The University

New professors 2016

Some 40 new professors were installed at Uppsala University on 18 November 2016. Here they present their research. Read about research in everything from didactics, mass spectrometry, social and economic geography, Semitic languages and gender studies to research in orthopaedics, molecular dependence research, geriatrics, constitutional law, musicology, food, nutrition and dietetics, nanotechnology and much more.

Read more about the Inauguration of Professors.

Research presentations

Contents:

Jonas Almqvist, Didactics

Teaching is a complex activity marked by the expectations, intentions, knowledge and habits of the participants. Teachers at all levels in the educational system, from preschools to colleges and universities, need to respond to this complexity. In my research, I have examined teaching and learning in various school subjects. What is the significance of teachers’ choices of teaching content for what and how pupils and students learn in school? My research is based on a comparative approach in which I analyse similarities and differences between teaching and learning within and between different subjects in Sweden and in comparison with other countries. I have studied teaching and learning primarily in biology, physics and chemistry, but also in physical education and health, and in preschools. Studies in didactics create knowledge that increases understanding of the importance of content and approach for pupils’ learning in different subjects. This is key knowledge for teachers to use and further develop in the planning, implementation and follow-up of teaching.

Per Andrén, Mass spectrometry imaging

Mass spectrometry imaging is a new technology used to investigate chemical architecture in biological tissue. A large number of molecules can be topographically imaged simultaneously in complex biological samples using powerful analysis tools. Mass spectrometry imaging has quickly found a range of applications in pharmaceutics and medicine. In my research, the technology has been developed both to introduce an innovative tool for developing new pharmaceuticals and to study diseases. My research is primarily focused on studying molecular changes in the brain that could be associated with the occurrence of motor disturbances in Parkinson’s disease in order to assist in the development of more efficacious treatment. This new method for studying the brain and other organs will increase our understanding of the effect of biologically active substances and the function of molecules in various diseases and disorders.

Dag Blanck, North American studies

North American studies is a multidisciplinary subject. It is today characterised by internationalisation among both researchers and subject areas. My research addresses both how the world has affected the US and how the US has influenced the world. Immigration is a fundamental American experience. I have studied the mass Swedish migration to the United States, especially how a Swedish–American ethnic identity was constructed around the turn of the century in 1900. This dual ethnicity became a part of the processes by which immigrants affected the US and became a part of American society. Another area I am interested in is how the US has influenced Sweden – and still does. The migration created a complex network where people, ideas and things moved back and forth across the Atlantic. Sweden was therefore well prepared when the US became a political and cultural superpower and greatly affected our country. The research also shows that Americanisation has taken place in a quite distinctive manner, since many influences have been reshaped and Swedenised in order to gain a strong foothold.

Daniel Brandell, Materials chemistry

Polymer materials, both synthetic and natural, have conquered the world and are everywhere around us in our daily lives. Salt can be dissolved in some of these materials, which gives rise to the possibility of ion transport. This process results in a polymer electrolyte. My research is aimed at the synthesis of polymer electrolytes, the use of these, and a deeper understanding of the transport processes in this category of materials. I do this through a combination of experimental techniques with computer simulations of materials. This is particularly relevant for a range of applications related to the conversion and storage of energy. My chief contribution was helping to develop electrolyte materials for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which can store relatively large amounts of energy per unit weight and volume. Polymer electrolytes can provide batteries with higher energy density, improved security and longer life.

Brett Christophers, Social and economic geography

My research primarily concerns economic geography, which, in simple terms, is the study of the significance of places and spatial organisation for economic processes. In my research, I have examined economic-geographic issues in both the present and the past in a range of different contexts, such as the US banking sector, the Swedish housing market, television production in New Zealand and urbanisation in the UK. I am also interested in the teaching of economic geography and am currently working with a colleague on an introductory book on the subject. I have written several scientific articles and book chapters. I have also published four books, most recently Banking Across Boundaries (2013) and The Great Leveler (2016).

Eleanor Coghill, Semitic languages

My research focuses on Aramaic, which is not a single language but is in fact an entire language family, a branch of the larger Semitic language family. Much of my work has involved documenting the various modern Aramaic dialects, especially the north-eastern, neo-Aramaic dialects belonging to Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. Given ongoing armed conflicts and the persecution of the groups that speak these dialects, the dialects are now very threatened and their documentation has become extremely uncertain. Another research interest is the earlier varieties of Aramaic and how they have changed over time. Aramaic is of great interest to researchers studying how languages change, since its long history – over three thousand years – is essentially unique. A significant part of this history has involved contacts with other languages. The north-eastern, neo-Aramaic dialects show extensive influence from Kurdish, Arabic, Persian and Turkish languages, and has not only borrowed words from these languages but also linguistic structures. Much of my recent research has focused on the grammatical changes in Aramaic dialects resulting from such contacts. In my research, I strive to combine specialist knowledge of a language family with insights from general linguistics, particularly regarding language variation and language change. My goal is to better understand the structures in Aramaic and other Semitic languages and how they occurred, and thereby contribute to linguistic theory.

