New face at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“There is tremendous potential for research collaboration between the USA and Norway in many areas,” asserts Dr. Aukrust. Photo: Research Council of Norway

“There is tremendous potential for research collaboration between the USA and Norway in many areas,” asserts Dr. Aukrust. Photo: Research Council of Norway

This autumn, Dr Lars Espen Aukrust will assume the post of Counselor for Science attached to the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington D.C. He will succeed Dr Berit Johne, who will be leaving the position after four eventful and fruitful years.

The task of the Counselor for Science is to strengthen research ties between Norway and the United States, as well as between Norway and Canada. The United States is the most important individual country for Norwegian international research collaboration.

Experienced in research-based innovation

Dr Aukrust will be leaving his position as Executive Director of the Division for Innovation at the Research Council of Norway, a position he views as excellent preparation for his coming responsibilities in Washington.

“There is tremendous potential for research collaboration between the USA and Norway in many areas,” asserts Dr Aukrust. “Since available resources are limited, however, we must be selective and focus on a small number of effective measures that can be realised within existing frameworks.”

Moving forward

The departing Counselor for Science, Dr Berit Johne, can attest to the significant progress in research collaboration between Norway and the USA – thanks in large part to a bilateral agreement on research and technology cooperation signed five years ago.

“Key topics during my term in Washington have included polar research, global health, and energy and climate research,” says Dr. Johne, “and these will continue to be essential in the years ahead.” She reports that the Americans find bilateral cooperation with Norway to be straightforward and non-bureaucratic, and is pleased at the rise in co-publication between Norwegian and US researchers.

Rooted in collaboration

Dr Johne believes it is now best to focus on expanded collaboration between Norwegian actors and the top US research groups. She also hopes to see these institutions more fully integrated into multilateral collaborative activities with other countries that are developing rapidly and investing heavily in research.

Dr Johne: Americans find bilateral cooperation with Norway to be straightforward and non-bureaucratic. Photo: Research Council of Norway

Dr Johne: "Americans find bilateral cooperation with Norway to be straightforward and non-bureaucratic." Photo: Research Council of Norway

In recounting some of the highlights of her four years in Washington, Dr Johne points to the rewarding cooperation with two US research institutions – the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health – as well as her contact with Fred Kavli and the Kavli Foundation and with President Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Dr Johne has helped to turn the Transatlantic Science Week annual conference into a key meeting place that attracts both Norwegian and North American researchers and research policy-makers – a legacy now to be entrusted to Dr Aukrust as the new Counselor for Science.

Source: Research Council of Norway

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