EUR 23 million to Academy Projects and Postdoctoral Researchers in biosciences and environmental research
23 May 2013
The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences and Environment has decided to fund 30 Academy Projects and 21 research posts as Postdoctoral Researcher on the basis of the applications submitted within the September 2012 call. The total amount of funding granted by the Research Council is some EUR 23 million.
Academy Project funding is the Academy’s key funding opportunity to fund research by professor- or docent-level researchers. Within this call, the Research Council reviewed 223 applications for Academy Project funding. The success rate was 12.5 per cent. The average amount of funding per project is some EUR 590,000. Targeted Academy Project funding was granted to experimental research on integral membrane proteins. This targeted call attracted 14 applications, of which the Research Council decided to fund two applications with some EUR 1.1 million.
The Research Council reviewed a total of 164 applications for research posts as Postdoctoral Researcher. The figure is 10 per cent higher than in the previous year. The success rate was 12.8 per cent. The Postdoctoral Researcher funding is granted for three years and intended towards salaries, personal research costs and mobility.
Examples of funded Academy Projects:
Johanna Björkroth (University of Helsinki) and Petri Auvinen (University of Helsinki) are investigating microbial risks caused by psychrotrophic fermentative food spoilage and pathogenic bacteria. They are studying how microbial communities regulate the most important metabolic pathways and function during various interaction situations. Another aim is to study surface structures related to adhesion and survival in the food production environments.
Timo Tamminen (Finnish Environment Institute) is working to connect the development of Baltic Sea ecosystem models to recent advances in functional biodiversity and ecological stoichiometry research. Functional properties of organisms transform the stoichiometric ratios of large-scale material fluxes (C, N, P, Si), deteriorating the predictive power of ecosystem models based on fixed (Redfield ratio) stoichiometry, especially in management applications, where fluxes of major elements play a central role (eutrophication, climate change). The project’s specific target is the flexible stoichiometry of planktonic primary production. This will be studied through species-specific functional traits, which are required to utilise extensive monitoring data on phytoplankton community composition in the development of dynamic, trait-based models. An essential component of the project is to develop integrated experimental platforms for this task, also facilitating the development of novel, cost-effective monitoring methods of the marine environment.
Examples of funded Postdoctoral Researchers:
Antti Knaapila (University of Turku) is studying food preferences, which vary widely from person to person. The underlying factors of food preferences are poorly known. In his project, Knaapila is investigating how individual differences in pleasantness and consumption of legumes, herbs and spices are related to variability in perception of odours of these food items. The study will consist of, for example, an online survey for 1,000 adults, 200 of which will be invited to an evaluation of odours from legume, herb and spice samples in the sensory laboratory. The results can be applied to support the replacement of animal-based dietary protein with protein-rich legumes, increasing palatability of vegetable dishes by adding herbs and by replacement of added salt in dishes with spices with a view to decreasing sodium intake. In general, the results of the project can facilitate changes in eating behaviour to promote healthier lifestyles.
Sari Peura (University of Jyväskylä) focuses on humic lakes, which are a key environment in the boreal zone, as they comprise a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions (especially methane) to the atmosphere. Microbes are responsible for the processes producing and consuming these gases and, overall, microbes facilitate the elemental cycling in lakes. Peura’s project explores the relationship between environmental variables, such as oxygen and nutrient concentrations, as well as potential and expressed metabolic pathways in microbial communities in humic lakes. Particular attention will be paid to the methane cycle and the role of abundant, but poorly known bacterial groups, such as candidate division OD1. These are studied by using state-of-the-art molecular microbiology tools, such as next-generation sequencing combined with bioinformatics.
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