Career advancement: eight researchers secure international postdoc grants

Eight stand-out researchers have secured grants from the new VILLUM FONDEN Villum International Postdoc programme for women in science and technology.

VILLUM FONDEN established the Villum International Postdoc programme to help talented women kick-start an international research career in science and technology. The grants are strategically timed to coincide with the transition from newly minted PhD to established postdoc, a period that statistically sees the largest number of women leave academia.

The members of the inaugural class of recipients have been selected by the VILLUM FONDEN committee for scientific and technological research and approved by the board of directors. The recipients are: Maria Barrett, Amanda Bundgaard, Ada-Ioana Bunea, Meike Anna Christine Latz, Sinja Rist, Henriette Lyng Røder, Rita da Silva and Julie Thøgersen.

Women in research

Women’s share of positions in science and technology declines the further up you go on the academic ladder in Denmark. Statistics provided by universities to the Ministry of Education and Research show that women make up 37% of PhD recipients but only 15% of professors.

See report (in Danish)

“The new Villum International Postdocs are all exceptional talents who have ambitious research goals and international experience, and they have been given the highest recommendations from their host universities. Our programme makes it possible for recipients to undertake the extended stays abroad that will allow them to develop their own research and serve as role models for coming generations of Danish women interested in a career in research in science and technology,” says Jens Kann-Rasmussen chair of VILLUM FONDEN.

The grant recipients were honoured during an event at the VILLUM Window Collection in Søborg, Denmark, on 18 February.

International academics with domestic responsibilities

Grant recipient Henriette Lyng Røder, a postdoc in the Department of Biology at the University of Copenhagen, said:

“The Villum International Postdoc programme is a much-needed step in the process of righting the imbalance that exists in the scientific community. One of its valuable aspects is that it acknowledges applicants as people who have families, not just scientific potential. Providing support for families is an important way to ease the difficulty of relocating a family abroad. The guidance and the funding VILLUM FONDEN provides make it possible for women to go abroad and build the research qualifications they will need to reach the highest levels in their field. For me, personally, the support that this grant gives me and my family affords me the opportunity to continue an exciting line of research and makes it possible to advance my scientific career.”

The Villum International Postdoc programme will make between DKK 15 million and DKK 20 million in grants annually for the next five years. To be considered, applicants must be nominated by a Danish university.

“By making grants through the Villum International Postdoc programme, we are making a concerted effort to enable more talented young women to establish themselves in research fields in science and technology, and, ultimately, helping to create more diversity at the highest levels of academia. The goal is to raise the level of technical and scientific research, for the benefit of research communities and society at large,” says Jens Kann-Rasmussen, the VILLUM FONDEN Chairman of the Board.

The deadline for nominations for the next application round is 20 May. See call.

The inaugural class of Villum International Postdocs are:

Villum International Postdocs with chair of VILLUM FONDEN, Jens Kann-Rasmussen. Photo: Thomas Frandsen

Maria Barrett, Computer Science Department, IT University of Copenhagen (DKK 2.5 million):
'Modelling relations in text using human data' 

Amanda Bundgaard, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University (DKK 2.4 million):
'Reprogramming metabolism in hypoxia tolerance' 

Ada-Ioana Bunea, DTU Nanolab, Technical University of Denmark  (DKK 2.4 million):
'Soft robotic MICROswimmers with PHotonics-EnabLed PropulSion (MicroPHELPS)'

Meike Anna Christine Latz, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen (DKK 2.5 million):
'PHYT-OMICS' 

Sinja Rist, National Institute of Aquatic Resources – DTU Aqua, Technical University of Denmark (DKK 2.5 million):
‘PELAGIC - Meroplankton Ecology in a Changing Ocean’ 

Henriette Lyng Røder, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen  (DKK 2.5 million):
'Predicting the shaping factors of life: Experimental evolution in complex bacterial communities (PREDICT)'

Rita da Silva, Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark (DKK 2.5 million):
'Submerging into demography: a new perspective to inform the conservation of aquatic species' 

Julie Thøgersen, Department of Mathematics, Aarhus University (DKK 2.1 million):
'Incorporating information from data into the decision making processes in non-life insurance' 

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