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UPPSALA UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE

2020–21

RESEARCH

Coronavirus gathers researchers COMPUTER POWER

Great need for supercomputers STUDENT LIFE

Fencing in the open air

Growing city

U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y M AG A Z I N E

2020

demands new solutions


“The times we live in, with anti-intellectual people in power, fake news and ‘alternative facts’, make it essential for education and research to be evidence-based while, of course, they must be open to objective questioning and critical debate. Knowledge is something that always stays with us, and a key defence against populism.”

PHOTO: MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

Anne Ramberg, former Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, took up her position as new Chair of the Uppsala University Board in June 2020. (Photo from the Segerstedt Building.)

U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y M AG A Z I N E

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2020 Contents

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Progress 6 Hello there, Thomas Schön on AI: “This technology is here to stay” 8 Risk of falling victim to deadly violence increasing in Africa 10 Big data gives heart research a boost 12 Previously unknown side of Astrid Lindgren’s creative process revealed 13 Method provides a sense of security in school

The portrait

14 Anders Hagfeldt – solar cell researcher and future Vice-Chancellor

Hello there…

18 Alkistis Skalkidou on a new app: Advanced warning of perinatal depression 20 Why music evokes such strong emotions

Sustainable cities

22 Growing city demands new solutions 27 Now, a sustainable future for historic buildings

Computer traffic

30 Supercomputers in the service of the scientific community

The coronavirus

34 Researchers gather around COVID-19

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University life

40 Not just for the nobs 42 The VR game that takes you to medieval Visby 43 New book: The ten equations you need to know 44 A runestone’s fate and adventures

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And finally

47 Image: Art cabinet in safe keeping

U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y M AG A Z I N E

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Intro

TO FREELY SEARCH for and convey new knowledge is the founding idea of the university as an institution. The constant quest for new cause and effect relationships is of the utmost value to society and seldom has this been clearer than during the coronavirus pandemic. Knowledge about the virus’s biological properties, the psychological effects of isolation, potential vaccines, the spread of infection, crisis management, organisational healthcare models and much else has been in daily demand. In a crisis, it is to science that we turn and ideally the answers should be immediately forthcoming. In more sedate times, research continues day in, day out – even if somewhat more in the background. Studies add to the results of other studies until, in the fullness of time, increasingly clear patterns emerge in every field of research that together form our present-day knowledge base. The scientific process is slow and deliberate. New pieces of the puzzle are continuously added. Ideas are tested and discarded. New questions are asked, on some occasions out of sheer curiosity and on others with a specific social issue in focus. Far from all research arouses interest outside its immediate field; that is, until it is needed. When we are faced with an unforeseen crisis, however, everything changes. Research that few cared about suddenly becomes the most critical and is exposed to the public gaze. We are then delighted that there are people with so much knowledge of things that to the rest of us seem incomprehensible and perhaps, until now, inconsequential. It also becomes apparent that it is not always easy to know beforehand which research might one day prove most crucial. THE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES on time that prevail within and beyond academia become obvious. Ongoing research, with all of its inherent uncertainty, is presented as truth and the natural and necessary divergence of opinions between researchers becomes a source of frustration. In the worst-case scenario, the collision between long-term reflection and the need for quick solutions leads to hasty conclusions, distrust and unwarranted attacks. We can be sure of one thing: nobody can definitively answer the question of what research will prove relevant to meeting tomorrow’s societal challenges. Safeguarding the freedom to seek knowledge and respecting the scientific process is therefore a good strategy for the future.

PHOTO: MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson Deputy Vice-Chancellor Anders Malmberg

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PHOTO: DAVID NAYLOR

Research when we need it the most Sustainable in many senses The term sustainable city is widely used and has many connotations. It may be linked to meeting the electricity needs of a growing metropolis or planning the built environment of a neighbourhood to combat segregation and create a sense of security. In this magazine, you can read about Uppsala Municipality and Uppsala University’s joint research investment in developing tomorrow’s sustainable solutions (page 22). Undoubtedly 2020 will be remembered as the year of the coronavirus pandemic. In a brief period of time, the world has undergone a profound change and enormous resources have been diverted to researching COVID-19 and the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Research financiers approved grants and researchers redirected their efforts to quickly create new knowledge about the spread of infection, drugs, vaccines and even the impact of the pandemic on the population’s mental health. You can learn more about some of these projects on page 34. As usual, you will be introduced to a number of interesting individuals, such as new Beijer Professor of Artificial Intelligence Thomas Schön, Alkistis Skalkidou who is researching perinatal depression, and fencing coach Sofie Larsson, who had to move training outdoors during the spring and summer. The sport of fencing has been practised in Uppsala since the seventeenth century and continues to attract many students (page 40). We have also interviewed Anders Hagfeldt, the Lausanne-based solar cell researcher who will be taking up his new post as the University’s Vice-Chancellor on 1 January 2021. On page 14, you can learn more about his exciting scientific career, which began when he decided to turn down a job as a table tennis coach in favour of studying physical chemistry in Uppsala. – Annica Hulth, editor


Curious about Uppsala University? UPPSALA Would you like to know more about current research, education, innovations and university life? Here are a few ways of staying up to date.