Elisabetta Dejana, Experimental pathology

Through my research, I have made significant contributions to various areas of vascular biology, including important discoveries about how blood vessel cells respond to inflammatory stimuli, as well as mapping junctional structures that regulate blood vessel permeability and thereby blood vessel formation in tumours. Recently, I have mainly focused on cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM), an inherited vascular malformation of the brain that is characterised by enlarged and abnormal blood vessels that can present in both children and adults. The malformation can have devastating consequences, such as strokes, paralysis and severe dysfunction. My research has led to the identification of new therapeutic targets and potential therapeutic agents that are now under development.

Birgitta Essén, International maternal and reproductive health

In 1997, Uppsala University became the first in the Nordic region to establish a professorship with a focus on preventive women’s health care. In my international work, I have conducted research on how social positions and cultural factors affect reproductive health in different countries, such as Bolivia, Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq, India and several African countries. I have since used this knowledge about global traditions and values concerning childbirth to explain why certain kinds of morbidity are higher among certain immigrant communities in Europe. Health care is traditionally an arena for biomedicine and health, but it also includes political, moral and ethical values. My research aims to put medical phenomena in a larger context, as these are not free from cultural and societal trends. I work closely with a medical anthropologist and we have studied, for example, how cultural differences can be minimised during abortion and contraceptive counselling. We have also shown with empirical data how deeply rooted traditions, such as female circumcision, are re-valued and virtually cease after migration. Our interdisciplinary work has in many ways been pioneering when it comes to creating tools to help Swedish healthcare serve patients in a globalised world.

Jonas Fransson, Physics, particularly theory of strongly correlated materials

Strong correlations in materials mean that the electrons are highly interdependent and theoretically must be treated accordingly. However, strong correlations can give rise to properties such as magnetism. Magnetism and magnetic interactions are particularly interesting in molecular compounds because some can be controlled by external influences, such as electric currents and temperature variations. Magnetically active components can thus be used to open or block the electric currents through the molecular structure, which can be used for more thorough studies of the same. Theoretical aspects of magnetism and molecules under non-equilibrium can be treated with quantum field theory and quantum statistical methods. The emphasis is on the huge amount of electrons involved, which leads to reasoning in terms of the density the electrons have, and with which the magnetic structure can be described. While correlated (independent) electrons can be given a simple and consistent description, strong correlations usually lead to contradictory results and ambiguous interpretations. Comparisons with experimental observations provide guidance on how the theory should be formulated. Temperature is often an additional aspect in this context. Low temperatures can lead to considerably increased or decreased electrical conductivity or magnetic stability, while these properties completely disappear at high temperatures. A theoretical description that is too simple typically lacks these qualities, which again challenges the theoretical approaches used.

Gabriele Griffin, Gender studies

Gender studies examines issues on the differences constructed not only on the basis of gender, but also based on other classifications such as class, ethnicity, sexuality and functionality – how we think about these differences, how they are negotiated, how they are related and what consequences this has. What makes this field important is that what distinguishes one person from another is intimately connected to identity, inequality and economic, social and cultural power structures. In my doctoral dissertation, I analysed femininity and self-denial in the works of philosophers Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch. Since then, I have studied cultural constructions of identity in contemporary lesbian literature and in the plays of black and South Asian dramatists. In today’s globalised world, the question of identity is increasingly complex, with the rise in migration leading to the emergence of new and renegotiated identities. One of my current projects is about what happens when people receive non-normative identities – if they are given a new identity in a witness protection programme, for instance.

Nils Hailer, Orthopaedics

Orthopaedics deals with musculoskeletal diseases and injuries. In my research, I try to highlight both the ordinary and extraordinary, and use epidemiological and experimental methods. I am very interested in osteoarthritis, the wear and tear of joints, and examine the emergence of this disease and its treatment with joint prostheses. My research – based in part on our large Swedish joint prosthesis registries – has shown how the surface treatment of joint prostheses affects the risk of loosening, how a particular type of joint socket can reduce the risk of hip prostheses becoming dislocated, and how identifying risk factors for premature death after prosthetic surgery can make prosthetic surgery even safer. My second main interest is damage to the spinal cord from vertebrae fractures, a rarer condition – but the resulting paralysis affects patients much more severely and over their entire lifetimes. My experimental research involves trying to understand the cellular mechanisms of spinal cord injury, in which the role of inflammatory cells is crucial. We have understood that it is beneficial to inhibit inflammation in the early stages after spinal cord trauma, as this may increase the survival of neurons and neural pathways. At a later stage, it appears that a combination of anti-inflammatory agents and nerve growth factors can be beneficial to the growth of new neural pathways. The aim of my research is to contribute knowledge that will better help patients with spinal cord injuries.

Mathias Hallberg, Molecular dependence research

I study abused substances such as anabolic androgenic steroids, opiates and GHB, as well as certain hormones such as the growth hormone, to determine their impact on biochemical and physiological processes associated with dependence and cognition. I explore the impact of these substances on levels of neuropeptides and levels of bioactive degradation products from these, and on the expression of key target protein in different brain structures. I also evaluate the effect of different substances on the formation of axons and how learning and memory are affected. In contrast to addictive narcotics, which often have an adverse effect on cognition, the body’s own short-lived degradation fragment angiotensin IV is an example of a substance that has a beneficial effect on cognitive functions. Based on these observations, our research team has tailored drug-like analogues to angiotensin IV as potential cognitive enhancers. These analogues are now being examined in detail to determine, among other things, their ability to strengthen contact between nerve cells. The effects of blocking the angiotensin II receptor AT2R are studied concurrently. It is believed that substances with the ability to block this specific receptor will be helpful in treating neuropathic pain.

