Letters from the Dean

Last changed: 11 November 2020

Summer longing and initiatives

Summer – an almost mysterious time of longing, beauty and time off, but also a time to deal with everything that was left undone during the spring semester and application period. Summer activities also include Formas' new call for applications with the deadline August/September.

My area of responsibility, doctoral education, is lucky to have seven research schools that are part of the NJ Faculty and the SLU Board's strategic initiatives during 2017–2021. I want to thank everyone who took part of the research school activities for their efforts in strengthening doctoral education. I also want to encourage everyone to propose research school or individual course activities.

The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) has started reviewing doctoral education subjects at all Swedish universities. They recently reviewed economics and will continue with chemistry in 2019. All subjects will gradually be evaluated; in parallel, we are conducting an internal quality assurance dialogue which will include many staff members.

The programme for externally employed doctoral students within food-related research (LivsID) has begun. SLU is responsible for this programme through the national food strategy. The doctoral students will mostly be active at various companies, but will have access to SLU expertise concerning flour quality, probiotics and cheese. Further collaboration with various parties within the food sector benefits our sectoral role while enhancing and communicating excellence. The initiative to recruit doctoral students using capital gave good results and benefits future skills supply.

The vice-chancellor has launched a bioinformatics initiative at SLU in the form of SLUBI (SLU Bioinformatics Infrastructure). The unit will support research projects with the need to develop bioinformatics in order to process the complex sets of data that occur more and more within several disciplines. The NJ Faculty is co-funding the initiative and has just recruited a bioinformatics expert. More information on how to receive this support will be announced after the summer.

The vice-chancellor is continuing to invest in infrastructure: a new call for support for research infrastructure has just been announced with the deadline 17 September. The NJ Faculty has been relatively successful in receiving these grants before, which show that our projects are of high quality. It's time to put our heads together and submit more applications.

Summer came early this year in Uppsala – at the beginning of May. This bodes well for the plants, but we need more rain. For me, it's time to see how trials in a controlled environment work "in real life" outside – root-colonising earth bacteria will be tested on plants to review their growth and stress tolerance. Last year, cabbage aphids destroyed the rapeseed field trial – it will be interesting to see how things go this summer. Personally, I will also go hiking in the mountains, kayak in the archipelago and potter about at home.

I hope you all will have a nice summer full of relaxation, new experiences and insights.

Johan Meijer, Vice-Dean, responsible for doctoral education

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