21 December 2018

Young research talents to be nudged out of their comfort zone


The University of Copenhagen is launching UCPH Forward, a new talent development programme offering ambitious research talents a tailored programme starting in 2019. The programme will be focused on bridging disciplinary boundaries and creating original research and it aims to develop excellent researchers as well as excellent managers. Behind the programme are two top researchers, professor Marie-Louise Bech Nosch and professor Jens Hjorth.

UCPH is launching a development programme for the most promising research talents. The first 24 participants have been selected to complete the programme, which has been developed by two of the University's elite researchers. The programme is part of the University's strategy 2023 'Talent and collaboration' and will bring together researchers across disciplines in order to prepare them in the best possible way to contribute to solving some of the world's biggest challenges.

“In a rapidly changing world with complex global challenges such as climate, health, migration and security, there is more than ever a need for talented researchers who dare risk their neck and can think outside and across the box. That's why we have created UCPH Forward," Rector Henrik C. Wegener says.

Photo: Nikolai Linares
Behind the new talent program are two of the university's top researchers, professor Marie-Louise Bech Nosch and professor Jens Hjorth. Photo: Nikolai Linares.

Top researchers as role models

The UCPH Forward talent programme has been instigated by two successful UCPH professors, Marie-Louise Bech Nosch and Jens Hjorth. They come from two different subject areas, one is from the humanities and the other from natural science. They both share a deep passion for research and have many years of experience of what it takes for a young, ambitious researcher to develop new research fields and create a collaborative environment that yields excellent world-class research results. In the new programme they will pass on their experience to the next generation of research talents.

“With our first group of participants, it’s very clear that we are facing very different, very talented and very dedicated people who are committed to developing both their research – and themselves as individuals. This is precisely what we have been dreaming of, and we look forward to supporting each one of them and to seeing how it can strengthen both their research and the research environments in which they are working,” professor Marie-Louise Bech Nosch says.

Dreams can change the world

The 24 junior researchers who are about to embark on the one-year talent development programme have been selected on the basis of their academic qualifications as well as their personal motivation for academic and leadership development. They have been accepted into the programme by competitive application to a committee consisting of representatives from all of the University's six faculties. In the assessment of the applications, the committee has emphasised the applicants’ ability to articulate their dreams, challenges and visions, as well as their ability to head collaborative research communities.

“This is about providing a good framework for realising the individual researcher's potential, with a particular focus on crossing disciplinary boundaries and creating original research. Our ambition is that the programme will contribute to developing both talented researchers and talented managers who are well prepared for the future. The University needs it, and so does society,” professor Jens Hjorth says.

Photo: Nikolai Linares

Interdisciplinarity and room for original thinking

One of the key elements in UCPH Forward is interdisciplinary collaboration, which the two researchers behind the programme are convinced will be the focal point of many new breakthroughs and crucial for the development of new research ideas in the future.

“Part of the programme is that research talents should get out of their comfort zone and try their hand at subject areas and disciplines that they are not familiar with, preferably outside the academic world. In practice this means that each participant is to be posted to a company or an organisation on a temporary basis in order to share experiences and skills with the staff," Marie-Louise Nosch says.

Professor Jens Hjorth hopes that the programme can help provide space for launching original ideas and approaches, and he looks forward to supporting the participants in finding their own way through their research career. He points out that one of the most important elements in the talent programme is to meet with researchers who are working in fields that are completely different from their own.

See the 24 participants here