Two young researchers receive 2014 Meltzer Award
Katrine Vellesen Løken and Harald Barsnes may only be in their early thirties, but have already made their mark in academia. They share the 2014 Meltzer Award for young, gifted researchers at the University of Bergen (UiB).
“It is incredibly important to build networks with other researchers. I would never have been able to achieve what I have without good colleagues, both here in Norway and internationally,” says Vellesen Løken when asked about how to succeed as a young academic. “I have learnt a lot, and there have been projects where we have divided tasks between us and benefitted from one another’s experience.”
“No one gets the results I have achieved by working on their own,” adds Harald Barsnes, agreeing with Løken.
International attention for parental leave research
One of her prime areas of research is parental leave, and her work shows that it is important for new-borns that the mother stays at home with the infant for the first six months. Beyond this time frame, it matters less whether the mother or the father is on leave of absence. Her research has received considerable attention internationally, not the least in the United States.
“I believe it’s important to work hard early on in your career and important to dare to pursue what you want to do,” says the economist. “Too many people do not dare to invest time and effort in what they consider to be risky projects.”
Hard work and improvisation
Both the researchers are delighted with receiving the Meltzer Award. Barsnes finds it great to be appreciated by his colleagues in this way, and hopes this will help him land a permanent position at the university.
Barsnes is employed as a bioinformatician at the Proteomics Unit at UiB’s Department of Clinical Science. He develops software that enables researchers to analyse their own data and reanalyse the data of other researchers.
“In the past a lot of developed software was not particularly user friendly, but could work well within the confines of a research lab. We wanted to develop software that could be used by other researchers as well,” says Barsnes.
Like Løken, Barsnes believes that to succeed you need to work hard, but he adds that an ability to improvise and innovate can also be helpful.
“Things don’t always go to plan, and that is why it’s important to take advantage of all opportunities that emerge,” he says.