Biohybrid Human Network: multidisciplinary PhDs in Social Science, Humanities, Bioscience and Engineering.

Deadline for applications: 17th January 2014
Entry date: 1st October 2014

Background

Rapid developments in bioengineering, computer science, psychology, and biomedicine are leading to increasing levels of interaction between humans and emerging biotechnologies in a wide range of settings from the clinic to the classroom. The use of these new technologies takes many forms, including implants, prosthetics, drugs and devices that modify or augment the body, and at the same time create new forms of individual and collective identity. These changes challenge both existing scientific and cultural categories and blur the boundaries between natural, social, and synthetic objects. The blurring of these boundaries raises important issues such as at what point does biology become artefact and technology become alive? In our increasingly biohybrid world, what does it mean to be living? And what does it mean to be human? The goal of the Biohybrid Human Network is to understand both the interactions and the distinctions between what we are and what we create, and to improve how we interact with our inventions. It involves academics from across the University of Sheffield and is initially focussed around three core research themes; i) biohybrid systems, ii) biohybrid individuals, iii) biohybrid societies.

We aim to create a cohort of PhD students who will work with the Biohybrid community to unite the pure and social sciences, medicine, engineering, and the arts. This requires flexible individuals with a range of backgrounds who will learn from each other and gain a wide range of research skills and enhanced interdisciplinary knowledge.

We welcome applications from students who should have or expect to achieve an undergraduate honours degree at 2.1 or higher in a relevant field e.g. in computer science, cognitive science, Ecology, environmental engineering, neuroscience, psychology, social science or humanities.

Students will receive a scholarship which will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate and an annual stipend equivalent at the standard RCUK rate for 3 years full-time.

Projects available through the network

1. Communicating with the environment through artificial ears: Perception of emotion in speech and music by cochlear implant users (Renee Timmers, r.timmers@sheffield.ac.uk, Department of Music).

2. Synthetic ecology: Engineering natural system (Jags Pandhal, j.pandhal@sheffield.ac.uk, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering).

3. Towards an embodied model of multimodal musical learning (Stuart Wilson, s.p.wilson@sheffield.ac.uk, Department of Psychology).

4. Modelling the (biohybrid) human using 'living machines (Paul Martin, paul.martin@sheffield.ac.uk, Department of Sociological Studies).

5. Posthuman, enhanced and lacking bodies: Rethinking the human (Dan Goodley, d.goodley@sheffield.ac.uk, School of Education).

6. Posthumanism, migrant and dis/abled bodies (Nishat Awan, n.awan@sheffield.ac.uk, School of Architecture).

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor(s) directly to discuss and develop a project idea that interests them. Formal applications including a 3 page summary of the project idea (developed in collaboration with the lead supervisor), CV (with reference details - we will NOT contact your referees; it is your responsibility to request references and ensure we receive them), and degree transcripts (if available) should be submitted to the lead supervisor of the project you are interested in by 17th January 2014.