Postdoctoral researcher for the DSI-NRF Centre for Excellence in Human Development

The DSI-NRF Centre for Excellence in Human Development seeks to appoint a full-time postdoctoral researcher for 2 years 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’. 

This UKRI-funded project partners with the South African Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative  (HeLTI-SA), hosted by the SAMRC Developmental Pathways for Health Unit at the University  of the Witwatersrand. A World Health Organisation-supported study, HeLTI cohorts in  Canada, India, China and South Africa aim to test preconception interventions for the  prevention of childhood obesity.  

The primary participants in the HELTI trial are women aged 18-28 in Soweto. However,  understanding the interaction of biological and social factors that shape health outcomes  from preconception and across the life course requires qualitative research that  encompasses the broader social contexts of young adulthood, pregnancy and child-rearing  in this setting. One component is the role of partners and/or fathers, and how their own  trajectories contribute to this picture.  

The successful candidate will work with the Trajectories and HeLTI-SA teams to conduct a  qualitative longitudinal study with partners and/or fathers of participants in the HeLTI-SA  trial.  

Position title: Postdoctoral Research Associate 

Department: MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit,  University of the Witwatersrand 

Key objectives: 

• Conduct 3-4 sets of qualitative interviews over a 12-month period with a cohort of  partners and/or fathers linked to the HeLTI trial 

Key deliverables:  

• Lead on a minimum of two qualitative research articles that will offer a qualitative  longitudinal snapshot and analysis of themes generated 

The successful candidate will work closely with the Trajectories and HeLTI teams in a highly  interdisciplinary research environment. The postdoctoral researcher will be based at the  DPHRU offices and in addition to the primary objective will be expected to attend project  meetings, writing retreats, training workshops and conferences, with significant  opportunities to receive further training and establish academic networks.  

Essential criteria 

1. The successful candidate will be within 5 years of obtaining their PhD in a relevant  social science discipline, with ethnographic and/or qualitative research experience in  Sub-Saharan Africa at the doctoral or postdoctoral level. 

2. They will demonstrate previous experience of conducting high quality research  3. They will have excellent interpersonal communication skills  

4. They will demonstrate excellent organisational, analytical and problem-solving skills 5. The successful candidate should demonstrate collegiality and willingness to work as  part of a team 

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

Desirable criteria 

1. Prior research focused on masculinities, fatherhood, gender and related themes 

2. 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. They may not previously have held full time permanent professional or academic posts. The successful candidate will be required  

to register for and comply with the COE’s approved policies, procedures and practises for  the postdoctoral sector. The candidate will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in  order to comply with the university’s vaccination policy.  

The postdoctoral grant is valued at R300 000 per annum (tax free stipend),  renewable for a total of 2 years on the basis of satisfactory academic progress. In  addition to this stipend, the candidate is funded for one international conference per year  and benefits from a suite of training opportunities. 

To apply, please send the following to

• Curriculum Vitae 

• Application letter describing your interest in the project, how you meet eligibility criteria and  how your prior work might fit with the role 

• Academic transcripts 

• 2 academic references 

Shortlisted candidates will be asked for a writing sample and the selection process will include an  interview. 

Queries may be addressed to Dr Michelle Pentecost (

Application deadline: 13 May 2022. 

Incomplete or late applications will not be considered. The COE reserves the right to disqualify  ineligible, incomplete and/or inappropriate applications and to change the conditions of award or to  make no awards at all. 

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