Uppsala University Magazine

UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE

2020–21

RESEARCH

Uppsala University’s newsletter

Coronavirus gathers researchers COMPUTER POWER

(one issue per year)

(nine issues per year)

Read about research and innovations, culture and traditions, researchers’ everyday lives and what drives them, and how we disseminate new knowledge in the community. The articles reflect the whole spectrum of research fields and subject knowledge at Uppsala University. uu.se/magazine

This newsletter, which is distributed by email, contains a selection of the latest on the research front and information about courses and student participation, new discoveries and innovations, collaborative projects, lectures and cultural events at Uppsala University. uu.se/newsletter

Growing need for supercomputers STUDENT LIFE

Fencing in the open air

UPPSALA UNIVERSITY M AG A Z I N E

2020

Growing city

UPPSALA UNIVERSITY M AG A Z I N E

2020

demands new solutions

Follow us on social media Facebook: facebook.com/uppsala.universitet Twitter: twitter.com/uppsalauni Instagram: instagram.com/uppsalauniversity Youtube: youtube.com/user/Uppsalauniversitet LinkedIn: linkedin.com/school/uppsala-university

UPPSALA UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE

is about research, innovations, people and university life at the oldest higher education institution in the Nordic region. The magazine is published once a year, in Swedish and

English. Order it free of charge or download it as a PDF file from www.uu.se/uumagazine Address: Communications Division Uppsala University Box 256, SE–751 05 Uppsala, Sweden Editor: Annica Hulth annica.hulth@uadm.uu.se

U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y M AG A Z I N E

2020

Editorial staff: Magnus Alsne, Anders Berndt, Anneli Björkman, Linda Koffmar, Anna Malmberg, Åsa Malmberg English language editor: Timothy Chamberlain Responsible for content: Urban Lindberg Art Director: Daniel Hansson, Zellout

Cover photo: Mikael Wallerstedt Printing: Kph

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“This technology is here to stay” THOMAS SCHÖN, newly appointed Beijer Professor of Artificial Intelligence, a post made possible by a grant of SEK 15 million from the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation. 6

Why is this the time for a professorship in artificial intelligence (AI)? “AI is a technology that is very much part of our existence; for example, safer vehicles and better healthcare are already saving lives. That said, there are areas in which we have barely begun to reflect on the opportunities it presents to us. What is clear however, is that this technology is here to stay, that its development is unremitting and that every choice we make today will impact on us in the future. So, we must quickly take command over what form we want it to take.” How will you be organising your work? “I see AI as a tool that can help us to meet many of the major challenges facing our society. When just over two years ago I was tasked with sketching a structure for Uppsala University’s work in the field, we therefore fairly quickly settled on an interdisciplinary profile. These forms are now ready and in the autumn we will be launching AI for Research, a five-year initiative in which researchers from all areas of the University will meet to develop ideas, perspectives and projects that will hopefully take on a life of their own at their respective home departments.” What will you yourself be bringing to the new environment? “Over 10 years of research into machine learning. This is a central component of AI in which computers learn to identify patterns and draw their own conclusions with the aid of data, mathematical models and algorithms. It should certainly not be confused with traditional intelligence and the ability to achieve complex objectives. Rather, these algorithms are like recipes – a set of ingredients that when correctly combined generate a specific result; for example, an automated interpretation of ECGs developed with Brazilian cardiologists that currently demonstrates accuracy in identifying the most common ECG deviations on a par with human doctors.” Where will AI for Research be in five years? “I arrived at Uppsala seven years ago as a newly appointed professor in automatic control with funding for two doctoral students. Today, we have a team of over 20 and are part of WASP, Sweden’s largest ever single research programme; my point being, that the upshift in AI has been so intense that it is difficult to make predictions. My ambition, however, is that we will generate flexible collaborations that contribute to education and research at Uppsala University and thereby make a clear and long-term contribution to strengthening Sweden’s AI profile.” – Magnus Alsne

PHOTO: MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

Progress Hello there


Quick test for antibiotic resistance

The battery’s active material is quinones, which occur in photosynthesis and are found commonly in nature.

New climate-smart battery charged with providing sustainable energy storage Chemistry. Imagine being able to charge a battery in seconds using a solar cell. This is made possible by the new all-organic proton battery developed by researchers at Uppsala University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The battery can be charged and discharged over 500 times without any significant loss of capacity. As the battery’s active material, the researchers have selected quinones, a class of organic

carbon compounds that among other things occur in photosynthesis and are found commonly in nature. The particular property of quinones utilised by the researchers is the ability to absorb or emit hydrogen ions – which of course consist entirely of protons – during charging and discharging. The electrolyte – i.e., the medium for transporting ions inside the battery – is an acidic aqueous solution. Aside from being environmentally friendly,

this also provides a safe battery free from the risk of fire or explosion. The researchers are now working on integrating the battery into fabrics that can be worn close to the body.

