Henrik Cederquist. Foto: Niklas Björling

Welcome back from the summer holidays! My fall-semester started with two different out-of-town meetings – one with the Faculty leadership and the Office of Science and one with the university leadership. The first meeting was held at Näsby Slott which is conveniently located and reachable by the commuter train “Roslagsbanan”. In Näsby, we prepared for the first Faculty Board meeting, the 2020 faculty budget and many other things. In accordance with the Faculty Action plan, we also formed working groups which will deal with the organization and budget of the Science Education area, the possibilities of setting up a collaboration platform “Circular Systems” for chemistry research on environmental and health issues, mechanical workshops, and analyses of criteria for the distribution of parts of the faculty funding for research. We are continuously aiming to improve our recruitment- and promotion processes and this work has indeed been successful over a number of years as is clear from the large number of very strong applications to openly announced positions as assistant, associate, and full professors. Many internationally competitive scientists are attracted by the strong research environments and the infrastructure access that is offered by Stockholm University. Furthermore, I have noticed that our collegial way of reaching decisions is attractive. We are often successful in recruiting top candidates for the openly announced positions and then it is far from satisfying that the building of new lab and office space sometimes takes a very long time. This is particularly frustrating for our assistant professors (“biträdande lektorer”), who only have limited time to demonstrate their research and teaching skills before they have to submit their applications for promotion. We will also have to deal with the somewhat uneven gender balance within the group of assistant professors. For a few years, the Faculty has had some difficulties in fully reaching its examination goals, which is also the case for the university as a whole. During the fall we will have to discuss ways to improve this situation with new attractive bachelor and master programs, possibly through collaborations between several departments, and how we could contribute to life-long learning and the development of professional and general competences for society. Clearly, the Faculty of Science has capacity to educate more scientists and professionals than we do today. The Faculty and its Departments/Centers has many important tasks relating to research, teaching, and collaboration to deal with in the next few years. I look forward to this work knowing that we can put a lot of trust in the engaged and professional support provided by the Office of Science.

The university leadership held its meeting at Askölaboratoriet, which is one of our field stations. It belongs to the Baltic Sea Center and is located in the archipelago outside the small town Trosa. In addition to the internal university leadership meetings, we listened to a very engaged and informative presentation of the Baltic Sea research and how results are communicated to decision makers and society. The presentation was given by Tina Elfwing – the Director of the Center. On the same evening, one of the news channels (TV 4) interviewed Christoph Humborg, the Scientific Leader of the Center onboard the research vessel, Electra af Askö. The interview focused on the  environmental status of the Baltic Sea and the different experiments that can be performed onboard Electra. In the meetings we discussed input for the next governmental bill for research (“forskningspropositionen”), the 2020 university budget, possible strategic actions, building and property issues, and an upcoming commission from the President to further develop the pallet of programs and courses at the undergraduate and advanced levels. We also discussed how the collaboration between the Science Area and the Central Administration could be further improved. The weather was fantastic with a clear blue sky and no wind. A large Sea Eagle soared for a while over the meeting as a reminder of the importance of knowledge based decisions for the preservation of nature – a couple of decades ago this species was endangered due to environmental issues. The transport from Askö back to the main land was provided by Electra and included an informative demonstration of some of its instrumentation.

With some late summer breezes I would like to welcome all employees back for new challenges and exciting work during the fall. I would also like to extend a special welcome to the new Department heads and I would also like to warmly thank those leaders who have now stepped down for their excellent work and contributions.