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Research Council for Biosciences and Environment: €10m in funding to Academy Research Fellows and Postdoctoral Researchers

26 May 2016

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences and Environment has decided to fund twelve new posts as Academy Research Fellow. The Research Council reviewed a total of 117 applications for Academy Research Fellow funding submitted in the Academy’s September 2015 call. The success rate was 10.3 per cent. The Research Council’s total funding for research posts as Academy Research Fellow amounts to some 5.2 million euros.

The funding is intended to advance and strengthen the opportunities of the best researchers to qualify themselves for academic leadership and establish themselves as independent researchers. The reviewers paid attention to the career advancement of talented researchers. Other key criteria included the applicants’ suitability for a research post as Academy Research Fellow and their ability to head a research team. The Research Council also paid attention to the societal impact of the proposed research plans and new, high-risk initiatives. Further, the Research Council stressed the importance of international collaboration and previous mobility.

Examples of funded Academy Research Fellows:

Sea-ice decline is one of the most striking consequences of recent climate-driven changes in the Arctic. Current climate models, which rely on short observational time series, are unable to sufficiently explain the natural variation and foreseeing responses of Arctic marine ecosystems, highlighting the urgent need to exploit natural archives (i.e. proxies). Microscopic organisms known as protists, which are abundantly stored in the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, are widely applied as proxies for past sea-ice reconstruction, notwithstanding that little is known of their relationships to the ice ecosystem. Maija Heikkilä was granted funding for a research post as Academy Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki to investigate seasonal processes that result in the formation of proxy archives and to apply this knowledge in ecosystem modelling and reconstruction of pre-anthropogenic sea-ice conditions.

Jari Syväranta was granted funding for a research post as Academy Research Fellow at the University of Eastern Finland. He studies methane dynamics and emissions from Arctic, boreal and temperate lakes. Climate change, changes in many land-use practices and increasing eutrophication are projected to increase temperatures and runoff of nutrients and organic matter into lakes. This process will have serious implications on methane release from lakes and on the structure and function of food webs. The aim of Syväranta’s research, which combines palaeolimnology with the latest analysis techniques, is to address how strongly the methane fluxes from lakes will be affected by increasing temperatures, nutrients and organic matter, and to investigate how these changes are reflected in food web processes. Syväranta will use palaeolimnological sediment cores from Greenland, Finland and Denmark, and an experimental approach utilising a unique climate change experimental mesocosm system in Denmark.

Funding granted to 16 research posts as Postdoctoral Researcher

The Research Council for Biosciences and Environment also decided to fund 16 new posts as Postdoctoral Researcher. The Research Council reviewed a total of 173 applications for Postdoctoral Researcher funding submitted in the Academy’s September 2015 call. The success rate was 9.3 per cent. The Research Council’s total funding for the posts amount to some 4.4 million euros.

The funding for a research post as Postdoctoral Researcher also attracts interest among foreign researchers in Finland. The proportion of foreign applicants has increased slightly each year. In this round, foreign nationals accounted for 36 per cent of all applicants for funding for a research post as Postdoctoral Researcher. Their proportion among the funding recipients was 38 per cent.

Examples of funded Postdoctoral Researchers:

Pest insects and plant pathogens inflict great damage on agriculture and forestry. Movements of migrative-pest-insect-transported and long-range-transported plant pathogens are particularly difficult to predict. Pilvi Siljamo was granted funding for a research post as Postdoctoral Researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute to develop to develop a warning system for migrative pest insects and dispersion of plant pathogens. Her goal is to make the model European-wide, but its main focus is on Finland and the UK. She will utilise a similar model for pollen concentrations and dispersion developed at the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Aerobiology Unit of the University of Turku.

Crop productivity depends on the ability of crops to adapt to the changing environment. Suboptimal growth conditions may lead to major agricultural yield losses. This is why breeding for increased stress resistance is among the major directions in the development of modern agriculture. In plants, exposure to unfavourable conditions leads to an accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Plants have evolved to detect these molecules as early stress signals. They trigger specific local and systemic defence responses and adaptation. Cezary Waszczak was granted funding for a research post as Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Helsinki to identify ROS receptor proteins that integrate the stress signals into cellular metabolism ultimately triggering the defence responses. Waszczak’s findings will contribute to the identification of new gene targets that could be used in crop improvement programmes.

More information

Funding for research post as Academy Research Fellow

  • list of funded Academy Research Fellows
  • Science Adviser Harri Hautala, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi, tel. +358 295 335 019
  • Senior Adviser Timo Kolu, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi, tel. +358 295 335 044
  • Science Adviser Annika Raitala, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi, tel. +358 295 335 097

Funding for research post as Postdoctoral Researcher

  • list of funded Postdoctoral Researchers
  • Science Adviser Outi Ala-Honkola, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi, tel. +358 295 335 029
  • Science Adviser Mirkka Herranen, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi, tel. +358 295 335 061
  • Senior Adviser Timo Kolu, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi, tel. +358 295 335 044
  • Science Adviser Annika Raitala, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi, tel. +358 295 335 097

Academy of Finland Communications
Vesa Varpula, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 131
firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi

Last modified 2 Jun 2016
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