Anne Hammarström, Social medicine

My research is about the importance of living conditions for how health develops during life. Unemployment impairs health among young and middle-aged women and men. The longer the unemployment lasts, the worse a person’s health becomes. The health of unemployed people is just as poor during a period of prosperity as it is during a recession, while labour market policies can act as a buffer. An important question is whether the health consequences of unemployment go away after people find employment. This does not seem to be the case. Instead, the health effects of youth unemployment persist into adulthood, regardless of unemployment later in life. Other examples from my research include the negative consequences on women’s and men’s mental health from living in an unequal relationship. Another example is how temporary employment, compared to permanent employment, impairs our mental health. People who receive only limited training suffer the most. The longer temporary employment lasts, far out in the periphery (compared to similar jobs with better career opportunities and working environments closer to the centre), the more it negatively affects health.

Ingegerd Hildingsson, Reproductive health

My research focuses specifically on the fear of childbirth and requests for caesarean sections. We have developed an easy-to-use tool for measuring the fear of childbirth. Approximately twenty percent of women experience fear of childbirth during pregnancy. Treatment usually involves counselling with the midwife. Sometimes caesarean sections are done because of fear of childbirth. Seven to eight percent of pregnant women want to have caesarean sections. Fear of childbirth is often a contributing factor to this. Getting a caesarean section when not medically necessary increases the risk of complications for the mother and baby. Having the same midwife throughout the healthcare process is a cost-effective and medically safe form of treatment that can lower the rate of caesarean sections, reduce the need for pain relief, and provide a more positive experience. We are studying this now among women with childbirth fear by allowing them to have a midwife present at childbirth whom they have met before.

Tora Holmberg, Sociology

What is culture and how can an understanding of culture help explain societal change and continuity? Culture is often considered to be that which is not nature, and concerns meaning-creation, actions and common values. Based on this tradition of thought, culture is something created between people, such as symbols, objects and rituals. In my research, I also highlight how non-human elements and actors actively contribute to, and are involved in, cultural action. In other words, I examine culture as a “more-than-human” phenomenon, and have in studies of diverse themes including animals, behavioural genetics, stem cell research, manor house living, and intimacy in couple dancing, returned to the question of how boundaries between nature and culture are created, maintained and changed. These boundaries and their effects are in turn a work in interaction between people and other animals, objects and material, spatial elements. Research on society “from within” is based on the actors’ own life worlds. This provides valuable insight into how social, material and economic structures are involved in and by collective structures of meaning.

Martin Ingelsson, Geriatrics

As people live longer, there is an increased incidence of age-related diseases, which in turn leads to increased demands on society to provide resources for care and nursing. Dementia is an important area within geriatrics, and already today the cost for the care of patients with dementia is more than SEK 60 billion, which exceeds the costs for cancer and heart disease and is more than the entire budget for the Swedish defence. My research focuses on increasing understanding of the molecular processes in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The results are used to develop new methods for diagnosis and therapy. Previous discoveries in the research group have led to an antibody that recognises earlier changes in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. This antibody is now being evaluated for treatment in a study here in Uppsala and in many other parts of the world. In another ongoing research project, we are now using a similar approach for developing a corresponding form of treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Our laboratory research is heavily dependent on a close connection with the Memory Clinic. Both ideas and biological samples are collected from the clinic, and everything that is done in the laboratory aims to seek new knowledge that will benefit our patients in the future.

Anna Jonsson Cornell, Comparative constitutional law

Europeanisation has contributed to strengthening both democracy and rule of law in many European states, but it has also created a strong backlash, with Brexit being just one example. My research focuses on the interaction between European law and national constitutional law in a comparative perspective. I am particularly interested in how this interaction affects the design and implementation of legal protection, legislation processes, and the courts’ interpretation methods. A large part of my research has been devoted to Russia’s constitutional development. European law and international cooperation have been key to legal developments in Russia. However, the past ten years show a significant decline in respect for the rule of law, and the influence of European law has weakened. The legal factors explaining this are flaws in legislative processes, a dependent court system, and the courts’ interpretation methods on the application of constitutional and international law. I have also conducted research on the EU’s legislative process and the role of national parliaments in this. To keep the EU’s democratic deficit in check, national parliaments have been given the right and the obligation to review EU legislators’ respect for the principle of subsidiarity. Comparative research shows differences in their actions and influence. These differences are explained in part by the allocation of power between legislators and government, the level of detail in the legal regulation, and the extent to which this review is decentralised. An increased role for national parliaments in the EU’s legislative process has not offset the mistrust of the EU and the democratic deficit. Comparative constitutional law helps us understand and contribute to solutions to the challenges that European cooperation is facing.

