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Researcher Louise Biddle with ocean glider Semla in front of an iceberg.
Louise Biddle receives a four-year starting grant for the project "The importance of sea ice leads in the Southern Ocean; windows between atmosphere and ocean".
Photo: Sebastiaan Swart
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Louise Biddle, Lars Gamfeldt and Erica Leder awarded research grants from the Swedish Research Council

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Three of the Department of Marine Sciences' researchers have been awarded research grants from the Swedish Research Council's call in Natural and engineering sciences 2020. Louise Biddle, Lars Gamfeldt and Erica Leder receive a total of SEK 10,844,000, distributed over four years.

”As an early career researcher, it means a huge amount to be awarded this grant. I know the competition is very high, and both the endorsement from the Swedish Research Council for my research project and my own personal merit is worth just as much as the funding,“ says Louise Biddle. 

Louise Biddle: The importance of sea ice leads in the Southern Ocean

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Louise Biddle, forskare på institutionen för marina vetenskaper.
Louise Biddle.

Louise Biddle’s research will be focused on sea ice leads and their importance and impact on the upper ocean around Antarctica. Sea ice leads can be considered as “gaps” in the sea ice that are typically long and thin stretches of open water, sometimes only as wide as a few hundred metres to a kilometre.

“It’s really only recently that satellite remote sensing has reached a point where it can detect some of these smaller leads, as well as the development of more autonomous and in-situ technology that can be put out on and under sea ice in remote locations. By really exploiting these data sources, I will investigate the importance of these gaps in the sea ice on the ocean underneath; if they have a significant impact, how far away can this impact be felt and how can we try and think about including these sea ice leads in climate models,” says Louise Biddle.

Biodiversity and ecosystem

Lars Gamfeldt's project aims to develop models that investigate how spatial scale, environmental variation and distribution affect the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functions.

"There is a shortage of information on how environmental variation and spatial scale affect the relationship between biodiversity and function. Since nature is neither homogeneous nor constant, this is a major shortcoming," says Lars Gamfeldt.

For the empirical parts, the research project will use tide pools as a model system. Tide pools are water-filled cavities in rocks near the sea, and an excellent test system for the purposes of the research. Tide pools also contain relatively few species, which means that researchers can handle natural levels of biodiversity.

“It’s a great feeling, and a feeling of great relief to get such a large grant. At the same time, landing a grant is a bitter-sweet victory, because so many of your great colleagues, both at the University of Gothenburg and nationally, who are excellent and brilliant were not successful this year, and you really want them to succeed. It’s weird to compete for funding with your friends and colleagues,” says Lars Gamfeldt.

Erica Leder: Disentangling the molecular mechanisms of parallel evolution

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Erica Leder, forskare på institutionen för marina vetenskaper.
Erica Leder.

Erica Leder’s project is about understanding how gene interactions and gene regulatory networks are involved in adaptation and speciation. The research will be performed on the marine snail, Littorina saxatilis, which has ecotypes that have evolved repeatedly in Sweden, United Kingdom and Spain.

“I just started in the department this summer, and this grant will help me get established more rapidly, build my research group and develop more collaborations. Of course, it is also exciting because I think we will make some interesting scientific discoveries,” says Erica Leder.

High competition for grants

The Department's researchers have been awarded the grants in high competition. This year, the Swedish Research Council has received 1668 applications for the call in natural sciences and engineering 2020, where the approval rate for project grants is 21 percent, and the approval rate for starting grants is 14 percent.

Read more about the grants at Swedish research Council's web site

Text: Annika Wall

 

Facts

Louise Biddle receives a SEK 3,540,000 starting grant 2020-2024 for the project "The importance of sea ice leads in the Southern Ocean; windows between atmosphere and ocean".

Lars Gamfeldt receives a SEK 3,652,000 research project grant 2020-2024 for "Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning across spatial scales".

Erica Leder receives a SEK 3,652,000 research project grant 2020-2024 for "Ecological systems biology: disentangling the molecular mechanisms of parallel evolution".