Large Research Grants Awarded 2001 - 2003
2003 - University of Gothenburg and The Eastindiaman Götheborg received a joint grant of SEK 3 million to carry out research in marine biology in conjunction with the maiden voyage of The Eastindiaman Götheborg to China.
The Eastindiaman Götheborg
In 1745, the Eastindiaman Götheborg II sank at the mouth of the port in Göteborg. The ships that sailed the seas for the Swedish East India Company from 1731 to 1813 carried unparalleled riches in their holds, from China to Sweden. Some 250 years later, inspired by this era of trade so significant in Swedish history, the company, which had reappeared after having been out of existence, initiated a project aiming to create an exact copy of the Götheborg II, but with a state-of-the art safety system on board (www.soic.se).
Carolus Linnaeus, (1707-1778) achieved international renown as a very young man, and remains the most famous scientist in Swedish history, thanks to his contributions to botanical systematization of the species, to terminology and nomenclature. He traveled a great deal, as well as sending his students out into the world to collect foreign flora and fauna. They were often to be found on the ships of the Swedish East India Company, endeavoring to collect and document animal and plant life from the many countries that were ports of call on the way to and from China.
In 2003, a grant of SEK 3 million was made to Göteborg University and the Eastindiaman Götheborg for research in marine biology in conjunction with the maiden voyage of The Eastindiaman Götheborg to China. In the spirit of Carolus Linnaeus (also known as Carl von Linné), researchers from Göteborg University joined the expedition, and worked on board with three projects, with the umbrella name In the wake of Linnaeus.
A summaryof the research projects carried out between 2005 and 2007 during the round trip between Sweden and China is presented below.
Carolus Linnaeus (1707 - 1778)
The project – ”In the Wake of Linnaeus” – is a research- and educational project that was carried out aboard Götheborg III, the reconstructed copy of an 18th century Swedish East Indiaman from the fleet of the Swedish East India Co. The ship left Göteborg for China in October 2005, more or less along the old route via Spain, Brazil, South Africa, the Australian West Coast and Indonesia to Guangzhou (Canton) and Shanghai. Götheborg III returned to Göteborg in June, 2007.
The project consisted of three parts – biology, oceanography and public outreach. Throughout the journey to China and back, two researchers were stationed aboard the ship. The biological (zoological) part paid particular attention to the 18th century travels of Linnaeus students and their impact on our understanding of the living organisms. At the very end of the ship’s journey, a Linnaeus conference observing the 300 year jubilee of Linnaeus’ birth was held in London. Equipment to continuously sample and study plankton in relation to oceanographic conditions in the surface layer of the oceans was installed aboard the ship, and so far one major thesis has appeared (Gustav Kågesten: “A sailing deep-sea survey along the Subtropical Convergence in the South Indian Ocean”). Finally, the public outreach part of the project was based on Virtue – the virtual university project run by the universities in Maryland, Bergen and Göteborg. In this part, acrylic disks were fitted below the water-line in the ship’s bow. Growth of marine organisms (“fouling”) was studied under binocular microscopes during the stops in the various ports. The activities were particularly popular with school-children and attracted much attention.
Although it is perfectly obvious that an 18th century East Indiaman cannot be regarded as a fully equipped modern research vessel, it is clear that most of the early ambitions with the project ”In the Wake of Linnaeus” were in fact achieved. The researchers on board are all very grateful to the Hasselblad Foundation for the opportunity to take part in this unique and magnificent scientific adventure.
2002 - Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory received SEK 3 million for the establishment of a Center for Communication in Marine Biology.
In 2002, a grant of SEK 3 million was made to the Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory for the establishment of a Center for Communication in Marine Biology. This center is intended to network research groups at a global level, giving them access to state-of-the-art research equipment to study the role of chemical and hydrodynamic signals in biological communication in marine environments (http://www.tmbl.gu.se).
In a mixture of microalgae the
copepod Acartia tonsa feeds on
the non-toxic Prorocentrum micans
(ovoid cells) while rejecting the
toxic Alexandrium minutum
(round cells). Length of A minutum
is 0.025 mm. Photo: Erik Selander,
Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory.