Solveig Jülich, History of science and ideas

It is often said that we live in the modern era of biomedicine, with profound changes to life and society. By examining how scientific knowledge, healthcare practices, healthcare policies, health economy and knowledge about illnesses have shifted over time, medical history – and the broader field of medical humanities – can shed light on the ways in which the present situation is part of a larger historical current. In my medical history research, I have been particularly interested in the depiction, communication and interpretation of medical images in a historical perspective. Images have always played a central role in modern medicine: from the anatomical engravings of the 17th century, to the microscopic sketches of the 18th century, to the x-ray photographs of the late 19th century, and to today’s digital visualisations of the human body. Yet not all images become famous or are remembered for a long time. I have called attention to how Lennart Nilsson’s photographs of embryos and foetuses came to be ascribed iconic status, with great power to influence how we view issues of human reproduction and reproductive rights.

Birsel Karakoç, Turkic languages

The subject of Turkic languages constitutes a language family that includes about twenty written languages. In addition, there are a large number of varieties not in written form. The total number of Turkic speakers today is more than 150 million people, and their geographical location stretches from Eastern Europe to the Great Wall of China, and from Iran to the Arctic Ocean. The Turkic-speaking world can be divided into three main regions: Asia Minor, Iran and the Caucasus in the west (with languages such as Turkish and Azerbaijani); Central Asia (with Turkmen, Kazakh, Uzbek and Uyghur); and Siberia (with Sakha). In addition, there are several more or less isolated and threatened Turkic languages in the periphery, including in China, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Baltics and the Balkans. My research focuses on comparative linguistics within Turkology and primarily on the typological aspects of a number of historical and contemporary Turkic languages. I have paid particular attention to describing linguistic structures that express aspect and tense, modes of action, and evidentiality in Nogai, a small language – in terms of number of speakers – in the North Caucasus in Russia. In addition, I have conducted comparative studies of morphosyntactic, syntactic and semantic aspects of subordinate clauses, interrogative sentences and copula clauses in a number of Turkic languages. The research I am now conducting involves understanding how the categories of existence, ownership, membership and possession are expressed in languages belonging to different branches of the Turkic language family.

Eva Lindberg, Internal medicine

Sleep is essential to life, and a good night’s sleep is a prerequisite for good health. During sleep the brain releases substances that are necessary for metabolism and growth. Unfortunately, because breathing is slower and more irregular during sleep, many people suffer from repetitive pauses in breathing, called sleep apnoea. In my research, I have studied how breathing is affected during sleep and how breathing disorders during sleep affect the body in the short and long term. I have studied sleep apnoea in depth primarily in order to identify people at risk of developing this and determine how sleep apnoea affects metabolism and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The research also focuses on the mechanisms underlying this connection and how to prevent long-term adverse effects. Increased knowledge in this area is important to be able to identify and treat people with harmful sleep apnoea, partly so that people can feel and function better during the day but also to prevent the development of serious sequelae.

Magnus Lundberg, Church and mission studies

Church and mission studies has an enormous scope: Christianity over the span of 2,000 years and across all continents. My research has primarily focused on the Catholic Church in colonial Spanish America. My dissertation examined a Mexican archbishop and his relations with other church actors and with the state. In my next book, I shifted to a local perspective: rural parishes in central Mexico during the 1600s. I was interested in the local church life as a whole, the relationship between indigenous parishioners and priests, and the relationship between ideals and practice. Most recently, I have written about Spanish-American nuns and how they felt they could contribute to the salvation of others through prayer, vicarious suffering and “travels in spirit” to the mission fields. The book shows how contemplative (inward) and apostolic (outward) religious lives could work together.

Mattias Lundberg, Musicology

I have a number of theoretical, analytical and historical research interests in the field of music. Currently, my research focuses on music, liturgy, music theory and composition practices in northern Europe during the Reformation period. In simple terms, one could say that my research aims to understand how music sounded and was perceived, taught, dispersed and written during the culturally tumultuous era that formed much of the culture and music of northern Europe in recent centuries. Alongside research publications, I now also bring research findings to a broader audience, as resounding reconstructions in the form of concerts, and in the form of Swedish Radio’s extensive music history public education initiative Swedish Music History on SR P2. Older musicology colleagues tell me I’m the youngest professor to ever work in this field, but the fact is that Jonas Columbus was about two months younger than me when he became Uppsala University’s professor poeseos et musices in 1625, and I think that he definitely should be recognised as an important pioneer in our field.

Niklas Långström, Child and adolescent psychiatry

Knowledge-based child and adolescent psychiatry is partly based on neuroscience, developmental psychology, epidemiology and assessments, as well as on research on psychological and drug-based treatments. My research involves the causal factors of mental illness, regardless of whether the factors are genetic, biological or psychosocial. I have mainly focused on development paths, specifically on why and how young people engage in sexual violence or other violence against others. In my research, I use clinical groups and national population-based registries of twins and sibling controls. I am also involved in the development of assessment methods, and the prevention and treatment of various aggressive behaviours. This knowledge will hopefully help direct prevention and treatment towards the real causal factors, and lead to a reduction in sexual and violent crime.

