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Important international collaboration

Image: Marlene Johansson

Published: 2021-09-24

FEATURE To invest in international collaboration has been a conscious strategy within EcoChange. It leads to strong research of high quality, says Catherine Legrand, professor in marine ecology at Linnaeus University and vice coordinator for EcoChange.

Text: Kristina Viklund

International collaboration is an evident part of the work in EcoChange. Through the years, PhD students and researchers from many different countries have participated in the EcoChange projects. Collaborations with other international research groups have been initiated, and the generated scientific knowledge has spread over the world.

Collaboration raises the quality

–The international contacts raise the quality of our work. The fact that the education we are involved in has high standard has a positive effect on the research. We are competitive when it comes to recruiting PhD students and researchers, says Catherine Legrand, professor in marine ecology at Linnaeus University and vice coordinator for EcoChange.

The researchers within EcoChange collaborate with many other research groups worldwide. Not only does this lead to an exchange of knowledge and experience. The cooperation can also be more concrete, such as getting access to each other’s instruments and other infrastructure. For EcoChange this has been extra obvious within the areas of microbiology and chemistry.

International collaboration leads to strong research of high quality.

The Baltic Sea as a model system

The effect of climate change on the Baltic Sea ecosystem is in focus for the EcoChange research. This area is becoming increasingly relevant.

–The Baltic Sea is internationally well known for being a sensitive enclosed sea where the effects of climate change are expected to be severe. This makes the area interesting on an international scale as well. There are many researchers who wish to compare the Baltic Sea with other sea areas. For us, the joint projects lead to important perspectives on our research.

Proud of the research environment

During the ten years that EcoChange has existed around fifty PhD students and young researchers have participated in the research. Approximately fifty percent of them have come from other countries than Sweden. Seventy percent of the PhD students have continued within academia after the dissertation.

–We are so happy for this! A lot of them have done PostDocs abroad. Thereby the EcoChange research has spread as ripples on the water. We are proud of the research environment we have created, says Catherine.

Collaboration from the beginning

So, why have the international contacts played such an important role in EcoChange? According to Catherine, an important explanation is that EcoChange has been working multi-disciplinary from the beginning. Within the EcoChange programme there are groups working with everything from chemistry and microbiology to ecology. The whole idea of EcoChange is to build strong relationships with other universities. The different parties of the collaboration contribute with various parts, and with their networks. This has promoted the international exchange and given strength and perspective to the research.

Important local communication

–You might say that we have been working on an international level to be able to make a difference on a local level. A very important part of our work is to communicate with the authorities in the region, to support them in solving difficult problems concerning the future maritime governance. We face large societal challengers because of climate change. We must not settle for just spreading our results. If our results are to be used by authorities, we also must be good at listening to their questions and needs. Due to our extensive international collaboration, our advice to the authorities has a firm foundation, says Catherine.


The text is based on an interview with Catherine Legrand in September 2021.