Job Details

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Reference Number
Faculty / Service
School / Institute
Staff Category
University Grade 7
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time / Part Time
Full Time
Leeds – Main Campus

Job Summary


Fixed term for 24 months from 1 September 2012 

Does the Teaching of Mendelian Concepts Promote Genetic Determinism? The Differential Effects of Mendelian and Non-Mendelian Pedagogies

This project is funded by the Faraday Institute, in connection with its Uses and Abuses of Biology Grants Programme. 

The project, led by Professor Gregory Radick (Principal Investigator) and Dr Jenny Lewis, will investigate whether the standard curriculum in genetics, organised around concepts originating with Gregor Mendel, promotes genetic determinism by encouraging students to see gene/environment interactions as secondary and only selectively present, rather than as primary and pervasive. 

To address the link between genetics pedagogy and genetic determinism, three related questions will be answered:

(1) How are Mendelian concepts integrated into genetics pedagogy and what are their effects?
(2) Can a viable alternative pedagogy be developed?
(3) Will a non-Mendelian pedagogy be more effective at inculcating views about determinism consistent with twenty-first century genetics?

You will be centrally involved in all aspects of this innovative project, from the undertaking of preliminary research to the devising and delivery of the alternative pedagogy and the dissemination of the project’s findings, within the academy and beyond. The grant award will cover costs for several research trips by you, for your participation in two international conferences, and for the hosting at Leeds of a mid-project workshop and an end-of-project conference, both to be organised by you. At Leeds, you will be primarily associated with the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science, but also with the Centre for Science Education, the Centre for Medical Humanities, and the University of Leeds Biology Education Research Group.

You will be expected to have obtained, or expect to obtain by the beginning of the project, a PhD with specialisation in an aspect of History and Philosophy of Science or other field relevant to the project. 

Information about History and Philosophy of Science at Leeds can be found at 

University Grade 7 (£30,122 – £35,938 p.a.) 

Informal enquiries may be made to Professor Gregory Radick, tel +44 (0)113 343 3269, email [email protected]  

Closing Date: 9 August 2012

Interviews are expected to be held in August 2012


Job Description


Responsible to: Head of School
Reports to: Principal Investigator

Main Duties and Responsibilities

• To conduct research as directed by the project’s Principal Investigator and project leadership team
• To keep in regular contact with the project leader on the progress of the research, to attend regular project meetings, and to alert the project leader to any problems that may arise in the conduct of the research
• To take the lead in all aspects of the development, delivery, and assessment of the alternative genetics curriculum
• To assist in the conceptualisation of ideas and applications of the research.
• To assist in establishing and developing contacts with individuals and institutions with an interest in the project’s central research questions/strands
• To establish and maintain a website for the project
• To assist in developing written outcomes for the research, including reports for the Faraday Institute
• To write two articles based on research arising from the project, one on genetics pedagogy and genetic determinism in historical and philosophical perspective, the other summarising and reflecting on the delivery of the alternative pedagogy and the collected data on its effects
• To contribute to the writing and publishing of popular articles and other activities aiming to publicise the project and its findings in the general media.
• To take the lead in the organising and staging of a mid-project workshop (for around 20 people) and an end-of-project international conference (for around 60 people)
• To contribute to seminar series, workshops, international conferences, and public engagement activities on the subject of the project, within and outside of Leeds
• To carry out any other duties appropriate to the role and level

Apart from when on research visits, the Fellow will normally be expected to work in the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science at Leeds. The precise scope of the above duties will be agreed in consultation with the Principal Investigator and the project leadership team.

Career Expectations 

The University of Leeds is committed to developing its staff. All staff participate in the Staff Review and Development scheme and we continue to work with individuals, supporting them to maximise their potential.

Progression to a higher grade is dependent on an individual taking on an increased level of responsibility. Vacancies that arise within the area or across the wider University are advertised on the HR website – – to allow staff to apply for wider career development opportunities.

University Values 

All staff are expected to operate in line with the university’s values and standards, which work as an integral part of our strategy and set out the principles of how we work together. More information about the university’s strategy and values is available at


Person Specification



• A first degree or equivalent in Biology or a related field 
• A PhD (preferably already obtained; otherwise to be obtained before the start of the post) with specialisation in an aspect of History and Philosophy of Science or other field relevant to the project
• Wide teaching experience at the University level
• Advanced understanding of modern biology, including (but not limited to) genetics and genomics
• Excellent communication and presentation skills, including a high standard of written and spoken English 
• The ability to collaborate as part of a research team
• Experience of working with historical primary and secondary sources
• A general understanding of the history of biology, including associated conceptual and political controversies, from 1800 forward
• An ability to contribute to the research culture of the Leeds Centre for History and Philosophy of Science
• A flexible approach to work
• Competency in, and a willingness to carry out, project management and administrative duties


• Peer-reviewed research publications, or evidence of forthcoming publications, on a relevant topic
• Experience of running University undergraduate modules
• Competency in the statistical analysis of data



Additional Information


Details of the terms and conditions of employment for all staff at the university, including information on pensions and benefits, are available on the Human Resources web pages accessible via the links on the right hand side, or at 
Criminal Record Disclosures 

A Criminal Records Disclosure is not required for this position. However, applicants who have unspent convictions must indicate this in the ‘other personal details’ section of the application. 

Disabled Applicants 

The post is located in the Michael Sadler Building. Disabled applicants wishing to review access to the building are invited to contact the department direct. Additional information may be sought from the Recruitment Officer, email[email protected] or tel + 44 (0)113 343 1723.

Disabled applicants are not obliged to inform employers of their disability but will still be covered by the Equality Act once their disability becomes known.

Further information for applicants with disabilities, impairments or health conditions is available in the applicant guidance.