Tomas Pärt's declaration of intent

Last changed: 06 October 2021

Tomas Pärt. Professor at the Department of Ecology

  1. Research. I want to further develop the opportunities for NJ and SLU to become world leading in the relevant research areas of SLU. This can be done through several parallel research-related initiatives:
    a) Recruit, keep and promote the best researchers in their research areas respectively. It’s important to allow a good mix of basic and applied research. When recruiting people, we should contact particularly interesting names for applying for the position and we should suggest productive networks and potential collaborations within and outside the department. Attracting the best and most relevant faculty professors can be particularly difficult as salaries and conditions in Sweden are relatively small and limited in comparison to other countries. Therefore, we may need to add extra resources sometimes and perhaps even help the spouses to find a good job. In order to keep the best young researchers, the tenure track BUL-UL-Professor should remain, and especially the opportunity for promotion to Professor must be opened up again in a dialog between the faculty and the department.
    b) Informal and formal interdisciplinary networks. I want future societal transformations to have an origin in our research at SLU and I want us to have been a player (among others) when outlining these changes. While it is important to maintain breadth and depth in our research, parts of it should have a clear societal relevance. Here, interdisciplinary discussions and the development of collaborative projects that help to link even the most in-depth and basic research to our major future societal challenges are something that must be stimulated. Interdisciplinary forums already exist but I think they can be further developed, both for our own research, but also for sharpening the dialogue with decision-makers.
  2. Gender issues are also something we must raise higher on the agenda and which unfortunately often creates unnecessarily heated discussions. How do we get and retain more competent and skilled women among younger and older researchers? The sex ratio among senior researchers is strongly skewed at some departments (e.g. ecology) and here a mixture of both new and old approaches and above all new support from heads of departments, Professors and research group leaders are needed to achieve a change. This can be generalized to also apply to ethnicity as I’m convinced research and teaching benefits from a heterogeneous diversity of researchers and teachers who will enrich our activities by their different scientific traditions and views of teaching. Such diversity sharpens the quality of research and teaching and thus also the discussions with decision-makers. But how do we go from words to action? As action speaks louder than words, that is the discussion for the future, I think.
  3. FOMA. I believe in a development of today's environmental analyses to become even more closely related to present questions in research and the society. In a changing environment, good robust time series of environmental indicators are needed to be able to evaluate the effects of various environmental interventions. At the same time, a renewal of types of inventory data may be needed in the future to better evaluate future interventions and to match future societal issues.

I also see that SLU invests more in "citizen science" where the public are stimulated to collect environmental data (such as in the Species Observation System). The potential in using citizen reports is enormous and can prove to be an excellent way to complement existing FOMA activities. In addition, such citizen-based data collection can be the first step in identifying and developing new future environmental monitoring. However, to make the future FOMA to be the tool society needs, we need to invest in biostatisticians who can develop new statistical tools to handle this often large and complicated data.

Last and not least, citizen research engages citizens and gets them involved in the development of future environmental research and puts SLU on the map with the public.

  1. Teaching In line with the faculty's strategy, I think that all researchers should have the opportunity to teach and all senior lecturers should have a foothold in research. Both tasks are mutually important to each other. Research-related teaching has been on the agenda for a long time, but surely it can be even better? In this context, I want to highlight the opportunities to develop more dynamic courses that better follow the development of the society and relevant research areas. Extra resources and an official recognition are possible “ carrots” for course leaders and other teachers who renew the course contents and their teaching.

Finally, I'm good at questioning dogmas and traditional views and their structures, while being constructive by proposing new solutions. I like very open-minded environments and discussions and I have no problems of being wrong sometimes as I see it as inspiring rather than "shameful".