Åsa Mackenzie, Molecular physiology

The brain is a complex organ that is largely constructed of different types of neurons that enable, through amazingly rapid and precise communication, all of our behaviours, thoughts and feelings. Because of the brain’s central role, however, diseases that affect it can lead to drastic changes in the body’s functions and in individual personalities. The focus of my research is determining how the brain’s neurons function with the goal of finding new ways to prevent them from being affected by disease. I am particularly interested in understanding how the brain continuously uses positive and negative memories when we make different types of choices and also how the brain initiates the body movements needed to physically move us where we want to go. Parkinson’s disease, depression and dependence have different symptoms, but all are examples of diseases in which communication between different populations of neurons in certain parts of the brain no longer function adequately. By mapping these neurons and understanding how they affect motivation, decision-making and motor skills, I aim in my research to contribute new knowledge that could eventually lead to cures for brain diseases and maybe even to their prevention.

Alireza Malehmir, Applied geophysics

Geophysical methods have long been used within a wide range of applications and are constantly improving as technology advances. In applied geophysics, knowledge about different materials on earth (mainly their properties and geometries) is combined with physics to enable sustainable exploration and use of our limited natural resources (such as metals and minerals, water, gas and oil), plan infrastructure for reduced cost and environmental impact (such as motorways and tunnels), understand processes that create and shape geological structures (such as faults or folds), and minimise potential georisks (such as landslides or earthquakes) by improving our understanding of the characteristic geometries and physical properties that cause them. During my studies, I worked with geostatistic methods, rock stability and geochemistry on glacial till. After that, I began to work with diffractions. I have, for instance, examined how ore bodies of small yet still financially significant size, can generate diffractions with sometimes measurable properties. Although the core of my research has focused on exploration in crystalline rock environments using seismic methods, I have also worked on the development of new technologies and methods. Through a collaborative venture between academia and industry, I’ve led the development of a new land streamer with seismic multicomponent sensors that is now being tested and used in several large infrastructure projects in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark.

Ylva Mattsson Sydner, Food, nutrition and dietetics

Nutritional science is an interdisciplinary field in which the importance of food can be related to both its value as a substance for the human body and to its meaning and symbolic significance for people and society at large. My research is based on food and meals as phenomena in the social world and has primarily focused on specific groups of people who in one way or another find themselves in a situation of dependence on conditions within the welfare state and/or household structures. I have thus directed my research to older people, people with disabilities and various patient groups and the contexts in which they live, where the requests and requirements of the individual in relation to food are confronted with the conditions of their particular context. Food and meals as phenomena thus encompass individual, interaction and institution. Research in this field increases knowledge and understanding of how the welfare service of food provision can meet human needs for food security.

Albert Mihranyan, Nanotechnology and functional materials

Nanotechnolgy is an important part of the current technology revolution. Nanotechnology enables us to manipulate the properties of various materials at a near-atomic level. In the life sciences, nanotechnology is revolutionising the development of safer, more effective and more specific drugs, especially for the treatment of cancer or infectious diseases. Other advances in nanotechnology include more sensitive, faster and more specific diagnostic methods, in vivo imaging and gene delivery. The overall philosophy of my work, both research and teaching, is an interdisciplinary, holistic approach to nanomaterial from its synthesis and characterisation to security and applications with a strong focus on user needs. My research examines a wide spectrum of materials, both natural and synthetic polymers and inorganic porous nanomaterials. Nanocellulose and its applications in the field of biomedicine in particular has been a central theme in my research. The materials that I develop can be used in the preparation of protein-based drugs, virus filtration, drug release and tissue engineering.

Maya Neytcheva, High-performance computing

Scientific calculations, computer simulations, and computational science are terms that mark the third branch of research that supplements theoretical work and laboratory experiments. Using mathematical models and their implementation on computers, we address many challenging, complex and large-scale problems in all areas of society. High-performance computing is an integrated part of these computer simulations. It shows that computers offer very high computing powers but to utilise their potential, we need new approaches to the algorithms used in the simulations. My main area of research and aim is the development, analysis and implementation of effective solution methods, which are the main building blocks of different numerical simulations, namely rapid iterative solution methods. I combine knowledge on real physical and similar processes, and their formal mathematical descriptions and requirements for computer resources in order to fully utilise these and deliver quick and accurate solutions.

Elena Nickolaevna Kozlova, Regenerative neurobiology

Many diseases of the brain and spinal cord are characterised by significant loss of neurons and the breakage of important neural pathways. Examples of such conditions are strokes, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries. The brain itself cannot replace the lost neurons, and damaged neural pathways in the spinal cord, for example, cannot be reformed. The transplantation of stem cells and the use of nanomaterials offer new opportunities to treat diseases and injuries of the nervous system. Experimental studies show that transplanted stem cells appear to be able to suppress the ongoing disease process, stimulate tissue repair and in some cases even replace lost cells. Nanomaterials can be introduced into the organism to be used for the controlled release of drugs, among other purposes. My research explores how using transplanted stem cells and nanoparticles “loaded” with specific molecules can provide a basis for the treatment of spinal cord injuries that recreates lost functions and prevents the emergence of very severe pain. Our experimental studies show that transplanted stem cells can create “bridges” that allow nerve fibres that have been torn from the spinal cord to grow back into the spinal cord and reform contacts, so that lost sensation is restored. Our experiments with nanomaterials show that these can serve as effective depots for growth-stimulating molecules. Continued research on stem cells and nanomaterials can help improve treatment for patients with diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord.

