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Photosynthetic Eukaryotes: From Fundamentals to Applications in Biology, Bioproduction and Biotechnology

Alternative title: Fotosyntetiske eukaryoter: Fra basiskunnskap til anvendelser i biologi, bioproduksjon og bioteknologi

Awarded: NOK 16.0 mill.

The National Researcher School PHOTOSYNTECH is a collaborative research-based teaching initiative for PhD students working within the fields of plant and algae sciences at the Universities in Tromsø (UiT), Trondheim (NTNU), Bodø (NORD), Hamar (INN), Oslo (UiO), Ås (NMBU), Bergen (UiB) and Stavanger (UiS). Contributions from businesses from the agricultural and biotechnological field as well as from public agencies and the Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society (SPPS) are integral to the project and will complement the academic training the PhD students receive with broader and translational career perspectives. The mission of PHOTOSYNTECH is to ensure that the education of our PhD students is optimized to help meet the current and future societal challenges and needs. This cannot happen without the generation of novel scientific knowledge for innovation and the preservation and application of existing knowledge. To keep up with international and national developments in the field and support development of a stronger job market within photosynthetic sciences, three focus areas will be central to our activities: I. Biotechnology (biotech industry, start-ups, policy making and more); II. Bioproduction (traditional and molecular farming, breeders, food and feed processing etc.); and III. Climate/Bioenergy (industry, public administration, environmental agencies, industry, science communication and more). In all three areas the activities by PHOTOSYNTECH will ensure that our PhD students are taught essential skills and knowledge, enabling them to make an impact and a positive difference for society.

Plants and algae support most life on earth by producing oxygen and energy-rich organic compounds. They are powerful natural carbon sinks and help to stabilize the climate. Plant Sciences provide knowledge platforms for the management and sustainable use of land plants and marine and freshwater algae. These knowledge platforms are utilized by commercial interest groups, public administration and legislation to realize sustainable bio-economic growth. PHOTOSYNTECH will prepare its participating graduate students to contribute to a future in which the understanding and utilization of the incredible inventions of nature will lead to the development of sustainable biotechnologies. For this, three important contemporary themes have been selected in which classical education in skills and knowledge will be strengthened by targeted novel courses: I. Biotechnology: this field provides a bridge to innovative biotec and pharma companies, start-ups, evolving technologies like bioprocess engineering and more; II. Bioproduction: this includes primary food and feed production, processing and storage, value chain awareness and investigation of high-value natural bioproducts; and III. Climate, environment and sustainable resources with a focus on biodiversity monitoring and the assessment and avoidance of adverse bi-effects (invasive species, pollution, etc.). PHOTOSYNTECH has collected actively contributing participants from all Norwegian Universities working on photosynthetic organisms from all groups of the plant kingdom (microalgae to higher plants). The scales it will cover range from molecules to ecosystems, thus being a true multiscale project. Non-academic partners will contribute to all aspects of the projects activities, from scientific courses to transferable skills, networking, practical work-life experience and training of students and PIs in business model thinking. With this we will ensure that tomorrow's "green" workplaces are filled with knowledgeable scientists.

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