Five young researchers funded millions

Five UiB scientists will receive over 100 million NOK from Bergen Research Foundation and the University of Bergen, who aim to lay the groundwork for world class research.

Bergen Research Foundation ceremony in the University aula 2 December 2016, with recruiting research grant recipients from the University of Bergen.
KICK START FOR YOUNG RESEARCHERS: Bergen Research Foundation aims to create world class research by supporting young researchers. Here from the ceremony in the University Aula with recipients of the young researchers recruiting grant: Charalampos Tzoulis, Lilya Budaghyan, Yvette Peters, Andreas Born and Steffen Leth Jørgensen.
Paul Sigve Amundsen for the University of Bergen

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“I am absolutely thrilled to receive the BFS grant. I am so very happy that I can now actually do what I find so important to do. Now, I can make real advances with my research, and I can make a true contribution,” says Yvette Peters, postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Comparative Politics.

Peters is one of five researchers to receive funds from the Bergen Research Foundation (BFS). A total of 103 million Norwegian Kroner (NOK, approximately 11.3 million Euros) is being awarded to this year’s five grant recipients.

BFS supports young researchers at the University of Bergen (UiB) through their Recruitment Programme. The goal is for the researchers to build and lead outstanding research environments at the university. Applicants may apply for up to 20 million NOK over a four year period, and UiB and the academic environments contribute a similar sum.

Making democracy better

In her project, Peters aims to study representation and political inequality in Europe, where many countries experience political conflicts that are becoming increasingly polarised.

“Many of these problems are related to a problem with representation; with the translations of what people want into what they get, in a democratically responsible way. At the same time, there are many economic and gender inequalities within society, which have shown to lead to an inequality in representation”, she explains.

She says the funding will make it possible for her to build a team, collecting data from the DIGSSCORE facility at UiB, and making great steps in learning more about how representation works.

“This opens up possibilities that were otherwise simply not possible. While we can learn from the data that currently exists, it also has limitations. By collecting information that is specifically tailored to address the questions that I ask, we will have the ability to learn a lot about the functioning of democracy – and how we can make this work better,” Peters says.

A cure for Parkinson’s disease

Charalampos Tzoulis is a Consultant Neurologist and Research Group Leader at Haukeland University Hospital and the Department of Clinical Medicine. He leads a research group  dedicated to the study of human aging and in particular Parkinson’s disease. His mission and long-term aim is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying age-related neurodegenerative disease and to design novel therapies.

“I am absolutely delighted and honoured to receive the BFS grant. I am also very excited about the unique possibilities this gives me and my group to conduct cutting-edge, world-class research in neurodegenerative diseases at the University of Bergen,” says Tzoulis.

He will use the BFS grant to uncover how genes and environment interact to cause Parkinson’s disease.

“Moreover, I will dissect these interactions at the molecular level and exploit them with the ultimate goal of developing a cure for Parkinson’s disease” he says.

More secure communication systems

Lilya Budaghyan, researcher at the Department of Informatics, plans to use the funding from BFS as a means of extending her research team working on interdisciplinary problems of mathematics and information theory related to construction of optimal Boolean functions. She says that the research involved in the project will have both theoretical and practical significance.

“Solutions of these problems may improve the reliability and security of modern communication systems and could make a big impact to many branches of mathematics. I am very excited about this opportunity,” Budhagyan says.

The funding will also help her organize international conferences and workshops.

“This will strengthen the position of our group as one of the world's leading teams in the domain of Boolean functions and their applications,” the researcher explains.

Improved estimates of sea level rise

Climate researcher Andreas Born will use the funding to establish a new research group at the Department of Earth Science on the topic of ice sheet and climate dynamics.

“This department is internationally renowned for its expertise in climate and glacier reconstructions and advanced observational and laboratory techniques. My group will complement this with our use of numerical models for the climate system and polar ice sheets,” Born says.

The BFS funding enables the development of a novel type of ice sheet model that takes advantage of high-quality reconstructions from the Greenland ice sheet while at the same time being consistent with the physics of ice flow.

“This interdisciplinary approach is unique in the world and will result in considerably improved estimates of past and future sea level rise,” says the researcher.

Grants long time perpectives

Steffen Leth Jørgensen, Chief Engineer at the Centre for Geobiology (CGB) feels privileged and grateful for the opportunity given to him.

“The money from BFS will be used to support a small group of researchers and a part-time technician position for four years. In addition, it will ensure the funding for developing and establishing laboratory facilities needed to conduct my research,” says Jørgensen.

Previously, he has participated with a group of scientists who discovered a new microbe in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between Greenland and Norway, which represents a missing link in the evolution of complex life.

“The four years of funding enables me to establish my own group and gives a long term perspective to my research. This is in turn allows planning for more ambitious objectives and not at least the means to pursuit these objectives,” he says.