Joana Formosinho

Joana Formosinho

PhD Student

Member of:

Biologist and STS/HPS PhD fellow at the Medical Museion/ Department of Public Health. Researching cultural and methodological factors shaping gut microbiome discourse within biology and biomedicine. Interested in representations of the holobiont body (host + microbiota) within public health.


Does the primacy of hero narratives in western cultures influence knowledge-building in biology? How have metaphors like ‘natural selection’ and ‘the selfish gene’ shaped the way we understand processes of evolution—and our own history? When human health is found to be a multispecies phenomenon, should the term ecology acquire medical significance? How does the idea of environment as something ‘out there’ travel into healthcare practices?


These are some of the questions asked in my research. Working at the intersection of science and technology studies (STS) and history and philosophy of science (HPS), I investigate the role of language, worldview and narrative in the production of knowledge within biology—and its translation into healthcare and culture. At the Medical Museion, I am part of the interdisciplinary project Microbes on the Mind. My PhD enquiry focuses on the role of the gut microbiota—the trillions of microscopic creatures living inside the gut—in maintaining and disrupting health. The impact of conceptual and methodological context in shaping the research is one of my focuses. I also research how this knowledge travels—and can be travelled—into the public realm; e.g., how do we articulate a more-than-human, holobiont body within public health?


BSc in Zoology (University of London), MSc in Holistic Science (University of Plymouth). Member of the student advisory committee at the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB). 
Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish. 

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