IceLab calls for projects for shared postdoctoral fellows

13 April 2023

IceLab invites multidisciplinary research teams to propose projects for a shared, funded postdoctoral fellow. Project proposals can be submitted until May 26th. An information session is available on May 4th to hear more about the program.

Members of IceLab gathered.

Photo: Gabrielle Beans Picon

Teams of two or more researchers are invited to submit novel multidisciplinary project proposals in this funding call, to help launch projects that benefit from collaboration across disciplines and methodologies. Three projects will access funding for a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship. These shared postdoctoral fellows, supervised by multidisciplinary teams of researchers spanning departments at Umeå University or the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, enable new collaborations to grow from an idea into tangible new research.

The Integrated Science Lab (IceLab) supports the successful project teams along their multidisciplinary journey by hosting the selected postdoctoral fellows in IceLab's interdisciplinary research hub, participating in all activities and connecting with IceLab researchers daily. IceLab members explore the uncharted territory between traditional disciplines, and regularly integrate theoretical, computational and empirical work. In addition, the supervising project team of an IceLab multidisciplinary postdoctoral fellow become IceLab affiliates in turn.

Information Meeting and Pitch Event

IceLab invites you to join an information meeting on the call on May 4th, in KBC Glasburen or through Zoom. During this meeting the project selection process will be explained, and researchers interested in finding a partner to submit a project proposal with will be offered the opportunity to pitch their idea. Register in advance if you are interested in attending or pitching.

The deadline to submit project proposals is May 26th.

More information on the project call, registration for the information meeting and link to the application portal here:

Two-stage review process

A two-stage review process has been designed to identify the best project and postdoctoral candidate pairings. In the 2023 call this process will once again be used.

In the spring of 2022, IceLab invited pairs or groups of researchers from different departments and scientific disciplines to propose a project for a shared postdoc that would allow them to launch their collaboration. It was the third call offered by IceLab in the Kempe funded Multidisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

The international reviewers, Pól Martin Bendix (Associate Professor, Biophysics, Niels Bohr Institute) and Fariba Karimi (team leader in computational social science at Complexity Science Hub Vienna, and assistant professor at the Department of Network and Data Science at Central European University), assessed all of the submitted projects, identifying those that were of high quality and worthy of funding. Six projects were selected to proceed to the next phase.

"We found the proposals of very high quality in terms of novelty, scientific background of applicants and interdisciplinary nature. The cross-disciplinary environment around IceLab is indeed strong and very diverse. Overall, we have made a hard selection of six excellent projects as candidates for funding. These projects are expected to catalyze novel collaborations between a range of different scientific disciplines and strengthen the future IceLab research environment" says Pól Martin Bendix and Fariba Karimi.

In the second phase, the six selected projects each sought candidates for the postdoctoral fellowship. In the autumn, the project teams presented their projects and candidate postdoctoral fellows to an IceLab review team consisting of two PhD students (Hanna Isaksson and Aswin Gopakumar), two IceLab multidisciplinary postdoctoral fellows (Leyden Fernandez and Josephine Solowiej-Wedderburn), and one senior IceLab PI (Sebastian Diehl). This team reviewed each of the projects and interviewed the candidates independently.

"Doing the recruitment process was a major effort for the IceLab internal recruitment committee, but I think it enabled us to do a really good job" says Sebastian Diehl. "It also gave an opportunity to inform about IceLab and about IceLab's expectations concerning the postdoc program. Our intentions were on the one-hand to gauge how well the candidates matched up with their projects and with IceLab culture, and on the other side to give the candidates an honest picture of IceLab, of the conditions of a fellowship, and of how it is to live in Umeå. We came up with independent preliminary ranking suggestions after our meetings with the PIs and postdoctoral candidates. We then discussed together to decide on a final ranking. This was done in a friendly, constructive and unprestigious way."

This internal review phase was a new addition to the IceLab Multidisciplinary Postdoctoral Program, funded by Kempe, and offered an opportunity for junior IceLab members to experience taking an active role in researcher recruitment. Sebastian Diehl thinks this new process and the inclusion of the junior researchers was an excellent initiative.

"Overall, this was a very rewarding experience for me" he says. "All of the projects were interesting to exciting, and all of the candidates were excellent matches for the projects. It was very interesting to get to know them as well as the PIs. I also strongly feel that putting together a committee consisting of members representing almost the full range of academic career stages (with a dominance of early career stages) was an excellent move. I was delighted by how engaged the junior committee members participated in the process. I was also impressed by their judgment."

The 2022 multidisciplinary postdoctoral fellows and projects

The three postdoctoral fellows selected in the 2022 call have now all joined IceLab and have begun working on their projects. Additionally, the principal investigators of each project are now connected to IceLab as affiliated researchers.

Statistical Learning for Chronosilviculture

Postdoctoral Fellow: Bertold Mariën, prior research carried out within the Plants & Ecosystems (PLECO) research group in the Global Change Ecology Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Principal investigators: Maria Elenor Eriksson (Senior Lecturer, Department Plant Physiology, Umeå University) and Jun Yu (Professor, Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics)

Project summary:
The environmental and genetic regulation of the circadian clock system in trees will be explored in this project, which combines elements from molecular biology (genetics, switching on and off photoreceptors) and with statistical learning to better understand how trees respond to environmental conditions.

Modeling Artic soil-pore networks undergoing environmental-induced structural changes

Postdoctoral Fellow: Juhee Lee, prior research carried out within the Statistical Physics of Ecology and Evolutionary Dynamics group at Inha University, Republic of Korea.

Principal investigators: Jonatan Klaminder (Professor, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University), Ludvig Lizana (Associate Professor, Department of Physics, IceLab member, Umeå University) and David Risberg (Research Engineer, Umeå Institute of Design, Umeå University)

Project summary:
The project aims to elucidate the importance of soil network structure (pore network structure) on the turnover of deep soil organic matter (dSOM). This has importance for the organic soil storage of greenhouse gases and hence has important implications in the current climate debate. Detailed X-ray Chromatography imaging of soil structure will be used to reconstructing the network structure in soil using 3D printing technology. The idea is to analyze the network structure using image analysis tools and establish a mechanistic correlation between diffusive gas flux through the network and the structure of bio -and crypores.

Expulsion Events as Drivers of Evolution in Endosymbiotic Systems

Postdoctoral Fellow: Adriano Bonforti, prior research carried out at the Complex Systems Lab at Pompeu Fabra University, Spain.

Principal investigators: Nicholas A. Kamenos (Professor, Marine Ecosystem Science, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University) and Fredrik Ohlsson (Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, Umeå University)

Project summary:
This project aims to side-step the conventional controversy concerning the effect of global warming on coral bleaching, by using a purely mathematical approach to analyse the likelihood of coral bleaching being caused by a certain environmental factor. By setting up differential equations to describe interacting populations, based on biophysical insight, the team proposes to shed light on the mechanisms behind coral bleaching by analyzing the mathematical solutions -with respect to their symmetry- inspired by research performed within cancer research. This can be done by analyzing connections between biological properties and mathematical symmetries/structures to, for example, predict the breakdown of symbiosis based on mathematical symmetries. With empirical data from the Kamenos group the models can be tested and tuned.

Text: Gabrielle Beans Picon

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