Below are a selection of research projects that have been undertaken by SYNTHESYS users across the TAF institutions since the programme began in 2004. These demonstrate the broad variety of research topics that have been funded through the Access programme, and show how this funding can be used to forge new working relationships between visiting researchers and their host institutions, enhancing scientific reach well beyond the duration of the projects themselves.
DK-TAF: Sofia Reboleira, Cave Biologist
Sofia was funded to visit the University of Copenhagen in 2013 under SYNTHESYS2, and again in 2014 under SYNTHESYS3, to carry out research on her project, “Systematics and biogeography of new subterranean diplopods (Myriapoda; Diplopoda) from Portugal, towards its conservation,” in collaboration with Dr Henrik Enghoff. This project has since resulted in two collaborative papers published in Zootaxa:
- Reboleira, Ana Sofia P. S. & Enghoff, H. 2014. Sireuma, a new genus of subterranean millipedes from the Iberian Peninsula (Diplopoda, Chordeumatida, Opisthocheridae). Zootaxa, 3785(1): 79-86
- Reboleira, Ana Sofia P. S. & Enghoff, H. 2015. Insular species swarm goes underground: new troglobiont Cylindroiulus millipedes from Madeira (Diplopoda, Julidae).
SE-TAF: Morten Tangen Olsen, Biologist
In May 2015, Mr. Morten Tangen Olsen visited the NRM in Stockholm, Sweden (Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics). His research focused on the environmental and genomic factors that govern host-pathogen dynamics. Mr. Olsen has chosen the NRM, because the institution houses a unique collection of Antarctic seal specimens, including ancient/historic samples, as well as state-of-the-art laboratory and analytical facilities for processing of ancient and historic DNA.
The project will conduct genetic analyses of seals from the northern and southern hemisphere in order to find and describe the genes responsible for PDV and CDV resistance and susceptibility in seals. This is important not only for the understanding of the background of seal mass mortalities, but also for the understanding of the patterns of infection, transmission and mortality of similar viruses, such as measles in humans (and other infectious diseases).
CZ-TAF: Imran A. Rahman, Palaeontologist
In August 2014, Imran Rahman from the University of Bristol, UK was funded under SYNTHESYS3 Call 1 to visit the National Museum, Prague, to carry out research for his project “Testing the evidence for gill slits in early echinoderms”. This involved CT scanning of exceptionally preserved fossils from the Czech Republic in order to reveal details of their evolution.
In addition to carrying out his personal research Imran also delivered a seminar to fellow CZ-TAF staff, introducing techniques for non-destructive 3-dimensional imaging of samples, and discussing approaches for 3D imaging and analysis. The delivery of seminars by SYNTHESYS users is encouraged under the Access programme and allows the benefits of SYNTHESYS Access funding to extend beyond the users themselves through knowledge dissemination.
For more project highlights, as well as SYNTHESYS news and partner profiles, please visit our Facebook page. The NRM (SE-TAF) also has a dedicated page for visiting scientists where you can read a selection of interviews with their SYNTHESYS researchers.