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International scholars to Bergen to conduct EU-funded research

Six European researchers have received EU funding for research residencies at the University of Bergen through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) programme. Four of the six grants go to research projects in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities.

Portrett av Eivind Seland
Eivind Heldaas Seland, professor of ancient history, is looking forward to welcoming two international scholars to his research group through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.
Photo:
Eivind Senneset

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions – Individual Fellowships (MSCA-IF) are grants made to researchers who want to enhance their career through a period of residency in Europe. The research fellow conducts research at a European institution for 12–24 months. The EU funds the programme in the amount of around EUR 200 000 per fellowship.

– A fantastic resource for basic research

Professor Eivind Heldaas Seland does research in ancient history and will serve as supervisor for two of the researchers coming to Bergen.

What is the significance of these two awards for you and your research group?  

"The MSCA scholarships are a fantastic resource for us who do basic research, especially in underfunded fields such as the humanities. The bulk of research funding is distributed based on strategic initiatives and programmes, and it has become increasingly difficult to obtain grants through the Research Council's open calls for research proposals. In the MSCA programme, it is the researchers who make the decisions, Seland says.

"MSCA provides a unique opportunity to affiliate ourselves with talented international research scholars in the most creative and dynamic phase of their careers. The programme puts resources at our disposal so that we, as the host institution, can create good workconditions in which the research fellows can develop further. In return, we are able to benefit from the expertise and skills that otherwise may be lacking in small academic environments," he says.

What will these scholars be researching?

"The fellows will be examining how religion spread through social networks in ancient times. Tomáš Glomb is working on an explanation, using mathematical models, for the spread of the cult of Asklepius, the ancient Greek god of medicine. Francesca Mazzilli will investigate how local and regional religious impulses intersected in communities on the outskirts of the Roman Empire”, Seland adds.

The projects have been developed independently of one another, but fit together well and are of an interdisciplinary nature that is very suitable to the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion and in harmony with the Faculty of Humanities’ strong focus on digital humanities.

Recognition of the ancient history environment

"Getting two such projects to Bergen at the same time confirms that the ancient history environment at UiB is interesting and attractive, both at home and in an international context," he adds.

What do you think you have done that has enabled your applications to meet with such success?

"The credit for the success of the project applications rests primarily with the candidates. They came up with the ideas themselves and took the initiative to come to Bergen.

At UiB, they have received solid support in their work to write the applications and to develop the projects. The reasons why we are attractive as a host institution are, on the one hand, our long-term and systematic efforts to build an international research profile, and on the other, the good framework conditions for interdisciplinary academic work," Seland concludes.

–The programme is well adapted to the uniqueness of the humanities

Dean Jørgen Sejersted of the Faculty of Humanities (HF) is pleased.

"Four MSCA grant awards is very good news. An MSCA grant implies significant international recognition of the environments and researchers who are capable of attracting such highly qualified candidates. Congratulations go to everyone involved. The MSCA candidates are very welcome at HF; their research and international background are great resources for us. These are talented scholars who will strengthen UiB in the long term, whether they develop their careers here or at other universities," the dean says.

“It is no coincidence that HF environments do well in the MSCA competition for grants. With their individual profile and orientation towards quality and basic research, such projects are well adapted to the uniqueness of the humanities. Hopefully in the future, we will also see the Research Council of Norway learning from the EU in this field, but for now we are thrilled to get this international recognition," Sejersted says.

In addition, one grant was awarded to the Faculty of Social Sciences and one to the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at UiB.

Would you like to apply?

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions – Individual Fellowships (MSCA-IF) are wage and mobility funds for researchers who want to enhance their career through an academic residency abroad. The programme is part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 research framework programme.

Researchers apply for grants in collaboration with the academic environments in which they will be working.

A new announcement for the fellowship grants is expected in April 2020, with an application deadline in autumn. The announcement will appear here.

Contact your research adviser at your faculty or department to apply. Senior Adviser Emmanuel Babatunde in the Division or Research and Innovation can also give more information.