EUR 18.9 million to Academy Projects in biosciences and environment

25 Apr 2012

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences and Environment has decided to grant a total of some EUR 19 million to 32 applicants for Academy Project funding.

Academy Projects are the key funding opportunity provided by the Academy for research projects by researchers with the qualifications of a professor or an adjunct professor (docent). In the Academy’s September 2011 call, the Research Council for Biosciences and Environment received a total of 175 applications for Academy Project funding and decided to fund 32 projects (success rate 18.3%). The average funding per project is some EUR 590,000. The majority of projects are granted funding for four years.

The funding decisions are primarily based on the international peer review of the research plan and the scientific merits of the applicant. In the preparation of decisions, attention is also paid to the Academy’s research policy objectives.

Applications were submitted by 17 sites of research; 75 per cent were universities or polytechnics. The majority of applications came from the Universities of Helsinki, Turku, Eastern Finland, Oulu and Jyväskylä. Research institutes accounted for 25 per cent of the applications. Funding was granted to eleven sites of research, of which universities accounted for some 80 per cent.

Examples of researchers who were granted Academy Project funding:

Research Professor Mikko Vähäsöyrinki (University of Oulu) is researching the neuronal mechanisms of segregation and integration of visual streams in the bumblebee brain. An earlier hypothesis of the visual processing architecture in the brain suggests that visual information is segregated into two streams. The ventral stream processes information related to the form recognition of object representation. The dorsal stream is considered to provide spatial representation of the body orientation and movement in space. The project will study this by using the relatively simple bee brain as an animal model, which can still support a rich behavioural repertoire. Similar to mammals, bumblebees possess trichromatic colour vision, motion vision and good learning capabilities. However, the underlying neuronal mechanisms are largely unknown. The project aims to provide quantitative and mechanistic-level understanding through state-of-the-art experimental and theoretical approaches. The results are expected to provide new insights into basic principles of visual processing, which are generally applicable to humans as well.

Research Professor Bruce Forbes and his research team (University of Lapland) are investigating resilience in socio-ecological systems in Fennoscandia and Yamal, West Siberia, that have been characterised by both climate change and the constant adaptation of people and their reindeer herds through the late Holocene. Intensive study areas for collecting experimental (quantitative) and descriptive (qualitative) data will be selected for two bioclimatic zones, near and beyond the tree line, in each region. The research team will link indigenous (Sámi and Nenets) oral histories with archaeology, palaeoecology and modern ecological and climate studies for a holistic explanation of stable states.

Research Scientist Jussi Kaurola (Finnish Meteorological Institute) and Senior Assistant Heli Peltola (University of Eastern Finland) are researching how the current business-as-usual management of Finnish forests should be adapted to climate change. The aim is also to focus on sustainable and cost-efficient forest biomass production, carbon sequestration in forest ecosystems and risk management, particularly in connection with wind- and snow-induced damages. The work will employ model-based analyses from stand- to national-level well-validated ecosystems and mechanistic risk models, as well as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools. For this study, the researchers will use several climate scenarios until the year 2100. This will help deal with various uncertainties, impacts and risks concerning forests and forestry in Finland when adapting forest management to foreseeable climate change.

More information:

  • Science Adviser Jaana Lehtimäki, tel. +358 9 7748 8373
  • Science Adviser Kyösti Lempa, tel. +358 9 7748 8248
  • Science Adviser Merja Särkioja, tel. +358 9 7748 8370
  • List of all Academy Project funding recipients:  (Year of decision: 2012, Funding source: Research Council for Biosciences and Environment, Call: 2011 Academy Project).

Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Specialist Vesa Varpula
tel. +358 9 7748 8458

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