Singled out as research leaders

Publisert:7. desember 2007Oppdatert:2. oktober 2013, 09:12

Four young researchers will each receive between NOK 12-15 million so that they can start their own research groups at the university. They are the winners of this year’s award from the Bergen Research Foundation’s (BFS) recruitment programme.

This is the third time that BFS has chosen young researchers.  The grant, which this year amounts to nearly 56 million Norwegian crowns, has the backing of both BFS and the University of Bergen.

One has to be put forward as a candidate by the university in order to compete, and 21 applications were received before the spring deadline. Seven went on to the final round after having been put through a series of pitfall tests. The final four were chosen after further evaluation and interviews that among other things focussed on leadership qualities. These are:

  • Silke Appel (researcher at the Broegelmann Research Laboratory, The Gade Institute)
  • Asbjørn Grønstad (professor in Visual Culture at the University of Stavanger)
  • Karstein Specht (researcher in cognitive neuroscience at the Faculty of Psychology)
  • Morten Førre (postdoctor at the Department of Physics and Technology and who is at present a guest researcher at University of Bordeaux 1)

– Bergen Research Foundation makes it possible to recruit talented young researchers who are deeply rooted in faculty and departmental strategies.  The allocation is a fantastic contribution and will enable the university to be more competitive and help to quality assure recruitment, says Prof. Gerd Kvale, chairman of the board at BFS.

– These researchers don’t just have brilliant projects, they have been chosen because they have ambition and want to develop and lead research groups, says Kvale.

An inspiring process
Media expert Asbjørn Grønstad is a professor of Visual Culture at the University of Stavanger.  He specialises in film theory, but is also a strong multidisciplinary researcher, who publishes articles within the fields of both visual culture, media research, literature and gender research.  He holds a postdoctoral scholarship at the Department of Information Science and Media Studies and has been a guest researcher at the University of Amsterdam and the University of California – Berkeley.  He will come back to the department in the summer after having spent 6 months in Stavanger and will then begin to form a research group around the digital picture culture.

– I am extremely happy about the grant. The project that I have received funding for, will investigate how our understanding of visual images, changes with the advancement of new communication technologies and how controversial pictures from both artistic and popular culture, both reflect and direct central political and cultural conflicts, says Grønstad.

Wide range
The newly appointed leaders represent a wide range of professional skill.

Grønstads project intends to explore a range of interrelated problems that have arisen within the context of our increasingly digitalized image culture: the state of iconoclasm in the age of globalization, the democratization of visibility that new media enable, deliberately controversial images and their conditions in a climate of commodification, the documentary value of digital images, and the significance of paradigmatic images for the formation of visual subjectivity. A premise central to the project is the notion that aesthetic and sociological perspectives alone are no longer fully adequate for an understanding of contemporary visual culture, and that the visual increasingly has to be considered ethically and ecologicaly.

Silke Appel from the Broegelmann Research Laboratory, The Gade Institute, leads a research group focusing on specific immune cells, dendritic cells, and their possible applications in clinical settings. The long term goal of her research project is to better understand the cellular mechanisms involved in antigen presentation, T cell stimulation and tolerance induction by dendritic cells. The results can be exploited in clinical applications related to autoimmune diseases, tumor patients, development of new vaccines and patients undergoing stem cell transplantation.

The main research topic of neuroscientist Dr. Karsten Specht is to explore the neuronal correlates behind auditory perception. He is especially interested in localizing and exploring the neuronal mechanisms that turn an acoustic signal into a speech percept. In order to investigate these processes, Dr. Specht and his research group, which will be a part of the cognitive neuroscience group at the faculty of psychology, is going to combine different imaging and analysis methods. One main method will be the combined recording of neuronal signals with electro-encephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows exploring neuronal processes with a high temporal and spatial resolution.

By using dynamic experimental paradigms, it is aimed to trace an acoustic signal from the primary perception to the comprehension of the signal a meaningful speech. It is further hypothesized that subjects with developmental speech disorders will show a difference in the temporal dynamic of these processes. It is therefore the hope that a closer understanding of these neuronal mechanisms could also lead to better understanding of the origin of developmental speech disorders, which then could be used to develop new diagnostic tools and therapies.

Morten Førre has been employed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Physics and Technology and is currently a guest researcher at the University of Bordeaux 1. Førre will use the funding from the Bergen Research Foundation to launch a new research project within the optical physics group at the Department of Physics and Technology. The goal of the project is to develop theory to describe the dynamics of matter when interacting with the new superintense and ultra-short laser sources that are currently being developed world-wide. Such light sources are expected to play a central role in future imaging technology. With the new super-fast 50 Tflops, CRAY XT4 computing facility at the University of Bergen and a new software package that is currently being developed in the Bergen Computational Quantum Physics Group, Førre sees a unique possibility to study complex quantum mechanical processes that have until now been out of reach for modelling.


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