“Enjoy using it!” exhorted Geir Anton Johansen, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, during the opening ceremony. A great deal of praise was lavished on the new school, whose primary objective is to improve the education of researchers.
Professor Anders Goksøyr has been primus motor behind the work on the research school, which is a collaborative venture between the Department of Molecular Biology, the Department of Informatics, the Sars Centre and the Computational Biology Unit.
“The reason for the collaboration between molecular biology and computational biology is that the two disciplines have become more and more similar,” says Professor Goksøyr. “Academic developments in the two fields are bringing them closer together, and they can therefore benefit from such a collaboration. For example, the molecular biologists feel a greater need for computational solutions, and I think a larger environment will help, where the students can assist one another.” The initial intake to the research school’s introductory course is 13 students. The long-term goal is to have 50-60 students at the research school at any given time.
“We hope to become effective and attractive both nationally and internationally,” adds Professor Goksøyr.
Esprit de corps
The students accepted for the researcher training shall take mandatory courses to familiarise themselves with the disciplines, participate in workshops, be taught academic writing and oral presentation in addition to working on their own project assignments. All courses will be held in English, which will make it easier for foreign students to take part. Professor Goksøyr hopes that incorporating the students in a common programme will enable them to make good contacts.
“Those accepted are privileged in the sense that they will have a good overview of the research in all the fields and we hope that they will make contacts with other students with whom they can collaborate in their studies. The hope is that the class develops an ‘esprit de corps’,” says Professor Goksøyr.
Confusing to begin with
Who was to collaborate to create a research school was not crystal clear from the inception of the project. Initially, a research school was envisaged that was based on cooperation between the Sars Centre and the Department of Molecular Biology. Meanwhile, the computational biologists were planning their own school.
“The initiative was inspired by the Universities and Colleges Council’s proposal for action to improve Norwegian researcher education and improve the throughput of doctoral fellows,” says Professor Goksøyr. “The matter was discussed at faculty level in 2003-2004 and several models were considered. It was rather confusing to begin with, but we saw it as being a good opportunity to improve and expand what we could offer to our students.” The opening address at the ceremony was given by Matthias Hentze of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg.
“The collaboration we enjoy with the EMBL is important to our future development, they are an important research environment in the field,” says Professor Goksøyr.