Margaretha Nydahl, Food, nutrition and dietetics

There is a great interest in food’s importance for health in a range of disciplines. Despite this, lifestyle-related illness and unhealthy eating habits are common in society, particularly in vulnerable groups. Among older people, the diet-related problem of malnutrition dominates in varied degrees depending on which other underlying medical and social factors are involved. This has major consequences for both the individual and society as a whole, which makes research leading to a decrease in the number of malnourished older people important. My research in the field of dietetics communication has a strong background in nutritional science and is aimed at public health for a healthy population in general and vulnerable groups such as older people specifically. The research focuses on dietary treatment in relation to health and how this can be communicated. One emphasis has been to document people’s eating habits and how these can be improved through realistic changes. Central components of my research include dietary patterns, the consumption of specific foods, nutritional intake and the extent of malnutrition, including from a methodological perspective through the selection and application of dietary survey methods. I have also analysed how older people view their food and meal situations and how these views vary according to different background factors. My research also includes the initiation of health-promoting and primary preventative activities aimed at facilitating food-related activities such as promoting actual food and nutritional intake, as well as social community among older people.

Sascha Ott, Molecular synthetic chemistry

The division of synthetic chemistry into one organic branch and one inorganic branch originated in the 19th century, and came about because the substances produced from living organisms were believed to contain a life force that distinguished them from the inorganic compounds. New chemistry has since emerged and this division is no longer adequate today. Of particular importance in synthesis and catalysis was the development of organometallic chemistry, in which carbon-based compounds are combined with main-group elements and transition metals. My research lies on the border between organic and inorganic chemistry, where we concentrate on molecular systems, i.e. compounds that consist of relatively few atoms in a well-defined bond. The focus is on two main areas in which we transfer concepts and structures from inorganic chemistry to organic chemistry. The first concerns developing new compounds that contain rare carbon-phosphorus double bonds, or phosphorus atoms in aromatic systems. What is interesting about these types of phosphorus-containing compounds is that their electronic properties are very special and make the compounds useful in, for example, catalysis and molecular electronics. The other research domain is photocatalysis, which has a long-term goal of converting solar energy and water into a storable energy carrier, like hydrogen. We use our expertise in both organic and inorganic chemistry to develop new strategies in artificial photosynthesis, primarily by producing sophisticated catalysts that make chemical reactions require less energy.

Charlotte Platzer Björkman, Solid state electronics with a specialisation in solar cell materials

Solar cells transform the energy in sunlight directly into electrical energy. They have no moving parts and can be placed on small calculators, used in large solar fields or integrated into buildings. The amount of solar energy that hits the earth is about 10,000 times greater than the global energy consumption. Even in Sweden, we have much larger solar resources than most people would think. In my research, I examine new solar cell materials that are better at absorbing sunlight than ordinary solar cells. Because of this ability, solar cells can be achieved by merely coating glass, metal or plastic with thin films of these materials. My goal is to understand electrical and optical losses in the solar cells so that we can develop the most effective structures possible. I have particularly focused on the characteristics of the interfaces between different layers in the solar cell. Another aim is to avoid rare or toxic elements to enable large-scale manufacturing of solar cells without harmful environmental impact, while also achieving better performance, or efficiency, and a low cost.

Joel Samuelsson, Private law with specialisation in general private law

Contracts are made to be upheld, but it is often unclear exactly what has been contracted. The law handles this vagueness through interpretation, and the doctrine of how to do this – contractual interpretation doctrine – has its own place in the systematics of private law. The contractual interpretation doctrine brings many of the law’s most fundamental theoretical issues to a head: the relationship between law and reality, the nature of legal rules, the nature of the legal method, etc. The field has been called a “playground for theoretical exercises” by one sceptical observer. At the same time, the object of study as such – contract interpretation activities – is one of the most resolute and practically significant in all of private law. In my research, I have utilised the opportunity offered by contract interpretation to investigate theoretical themes in a concrete legal context. I have attempted to trace the boundary between contractual interpretation and the application of legal rules that determine the positions of contracting parties in cases where there are gaps in the agreement that must be filled. I have explored contractual interpretation as a question of method in an attempt to demonstrate that a pseudo-problem creates disorder in the basic structure of interpretation doctrine. I have also sought to bring a broader context to the implied, or silent, contract content. The major theme of my research has been the relationship between theory and practice in interpretation. This is a rewarding theme for a legal professional, as the legal practice, in its own peculiar way, lays bare the constraints of the theory.

Anna Sarkadi, Social medicine

Previously, infectious diseases, malnutrition and accidents were the biggest challenges to the health of children – today it is mental illness. Since the foundations of interpersonal relationships and mental health are laid in a child’s first year, where parents play a key role, I have focused on parenthood in my research. I have been particularly interested in the significance of the involvement of fathers in child development. Parenthood today takes place in a landscape of an unprecedented variety of environments that children can grow up in. In the 1970s, people talked about parental education, in the 1990s about parental support, and after the millennium shift about parental support programmes that could be used to give parents the skills to nurture parent-child relationships and the child’s self-regulation. I have shown in studies that children’s behavioural problems, even in a Swedish context, are related to how caregivers deal with conflicts and set limits. Parental support programmes focus on how caregivers relate to children in order to create a better environment to grow up in. I have shown that if you widely offer parental support programmes, this support becomes normalised and parents with greater psychological needs also choose to participate. At the same time, I have also seen that universal parental support initiatives systematically do not include fathers, particularly those with lower education and foreign-born parents. The aim of my research is to find ways of working that make parental support available to all caregivers who need it, in order to prevent future mental health problems in children.