Medicine. Rapid Antibiotic Resistance Determination is the name of a new research centre at Uppsala University, the task of which is to do exactly that. The objective of the project, which started in August, is to reduce the time from test to result to between one and four hours. The ultimate aim is to reduce morbidity and mortality from infections, while at the same time reducing the use of antibiotics and the development of resistance in the healthcare sector.

DNA from Dead Sea Scrolls Biologi. Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls over 2,000 years ago? Where do they originate? And what exactly do the decayed texts say? While this is not entirely clear, researchers at Uppsala University have succeeded in extracting DNA from the parchment the scrolls are written on. The results show that the skins are mainly from sheep and, in some cases, cows. This knowledge may help to piece together the various text fragments but it also suggests that the texts vary in origin, as the species of and relationships between the animals seem to suggest that they were not from the same area. The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers in Israel.

Why doesn’t the supervolcano awake? Beneath the Andean volcanoes on the borders of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia is a gigantic reservoir of molten and semi-molten magma. The AltiplanoPuna magma body, as it is known, has been in existence for millions of years without solidifying or causing a super-eruption. The mystery of how this is possible may now have been solved. Researchers from institutions including Uppsala University have analysed lava from a recent eruption and discovered that hidden flows of hot magma from deep inside the earth seem to keep the magma body alive.

U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y M AG A Z I N E

2020

PHOTO: SHAI HALEVI

PHOTO: MAT TON

Progress

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Progress

Risk of falling victim to deadly violence increasing in Africa Is the world becoming more peaceful – or increasingly brutal? While the answer to this question is not entirely clear, globally there has been a trend towards fewer people dying as a result of organised violence. This is not however true everywhere. In certain regions of Africa violence against civilians is on the rise, though the situation is worst of all in Afghanistan. This data comes from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) at Uppsala University. The programme has been collecting global conflict data for almost 40 years and is the world’s foremost supplier of systematically gathered data on organised violence. UCDP defines organised violence as the aggregation of statebased armed conflict, nonstate conflict and one-sided violence, with the common inclusion criterion of 25 fatalities in a calendar year. The trend has been for a steady decline in fatalities since 2014, when the death toll from organised violence was 145,000, to 2019, when 75,600 deaths were registered – the lowest figure since 2011. This can be partly explained by the almost total defeat of terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. While this development seems to be positive, peace researchers see reasons for concern.

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“We can see that the trend continues to be dominated by IS. As the group has been weakened in Iraq and Syria, it has established itself in other parts of the world and we are now seeing a displacement of violence to the African continent,” says Therese Pettersson, project manager at UCDP. During 2019, IS announced the inclusion of a new province in its self-proclaimed caliphate for the first time since 2017 – Central Africa. Attacks were launched in countries in which the terror group previously had no presence, including Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Groups loyal to al-Qaida also have strongholds in many African countries and we have seen an increase in violence against civilians in countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali,” says Pettersson. Transnational jihadist groups such as IS and al-Qaida have

had a major impact on the trend for organised violence over the past decade. “Viewed from a longer perspective they are not unique in their capacity to challenge states and spread fear among the civilian population, but what is unique about these groups is their ability to operate globally and attract support and recruit followers from large parts of the world,” says Magnus Öberg, Director of UCDP. Both IS and al-Qaida are active in what is currently the world’s worst conflict zone, Afghanistan. For the second consecutive year, the war in Afghanistan exacted the highest death toll globally and the country experienced its bloodiest year since 1989, at the end of the Soviet–Afghan War. “Since 2013, we have witnessed a sharp upward trend in combat-related deaths in the country. Despite negotiations between the Taliban

and the United States, the violence has only continued and escalated and in 2019, over 40% of deaths from organised violence occurred in Afghanistan,” says Pettersson. – Åsa Malmberg


ILLUSTRATION: UCDP

Progress

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Progress

Big data gives heart research a boost A healthcare system under pressure requires new methods for making the right diagnosis in good time and selecting the best possible treatment. Heart researchers and mathematicians are now coming together to use artificial intelligence and register-based research to usher Sweden’s hospitals into a new era. DOG OWNERSHIP IS linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease. A cancer diagnosis, on the other hand, increases the risk sixfold, at least during the first week. Researchers using data from Sweden’s population-based registers and biobanks are able to supply important knowledge about a wide range of common diseases. The results of their

work provide practical support to healthcare professionals, as well as a basis for public policy. “Sweden’s healthcare model and national quality registers offer unique conditions. These days we have access to such vast quantities of medical data that new tools are required to fully utilise them. Above all, we see the potential in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which allows computers to complete tasks without being explicitly programmed to do so. With the correct input, we can push forward the boundaries of our entire field and during the autumn we will be beginning our commitment to AI for Research – a five-year interdisciplinary initiative,” says Johan Sundström, cardiologist and Professor of Epidemiology. THANKS TO A donation from

Johan Sundström, cardiologist and Professor of Epidemiology.

