Maya Hey is an expert on human–microbe relations in food settings, holding degrees in dietetics, food studies, and communications. She is a postdoctoral researcher with the Centre for the Social Study of Microbes at the University of Helsinki.

Her research focuses on fermentation and the material practice of how we come to know microbial life. In her current post, she examines the intersection of ferments and microbiome research, particularly as it reveals assumptions about what microbes are, how we work with them, and how they get slotted into technosolutionist and healthist imaginaries. Her doctoral research at Concordia University (funded by Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship) examined fermentation as a way to theorise communications in human–microbe relationships through sensory ethnography in Japan. Across collaborative projects, she brings a humanities and social science perspective to the life sciences, calling upon intersectional, non-Western, and multispecies approaches to map out human response-ability in a more-than-human world.

Image: Laurence Kennedy

Her work experience spans preschools, chemistry labs, culinary kitchens, organic farms, food banks, and retail markets, where she has cumulatively garnered over 15 years of experience facilitating discussions around contemporary food and health issues. She leads the group fff|food feminism fermentation and is passionate about open education and pedagogy.

She tweets @heymayahey and shares images @heymayahey as well.


Ph.D. Communication Studies
M.A. Food Culture and Communications
B.S. Dietetics and Food Administration

ORCiD record
YH research portal

Maya Hey completed her PhD at Concordia University (Communication Studies, with distinction) in 2021 as a Vanier scholar, with research funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Government of Canada). While at Concordia, she was a recipient of the Public Scholars Award (2019) from the School of Graduate Studies and served as a former Fellow of the Faculty of Arts and Science. Prior, she completed her master’s degree in Food Culture and Communication at the Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche (Pollenzo, Italy) and earned a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Administration with an emphasis in chemistry.

Previous research topics include synthetic biotechnologies and responsible innovation (2021-2022, Future Organisms), intersectionality in the Canadian context (2018-2019, Intersectionality Hub), research-creation and practice-based methods (2017-2018, Hexagram), enzymatic potential of koji (2016, Nordic Food Lab), ractopamine in the water supply (2014, Mezyk Lab), and discourses of food safety in post-Fukushima Japan (2013).

Photo: Marc Bourcier

Her departmental appointments have ranged in discipline from media studies to rhetoric to sociology, with teaching experience in critical thinking, articulation theory, special topics in food/media, and hands-on workshops. At Colorado State University (2021-2022), she taught courses on composition and rhetoric to undergraduate science majors. She also developed a pilot course as part of an innovative first-year curriculum sponsored by the Teagle Foundation.