Meet the Grants Office: Marianne

Last changed: 27 May 2024
Marianne Gillion. photo.

Marianne Gillion joined the SLU Grants Office as a Research Coordinator in April 2024. She comes to us from the world of social sciences, humanities, and musicology!

Hej Marianne! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hej! I am from the west coast of Canada, but have lived in both hemispheres, and Sweden is the seventh country I have called home. My path toward research coordination is shaped by my experiences as a researcher in the humanities. I received my PhD in Music from the University of Manchester in 2015. After this, I held postdoctoral positions at universities across Europe. My research centred on religious music and identities during moments of upheaval - extreme technological, political, or cultural change - from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. I began as Research Assistant at Salzburg University and won a Grant Writing Fellowship to join KU Leuven in 2017. The following year, I was awarded a three-year project by the Research Foundation Flanders. In 2021 I moved to Sweden to take up a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Seal of Excellence Fellowship, funded by Vinnova. The project converted to a full Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action in 2022. Alongside my own projects, I served as an expert consultant for an American National Endowment for the Humanities project and as a co-investigator on a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant.

My postdoc years introduced me to different research environments, international funding structures, and grant writing styles and expectations. As a result, I became increasingly interested in research policy and support. I wanted to use the skills and knowledge I had gained to help researchers achieve success. Joining the SLU Grants Office as a Research Coordinator is a wonderful opportunity! The natural sciences and the arts and humanities need each other to address global challenges. I am excited to bring a slightly different perspective and skill set to the table and to work with such a fantastic team.

What does your role as a Research Coordinator include?

I support researchers who are applying for excellence grants. These are proposals that focus on scientific excellence as a key criterion, such as European Research Council Grants, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, and the Wallenberg Foundation programmes. The support takes various forms: from helping researchers identify the most relevant calls, to providing a sounding board for ideas, and giving verbal and written feedback on application drafts. I also work with the other Grants Office Research Coordinators to provide informational and instructive workshops for PhDs, postdocs, and faculty about funding opportunities and the nitty-gritty of proposal writing – among other topics.

My research background allows me to provide areas of targeted support. I can advise on gender and on IDEA - Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility - as they relate to different applications. I can also assist researchers who are using (or are interested in) transdisciplinary approaches and methods. And last but not least, I can provide insight on how to increase societal impact through creative communication and outreach. If there is an aspect of your proposal that you think needs a humanist perspective, contact me and I will see what I can do to help!

What engages you the most about your work?

What I find most interesting is learning about people’s research, their goals, and how they believe that their findings will contribute to building a sustainable future. I love working with words and language, so helping researchers craft their project structures and articulate their aims is a satisfying experience. I also enjoy finding research resonances with the environmental humanities and pointing people toward contexts and collaborations they might not have previously considered. Providing training for early career researchers is another aspect of my job that I find fulfilling. As a recent former postdoc, I understand the challenges, especially in international contexts, of forging a career, academic or otherwise. Supporting the next generation of researchers is important work to me.

What is your best piece of advice for researchers applying for grants?

My best piece of advice is actually a question someone once asked me: What story are you trying to tell? It is easy to get caught up in the objectives, methods, experiments, and work packages of a proposal. And, of course, these are all important aspects of a well-crafted grant application! But it is equally important to take a step back and consider the overarching narrative. A compelling grant application tells and sells a research story. In her excellent book Steering the Craft: A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin observes that “in general, all storytellers [no matter the genre] work pretty much the same way, with the same box of tools”. I encourage everyone applying for a grant to think of themselves both as researchers and as storytellers.

Finally, what is life like for you outside of work?

I am quite busy outside of work! A handful of my favourite activities include reading, writing (flash fiction!), yoga, photography, and knitting. When I joined SLU, I decided to mark the occasion by casting on my first cardigan. Hopefully you’ll see me wearing my homemade cardie once the cold weather returns.


SLU Grants Office is a unit within the Vice-Chancellor’s Office. We provide expertise, support, advice and information on external funding issues to researchers, administrators and university leadership.

Read more about SLU Grants Office and what we can do to help you.