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The Department of Bioscience is leading with four Marie Curie fellowships

The Department of Bioscience is the leading department in achieving Marie-Curie fellowships in 2017. Meet the Department's four new, young research talents here.

2018.03.01 | Lea Laursen Pasgaard

Kate Sprogis (from the left), Jakob Thyrring, Karine Heraah and Maria Lund Paulsen have received the four new Marie Curie fellowships at the Department of Bioscience. Privat photos

The Department of Bioscience has received four individual Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships and is, thus, the department at Aarhus University that has been awarded the highest number of fellowships by the European Commission in the latest round of grants. The research groups at the Department of Zoophysiology and the Arctic Research Centre (ARC) will each enjoy the addition of two young research talents Together, the four researchers have been awarded an amount corresponding to 6.4 million Danish kroner.

Senior researcher Mikael Kristian Sejr from ARC and professor Peter Teglberg Madsen from the Department of Zoophysiology will be supervising the four researchers and are both very pleased to welcome their new colleagues.

"It is fantastic that we at ARC can attract brilliant minds, who would like to come to Aarhus in order to benefit from the knowledge, experience and infrastructure at our disposal in Greenland. The two new fellowships will certainly open up new opportunities and collaboration with new research teams in Europe and Canada, Mikael Kristian Sejr says.

Peter Teglberg Madsen adds:

"I'm also very pleased that the Department has been able to attract two talented ecophysiologists who both will be working with the interface between physiology, ecology and behaviour. I am pleased that based on our technological leadership position within biologging, we are able to attract talented young researchers from abroad."

Read more about the four Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship recipients below.

Kate Sprogis, Zoophysiology (DKK 1.5 million)

Kate Sprogis is a PhD from Murdoch University in Australia, and her fellowship at the Department of Bioscience starts on 1 April 2017. Her research focuses on the behaviour of whales in an ecophysiological context where she tries to understand how they are affected by human marine activities. Among other things, she has studied how dolphin populations are affected in harbour areas and how they culturally can transfer foraging behaviour to each other when learning.

With the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships, Kate Sprogis has the opportunity to address a significant environmental problems arising from the fact that millions of people each year go on whale safaris. We know that too much safari activity affects the whales negatively, but the mechanisms behind the impact - and thereby also the tools to regulate them - are poorly known. With current rules, a safari vessel’s impact on a whale is determined by how close to the animal it sails, not by how much noise the the vessel makes - despite the fact that in all likelihood it is the noise that causes the negative impact. Using monitoring equipment on the animals and flying drones above them, Kate Sprogis aims to study the humpback whale’s energetics and behaviour as a function of different, but carefully controlled levels of noise from ships at the same distance.

Karine Heraah, Zoophysiology (DKK 1.5 million)

Karine Heraah is a postdoc at the French National Centre for Scientific Research and will commence her fellowship at the Department of Bioscience on 31 January 2019. Her research focuses on understanding the foraging ecology of marine mammals in space and time as a function of natural and man-made changes in behaviour. She does this by fitting satellite monitoring equipment on the animals for long periods of time in order to measure where they gather and consume their resources.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship lets Karine Heraah study the energy budgets of marine mammals. By fitting the animals with acoustic monitoring equipment, she is able to measure their ventilation patterns, success in prey capture and swimming energetics and thus discover where they find their food and how they are affected by noise from oil exploration and shipping.

Maria Lund Paulsen, Arctic Research Centre (1,5 mio. DKK)

Maria Lund Paulsen is currently employed as a researcher at the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Bergen, Norway. For the past five years she has worked with microbial processes in the Arctic and, among other things, is interested in studying how bacteria in the sea convert organic matter, as this is one of the major sources of CO2 production.

With the Marie Curie fellowship, Maria Lund Paulsen will develop a new and sensitive method for measuring how runoff of organic matter from land is integrated into particles and then consumed by both microorganisms and large mammals. The method involves radioactive labelling of organic matter and will be developed in collaboration with professor Mikhail Zubkov from The Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS), who is an expert in the area. The method will subsequently be used in connection with field work in Greenland.

Jakob Thyrring, Arctic Research Centre (DKK 1.9 million)

Jakob Thyrring is a postdoc at ARC and his research focuses on how climate change in the Arctic affects the abundance of ocean flora and fauna. New species may spread to the Arctic, as the region becomes warmer and more ice-free. On the basis of the intertidal fauna, he studies how new as well as indigenous species are affected by the rapidly changing climate, and how these changes affect the coastal ecosystems.  

Jakob Thyrring has received a three-year global fellowship, which means he will be spending two years at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Here, he will have the opportunity to learn new methods to understand the ecological and physiological processes that determine animal survival at their most northerly range. In the third year of his fellowship, he will return to Aarhus University, where he will apply his new knowledge to investigate how climate change affects Greenland's coastal zone.

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