The closing date for this job has passed; return to the main list for other jobs

Reconstructing disease dynamics in Central Africa using historical museum collections and archives.

Reconstructing disease dynamics in Central Africa using historical museum collections and archives

The University of Antwerp and the Royal Museum of Central Africa (Belgium) offer a combined position (10% junior professor, 90% senior researcher) for a postdoc in Biology, Geography or a related discipline with a background in epidemiology, ecology, parasitology and/or distribution modelling. The position is of indeterminate duration but salary is secured for at least 10 years.

The past century has seen unprecedented changes in natural biotopes due to human activities, in Africa perhaps even more than elsewhere. This has affected the distribution and dynamics of infectious diseases, particularly zoonotic infections, transmitted from wildlife to humans. In addition, changes in human demography, agriculture and other human activities in the environment, including health care interventions, have also changed the disease dynamics. Understanding the relative contribution of these factors may help in predicting what the effects can be of future environmental changes to the spread of diseases. The scientist we are looking for will use museum collections and historical archives to retrospectively study the impact of environmental and anthropogenic changes on vector and disease dynamics. Despite its enormous potential, this ‘unexplored heritage’ is vastly underused in epidemiological research. This profile will combine longitudinal series of vector collections and zoonotic disease carriers, with historical archives such as medical records, aerial pictures and scientific publications. By taking a multidisciplinary approach, combining ecology, geography, modelling and semi-quantitative methods, the changes in the presence, diversity and distribution of pathogens, vectors and animal reservoirs can be documented and related to changes in 1) human demography, 2) climate, and 3) land cover and land use on the spread of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. By including socio-ecological studies and historical records of disease control efforts, lessons can be learned in order to improve current health policies (‘historical epidemiology’). For a start, the research will focus on three vector-borne diseases that are strongly affected by environmental and anthropogenic change and that fall within the expertise of and/or historical documentation at both institutes: schistosomiasis, sleeping sickness and bubonic plague.

The full position announcement and instructions for applying can be found at Deadline for application: 17/02/2022.

More information about the research project can be obtained from dr. Tine Huyse ( or prof. dr. Herwig Leirs (

University of Antwerp and Royal Museum for Central Africa
Closing date
February 17th, 2022
Posted on
December 23rd, 2021 21:50
Last updated
December 23rd, 2021 21:50