A new talent development program, AURORA Outstanding, will train selected young research talents to become future research leaders at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. One of the talents chosen for the program is CAGE researcher Andreia Plaza Faverola.
Text: Randi Solhaug/Maja Sojtaric. Photos: David Jensen
UiT The Arctic University of Norway aims to focus on young, talented researchers that have the potential, the will, and the ambition to become research team leaders and leading researchers in their fields. Therefore, the University created a new talent development program, called AURORA Outstanding. It offers a cross disciplinary, systematic follow-up for specially selected early-career scientists.
In total, 15 candidates from UiT’s four largest faculties have been invited to join the new program. One of those is CAGE researcher, geophysicist Andreia Plaza Faverola.
“These are very good candidates who are carefully selected from fields where they already have performed well. All candidates will receive assistance to identify what is lacking in their resumes, so as to be able to compete for external research funding in the future. In this program we will follow the candidates closely and provide them with the help they need to achieve their career goals “says Research Director, Pål Vegar Storeheier at the Department for Research and Development, UiT.
Aurora outstanding provides mentorship
AURORA Outstanding is a two-year program and will select new candidates bi-annually. Candidates who are selected will, among other things, choose one UiT mentor and one external mentor who will provide perspectives to the candidate´s career development plan.
Six workshops will be provided during the two years – the first one will commence in September 2018. The workshops will comprise of several intensive courses such as management, application writing, innovation, and open access and communication.
“In addition, they will be able to learn a lot from each other through discussions and networking,” says senior adviser Thorbjørg Hroarsdottir, one of the project managers who has worked on developing the new program and selecting the candidates.
“Very positive to the program”
Two of the candidates in AURORA Outstanding are Shona Wood from the United Kingdom and Andreia Aletia Plaza Faverola from Venezuela.
“I am pleasantly surprised that the university offers such a program. Getting extensive support early in one’s career is great.” says Faverola. She has been in Norway since 2013 as a part of the UiT’s centre of excellence in gas hydrate, environment and climate research.
“I also think it is incredibly good that the university supports its candidates in this way, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to become part of the program. It is also a good forum for addressing issues that we are concerned with,” said Shona Wood, who has worked at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology (BFE) for 10 months.
Her goal is to become a professor and eventually lead her own research group with international standing.
“It’s also my goal for the future. The teaching aspect is also important to me,” adds Faverola.
A diverse group of international candidates
Ten out of 15 selected candidates for AURORA Outstanding are women.
“We discovered that the women were in the majority, after we had made our selection according to the scientific criteria. We hope that this means that we will see more women leaders in the sector in the future. It will be exciting to see the long-term effects of the program” says senior adviser, Theresa Mikalsen. She is also one of the project managers in the program.
The chosen candidates are also an international group – only one of the research talents is Norwegian, CAGE associated biologist Alexander Tøstdal Tveit. In total, 11 nations are represented in the group.
But how can UiT be sure that these candidates will be good leaders in Norway, and not return to their home country?
“If our best minds feel well taken care of, and get good support in their career development, then there is a greater chance that we will keep them. We hope that when they see the good opportunities here, it will not be as tempting to move away, “says Research Director, Pål Vegar Storeheier.
Aiming for Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe
For the university, AURORA Outstanding is also a part of an effort to obtain additional external funding, such as through EU Horizon 2020 framework program and, eventually, Horizon Europe. Therefore, the candidates are learning to write good applications to better compete in those programs.
“The dream outcome of the program is that the candidates in the future will become coordinators in EU projects.” say advisors Hroarsdottir and Mikalsen.
This article was first published in Norwegian at UiT The Arctic University of Norway’s website.