Grants 2016/2017

Chalmers & Alfie Atkins’ Cultural Centre

In 2015/16, the Hasselblad Foundation granted funding to a collaborative project between Alfie Atkins’ Cultural Centre and Chalmers University of Technology aiming to increase children’s interest in chemistry. More than 1 500 schoolchildren and teachers from all 10 city districts of Gothenburg attended lectures free of charge. As the project was an immediate success, a second round is being launched in 2016/2017.


‘Chemistry is often seen as difficult and cumbersome by both children and teachers,’ says project manager Per Thorén from Chalmers University of Technology. ‘By sparking the children’s curiosity in chemistry through play and learning, we lay the foundation for further learning later on. Six- and seven-year-olds and their teachers get to meet researchers and students from Chalmers as well as actors and instructors from Alfie Atkins’ Cultural Centre. Their interest is stimulated and the chemical phenomena become comprehensible.’


New this autumn is that the teachers get to bring home an extensive teacher’s guide that helps them continue the work with the children back in the classroom. The guide offers sample lessons designed to inspire the children to continue to the next level.


In the longer term, the project may entice more young people to pursue studies in the field of chemistry. Chemistry is the natural science with the greatest problems, both in the school environment and when it comes to the public’s understanding of and knowledge in the subject.


Per Thorén is project manager from Chalmers University of Technology and chief operating manager of Molecular Frontiers, an international network of researchers and educators from around the world with an aim to popularise science among the public, and especially among young people.


Alfie Atkins’ Cultural Centre is a non-profit foundation that has run a creative cultural centre for children and their adults in central Gothenburg since 2012. With almost 64 000 visitors a year, the Centre enables children and their adults to join each other in play and learning.


The Hasselblad Foundation supports the chemistry project at Alfie Atkins’ Cultural Centre and Chalmers University of Technology with SEK 1.5 million over the 2016/2017 period.

Chalmers, Films for Teaching Chemistry

Chalmers University of Technology, through its outreach body Molecular Frontiers, and the film company Untamed Science receive funding from the Hasselblad Foundation for the production of films to strengthen the teaching of chemistry in grades 7–9.


The project aims to create a series of short films about chemistry, with strong links to curricula and existing textbooks, in order to support chemistry teachers primarily in Sweden.

The plan is to produce the films in 2016 and make them available at no charge on YouTube as they are finished.


Many teachers use film in their teaching. As pupils and students have easy access to YouTube and other video channels via computers, tablets and smartphones, there are ample opportunities both to use film directly in the classroom and to encourage pupils and students to view films as homework. Film is a great medium for pupils and students who find chemistry concepts difficult to grasp, as well-developed animations and visual explanations can vastly improve their understanding and learning.

In order to inspire the pupils and students to absorb the content, as well as to contribute to greater dissemination of the films, a contest is launched where the pupils and students will be able to answer questions and have a chance to win small prizes connected to each release of a new film.


The Hasselblad Foundation supports the project with SEK 300 000.

Forskning & Framsteg

The Forskning & Framsteg magazine is one of Sweden’s top popular science publications. It was founded in 1966 and has been published by a non-profit foundation since 1979. The foundation receives support from a large number of research-funded organisations. The content of the magazine is  not determined based solely on demand, but also on the foundation’s ambition to disseminate widely the results of Swedish research.

The Hasselblad Foundation has supported Forskning & Framsteg for many years, and the grant for 2017 amounts to SEK 44 800.

Marine Sciences at the University of Gothenburg

Acidification of Swedish Coastal Waters in a Time of Environmental Change


In August 2016, nine invited researchers gathered at a workshop to write a research and implementation plan for the acidification problem and related anthropogenic stress factors in Swedish coastal waters from a broad interdisciplinary perspective. The project was carried out with financial support from the Hasselblad Foundation. Jon Havenhand, professor at the Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, is in charge of the project. The work is a follow-up of activities within the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ committee for environmental issues.


Ocean acidification is an environmental problem that has attracted a lot of attention in recent decades. In the open oceans, there is a clear link between the acidification process and the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In coastal waters such as those around Sweden, the problem is far more complex.


The maritime sector along the Swedish coast employs more than 200 000 people. Thus, the Swedish coastal seas are of great importance from a societal perspective. The operations consist of everything from shipping and fishing to tourism and are important sources of income not only for the country’s large ports and cities but also for the small coastal communities, of which many depend on income from the sea. At the same time, however, the coastal seas are subject to major environmental stress caused by human activity.