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Åland philanthropist Anders Wiklöf, the group has been

able to recruit two data scientists. Stationed at the new research environment, in collaboration with Thomas Schön, Beijer Professor of Artificial Intelligence, they will develop an AI tool with the capacity to interpret ECGs and diagnose abnormalities. In parallel, they will develop and validate the algorithms for detailed register studies. “The meeting of mathematical and clinical competences creates great synergies. They will build systems and algorithms, we will provide the relevant questions, data and knowledge about how the methods need to be tested before they can be clinically applied. Together, we can generate new knowledge for even better healthcare recommendations.” THAT SAID, THE path from

research findings to medical advice is not without obstacles. Region Uppsala’s evidence

Using register-based studies, the researchers hope to identify new risk factors so as to contribute to improved care for cardiovascular disease.

group, which Sundström chairs, is part of a national network that evaluates methods before their implementation in healthcare, and the fact is, many results are never translated into therapies. “The safest conclusions about causation and therapeutic effectiveness are achieved by randomly allocating different treatments to equivalent patient groups and then comparing the results. All the same, register-based studies are sometimes our best oppor-


ILLUSTRATION: MAT TON

Hello there Progress Stefan James, Professor of Cardiology.

The Swedish model proves effective “Determining which of two medical treatments is most effective has long been a challenge to science.” So says Professor of Cardiology STEFAN JAMES.

i Facts • Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death and has the highest drug treatment costs in Sweden.

tunity to provide healthcare with information; for example, our study demonstrating that a patient who stops taking snuff after a heart attack doubles their chances of survival received immediate attention at the country’s health clinics. We therefore hope that, by using Swedish Big Data, within the foreseeable future we will identify new risk factors that can contribute to improved care of cardiovascular diseases.”

– Magnus Alsne

U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y M AG A Z I N E

• Cardiology research at Uppsala University includes register-based studies, cell biology research and large clinical trials with patients and healthy controls from many countries. • Uppsala Clinical Research Center has the expertise and technology necessary to transform innovative ideas into translational research projects, clinical studies and register-based improvement projects.

2020

“The best results are achieved in randomised studies comparing outcomes between equivalent patient groups; however, as these are often deemed to be far too demanding and expensive, we have developed a method that utilises patient data from the Swedish National Quality Registries.” The concept requires that both the doctor and patient consent to the random allocation of treatment. Thus far, the vast majority have chosen to participate and, at present, some 20 studies are underway focusing on various strategies, drugs and medical technical products. “This arrangement is mainly suited to common ailments such as heart attacks and blood clots, which provide the requisite quantities of data. We act on both our own initiative and on behalf of others and the fact is, our results do

have a broad impact in healthcare – which we believe is related to the fact that this arrangement involves healthcare providers in the study phase.” In 2015, the Stefan James model won the Athena Award, the world’s most prestigious prize for innovative clinical research, and today the concept is causing ripples far beyond Sweden’s borders. “When we demonstrated that giving oxygen has no benefit in the event of an acute myocardial infarction, it had an immediate impact on guidelines worldwide. The regulatory authorities in the United States, which normally only follow domestic studies, recently announced that they will implement our recommendations from an ongoing study; so, perhaps our method will also help to strengthen Sweden’s reputation in medical science.”

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Previously unknown side of Astrid Lindgren’s creative process revealed How did Astrid Lindgren go about creating her famous children’s book characters? Literary scholar Malin Nauwerck runs the project The Astrid Lindgren Code, in which she leads the work to decipher the notebooks left by the author after her death. “Astrid Lindgren’s original manuscripts reveal a previously unknown dimension to her authorship. In drafts of the novel The Brothers Lionheart we see how carefully Lindgren crafted the battle between the dragon Katla and the lindworm Karm, a scene that was already prefigured in her

PHOTO: SVENSKA BARNBOKSINSTITUTET

Progress

War Diaries 1939-1945, as well as more curious details – such as the fact that Jonathan Lionheart’s golden hair was jet black in one early version of the first chapter,” explains Nauwerck. The notepads, a literary treasure trove both legendary and largely unexplored, may reveal Lindgren’s creative process from initial concept through to completed novel. That nobody has taken on the task before can be explained by the fact that Astrid Lindgren wrote her notes in shorthand, leading to the strongly held view that this would render them almost impossible to decipher. “Once we began reviewing the material to see if it would be possible to interpret using digital methods, we realised that even manual reading would be relatively easy with a mastery of shorthand,” says Nauwerck. The extant manuscripts comprise one of the world’s largest collections of stenographic material and the hope is that the digital text-recognition tools now being developed will pave the way for further studies of handwritten documents.

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– Åsa Malmberg


Progress

Method provides a sense of security in school

PHOTO: MAT TON

Providing all schoolchildren with the preconditions to learn: that is one of the basic concepts behind the Inclusive Behavioural Support in Schools (IBIS) programme, a researchbased method for creating calm and security in schools. The method is being implemented in 20 schools in Uppsala and from autumn 2020 IBIS instructors will be trained at Uppsala University. IN ADDITION TO Uppsala, several oth-

er Swedish municipalities have participated in the programme, which is based on a method developed in the United States 25 years ago and used in Norway for the past 15 years. Uppsala researchers have adapted it to Swedish conditions. “While some of the adaption has been to Swedish governance documents and legislation, we have also addressed Swedish school culture, which is highly focused on humanism and democracy. So, instead of working on consequences we have worked a great deal on creating the preconditions for children to behave in accordance with the school’s expectations,” says Martin Karlberg. THIS WORK INCLUDES adapting the school

environment, teaching pupils various social skills and identifying their prior knowledge and abilities, so that they can be given tasks that are both manageable and promote personal growth. “These tasks should not be so easy as to present no obstacle; rather, they should sometimes be challenging and developmental,” explains Karlberg.

