Top grant awarded to research on microorganisms

Professor Frede Thingstad is the third Norwegian researcher this autumn to be awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant of NOK 20 million. Professor Thingstad is investigating the biological interactions among microorganisms at the ocean surface.

Professor Frede Thingstad (Photo: Guri Gunnes Oppegård/På Høyden/UiB)

Professor Frede Thingstad (Photo: Guri Gunnes Oppegård/På Høyden/UiB)

Frede Thingstad is a professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Bergen (UiB). The university can therefore celebrate the fact that all the Norwegian researchers awarded Advanced Grants under the current call for proposals are from its own ranks.

Ocean surface ecosystem

Oceans cover two-thirds of the world’s surface and the ocean surface ecosystem plays an important role in the uptake of CO2 by the ocean and in the transport of carbon into the deep ocean.

“It is an extremely complex system,” states Professor Thingstad and describes the millions of viruses and other organisms that can be found in one litre of water. “Each bacterium lives for twenty-four hours, before other organisms do it in.”

“It is a dream to be able to carry out this project,” says Professor Thingstad to UiB’s online newspaper. Now he has managed to get the backing of the ERC for the project, and with the help of fractal theory he will set to work to acquire new knowledge about the ocean surface ecosystem.

Frontier research

The MINOS project (MIcrobial Network OrganiSation) is characterised as a high-risk project. Both Professor Thingstad and the project received the highest recommendations from the panel that assessed the grant proposal. The panel emphasised in particular Professor Thingstad’s originality and the fact that he heads an extremely strong research group.

The ERC’s Advanced Investigators Grant is a funding scheme under the programme on frontier research “Ideas”. The programme is a part of the EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, and is implemented by the ERC.

Advanced Grants are awarded to projects that are highly ambitious, pioneering and unconventional. The Principal Investigators who receive the grants must be exceptional leaders in the European research community.

Source: The Research Council of Norway

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