Andrea Núñez Casal, PhD
I am an inter/transdisciplinary researcher of the entanglements between microbes, embodiment and inequalities. To date, my research has focused on (1) philosophical and socio-cultural aspects of the human microbiome and immunology; (2) feminist 'embodied' methods to address health inequalities associated with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and chronic/recurrent infections; (3) advancing decolonial approaches to rethink health and illness and devise plural origins and actual shapes of Buen Vivir (good living). This includes an examination of how bioinequalities are being reproduced within science as it moves from and between the laboratory, the governmental, the popular, and the embodied. I use a wide variety of theoretical perspectives including sociology and anthropology of science, STS, body studies, and critical public health and qualitative research methods including multi-sited and digital ethnographies and historical and policy analysis.
I hold a bachelor's degree in Biology (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 2008). I decided to pursue my interest in the socio-cultural studies of biology, completing with distinction a Master's in Cultural Studies (Goldsmiths, University of London, 2011). My interdisciplinary training has allowed me to explore a variety of social topics and empirical sites in contemporary biomedicine (microbial ecology and immunology) in the Republic of Korea, Brazil, the UK, and the US. Funded by 'la Caixa' Foundation, my Ph.D. at the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths (2019), examined how human microbiome science reinstates an immunology of inclusion and exclusion through the 'biologization' of social categories of difference (race, gender, and class in particular). My Ph.D. (no corrections) was the first sociocultural study of immunity, the microbiome, and inequalities. Using embodied experiences as a sustainable approach to address recurrent infections and AMR has pioneered my field attracting wide attention, including several invitations to present research at the MIT (2015) and The British Academy (2018), among other institutions, and to publish in Nature and EASST.
I have been an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths (2014-2020) and Research Associate on the Wellcome Trust project 'Following the life of the Francis Crick Institute' at The University of Edinburgh, (2016-2017). In 2019, I was awarded the Wellcome Trust Fellowship ‘Shared Futures: Codeveloping Medical Humanities in China and the UK' by the University of Strathclyde. As a Research Associate in Genetics, Law and Society, The University of Oxford (2020), I have conducted research on the cultural implications of non-invasive pregnancy tests in Taiwan and Denmark. I participated in the European Commission COST Action Bio-objects (2012-2015).
I was awarded an 'EcoSocieties Fund' (2020) (The University of Nottingham) for ‘The Witch and the Microbe’. The project examined the genealogies and status of feminised knowledges-practices of microbial healing (local, traditional, profane) as key to resurfacing and updating effective approaches and new articulations of care for "recalcitrant infections" (i.e. those recurrent or persistent with no clear biomedical explanation or treatment). The project was also part of my visiting fellowship at the Gender Studies Institute, Charles III University Madrid (December 2020-June 2021).
I am a Collaborating Professor at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), in the Interuniversity Master's Degree in Planetary Health (UOC-Pompeu i Fabra-ISGlobal), in the areas of Social Sciences and Humanities. Since January 2022, I am a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Science, Technology and Society of the Institute of Philosophy at the Spanish National Research Council (IFS-CSIC) and at the Department of Philosophy and Anthropology of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC). My research project, entitled ¨GERMEN: Gender, Microbes and Buen Vivir¨, examines, from a critical science studies perspective, the entanglements between gender, biodiversity, and microbes as key to resurfacing the transgenerational knowledges-practices and embodied experiences of microbial healing developed by healers in specific local health cultures along with their subsequent imprint on contemporary microbiological research, popular and profane healing practices.