Comments from the recipient
The Centre for Marine Biological Communication has developed into an international research environment with participation from the EU, the US and Australia. A technology platform is now available for studies of chemical substances used as signals or in warfare by marine organisms. One intriguing research topic is why some microalgae produce highly toxic molecules. These toxins pose a major health hazard for humans consuming mussels. Results show that the algal toxins provide protection against predators and parasites. Algae may even detect chemicals released by predators and increase production of the costly toxins. Another project aims at developing more environmentally acceptable technologies to control biofouling on ships, mainly by barnacles. One approach is interference with the barnacle behaviour when attaching to the ship hull by release of “false” signals from a paint coating. Changes in barnacle behaviour are studied by computerized motion analysis allowing the mapping of essential signal molecules.
2002 – Universeum received SEK 6 million for projects entitled: “Communication from an evolutionary and technological perspective”, “Chemical principles and phenomena from the world of molecules” and “The Paths of Toxins”.
Collage of photographs from
In 2002, a grant of SEK 6 million was made to Universeum - Sweden’s national science discovery centre - for projects entitled: “Communication from an evolutionary and technological perspective”, “Chemical principles and phenomena from the world of molecules” and “The Paths of Toxins”. The aim of the first of these projects was to develop experimental stations illustrating two-way communication between people, animals and plants in both air and water. The aim of “Chemical principles …” and “The Paths of Toxins” was to provide an interesting portrayal of the links among chemistry, physiology, morphology, ethology, ecology and evolution by virtue of interactive experimental stations (http://www.universeum.se).
Comments from the recipient
The communication project
In the communication project we wish to display and highlight the diversity of means of communication in nature. We describe both general kinds of communication and the specific solutions of various species for communicating with each other. One of these species is the human being, and we describe the attempts being made today to find new, faster ways of communicating.
From the display case "Frogtalk"
Some of the experimental set-ups on this theme show:
- The Blue Tit – this exhibit shows vision in birds, and how birds communicate using vision. The exhibit refers to a research project at the Department of Zoology, Göteborg University.
- Frogtalk – this exhibit highlights variations in means of communication in Swedish animals of the frog family, and is a supplement to the information on frogs in the museum’s exhibits.
- Scents of the rain forest – can plants communicate with animals? This poster indicates that they can.
- Talking with divers – a sound display using which we can communicate interactively with the divers in our amazing aquariums.
- Signal transformation – illustrates how we can transform analogue to digital signals and transmit information using light.
- The singing welder – what is sound and where does it come from? A somewhat different way of describing sound and how it works, using a welding unit from ESAB and natural gas from AGA.
- Mindball – how will we communicate in the future? Will we be able to use our brain waves? This exhibit is intended to whet our appetites in anticipation of future communication.
The chemistry project
The aim of the chemistry project is to demonstrate that chemistry is important, interesting and essential to our daily lives. We also highlight chemistry as a subject that is exciting because it deals with the invisible.
"The experimental stage"
Some of our experimental set-ups describe:
- The thermal camera – this set-up illustrates a number of phenomena and is thought-provoking.
- The experimental stage - an arena for the production of chemical products such as slime and bathtub bombs.
- Electron microscopic films – an exciting journey beginning at the surface of an object and concluding with its molecular structure. On the screen a model of material construction and an observation technique used by researchers is shown.
- Microscopes – here our visitors can study various objects: their own hair, a crystal, a flower.
- Liquid crystals – illustrates how certain crystals change colour at different temperatures.
- The spark of life - an interesting, philosophical theme of great topical interest to researchers: how did life begin?
- Educational materials – we have written educational materials, teachers’ guides and a student’s guide for groups of visitors who can book to study the theme: “more lab work – with chemistry” beginning in autumn 2004.
