Department of Biological Sciences (BIO)

BIO is multinational - more

This information dates from 2008 - BIO will be even more multinational now!

Jarl Giske

With people coming and going, it is difficult to get a completely accurate figure of the number of people and countries, but in 2008, grouped together the graduate students (masters and PhD) and employees at BIO include a diverse population representing 37 different countries plus Norway – that is a total of 38 different nationalities!

Grouping BIO employees and graduate students by any measure is challenging – the international dimension is no exception! Some researchers and students are only physically at BIO for a few weeks or months. However, their visit always provides BIO with cultural and scientific enrichment.

Out of a total 125 masters students currently registered at BIO we have 25 international masters students; representing 15 different countries, eight from within Europe. Among the 25 international PhD students within the total group of 114, 19 different countries are represented, 18 of the 25 come from European countries. BIO has 183 staff, researchers, administration and technical personnel (not including PhD students/researchers). Among these there are 43 with international backgrounds representing 23 different countries. Thirty-three members of this last group come from other European countries.

In addition there are the international projects that Sidsel Kjøllberg manages and NOMA, managed by Berit Øglænd. These contributed an additional four new countries to the list!

BIO’s 2008 list:
Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, India, Italy Japan, Malaysia, Nambia, Nepal, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, USA and Vietnam.

Thanks to Eli Høie, Berit Øglænd, Sidsel Kjølleberg and Eva Beate Hårklau for their help with information and numbers.

Jarl Giske, BIO’s leader says; “Utilise the multinationality of BIO!”

Giske writes: “Almost all world languages are spoken at BIO, many religions and cultures coexist – and we work so well together! Everybody likes waffles …

Science is international. Mathematics is the same everywhere, and so is biochemistry and physics. There is no local variation in algebra, stoichiometry or DNA structure to learn in different nations. We all publish in the same international journals, often with international co-authorships.

Biology is international in a different sense. For one thing, there are no biological borders that follow the national borders. There is only one ocean, landscapes change gradually, organisms migrate, and also environmental problems cross borders. Some of the biological disciplines, like ecology, biodiversity and environmental biology follow the same underlying principles everywhere, but evolutionary adaptations to local conditions as well as recent local environmental changes makes these parts of biology “historic”. You cannot understand the ecology and biodiversity of an area without knowing its history. Sometimes we need to know what happened the last 100 million years of continental drift, sometimes we need to consider the last glaciation, and sometimes we need to know the present pressures from our own species on the area. This also means that one cannot sit in an office in the north-western “corner” of the world and act as expert advisor on environmental issues around the world. Only locals can be experts in these sciences. This gives international cooperation a great added value. This historic and context-specific aspect of environmental biology makes it extra interesting with students from around the world and guest researchers with first-hand insight into other ecosystems.”

Giske encourages biologists at BIO to utilise the resources of their fellow students and colleagues to deepen their understanding of biological processes and diversity. He suggests that the students imagine that their masters or doctoral study is taking place in a perpetual international workshop!