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i Facts about IBIS Which schools are using the IBIS method?

“It is generally schools that feel the need to develop leadership within the school. They want to develop common values and common approaches, so that children can rely on receiving the same treatment no matter what lesson they go to.” ONE DEMAND IS made on participating

schools: at least 80% of staff must be in favour of participation. Research has shown that this is a prerequisite if the method is to yield positive results. Karlberg has recently commenced a collaboration with researchers at Oklahoma State University, who have been studying the method for 25 years. Together they intend to study the effects of IBIS in Sweden in comparison with the United States. 

– Annica Hulth

• IBIS stands for Inclusive Behavioural Support in Schools. • The method has largely been used in primary and secondary schools but by the autumn there will also be a manual for subject teachers in uppersecondary schools. • Those training to be instructors are mainly special-needs teachers, school counsellors and school psychologists. • It usually takes four years to fully implement the programme; i.e., until the school has a common approach to creating the preconditions for pupils to learn and manage conflicts.

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The Portrait

ANDERS HAGFELDT has spent a large part of his life researching the chemistry behind solar cells, for the past six years in Switzerland with researchers from around the world. He will soon be returning to Uppsala University, where he will be taking up the post of vice-chancellor in January 2021, subject to the Swedish government’s formal decision this autumn. text ANNICA HULTH photo MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

Solar cell researcher and future Vice-Chancellor 14


Dyes are a vital component of Grätzel cells. The cells can be manufactured semi-transparent in a range of colours, just like this revolving door at the Segerstedt Building.

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The Portrait

A

ANDERS HAGFELDT AND I meet on a

sunny day in the middle of August while he is in Uppsala for a meeting with the University Management. A couple of months have passed since he was proposed as vice-chancellor and the news has had time to sink in somewhat. “It will be extremely exciting and a wonderful experience. That said, wrapping up my research in Lausanne is quite a business. When one makes this kind of decision the effects are not limited to oneself.” Hagfeldt is currently leading a group of some 20–25 researchers at the Laboratory of Photomolecular Science (EPFL) studying Grätzel cells, or dye-sensitised solar cells, in close collaboration with Michael Grätzel, after whom the cells are named. THIS IS A FIELD that he entered as a young

doctoral student at Uppsala University. “I was halfway through my doctoral studies and had three different supervisors – in physical chemistry, physics and quantum chemistry. I was involved in various things out of curiosity but couldn’t really make it all hang together. Then there it was, this mysterious Grätzel cell in a material that really shouldn’t work. Although it had all of the properties that a solar cell really shouldn’t have, it worked.” Everything suddenly fell into place. He brought all of his varied subject knowledge to bear on a fundamental explanation of how these new cells worked. “We did pioneering work in Uppsala building up theories on how the solar cells worked. I then went to Lausanne as a postdoc in 1993–94, so it has always been a bit like home.” GRÄTZEL CELLS USE dyes and titanium

oxide nanoparticles to achieve a photo-

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electric effect. The solar cells are currently used in glass facades and as building elements, as they can be manufactured as half-transparent in a range of colours. While not as efficient as some other solar cells, they can be used indoors to capture and create energy from diffuse light. “Indoors, the efficiency of Grätzel cells is up there with any other technology. There are many applications in the Internet of Things, where a solar cell can generate electricity from interior light to replace or supplement batteries.” Another breakthrough came a few years ago in the form of the perovskite solar cell, which was discovered as a result of material research related to Grätzel cells. “The breakthrough came in 2012, since when the technology has gone from strength to strength until today it is as efficient as the best silicon solar cells. Our research group holds world records for efficiency in both perovskite and Grätzel solar cells.” ASIDE FROM HIS success as a researcher, Anders Hagfeldt has received awards for supervising doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows – something he is immensely proud and pleased about. “I was delighted to be nominated by the research group and to then receive the award was naturally a bonus.” The joy of helping others to succeed was something he discovered as a young table tennis coach in Norrköping. “It was great to train youngsters and see how they developed. I think that same feeling has returned as a research supervisor. There’s nothing more enjoyable than when a doctoral student turns up excited about an idea – when one realises that they have begun to think and create ideas.” There are many parallels with table tennis, or indeed sport in general. IN FACT, BEFORE arriving at Uppsala University in 1984, Anders Hagfeldt faced a choice between a career as a table tennis coach or studying physical chemistry. The choice was not difficult given the attractions of a research career and after only two years of studies he was offered the opportunity to begin conducting research. “I enjoyed physical chemistry so much that I asked if I could work there as an assistant over the summer. I got the job and

Before arriving at Uppsala University in 1984, Anders Hagfeldt faced a choice between a career as a table tennis coach or studying physical chemistry.

