Couldn’t help but noticing the skewed numbers presented to the faculty board for natural sciences, UiB today… 75% of the permanent scientific staff hired last year were men, five out of six ERC consolidator grant to UiB in 2023 were won by men… at the same time, six out of seven ETPs (Excellent Teaching Practitions) announced by our faculty this spring were women… and so were eight out of ten board members present…
The temperature has been rising slowly since I arrived at the conference hall; there are too many people and too little oxygen. Trying the get through the crowd and back to my poster on the effects of climate change on Norwegian sill fjords, I can’t help but think of all the dead crabs I saw in one of the presentations this morning. In an attempt to escape the anoxic waters at the bottom, they were concentrating on the highest point of the coral reef, climbing desperately on top of each other to get into oxygenated water, to breathe – but as the deadly water expanded, there where nowhere to go, no higher ground to climb to.
There is so much knowledge gathered in Bergen this week: PhDs, Post Docs, and Professors; experts on every aspect of the ocean and those living there. Ecosystem modeling, fish behavior, ocean acidification, primary production, sustainable management – the program is full of new science, new insights, and conclusions. Yet I’m wondering if they – if we – are able to fully grasp the consequences of the results presented. Because if we did, would we then be standing here, calmly sipping our wine or a cold beer, talking about project proposals, fieldwork plans, and old colleagues? If we did understand, would we not be out on the streets screaming, calling for attention, for help?
When being in a lecture hall at a conference I’m used to being surrounded by men – a few female collegues would typically be sitting in the chairs closest by, but further away, mainly men.
Strangely enough, when attending UiB’s conference on Gender equity, the mean hair length in the audience is significantly higher than I’m used to. The line of (very interesting) speaker has also (until now) been exclusively female…. I’ll leave you to think about why that is, and share my favorite slide so far:
It’s here! The translated and “peer-reviewed” version of “Ninja goes south” is now printed… and about 2000 books are waiting (together with Petra Langebroek’s “Ninja goes to Groenland”) in the basement of the Bjerknes Centre to be distributed to school libraries in Vestland (as soon as the third and final book* is ready).
The project is financed by the Norwegian Research Council – and Petra and I are getting help from the communication office at Bjerknes, the “climate club” at Landås skole, Bergen municipality, and of course, the invaluable assistance from UiB-student Marte Klemetsdal, who is putting it all together!
I’m so excited to see this come through, and to actually hold the physical book in my hands! Slightly less excited about the typos that my daughter found in the book… but fingers crossed for a second edition where we can correct those – and there might be one! Bryggen museum has picked up on the Lego idea, and they are planning an exhibition later this year where Ninja (and I) will be part of a historical walk through Bergen and its scientific hubs. Ninja in a museum monter – I do look forward to seeing that!
* where Ninja dives into the Norwegian fjords
Ninja has been on a new adventure! This time he joined me on the bike down to Landås skole and their “Climate club“ to hear what pupils in 6th grade had to say about “Ninja goes south“. We have now translated the book into Norwegian (thanks Marthe!), and I was eager – and a bit nervous! – to hear what the 65 “reviewers” had to say about it! In class last week they had all read, discussed and written about the book; what words did they not understand, what parts did they like best, what parts could be shortened and what did they want to know more about… While there were a few critical reviews (who either did not care about Ninjas and therefor found the book utterly boring, or who did care about Ninjas but found this Ninja not to be enough Ninja-like) most of them were very positive: We loved the pancakes! Can you write more books, please? We learnt a lot about ice shelves / seals / Antarctica / moorings.
I think an editor would have landed on “minor revision”… so I’m now re-working the book with their comments in mind: less text in each “bubble”, more information about the seals, explain these words and so on…. Fingers crossed that the next version will be accepted!
The classes seemed convinced the book will be a success – and, for the first time in my life – I was asked to write autographs! There was even a queue!!!
While visiting – I took the opportunity to introduced the ice-shelf game “Iceflows” (don’t blame me if you get addicted) …
…and off course to do my all time favorite melt-ice-cubes-in-salt-and-fresh-water-experiment!
Delayed funding, frozen grants… extra work, worry, uncertainty, and frustration… that’s just what I needed!
I haven’t managed to completely grasp the entire story and the background of the RCN* budget issues – as I’ve been busy trying to handle its direct consequences… how to get that student abroad to acquire the experience and access the labs he needs for his work when the mobility grant we were counting on is stopped? What about the instrumentation we were about to buy for TONe? the contract with the producer that we signed just before the red light was turned on over in Oslo? Can we still get it – and when? will it make the shipping deadline this autumn or will everything be delayed by a year? Or two or three? And what to prioritize – my instrumentation, or that of my colleague?
Those problems will most likely be solved – in one way or another – but what about my soft-money colleagues (and friends!) who depend on the calls and funding that is now being reduced, postponed, or removed? How many of them will have to leave science? Leave Norway?
Read more here: in English /
* Research Council of Norway, which allocates money for research and innovation in Norway.
What can be more suitable when Norwegian&Swedish royalties visit a new Swedish research ship than to have Irina from University of Gothenburg tell them about the Norwegian-Swedish collaboration in FJO2RD? Håkon (the Norwegian crown prince) didn’t know where Masfjorden&Lurefjord were located, but now he does! – and I bet Irina taught him a thing or two on foraminifera and fjord de-oxygenation too!
Well done Irina – we’re happy to have you on the team!
On Saturday, 23/4 science and curious citizens of Bergen will occupy Marinerholmen in Bergen where the fair “OPPLEV” will take place. Together with the FJO2RD and CLIFORD team from the Bjerknes center I will use a fortune wheel, Lego, and candy fish to explain and illustrate deepwater renewals and de-oxygenation in Norwegian fjords… want to find out how? Then join us at Marinerholmen! (or stay tuned for an upcoming report here later!)
Snow, rain, and wind… the weather forecast was everything but promising when I left Bergen harbor together with a team of excited scientists last week onboard Kristine Bonnevie, our research ship. She headed northward towards the nearby fjords “Lurefjorden” and good old “Masfjorden.” The gear on deck was slightly different from what I am used to; the familiar mooring buoys and instruments boxes were accompanied by what I soon learned is called a “multi-corer” and a “gravity corer.”
These strange-looking creations are designed to collect mud – or sediments – from the ocean floor. As the sediment deposits chronologically, one layer at a time, they form an archive of the past. The deeper into the sediments you dive, the further back in time you go. Remnants of marine life deposited on the bottom – microscopic shells from foraminifera, for example – have incorporated information about the ocean properties at the time when they were living. Advanced bio-geochemical analyses can bring that information back. Or you can identify the shells – different species thrive in different conditions, some when there’s a lot of oxygen in the basin, others when there is little. If you know how to interpret the signals – you can turn what to most people looks just like mud into a historical record of fjord hydrography and learn how the oxygen concentration in the fjord basins has changed in time. To me, mud is mud, but luckily, we had Irina, Stijn, Agnes, and Dag-Inge, on board. They are paleo-oceanographers; they know how to turn mud into exciting science!
I almost forgot Mattia – our fresh PhD-student who arrived a couple of weeks ago to chilly and rainy Bergen from sunny Sicily. He will be working with the mud for the next three years.