The paths of toxins
In this project, the paths of toxins, we hope to awaken interest in chemistry by using the example of the Swedish viper. Most people have strong reactions to the subject of snakes. Since Swedish vipers can be found in our everyday surroundings, they are a good point of departure to interest people. How dangerous are they? What do I do if I get a bite? Visitors are enticed “down to molecular level”.
In one corner, we have a model of a viper – a sculpture of a viper head. The visitor is instructed to open the viper’s mouth, and can then see how the teeth protrude, as well as the hollow structure. On a little display inside the mouth of the viper the visitor sees a video of a viper striking.
- There is a plasma monitor across the exhibition stand.
- A data podium displays photographs, illustrations and texts about venom, the effects of venom, and its medical uses.
The focus of the exhibit is on Swedish vipers and their venom. Why do they use it? How do they produce it? How do they use it? What are the effects of the venom on the prey/victim? What happens at tissue level? What happens at molecular level? How dangerous is it? What is myth and what is the truth? What treatment is there for Swedish viper bites? How is the serum produced and how does it work?
2002 - Tjärnö Laboratory and Universeum received a joint grant of SEK 1 million to develop interactive exhibition components and other information on communication in marine biology.
In 2002, a joint grant of SEK 1 million was made to the Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory and Universeum - Sweden’s national science discovery centre - to develop interactive exhibition components and other information on communication in marine biology. It is also hoped that this grant will lead to the establishment of sustainable educational and scientific cooperation between the two institutions, and to the development of exhibits for the general public at both Universeum and the Tjärnö laboratory.
Comments from the recipients
The aim of the project has been to establish a permanent educational and scientific exchange between the institutions. The role of Tjärnö marine biological laboratory (TMBL) is to guarantee the scientific quality of the information presented.
To further develop exhibitions and educational activities for schoolchildren, TMBL has received pedagogical support from Universeum. The project has involved the production of an interactive exhibition about marine biological communication. Scientific poster displays of projects on TMBL, including marine biological communication, are now on display at Universeum. On the Universeum website, visitors were able to ask questions about biological communication by e-mail and receive an answer from a scientist at TMBL (”Fråga Örjan”) through May 2004. Our website about remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) at TMBL has been translated from English into Swedish.
2001 - University of Tartu, Estonia received SEK 3 million to supplement research equipment such as a scanning probe microscope with atomic resolution for low temperatures, etc.
The Foundation awarded the 2001 grant in natural sciences of SEK 3 million to the Institute of Physics, University of Tartu, Estonia to supplement research equipment such as a scanning probe microscope with atomic resolution for low temperatures, an apparatus for X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS/ESCA), scanning Auger microscopy (SAM) and a Ti:sapphire laser. The purpose of the grant was to support the ongoing research at the Institute of Physics in Tartu and to stimulate collaboration between research groups in Estonia and Sweden (http://www.ut.ee).
Fig 1. Spectral dependence of the
real photosynthesis efficiency
(left axis and data points) and
absorbance (right axis and solid
line) for sunflower leaves – the
hitherto expected efficiency.
Fig 2. SPM-tomography system,
developed at the Institute of
Physics, University of Tartu.
Comments from the recipient
At the Institute of Physics of the University of Tartu the grant was used to advance the following main research topics at the Institute.
- Microprocesses of plant photosynthesis. Contrary to the common view that the photosynthesis efficiency drops rapidly under red light excitation above 700 nm wavelength, we discovered (applying a Ti:sapphire laser, purchased by this grant) that in some plants (sunflower) the initial fall is replaced by an unexpected increase at much longer wavelengths, so that a considerable efficiency remains at 770 nm. (Fig 1) (Collaboration with Lund University).
- Scanning point microscopy (SPM). A novel SPM technique was developed –SPM-tomography, linking the SPM-imaging with laser ablation technique, yielding a 3D image of the sub-surface volume (Fig 2). (Collaboration with the Chalmers University of Technology and Lund University).
- A completely new nanotechnology-oriented laboratory of electron spectroscopy is in the state of completion at the Institute on the basis of a contemporary high resolution Scienta SES 100 electron spectrometer. (Cooperation with the MAX-lab, Lund University).