one coffee break my supervisor, Sten-Eric Lindquist, spontaneously asked if I would like to do a PhD. I walked straight over to the telephone and called my mother. It felt fantastic to be asked!” It was that simple. Since that first summer job, Hagfeldt has remained steadfastly on the same path of pursuing solar energy. “Back then, solar energy was more a beautiful idea; nobody really took it seriously in the eighties. It stayed that way until work started in earnest on silicon solar cells. Today, there is a great deal happening – there is rapid growth and a large industry.” ANDERS HAGFELDT WAS a member of the team who built up the Ångström Solar Centre (ÅSE) in Uppsala in 1996, a programme funded by Mistra and the Swedish Energy Agency with the stated requirement that research results should benefit Swedish industry.


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Anders Hagfeldt Title: Professor of Physical Chemistry at EPFL in Switzerland. Taking up the post of Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University on 1 January 2021. Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA).

Leisure pursuits: Read lots of fiction and greatly enjoy history. Play the drums in a band in Uppsala. We like to improvise and mostly play music from the 1960s: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and blues.

“It was gratifying to gain an insight into how to create and run a company, something that is quite different to the academic way of working.” Today, Hagfeldt is the holder of 10–15 patents and as a researcher he has collaborated with both large and small companies. He himself runs a company with four employees, selling materials and research equipment for solar cells to companies and higher education institutions.

”There’s nothing more enjoyable than when a doctoral student turns up excited about an idea – when one realises that they have begun to think and create ideas.” “At the time, it was new to think in terms of industrial and economic applications and to examine the implications of scaling up the technology. In this regard we were quite pioneering and it was a very successful project.” ÅSE programme director Lennart Malmqvist became something of a mentor to Hagfeldt, demonstrating what it meant to take a technology from the laboratory to commercialisation and industrial application.

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ANOTHER IMPORTANT PART of his professional life is his international network. He has conducted research as a visiting professor or adjunct professor in China, France, Korea, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, India and Spain. His research group is also comprised of many different nationalities. “There are people from different cultures, religions and backgrounds working together. It is a kind of social exchange that I consider very privileged, particularly in today’s society where many forces are driving isolation and an ‘us against them’ mentality... The University has a very important role to play in this context.” Is this something you want to work on as vice-chancellor? “Yes, I hope so. We are increasingly seeing authoritarian states, climate change, pandemics and so on, all of which demand global initiatives. There are any number of examples demonstrating why we need to educate young people who can make a difference. Uppsala University can, and indeed already does, play a crucial role in the world.” 

Family: Two adult children and wife.

Last book read: The latest by Håkan Nesser, Den sorgsne busschauffören från Alster [The Sorrowful Bus Driver from Alster]. It’s the same old Håkan Nesser, he’s fun to read.

I have my best ideas: When I’m out walking. I enjoy hiking, which is of course very appropriate in Switzerland. Preferably in the mornings – I’m beginning to get a bit tired in the evenings in my old age.

People who inspire me: There are so many, at various stages of life. As a student, one person who inspired me scientifically was Richard Feynman. I got hold of one of his books and then I read them all. They explained the thinking behind research and science. Whenever I feel that I need a reminder of why this is so much fun, I can just open up at a random page to recapture that feeling of excitement.

Dream for the future: Nothing in particular; actually, I feel privileged to have experienced so much. I am just grateful to have been a doctoral student and professor, to have travelled and collaborated at this level. The most important things are in one’s personal life; for example, I recently became a grandparent.

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PHOTO: MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

Progress Hello there

Advanced warning of perinatal depression Hello ALKISTIS SKALKIDOU, professor and researcher into perinatal depression at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. You and your research group have developed the app Mom2B for expectant and new mothers. What is the idea behind it?

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“We want to try an entirely new method for collecting data for studies into how women feel about their pregnancy and giving birth. We gather data of various sorts, both reported by the mothers themselves and passive measurements of how they move around, how much they use their mobile phones, how their voices sound... All of this data is then analysed by artificial intelligence in order to predict who will develop symptoms of depression.” How common is perinatal depression? “The figures vary from country to country and depending on how one measures but the figure is around 12% both during and after pregnancy. Depression is one of the most common complications by far. Although we often think of complications such as diabetes, pre-eclampsia and bleeding, these are extremely rare in comparison. “It also has severe consequences given that the mother is in the midst of a period in which she needs to have intensive contact with the child. Suffering from depression at this critical time impacts on the child’s emotional development, the relationship with the partner and the woman herself.” Why is it important to be able to predict depression? “If we can identify a risk group before they fall ill, we can invest our limited healthcare resources in this group preventively. This may involve simple things such as a few extra phone calls from the midwife and group therapy. These are measures that have proven effective for high-risk groups.” And what benefits do the expectant mothers gain from using the app? “App users can record important data about their pregnancy and obtain information about the pregnancy and how the child is growing. They also get access to statistics about how much exercise they are getting each day, how much they are using their mobile phones, weight gain and self-estimated health. If their responses indicate depression, we become aware of it and get back to them.” – Annica Hulth


PHOTO/IMAGE: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), OLOFSSON ET AL . ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: ROBERT CUMMING

Progress With the ALMA super telescope, astronomers have succeeded in depicting the clash between one of the smaller stars in the Milky Way and a red giant.