Ulrika Simonsson, Pharmacokinetics

Drugs are substances that prevent, detect, alleviate or cure illnesses or symptoms of illnesses. For each drug and each individual, there is an optimal exposure in the body. To be able to optimise the effect of a drug, it is important to identify factors that influence exposure variability and how this relates to effect. Mathematical and statistical models are used to calculate the most suitable dose for a group of patients or a specific individual. These models are also used to optimise pre-clinical and clinical studies conducted using simulations. One common focus of my research is the use of mathematical models to increase knowledge on existing drugs in various fields of therapy. Another has been to contribute to the development of new drugs with regard to how the exposure of these substances varies over time and how this relates to their effects and possible side effects. With this knowledge, I have helped in the planning of new studies and the provision of treatment recommendations and individualised dosing.

Martin Sjödin, Nanotechnology and functional materials with a specialisation in electrical energy storage and charging transport in polymer materials

In modern society, access to electricity is a matter of course and a prerequisite for technological advances, but it is also responsible for one of the greatest challenges we are facing: delivering energy to an increasing number of users, with varying energy needs, without jeopardising opportunities for future generations. Achieving this requires a transition to renewable energy systems, and in this transition, batteries have a key role. The need for batteries is therefore expected to increase, and it will be important to be able to develop batteries that can be produced from renewable raw materials in processes with a low environmental impact. My research is based on biomimetic methodology, in which I, by examining and mimicking nature’s own energy conversion systems, design artificial systems that can store and release energy in the form of electricity, i.e. batteries.  For electrical energy storage to be possible, the charge must be able to be transported through the material used. In biological systems, electron transport takes place in electron transport chains, where a lot of energy is sacrificed in order to ensure that the charge is transported to exactly the right place. An important part of my research is to develop more energy-efficient transport systems with lower energy losses and provide a better understanding of the mechanism of charge transport and the structural factors that affect this in artificial energy storage systems.

Agneta Skoog Svanberg, Reproductive health

Reproductive health is an area of knowledge that includes sexual, reproductive and perinatal health in a life-cycle perspective. Infertility affects ten to fifteen per cent of all couples and can have a negative affect on individuals and relationships. Approximately 37,000 induced abortions are performed annually in Sweden, which requires carefully planned routines to ensure good care. Giving birth is expected to be a positive event, but between five and ten per cent of all mothers have a negative birth experience that can lead to short- and long-term psychological consequences after childbirth. My research takes as its starting point the clinical experience I have as a midwife. In my research I have selected areas where I, in interdisciplinary collaborations, describe risk factors for mental and physical illness. I study infertility and different treatment methods with assisted fertilisation for single women, heterosexual and lesbians couples, as well as egg and sperm donors. I have focused on the mental heath of women seeking abortions and experiences of abortion care. I am also researching the effect of an easily accessible self-help treatment in the form of internet-based psychological support to women who have had a negative or traumatic childbirth experience. In India and Tanzania, I study women giving birth and the public healthcare staff, with a focus on mental health, experiences and attitudes, since there is a great shortage of staff with adequate skills. My goal is to identify individuals who are in need of more follow-ups and support, and to develop a better psychological understanding of and treatment for women, newborn babies and entire families.

Anneli Stavréus-Evers, Biomedical laboratory science with a specialisation in reproductive medicine

In order for an implanted fertilised egg to become attached to the uterine lining, it must be able to signal its arrival, to develop normally and at the right time, and the uterine lining must be prepared to receive a fertilised egg. This synchronised interaction is very important in order for an implantation and a normal pregnancy to take place. Couples may experience infertility if something in the implantation process is not functioning normally. Better diagnostics and treatments are needed to increase the chance of having a baby after fertility treatment. In my research, I have studied the morphological and biochemical factors that are important in order for an implantation to take place. I have also developed new methods that can be used to study the implantation process. Increased knowledge about the implantation process can be used both to improve outcomes in fertility treatment and to develop new contraceptives.

Margareta Svahn, Scandinavian languages

My research can be characterised with the words language and culture. In various ways, my work has been guided by the question of how culture is reflected in language. In my first research project I examined what family names can tell us about the time during which this name system developed. I have primarily, however, dedicated myself to research on dialects. In my dissertation, I highlighted how plants were given names in older farming communities and discussed how amateur botany relates to the science of botany. When I worked with the names of plants in the dialect archives, I found many derogatory terms for women and men. This is how I got the idea for my next study, which has a clear gender perspective. Profanity is linked to how gender is constructed during different time periods, and I describe how they are related to ideas about gender in our culture. My third major project is about linguistic variation and change linked to, among other things, urbanisation and infrastructure. My research on the dialect situation in western Sweden examines from the 1950s to the present how and why dialects change to become more like standardised Swedish or, in the case of southern Bohus county, become more like the dialect of Gothenburg.

