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The CEH welcomes virtual PhD fellow Joana Formosinho

Joana’s research centres around the concept of the holobiont.

2021.05.06 | Maria Ulsig

The CEH is happy to introduce a new visiting scholar, Joana Formosinho, who will be with us for the next three months. An interdisciplinary PhD fellow at the University of Copenhagen’s Medical Museion and Department of Public Health, Joana researches how the rise to prominence of microbes within biology and biomedicine—as agents in human health, as co-evolving partners in the making of bodies—is disrupting established notions of biological individuality. Her research centres around the concept of the holobiont: biologically, the functional unit made up of a human and all microbes living inside or on us. Culturally, an emerging onto-ecological human: a multi-species consortium intricately interwoven with place. Joana is interested in the role of worldview and language in the production of knowledge within biology, and she has recently written on the role of the Western hero narrative vis a vis biological origin stories. Currently, she is researching the multi-dimensional materiality of the gut as terrain from which holobionts (host-microbiome) arise and are continuously re-negotiated.

“My main goals for this ‘stay’ time are twofold”, Joana explains, “firstly, to frame my project within Environmental Humanities scholarship and formulate research questions from there, as I’m exploring my fit within the field as a ‘disciplinary home,’ and secondly, to explore methodological approaches at the intersection of natural sciences and humanities, with a focus on thinking complex concepts (like the holobiont) through concrete objects/places.”

 Joana has a background in biology and has studied the entanglements between place and the behaviour of organisms from within the natural sciences: baboons in the semi-desert, cows on industrial farms. She has worked as a researcher in the UK animal welfare NGO sector and co-created a small initiative called Wildful, facilitating attentional experiences in public parks. She has an enthusiasm for scholarship that embraces the interconnected theoretical, societal, educational, and public health challenges of an ecologically-embedded human.

As part of her stay, Joana will be giving an online CEH talk on 23 June, from 3-4.30pm CEST. You can view details of the talk - Inhabiting the concept of holobiont: thinking through visual imagery - on our event page here.

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