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Blindern og Urbygningen (Foto: Wikimedia og Colourbox)
Blindern og Urbygningen (Foto: Wikimedia og Colourbox)

Researcher in historic epidemiology

Deadline: 25.05.2021

Universitetet i Oslo

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest rated institution of research and education with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. Its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally esteemed research communities make UiO an important contributor to society.


Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES) is a research centre and a section at the Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo. CEES combines a broad spectrum of disciplines (population biology, genomics, statistics, mathematical modelling) to foster the concept of ecology as a driving force of evolution via selective processes, with a corresponding influence of evolutionary changes on ecology. CEES has over 180 members (Professors (20), postdocs/researchers (60), PhDs (35), Master’s students (40) and technical and administrative staff) and many guest researchers. The members represent 30 nationalities and constitute a vibrant and creative research environment. CEES coordinate several international networks. The budget = 170 million NOK (about 55 externally funded research projects). CEES successfully completed its 10 year status of Centre of Excellence (CoE) in 2017.

Job description

Position as Researcher available at Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES) at Department of Biosciences.

The position is for a period of 24 months. Starting date no later than 01.09.21 (but may be negotiable).

The candidate will be working as part of the Nordforsk funded project “Pathogens, Pandemics and the Development of Nordic Societies (NORDEMICS)”, which ties five universities in Scandinavia together into an interdisciplinary consortium, with 2 PhD students and 3 Postdocs/Researchers working within this project. Nordemics is dedicated to understanding how various societal and environmental factors influenced the dynamics of epidemic and pandemic infections in human populations. The PhDs and Postdocs/Researchers will have the opportunity to collaborate with each other and leverage the expertise of the NORDEMICS group as a whole into their own projects.

At CEES, the appointed Researcher will aim to understand why plague disappeared from the Nordic countries during the 17th and 18th century. Many biological, social and economic reasons are offered for why plague disappeared from Europe, but none are conclusive. The rather unspecified “improved hygiene” hypothesis is often presented without considering contrary evidence, and the “displacement of the black rat reservoir by brown rats” hypothesis does not consider that plague thrived in locations outside Europe where brown rats dominated the local population of rats. More interesting are hypotheses that look at increases in regional temperature affecting flea- or lice-borne plague transmission, increased use of quarantines, and changes in the intensity of trade between the Nordic countries and other parts of Europe.

Furthermore, to counterbalance the bias towards urban data sources in historic plague research, the Researcher will pay special attention to how rural plague outbreaks, such as the outbreak in Øster Løgum in 1628, compare to outbreaks of similar size in an urban setting.

Qualification requirements

The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences has a strategic ambition to be among Europe’s leading communities for research, education and innovation. Candidates for these fellowships will be selected in accordance with this, and expected to be in the upper segment of their class with respect to academic credentials.

  • Applicants must hold a degree equivalent to a Norwegian doctoral degree withn a relevant topic. Doctoral dissertation must be submitted for evaluation by the closing date. Only applicants with an approved doctoral thesis and completed defence are eligible for appointment.
  • Fluent oral and written communication skills in English.

The skills we are looking for in the Researcher to be appointed are a strong background in statistical analysis of mortality and morbidity records of disease outbreaks.

The project will in particular benefit from a Researcher who, in addition, has familiarity with one or more of the following:

  • working with high levels of uncertainty/stochasticity in the data, such as is often the case in historical data and climate reconstruction data.
  • working with vector/rodent-borne diseases and understanding the effects of climate on these disease hosts.
  • working with inconclusive/multiple disease transmission processes.
  • working with analysing the spatial spread of disease.

The ideal candidate should document their existing familiarity with the above topics, as well as how they would approach the project goal, given their past experience. The tools that the candidate will use are flexible, and can take the form of SIR modeling, GAM modeling, gravity/radiation models of spread, agent-based simulation models or other suitable tools where the candidate can argue how they would well apply to the project.

People hired for the project are expected to spend part of their time in a secondment at one of the other partners in the project, to interact across disciplines and diseases. The extensive team of PhD students, Postdocs/Researchers, and permanent staff involved in the NORDEMICS consortium will provide an excellent scientific framework and opportunity for the candidate to further their own scientific career.

Personal skills

  • the successful candidate shall be good at working in interdisciplinary teams
  • the successful candidate shall be good at taking initiative in a good collaborative team spirit

We offer

  • Salary NOK minimum 526 000 – 586500 per annum depending on qualifications in position as Researcher (position code 1109)
  • Attractive welfare benefits and a generous pension agreement
  • Professionally stimulating working environment
  • Vibrant international academic environment
  • Oslo’s family-friendly surroundings with their rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities

How to apply

The application must include

  • Cover letter (statement of motivation, summarizing scientific work and research interest)
  • CV (summarizing education, positions, pedagogical experience, administrative experience and other qualifying activity)
  • Documentation on the familiarity of the candidate with the listed challenges of the project
  • Copies of educational certificates, academic transcript of records and letters of recommendation
  • A complete list of publications and up to 5 academic works that the applicant wishes to be considered by the evaluation committee
  • Names and contact details of 2-3 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and telephone number)

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system. Foreign applicants are advised to attach an explanation of their University's grading system. Please note that all documents should be in English (or a Scandinavian language).

In assessing the applications, special emphasis will be placed on the documented, academic qualifications, the documentation provided by the candidate on how their skills match the challenges of the project as well as the candidates motivation and personal suitability. Interviews with the best qualified candidates will be arranged.

It is expected that the successful candidate will be able to complete the project in the course of the period of employment.

Formal regulations

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The University of Oslo has an agreement for all employees, aiming to secure rights to research results a.o.

Inclusion and diversity are a strength. The University of Oslo has a personnel policy objective of achieving a balanced gender composition. We also want to have employees with diverse expertise, combinations of subjects, life experience and perspectives. We will make adjustments for employees who require this.

If there are qualified applicants with special needs, gaps in their CVs or immigrant backgrounds, we will invite at least one applicant in each of these groups to an interview.

Contact information

For further information please contact:

For technical questions regarding the recruitment system please contact: HR adviser Nina Holtan, phone: +47 22854424, e-mail: [email protected].

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