Young researchers journey out

10 PhD Candidates at Nord University share a travel grant of NOK 600,000.


Last May, Nord University announced new travel grants for PhD Candidates.

More than half the travel grant applications relate to stays at European universities.

The remaining applications related to stays at universities in North America and Southeast Asia.

- We received 14 applications, 10 of which were successful. The travel grant comes on top of the salaries that PhD Candidates get while he or she is writing his or her thesis, advisor Irene Andreassen in the Research Department says.

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Popular travel grant. From left, Irene Andreassen, Research Adviser and two lucky PdD Candidates, Veronika Vakulenko, Nord University Business School and Majken Paulsen, Faculty of Social Science (photo: Per Jarl Elle).

 - Why do Nord University PhD Candidates need their own travel grant?

- Stays abroad are vital for creating a research network and getting in touch with other researchers who work in the same topic areas as yourself. The PhD Candidates, who are to become researchers, are at the beginning of their research careers and the travel grants from Nord University are a contribution along that way, Andreassen says.

Academic family travel

Majken Paulsen is a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Social Sciences. She wants to bring her family along when she goes to the University of Aberdeen.

- The plan is for all four of us to go. I am very happy with the opportunities provided by this travel grant. Our stay in Aberdeen will last a couple of months during 2018, Paulsen says.

Majken Paulsen conducts her research on the connection between climate, humans, animals and nature. A warmer globe and more global mobility increase the risk of new contagious diseases, also in the High North.

- We know that ecologic changes stemming from climate change will move the boundaries for new infectious species that can lead to disease in people, livestock and game. However, we know little about how this will affect people and animals in the High North, Paulsen says. She will conduct her research on reindeer-herding communities in Nordland County, Norway and in northern Sweden.
Paulsen’s research takes place in the framework of a programme called Nordic Centre of Excellence, Climate Change Effects on the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases and the Impact on Northern Societies (CLINF).

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To Aberdeen. - PhD Candidate Majken Paulsens research are part of CLINF, a crossdisplinary prosject on climate cahnges and  epidemics (photo: Per Jarl Elle.).

Meeting other researchers

CLINF is an interdisciplinary research project on climate and diseases.

- The project includes social scientists, veterinarians, immunologists, microbiologists, hydrologists and mathematicians, Majken Paulsen says.

Grete Hovelsrud, Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Nord University, is her supervisor.

- But why do you want to go to Aberdeen, Scotland if you are conducting research on the relations between reindeer herders, reindeer, diseases and the climate?

- I am educated a social anthropologist, and at the University of Aberdeen there is an anthropological research community conducting research on the High North. The university in Scotland has a large EU-funded research project called ‘Arctic Domus – Humans and Animals across the North. Professor David G. Anderson leads the project, and I am very much interested in the research that comes from this project. I also look forward to meeting researchers who work on similar issues as I do.

PhD Candidate Veronika Vakulenko, Nord University Business School, is going south. To the university in Siena, Italy, one of Europe’s oldest universities, dating back to AD 1240. Siena lies in Tuscany and has some 54,000 inhabitants, just under half of whom are students.

- The University of Siena is one of the country’s best among the medium-sized Italian universities. It also has a very good business school, she says.
Vakulenko, who comes from Ukraine, conducts research on how public budgets in her native country are developed.

She was born in 1991, the year in which it was decided to dissolve the Soviet Union and for Ukraine to become independent.

- My PhD consists of four articles about reforms in public budgeting in Ukraine between 1991 and 2015. The project time frame ends in 2015, as the Ukrainian government then introduced a new wave of reforms, the results of which are too soon to tell. Today, my home country has become a ‘laboratory’ for public reform, and the more I study how public budgeting in Ukraine has developed and is developing, the more interesting I find it, says Veronika Vakulenko.

Her supervisor is Professor Anatoli Bourmistrov of Nord University Business School.

Broaden the horizon  

- What expectations do you hold before your stay in Siena?

- I am sure that the travel grant will have a positive effect on my PhD work. Siena reminds me of Bodø. Both university cities are about the same size and have a fantastic student community; however, the climate in Siena is a bit warmer. I will surely have an intense and productive stay there. As I plan to submit my PhD thesis in September 2018, I expect the stay in Siena to be professionally stimulating and for me to contribute to broadening the research network of Nord University, she says.

-  At the University of Siena, I will work with experienced and excellent academics, Professor Guiseppe Grossi and Professor Roberto Di Pietra at the Department of Law and Economy. I will broaden my horizon about public sector reform during my stay there, work on my draft articles and submit them to a research journal. I may also teach and will participate in seminars.

To Siena. PhD Candiate Veronika Vakulenko uses her Nord Univerity research travel grant to work on her doctoral thesis and to establish an academic network  within one of Europes oldest universities (photo: Private). 

Translated by Elisabeth Bergquist, Nord University