Increased infant mortality after corona restrictions Medicine. Nepal has experienced a sharp increase in the percentage of infants dying during the first week of life since the country imposed restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. Having reviewed in excess of 20,000 births at nine hospitals, researchers from institutions including Uppsala University saw that the number of women giving birth in these hospitals had decreased by 50%. This threatens the enormous progress made by the country in mother and child health over the past 20 years.

Super-telescope shows galactic battle Astronomy. A long time ago in a remote part of our galaxy, two stars met in a battle for survival. The light from this confrontation has now reached our planet, just in time for astronomers armed with new technology to document the process in images. Using the super-telescope Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers have succeeded in

capturing images of the clash between one of the Milky Way’s smaller stars and a red giant – a star that has exhausted its supply of hydrogen and in its death throes has expanded far beyond its original size. During the confrontation, which took place some 700 years ago, the smaller star is seen spiralling towards the core of the larger star, causing it to shed layers

of gas and exposing the core. “We have been capturing energy signals for four decades indicating that something is going on in the area, which we estimate to be about 3,000 light years away. With the aid of new technology, we can finally document the process in images,” says Sofia Ramstedt, a researcher at the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Variations on social anxiety disorder. Psychology. A study of 265 people with social anxiety disorder conducted at Uppsala University shows that sufferers have personality traits that differ markedly from other people. It was possible to distinguish three personality groups: one, with prototypical social anxiety, was both highly neurotic and introvert; a second with introvert-conscientious social anxiety, was highly introvert but less neurotic and with high conscientiousness; while a third and largest group, with instable-open social anxiety, was neurotic, emotional but with bordering on normal extroversion and considerably higher openness in comparison to normative data.

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Summer buzzing under threat Biology. According to researchers from institutions including Uppsala University, previous assumptions that insects found at northern latitudes would cope well with, or even benefit from, a warmer climate are wrong. On the contrary, they are equally at risk as tropical species that already live close to their optimal and critical temperature. The same applies to our northern insects if one takes into account the average temperature during the months the insects are active, rather than the average annual temperatures on which previous models were based.

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Music

Why music evokes such strong emotions How is music able to express emotions that the listener recognises in themselves? Why are we moved by music? And how do we make aesthetic judgements on the quality of music? text ANNICA HULTH photo MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT ACCORDING TO PATRIK Juslin, the emotional responses elicited by music cover a wide range. Professor Juslin is the chair of the Music Psychology Group and author of one of the standard works on music psychology, which spans 20 years of research. “Music can evoke anything from very simple, primitive responses to complex, high-level judgements. This can involve anything from basic emotions such as joy, sorrow and anger to more complex feelings such as nostalgia. One may experience mixed emotions, conflicting feelings and what I call aesthetic emotions, which are based on aesthetic judge-

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ments. One feels admiration for a musician or fascination for the beauty of the music.” THE HISTORY OF music is full of composers and musicians who, through trial and error, have succeeded in creating music that both expresses and arouses emotions and is highly valued aesthetically. And throughout history, philosophers and theorists have pondered why music arouses such strong emotions. The answer is that our brains are activated by music in many different ways. “There are a number of different psychological mechanisms at work at various levels in the brain that can

arouse emotions, either individually or in combination. All of these have a unique, sometimes primeval, evolutionary origin. The majority of these mechanisms developed long before the creation of music and we have many of them in common with other social mammals,” says Juslin. WHILE THESE REFLEXES func-

tion in the same way in everyone, our musical expectations are the result of very strong cultural conditioning. “Depending on whether you grow up in a European, African or Asian environment, you will have been exposed to different tonal

patterns. The brain will construct different expectations. Then, as listeners we react differently to the same piece of music. This also applies to different styles of music; someone who listens mostly to classical music will have different expectations of music than someone who listens to reggae or jazz.” We may also make an aesthetic judgement by listening very attentively and applying various criteria for aesthetic value to the music: is it innovative, beautiful, complex, skilfully performed? “At the same time, these aesthetic judgements are influenced by other psychological mechanisms. If something


“Music can evoke anything from very simple, primitive responses to complex, highlevel judgements,” says Professor of Psychology Patrik Juslin.

i Eight mechanisms triggered by music 1. The brainstem reflex, an innate tendency to react to certain properties of sound such as high volume or rapidly increasing tempo. 2. Rhythmic adaption, as the rhythm of the music synchronises with the listener’s breathing or pulse. Marches, house music or techno drive up the pulse, while a lullaby soothes the listener. 3. Emotional conditioning occurs when a piece of music has been experienced many times before in a given emotionally charged context. Used in advertising and film soundtracks. 4. Emotional contagion, when we are infected with the emotion expressed in a piece of music, just as research has demonstrated that we reflexively mimic facial expressions.

