways for Health Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The aims of this project are to investigate the social and ethical implications of public health interventions in the early life period from preconception to early childhood, and to develop innovative qualitative methodologies for studying the social factors that shape life trajectories.

The successful candidates will work as part of a team, using mixed methods qualitative approaches, including interviews, ethnographic fieldwork and participatory methodologies to produce a fine-grained account of the lives of trial participants and to trace the interaction of biological and social factors that shape health outcomes from preconception to early childhood, and across the life course.

The successful candidates will work closely with the Trajectories and HeLTI teams in a highly interdisciplinary research environment. Team members will be expected to travel to and spend significant time in Johannesburg, and to undertake regular trips for project meetings, writing retreats and workshops/conferences. The successful candidates will also be supported and expected to contribute to project-related activities, including event organisation, conference and workshop participation, presentation of findings, and writing publications.

The posts are full-time positions for 2 years. The Postdoctoral Research Fellows will be based in the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine, located at Bush House in central London. The posts will involve significant research time in Johannesburg, South Africa, as well as travel for conferences and workshops.

The successful candidates will benefit from working in an international research environment with the option to gain teaching experience if desired, and with significant opportunities to receive further training and establish academic networks.

This post will be offered on an a fixed-term contract for 2 years.

This is a full time post – 100% full time equivalent

Key responsibilities

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellows will work closely with the Principal Investigator, Dr Michelle Pentecost, to support the achievement of the project goals. Together, the post holders will, along with other team members, be responsible for one of the two work packages in the Trajectories project, and will conduct qualitative longitudinal research with HeLTI trial participants in South Africa.
  • The post holders will conduct empirical research in South Africa and will write and contribute to the project’s publications and dissemination of research findings.

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post
Skills, knowledge and experience

Essential criteria

1. PhD in a related area

2. The successful candidates will have ethnographic and/or qualitative research experience in Sub-Saharan Africa at the doctoral or postdoctoral level

3. They will demonstrate previous experience of carrying out fieldwork and conducting high quality research

4. They will have a background training and knowledge in medical anthropology and/or public health and/or another relevant social science for conducting qualitative research as part of a research trial.

5. They will have excellent interpersonal communication skills

6. They will demonstrate excellent organisational, analytical and problem-solving skills

7. The successful candidate should demonstrate collegiality and willingness to work as part of a team

8. The successful candidate should demonstrate their ability to use own initiative and think critically

9. The successful candidate will need to be willing to travel to South Africa for extended periods of fieldwork, as well as travel for conferences and workshops

Desirable criteria

1. Fluency in one or more of South Africa’s eleven official languages in addition to English language

Please note that this is a PhD level role but candidates who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting award of their PhDs will be considered. In these circumstances the appointment will be made at Grade 5, spine point 30 with the title of Research Assistant. Upon confirmation of the award of the PhD, the job title will become Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6.

Further information

Interested candidates should submit a Curriculum Vitae (maximum 2 pages) and a cover letter outlining their interest in the research project, how they meet the eligibility criteria and what they might bring to the project. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to submit two letters of recommendation and a writing sample, and the selection process will include a presentation and panel interview.

This post is subject to a Occupational Health Clearance.

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