Magnus Svartengren, Occupational and environmental medicine

I began working as a professor at Karolinska Institutet in 2004 and worked there until 2011. In my research I have been interested in how the environment affects the body. Initially, I conducted experimental studies of how inhaled particles are handled in the body and how they can affect healthy individuals and people with lung disease. These studies were supplemented by exposure studies in chamber and tunnel environments. I later continued with epidemiological studies on the link between air pollution and health, especially in children. Studies have been done on the significance of heredity and the environment on lung function, hearing, and musculoskeletal difficulties. In recent years, I have increasingly focused on workplaces that have healthy employees over the long term, and what businesses can do to create these kinds of environments. Finding the characteristics of healthy workplaces is of great importance to ensuring a sustainable working life and to reversing the trend of more people going on sick leave.

Ola Söderberg, Molecular proteomics

Communication between cells is crucial in multicellular organisms like humans. The cells, in turn, have signal paths that relay information from their surface to genes in the cell nucleus. When the receptor proteins on the surface of the cell receive a message, the receptor proteins are activated so that they can bind other proteins, and the signal moves forward, from one protein to the next, like in a relay race. These signals can cause the cell to divide or change its properties. The signal paths can be affected by mutations, which can lead to diseases such as cancer. In my research, I develop new methods for studying how proteins do their work in our cells. These methods of analysis make it possible to see the protein interactions and thereby read the signals that run along a signal path. The objective is to understand how cells communicate with each other in a tissue and how the signals are passed on in different signal paths, as well as how this communication changes with cancer. Can communication in cancer cells be returned to normal? This knowledge will ultimately lead to new and better treatments.

Johan Tralau, Government

When was the origin of political philosophy, that is, fundamental inquiry into how states and societies can be justified? It is often assumed that this history begins with Plato, but it is more rarely explained why. In my research, I have argued that political philosophy begins with the discovery of a special argumentation technique, more specifically “internal critique”, which is the attempt to demonstrate that a standpoint is self-contradictory or otherwise contains internal tension. This criticism is an ideal of civilised debate in normative issues, that is, issues of right and wrong. In recent years, I have examined how these argumentation techniques arise before Plato – how these types of normative argument are detected by degrees in Greek poetry from Homer to the great tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. What I aim to demonstrate is nothing less than the evolution of normative thinking itself. I have also conducted research on myths, monsters, alienation, utopias, burials, marriage, metaphors, freedom of conscience and on the 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes. In the future, I would like to devote myself to everyday morality policy – how society is upheld by things like handshakes, table manners, dress standards and politeness.

Helena Wahlström Henriksson, Gender studies

My research explores how close relationships and power are portrayed in literature and film of the late 1900s and 2000s. The main focus could be referred to feminist masculinity studies. My doctoral thesis analyses representations of men in 1970s North American “liberation novels” and the way that masculine cultural icons and stereotypes are given new meaning in narratives about women’s lives and desires. I have also examined fatherhood in films and novels that depict men striving to be viewed as legitimate parents in a culture where motherhood is still perceived as “primary”. My research also investigates the orphan, a prototypical protagonist in American novels, who often forms “alternative” family relationships. My research aims to create a better understanding of the phenomenon of childhood and parenting, family and kinship(-forming) – and of cultural representations of these phenomenon – because they are central both in literature and in the lived experience, and also interact with norms and ideals about gender, class, ethnicity and nationality in our time.

Ken Welch, Nanotechnology and functional materials with a specialisation in photocatalysis, with applications in orthopaedics and dental implants

Modern surgical techniques offer amazing opportunities to improve function and quality of life for people with conditions such as worn teeth, knee or hip joints. Implant-related infection with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria is one of the greatest complication risks associated with this type of surgery. Treating the surface of surgically implanted bio materials to create antibacterial properties without needing to use conventional antibiotics has therefore become increasingly important in the prevention and treatment of implant-related infections. Titanium is a common implant material. A titanium dioxide layer forms naturally on titanium surfaces. This layer has a well-documented ability to form a strong bond with the bone and is therefore biocompatible. In addition to being biocompatible, such surfaces can be made photocatalytic so that they have a bacteria-killing effect when light is shined on them. My research has largely focused on developing methods to improve both the biocompatible and the photocatalytic properties of these types of implant materials, and to understand what material properties need to be controlled in order to improve treatment for implant-related infections.

Di Yuan, Mathematical optimisation

Optimisation is a word used in many different contexts. Mathematical optimisation consists of models and methods that can be used to maximise or minimise a value based on the existing restrictions. We can find applications of mathematical optimisation to reduce costs and increase efficiency in nearly all industrial sectors (such as route planning for the forestry industry) and societal functions (such as the location of ambulances). In my research, I’ve focused on optimisation models and methods with applications in communication and transport. This scientific tool has mainly consisted of combinatorial optimisation and integer optimisation. I have worked with the planning, design, resource utilisation and analysis of telecommunications networks from an optimisation perspective. I have also studied optimisation problems related to airport logistics. The current emphasis of my research is optimisation problems in the upcoming fifth generation (5G) mobile network, with a focus on the development of advanced mathematical models and effective optimisation algorithms.  My research interests also include other areas in communications and transport, which comprise large and complex systems whose efficiency is of great significance for both industrial actors and society at large.