Door 24: God Jul, Merry Christmas

Today opens the last door of our advent calendar and we are looking forward to a few holidays and relaxing time with families and friends. In Norway, it is also a good tradition to look back at the year before Christmas, called “Juleavslutning” (Christmas Gathering). Hence, as the new FEZ group leader, I will do it for the first time.

The FEZ group had many different things happening throughout the year and a lot of progress scientifically with several papers being published, submitted or in progress. We also got new projects funded, while others finished. For example, the new Artsdatabanken project by Vladimir maps the occurrences of fungi and insects in combination. The year started off with me becoming the new group leader of FEZ as Lutz stepped down from the position. I want to use this opportunity to thank him once more for all the effort and engagement he showed for our group. We also started to migrate our webpage from https://www.frontiersinevolutionaryzoology.com/ to the NHM webpage (in English and in Norwegian). We hope that with this we will gain higher visibility of our group within the museum as well as from outside researchers. Several project pages are still under construction and to finish these is the first goal for 2024. However, we managed to integrate RSS feeds for the different blog topics we have into the webpages. Hence, it will be easier for you to follow our newest developments and news from now on. Check it out following the links above.

This year we could welcome a few new faces in our group. Marvin started as the first STADIS PostDoc ever. Anna-Lotta joined us a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral fellow. Thomas begun as the coordinator for the BGE project, especially the community sequencing task. Pia, Susanna and Preben are new Master students in the group. Unfortunately, a few also left us. Rita got a position at the CDC in Atlanta and moved back to the US. However, she is still an affiliated researcher with our group to finish off her last projects. Ana will leave us at the end of the year as the Artsdatabanken project “Assessing biodiversity in the marine algae belt” finishes. We submitted a new application and hope that we will be able to hire her again on a new project. Jørgen and Line successfully defended their Master theses this year and we are very proud of what you accomplished. We wish you all the best of luck with your future career.

Besides the nine ongoing Master theses in our group, we also have other teaching activities throughout the year. We taught a hands-on course on species occurring in the marine algae belt. UiO students could gain experience in fieldwork in Africa and African researcher and students were trained by Vladimir here in Norway. Finally, we again provided UiO Life Science summer projects as we had the years before and which resulted even in a publication with one of the students.

PhD students at NHM in general and in our group in specific have also different opportunities to not only develop their scientific skills, but also their soft skills. Other opportunities for us this year were field trips all around the world, which used to expand our collections for different taxonomic groups and projects. This included, for example, trips to Japan and Sylt. We also used the NHM collections for our different research projects, for example, for getting barcodes from museum material within the BGE project.

Last but not least, we also had some very interesting social activities. In the spring, we went for a tour and a nice dinner, which was also a nice farewell to Rita. In the summer, we had a summer party with American-style BBQ including home-made Pulled Pork. In the fall, we had a retreat to Kristiansand, where we also met with Raoul, a former PhD student of Lutz, who is now the director of the Natural History Museum in Kristiansand. We concluded the year with a Julebord (Christmas party) of the group with a pot-luck party and lots of fun.

At the very last, with this blog we have now more than 170 blog posts and our blog is running successfully in the fourth year now. Congratulations to the whole group. More interesting news are to come next year. Watch out for them.

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