Industry, coastal communities and citizens are concerned with two main questions in relation to this problem: What can we do to reduce the stress factors, and in what ways will the disruptions of the ecosystem lead to societal, economic and social changes? The many unknown relationships in combination with the potentially significant effect of the acidification problem on people’s life and wellbeing warrant serious exploration of the issue within the framework of a coordinated interdisciplinary research programme. The workshop in Gothenburg helps lay the foundation for such a programme. Representatives from political science, law, business, economics and the natural sciences have developed a constructive research plan for the work from here on. The research plan consists of three parts: causes, consequences and measures. The first two parts summarise the currently available knowledge and identify the weaknesses, and the third describes the research needed to remedy the weaknesses. The goal is to finalise the document by the end of the year and then have it inform a possible Swedish interdisciplinary project on marine acidification.


The Hasselblad Foundation Grants Marine Sciences SEK 300 000.


The Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment

In a project titled Havsmiljö, the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment is developing a web-based information platform that presents the current environmental status of Swedish seas. The purpose of the project is to provide an easy-to-understand and scientifically based assessment of the condition of the seas.

The information published on the website is largely based on data from the Swedish environmental monitoring services. However, in order to identify important patterns and relationships, there is a need for a more comprehensive analysis that reaches beyond the mere evaluation of individual data. Havsmiljö will serve as a platform for analysis and synthesis and therefore as a tool for both environmental officers and researchers, including those at the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment.

Photo: Havet 2015/2016 / Havsmiljöinstitutet

Photo: Havet 2015/2016 / Havsmiljöinstitutet


Besides environmental officials in the marine administration, the website targets policymakers, students and the public. Because of the broad target group, the website contains information at several levels. The ambition is to give visitors both a general understanding of the environmental status and what influences it as well as an opportunity to learn about the issue more in-depth, get more detailed information and see what data the different assessments are based on. One strength of the website is the ease of navigating between a general picture of the environmental status and deeper, more detailed information for example about a certain geographic area. The information can be filtered both geographically and for different environmental problems. This also makes it easier to find related information.

In summary, Havsmiljö offers three main sections: general reviews (Så mår havet), geographic presentations for individual variables (Tillståndet i havet, karta/ beskrivning) and ‘magazine reading’ with in-depth articles about the marine environment (Artiklar). As a comprehensive digital summary of the environmental status of the marine environment has been lacking until now, Havsmiljö fills an important function.

The Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment is receiving SEK 300 000 from the Hasselblad Foundation.

Female Scientists 2016

For the sixth straight year, the Hasselblad Foundation is allocating funding to female researchers in the natural sciences. This year, the SEK 1 million grants have been awarded to Merima Hasani from Chalmers University of Technology and Ulrika Islander from the University of Gothenburg.


Ulrika Islander works as a researcher at the Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research. The grant will enable her to spend a year abroad as a visiting researcher. Early next summer, she will bring her family to St Gallen in Switzerland, where she will further develop her collaboration with a research group. She will work with the group for one year. _MG_0034-2


‘I have dreamt for a long time about moving abroad and working as a visiting researcher, but for family reasons I’ve never had a chance to do it,’ says Islander, who is currently making preparations to make the research visit in Switzerland as productive as possible:
‘Right now I’m in the process of recruiting a postdoc to my lab here in Gothenburg so that my work at the University of Gothenburg will continue to run smoothly until I come back. Then of course there are a whole bunch of non-work-related details that need to be worked out before we move, like housing and my kids’ schooling in Switzerland.’


Her research focuses on identifying the mechanisms involved in the protective effect of oestrogen against rheumatoid arthritis. Last year, Islander’s group could show that oestrogen treatment reduces the ability of Th17 cells to move from lymph nodes to joints. Th17 cells are a cell type in the immune system that is involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis.


‘At this point we have reason to believe that special stromal cells in lymph nodes are the cells that are affected by oestrogen in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and that these stromal cells control the ability of Th17 cells to move from lymph nodes to joints,’ says Islander.


The research lab where Islander will work as a visiting researcher is world leading within research on stromal cells and their interaction with cells in the immune system.
‘I can’t wait to work with the researchers in the group and be able to learn the methods used in the field. After the visit, I’ll be able to bring the knowledge to my lab and apply it on my research questions there.’


