We Are Growing! Reflections From the Program Director on WASP-HS Spring Calls
WASP-HS is continuing to grow. We are currently home to 58 research projects at 11 universities and over 70 PhD students are active in our Graduate School. Impressive as these numbers are, numbers rarely tell the whole or the most interesting story. More fascinating and rewarding is how we have grown in competence and in visibility both within the international research community as well as a source of knowledge and inspiration for organisations across Sweden. The advancement of interdisciplinary academic knowledge made possible by WASP-HS is starting to become visible in publications, collaborations, and proposals for further research.
Guidance for our work are the strategic instruments we have set ourselves to develop and implement. These pillars of WASP-HS include, as you may know, capacity building and development in Swedish universities, a strong commitment to research collaboration across disciplines, organisations, and active engagement with society. During last Spring our ambitions translated into two big efforts: the calls for excellent networking collaborations (NetX) and for guest professors. Both calls had deadlines just before midsummer. We were very happy to receive 24 proposals for the NetX call and 18 proposals from nine universities within the call for guest professors. In dialogue with our Scientific Evaluation Committee (SEC), chaired by Professor Cathrine Hasse from Aarhus University, an international and external review process was carried out during the summer months. All proposals were reviewed by at least two international top scientists coming from different disciplines and/or fields of research. The final ranking and selection was made by the SEC and management team and thereafter proposed to the board which projects and candidates to approve.
The review process was overwhelmingly efficient. All reviews were done within the deadline, which meant that all reviewers needed to work on this during the summer period! This commitment by the reviewers reflects the good standing of WASP-HS in the international community.
As program director of WASP-HS I found two aspects to be particularly impressive. First, in comparison with previous calls, I was proud to see a visible improvement in the quality and professionalism of the proposals we received. Secondly, all proposals were, almost without exception, clear on their objectives, their contribution to the aims and vision of WASP-HS and their capacity for academic and societal development. From the submissions, we could also see the effect of all our efforts to facilitate cooperation between WASP-HS researchers: many proposals referred to, or extended, current WASP-HS research not only by the PIs, but also by other researchers in the program. I see a true WASP-HS community emerging in an engaged, dynamic and collaborative manner.
I am also very happy with the high quality of the reviews. All reviewers clearly took their task seriously and reflected in depth on the evaluation criteria, which I see as a compliment to the quality of WASP-HS. Several reviewers even expressed their wish to engage further with WASP-HS and the research we are doing. Due to the high quality of the proposals, for transparency and fairness the SEC decided to use the following set of principles for their selection and ranking: development of WASP-HS in relation to topics, disciplinary composition of program and/or projects, distribution across universities and gender balance.
The projects and positions approved by the board during their September meeting attest to the excellent work of our researchers and universities, and to the quality of the reviews and selection process.
The results were announced and communicated on 30 September. I am now with excitement looking forward to 2023 and to welcoming 6 NetX-projects and 6 new guest professors as well as their host teams. Finally, a special thanks to the Program Office who with their quiet, but crucial everyday work in the background make it possible for the vision and ambitions of WASP-HS to be implemented, monitored and achieved.
Approved Projects and Positions: