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Published: 27 Oct, 2020

Sustainability and science communication – Stefan Björklund talks about the KBC DAYS 2020

NEWS The KBC DAYS 2020 are approaching and they will be for the first time fully digital. We have asked Stefan Björklund, the scientific coordinator of KBC and one of the main organizers of this interdisciplinary conference, what is special about this year’s KBC DAYS.

Text: Anne Honsel

Since January 2018, you are the scientific coordinator for the Chemical Biological Centre (KBC) and this year’s KBC DAYS are the third ones you are organizing. What were the biggest challenges you faced this year?

"It is of course the challenge of organizing a large conference on-line, which we must do this year due to the Covid-19 situation. One important aspect of the KBC DAYS is to stimulate networking and collaborations between the participants which is much easier when you meet during coffee or lunch breaks. We tried to include some especially appealing segments in the programme and hope that scientists at KBC and the rest of the university will find it interesting to participate and interact with each other, even if they will not be able to meet with the speakers and other participants “live”."

One of the main topics of this year’s conference is “sustainability”. Why did you choose this topic and how does it fit into the overall purpose of the KBC DAYS?

"It was a suggestion that came up in the planning group at an early stage. One purpose of the KBC DAYS is to highlight important events that took place in the KBC environment during the last year. We invite for example speakers from the KBC affiliated departments who are new faculty members, received an award or were granted some major funding. In addition, we give research infrastructures opportunity to present their services. The other important purpose is to put focus on topics that could be of interest for the highly interdisciplinary KBC days audience. We found that sustainability is an interesting topic for several reasons. Scientists in KBC work in very diverse research fields, but many projects involve different aspects of sustainability. It is also an important part of the vision for Umeå University."

The second conference topic is science communication. Where is the connection between the two topics?

"Communication of scientific results is especially important for the sustainability discussion but of course also in general. As researchers we are used to communicate within the scientific community, but we also have the responsibility to communicate our results to the public. However, this might require other types of arguments and we need to discuss and learn how we can do that in the best way. That it is also why we offer a course in science communication to young researchers this year. The result of the course will be short video pitches about their research projects that they will present during the KBC DAYS."

A special highlight of the conference will be the podiums debate about science communication with the public. What do you think is the role of scientists in the public discussion?

"As scientists we have had, and still have, a large trust capital from the public. It is very important that we can keep that at times when “fake news” and a general distrust in information from different authorities are spreading. We therefore need to improve our ability to communicate at public arenas, both when communicating directly to the public and when we debate with other scientists at different types of public arenas. It will be interesting to hear the experiences the scientists and journalists who are part of the panel have from being involved in different public debates." 


The Chemical Biological Centre (in Swedish “Kemiskt Biologiskt Centrum”, KBC) is an interdisciplinary research centre for life/natural sciences and medicine at Umeå University (UmU) and the Swedish University for Agricultural Science (SLU). The centre is unique in its collaborative structure and offers an excellent scientific infrastructure with several state-of-the-art technical facilities. The goal is to promote a positive, creative and interdisciplinary research environment combined with an excellent graduate and undergraduate education.

Since 2009, KBC is organising annually the KBC DAYS, an interdisciplinary conference mainly targeted to researchers working in Umeå. About 200-300 people participate every year and listen to presentations from scientists working at KBC affiliated departments and from research infrastructures supported by KBC. The KBC DAYS 2020 will take place on the 3rd and 4th of November.



For questions regarding the KBC DAYS 2020, please contact the KBC Communications Office at