Greetings from the Department 27.01.2023

 

Since this is my first editorial, I’ll start with a summary. The years since 2016 have brought major changes for the molecular biology environment. We have seen large turnover of personnel at all levels, and despite the employment of skilled and hard-working colleagues, we have periodically been severely understaffed. We saw hints of a new stability in the staff a few years ago, albeit with lower staffing than before. But then came the corona virus and further cuts. During this period, it has been very challenging to maintain both the course portfolios, and the bachelor’s and master’s degrees that are under MOL’s responsibility, despite focused work on adapting the course portfolio and working more efficiently with each course. Nevertheless, we have also done our job on the research side, by publishing studies and attracting external funding.

 

The new year started with tentatively good news; forecasts for BIO’s finances have taken a sharp jump of about 5 million in the right direction. An important factor in this, I am told, is that the externally financed activity is on the rise. Let’s thank those who have made it possible, and hope that we manage to maintain this going forward, despite the changes we are going through. Apropos of sometimes brutal changes: The economic gains from the consolidation of area are ahead of us, which gives reason for optimism. But it probably also causes more difficulties. As for the important buzzword streamlining, I have literally noted that from my old office to the coffee machine there were 58 steps; the corresponding figure from my new office is just 49 steps. Those who know my coffee habits will surely understand that this gives a clear and distinct increase in efficiency. I am writing this in spite of the danger of treading on a combustible topic.

 

With this as a backdrop, I would like to throw in a fire torch. The merger of MBI and BIO should mark a commitment to the molecular life sciences. Our own strategy plan also calls for more collaboration within BIO around molecular biology research and teaching. We also all know with great certainty that ventures where fresh funds and labor are supplied are difficult to envisage in today’s financial climate. As I see it, therefore, there is only one way to fulfill these goals. It is to see all molecular activity within BIO as one, regardless of subject group affiliation, and look for ways to condense efforts and resources in a way that can strengthen the subject area, both in terms of research and teaching. The results of such a process will be changes with regard to organisation, infrastructure, location of people and research groups, and distribution of teaching responsibilities, and should not be anticipated. This must be answered in a structured and open process that involves everyone who is affected. But it seems quite clear that if the institute does not take an active step to deal with the situation, we will see a further weakening of the field in the future, completely contrary to the intentions behind the institute merger and the institute’s recently adopted strategy. I therefore round off this leader by advocating that the institute initiate a process involving all the molecular biology-oriented environments at the institute, regardless of subject group affiliation, to map out what can and should be done to ensure that we have a sustainable and viable molecular biology research and teaching environment also in the future.

 

Economy update 27.01.2023

Foto/ill: Colourbox

Congratulations on a successful 2022!

Dear colleagues. Throughout 2022, we have worked hard on economic measures on various fronts, including land, and this has had a significant effect. Thank you for a solid effort to everyone so that we have managed to stop the increase in our deficit.

Cheat sheet to the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework

On December 19th, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal.  Do you find the agreement and it’s context complex and difficult to grasp?  Do not despair!  Vigdis Vandvik and CeSAM has made a “Cheat sheet to the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework” which provides an excellent overview of the structure of the Framework and the challenges it adresses.

New assessment criteria from RCN – open science: ELIXIR webinar

Dear colleagues,
the Research Council of Norway (RCN) has stated that open research will be incorporated into the assessment criteria for Researcher Projects and Collaborative and Knowledge-building Projects on open science practice. This applies to applications with deadline already February 8th, 2023.

A webinar on January 31st  (13.00 CET) from ELIXIR Norway (https://elixir.no) will provide you with information on Open Data and Data Management requirements for these research applications to the RCN.

Greetings from the Department 20.01.2023

Foto: Eivind Senneset, UiB

Dear all,

It is appropriate to start with something that I believe to be good news. Although the accounts for 2022 have not been officially closed yet, it seems that we have almost managed to maintain a financial balance in 2022. We started 2022 with a forecast that said we would have a deficit of approx. 53 million. The accounting figures now indicate that at the end of 2022 we had a deficit of 46.8 million. It is a bit strange to say that this is good news, but at the same time it shows that we are on the right track in reducing our large deficit. It is very gratifying. If we were to be completely balanced in 2022, we should have been at 44.5, so we still spent more money than we received, but much better than expected.

2023 is well under way with new opportunities and challenges. For my part, I will pay particular attention to the following issues this year:
– We must mobilize even more towards bringing in extra funding for our research activity and we must ensure that BIO’s expenses are fully covered.
– We must intensify our work to reduce costs (both time and money) towards our educational activities, without the quality being reduced to a level we cannot vouch for. I belive we still have a lot to go on here.
– We still have to deal with the fact that we have job freeze at BIO, and a very limited financial room for action. This will affect us, but I definitely believe that we should be able to handle it. We have so much power, quality and courage in us that we will manage this.
– We have a fresh strategic plan and action plan, with many important points. We will use these plans actively going forward in the development of BIO.

Earlier in the week we submitted our own-evaluation of BIO to the large national “Biofag” evaluation. I believe that we have identified both strengths, weaknesses and challenges in our research activity. The next step is interviews with the expert panel. I’m looking forward to those. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed towards the submission deadline, especially Jon Vidar who has made a huge effort.

I wish you all a nice weekend.

Hilsen Ørjan

***

Ørjan

Economy update 20.01.2023

Foto/ill: Colourbox

Course budgeting

After the pilot study last autumn, we are now planning to carry out budgeting for all our courses. It is Anne Bjune, Beate who is studying and Anne Marit Blokhus who will carry out this work which is planned to take place in the spring semester 2023.

Time off for seniors 2023

Public sector employers shall enable individual employees to remain in their position after the usual retirement age. One of the initiatives is that senior employees are given extra days off. From the calendar year in which the employee reach the age of 62 years, he/she is entitled to 10 days off per year with salary. Part-time employees have the right to a proportionate number of days off.