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INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research

Connect and Infect - An interactive network to advance research and education in viral ecology and evolution

Alternative title: CONFECT – Et interaktivt nettverk for å fremme forskning og utdanning i virus-økologi og -evolusjon

Awarded: NOK 10.0 mill.

In ConFect we want to strength research collaboration, public outreach and education within the field; virus ecology and evolution. We have since the start of the project, 1. Aug 21, completed our kick-off meeting including all partners. We also have started planning of the first course provided by ConFect in the spring 2022. The subject is modeling and bioinformatics within Viral ecology and evolution. During the fall we will complete the organization of the course, together with our partners, and also implement it into the BIOs education portfolio. Our PhD and Posdoc in VirVar have also developed their skills in bioinformatics by a course in transcriptome analysis at UiO, analysing data produced within the VirVar project. During this stay, we also had meetings with scientists at UiO to support our collaboration within this specific research field. During this fall we will complete a specific plan for outreach activities in Confect, together with the relevant partners.

CONFECT is an initiative to enhance research in viral ecology and evolution at UiB embodied by two ongoing research projects, and to provide state-of-the art platforms for education and dissemination in this topical field. Project members across five different countries (USA, Canada, Japan, Taiwan (ROC) and Norway) will actively contribute to workshops, a symposium and research stays abroad, which will strengthen ongoing research, and newly developed online courses as well as hands-on summer schools will create an efficient and interactive learning environment for students. The leader group has long-standing experience in traditional viral ecology and theoretical microbial ecology and has been co-founding the field in marine environments. By enhancing collaboration with five international partners, CONFECT complements this expertise with skills in modern sequencing techniques, bioinformatics and numerical simulations. The resulting team is extremely capable, with members being all interested in the same questions about regulation and drivers in microbial virus-host interactions. Knowledge promoted through CONFECT will give a basis for better understanding infectious disease as well as environmental questions of how biodiversity and consequently cycling of energy and matter may change in a changing environment. Notably, all members in CONFECT are also experienced teachers. Together with pedagogical resources made available through a center of excellence in education at UiB (BioCeed), this will ensure optimal obtension of scientific knowledge and methods for students taking part in CONFECT. Finally, dissemination and outreach of this field is our final objective, which we seek through open-access peer-reviewed scientific journals, popular science articles and interactive games with the public.

Funding scheme:

INTPART-International Partnerships for Excellent Education and Research