New Vice President for Research
From the beginning of March, Annika Borgenstam will be KTH’s Vice President for Research. She studied at KTH, is Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and is Professor of Alloy Micro and Nanostructures.
“I have been employed at KTH since 1986 with various spells in industry, but I’ve always returned to the academic sector.”
What issues do you want to pursue as Vice President?
“I want to continue the fantastic work that Annika Stensson Trigell has done. But I can also see that there remains a lot to be done when it comes to bridging the gap between the core operation and University Administration for, say, research applications.”
Bearing in mind that you have yet to begin your new role – are there other issues that you consider to be key?
“The intersection between academia and industry also has scope for development and improvement. Collaboration is one area where I have a wealth of experience, and I think a lot of research can benefit from collaboration.”
“Another area is striving to increase collaboration between different universities so that together we can be stronger amid the global competition.”
KTH has a large number of research centres, many of which are based squarely on industry collaboration in various forms. Borgenstam has been head of the Hero-m 2i competence centre in materials science, for example, and she also heads up the Center for Mechanics and Materials Design, which is run jointly with Solid Mechanics. She sees further development potential for industry collaboration here.
“The question we should be asking ourselves is what does KTH have to gain from this collaboration – and what does industry have to gain? It builds on trust and clear roles regarding how research can be developed together.”
What is the biggest challenge for researchers today?
“The funding system. It’s a real challenge, and from a Vice President’s perspective it’s very much a work environment problem that we essentially have to find funding for our own salaries.”
How does KTH’s research fare?
“In many areas it’s world class. However, it is important to have the courage to think strategically and to prioritise. We can’t focus solely on the research that has the biggest impact in the ranking system. All types of research are needed, and both applied and non-applied research can be excellent. We need to discuss, for example, what research excellence really means.”
What will be the very first thing you do when you start on 1 March?
“I’ll start by familiarising myself with how the Research Support Office works. My background is in the core operation, so now I’ll get to see research support from the other side.”
Text: Jill Klackenberg
Photo: Anneli Nygårds