Chemical Tools for Extraction and Modification of Material from Forest Resources.


Merima Hasani is assistant professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology. Her research focuses on the development of methods for chemical modification of cellulose in water.

‘What we are going to need in the future is bio-based materials and chemicals that can be produced from the relatively rapidly growing biomass and therefore contribute to reduced dependence on fossil resources. I’m thinking both of materials and chemicals that may replace the ones we currently need oil to produce and of materials and chemicals with entirely new properties and functions,’ she says.


‘Biorefinery research relies on multidisciplinary work. I will use the grant to strengthen and further develop some important international collaborations that will help me expand my research and strengthen its multidisciplinary character.’

_MG_0021-1We need to become better at utilising nature’s own structures and building blocks to satisfy our future need for materials and chemicals. Most of these building blocks are found in the support tissue of plants, in their cell walls, embedded in a complex and robust composite structure.


Although we already have effective processes for extracting some of these components (such as cellulose fibres from timber and other forest resources), we need more knowledge in order to extract all components of the cell wall and fully utilise the structural variation that exists in the cell walls of plants, and trees in particular.


‘The goal of my research is to develop chemical methods that will facilitate better and wider utilisation of building blocks – small molecules, polymers and nanostructures – from forest biomass. The main focus is on cellulose and the chemistry involved in its decoupling from the natural cell wall matrix, as well as further modification with an aim to achieve customised cellulose-based materials. Modification is the key to expanded use of cellulose and can be accomplished through chemical functionalisation or dissolution and re-aggregation of the cellulose structure in appropriate solvents. Of greatest interest are methods that will allow us to benefit from nature’s own design work in cellulose, for example its polymer and nanostructures, and that will be based on simple, environmentally friendly and upscalable reactions that will work in a future bio refinery concept.’


It is the sixth straight year that the Hasselblad Foundation makes funding available for the acquiring of further research qualifications for women researchers in the natural sciences, including technology and life science. Female researchers employed by Chalmers University of Technology or the University of Gothenburg are eligible to apply, and two applicants are granted SEK 1 million each.

The International Science Festival 2017

For the 16th time, the Hasselblad Foundation is supporting the International Science Festival.


Each year, the International Science Festival in Gothenburg creates a meeting place for knowledge, inspiration and new perspectives. The Festival attracts about 70 000 per year, which makes it one of Europe’s leading popular science events.

Photo: Niclas Bernstone

Photo: Niclas Bernstone


The Festival offers an exciting mix of science and culture. There are three separate programmes: the public programme, the school programme and the specialist programme – Forum for Research Communication.


The support amounts to SEK 300 000.

Molekylverkstan Science Center

Molekylverkstan Science Center is a national actor and one of Sweden’s 19 Science Centers. The aim is to inspire children and youth to learn more about the natural sciences, technology and mathematics. Molekylverkstan Science Center is a complement to school and is informed by the learning targets defined by the Swedish National Agency for Education in order to achieve measurable effects among pupils in their acquiring of knowledge within the natural sciences.


The Hasselblad Foundation supports the Prosa project, which is Molekylverkstan Science Center’s initiative intended to take a first and important step to teach adolescents more about how computers are used in the natural sciences. With a focus on being able to create and influence by mastering all the opportunities offered by computers. The project targets children and adolescents from the spring semester of sixth grade until the time in ninth grade when they choose which upper secondary programme to pursue. The project enables teachers to integrate computer programming as a natural component of their science teaching. The ambition is to spark an interest that will encourage the pupils to select a science- and/or technology-oriented upper secondary programme. We need, our planet needs, more experts in the natural sciences and engineering.

Photo: Molekylverkstan

Photo: Molekylverkstan


The goal is for Prosa to spark and increase the curiosity and interest of pupils in the relevance of the natural sciences and computer programming for the development of society.


The idea is to emphasise the importance of merging the natural sciences with computer programming and IT literacy.


Molekylverkstan Science Center is owned by a non-profit organisation. It was established in 2012 by five world-leading chemical companies in Stenungsund on the Swedish west coast – AGA Gas, Akzo Nobel, Borealis, Inovyn and Perstorp Oxo – and is operated in collaboration with Stenungsund Municipality. In 2015, Molekylverkstan Science Center had 51 300 visitors, of whom 12 300 were pupils.


The Hasselblad Foundation is supporting Molekylverkstan Science Center with SEK 400 000.