musically unanticipated occurs, you may think that the music is original. If you find yourself strongly affected emotionally, you may consider the music to be highly expressive and rate it higher in your aesthetic judgement.” EXCITING COLLISIONS MAY

occur when aesthetic judgements on a conscious level clash with primitive feelings on a lower, automatic and subconscious level. You may then find yourself reacting with positive feelings to music that, from a purely aesthetic viewpoint, you consider substandard. “Certain low-level mechanisms – conditioning, for

example – are immune to any judgement made at higher levels of the brain; so, even if we find the music banal or bad, the conditioning will still work. A troublesome situation then arises in which, while convinced that the music is bad, at the same time you find it enjoyable.” How is the research conducted? “Experimentation has been most important given that these mechanisms are subconscious and fairly automatic. We systematically manipulate certain musical samples to try and elicit emotional reactions that we measure through self-reporting and physiological responses.

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We then conduct questionnaire studies, interviews, diary studies and simulations to explore musical experience in a real-world environment.” INTEREST FROM THE scientific community is high and the knowledge obtained may have applications in a wide range of contexts; for example, music therapy, film soundtracks, the use of music in marketing, music production and music education. “My hope going forward is that we can try and translate these fairly extensive theories into concrete applications and interventions in areas such as music therapy and music education,” says Juslin. 

5. Visual imagery, when music gives rise to fantasies and visions and connects to events occurring in one’s own life. Used in music therapy. 6. Episodic memory, as music commonly evokes memories of specific events. 7. Musical expectancy, when the music fails to meet our expectations, feelings are aroused. A great deal of musical composition is based on toying with our expectations. 8. Aesthetic judgement is triggered by the adoption of an aesthetic attitude to music. Patrik Juslin’s book Musical Emotions Explained: Unlocking the Secrets of Musical Affect (2019) is published by Oxford University Press.

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Sustainable cities


Uppsala is a city that has experienced significant growth over recent years and its expansion is set to continue. Together with Uppsala University, the municipality is now jointly investing in research to identify good, sustainable solutions for the future. text ANNICA HULTH photo MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

Growing city demands new solutions U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y M AG A Z I N E

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Sustainable cities

ONE OF UPPSALA’S newest districts is Rosendal, where the first housing estate was completed in 2015. Since then, several thousand homes have been built and more are planned. During a stroll through the district, we encounter young parents with prams, lunch guests leaving the local sushi restaurant and builders on their way to work. If all goes according to plan, the district will be completed in 2028, by which time it will have space for 10,000 residents, although the timetable may change depending on the state of the housing market. This is a familiar picture in Uppsala as the municipality plans for continued robust expansion until 2050. The comprehensive plan, known as the Uppsala Package, includes four new railway tracks to Stockholm and an expansion of the city to the southeast to create 33,000 new homes. ONE OF THE CHALLENGES is to meet the demand for electricity in a sustainable manner. In collaboration with Uppsala University, the municipality has employed a doctoral student to research the possibilities.

“One challenge for future energy systems will be that people will become a greater part of the solution, meaning that we need to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries”, says Rafael Waters, professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering.

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“The doctoral student will be studying the choices available to a growing city in terms of energy systems. The aim is to obtain a sustainable energy system in Uppsala, environmentally, economically and socially,” explains Rafael Waters. Waters is a professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering and supervisor of the doctoral student in question, Carl Flygare, who began work in May 2020. The main electricity supply problem facing Uppsala is that the power lines into the city are under-dimensioned, leading to power shortages when the weather gets colder in the winter. “This is already a very challenging situation so the municipality is well aware of the need to explore how the city can continue to expand without being limited by the electricity grid. There is a great deal to look at in terms of smart grids, renewable electricity production and when and how to charge electric vehicles. How can we utilise the electricity grid more efficiently so that we don’t need to expand it as often or as much?”

Karin Backvall and Andreas Alm Fjellborg conduct research in the field of cultural geography and divide their time between the University and the municipality.

DOCTORAL STUDENT CARL Flygare will be

conducting research full-time, with one foot in the University and one in the municipality. The Foundation for Collaboration between the Universities in Uppsala, Business, and the Public Sector (STUNS) will assist with contacts with various research environments, municipalities and the business community, thereby linking a variety of stakeholders. “In terms of sustainable social and urban development, it is the municipality that is the need owner with an interest in contacting cutting-edge research, methodologies and working methods. For the University’s part, we will be guaranteed that the research is socially relevant; so, there is a mutual interest,” says Waters, who stresses the importance of finding the right direction for the project so that high-quality research overlaps with social relevance: “When both sides are committed and learn from one another, it creates an opportunity to take things up a gear to include further collaborations. The hope is that there will also be an interest in identifying such overlaps in other fields of research.” WATERS IS ADAMANT that simply developing smart technological solutions will be insufficient for tomorrow’s sustainable cities. “As we move away from fossil fuels, a large part of the solution will be electrification and smart energy systems. Instead

Karin Backvall researches the image of “deprived housing estates”; for example, as disseminated in the media. of controlling the production of electricity based on how we consume, we will attempt to adapt consumption to the available electricity. One challenge for future energy systems will therefore be that people will become a greater part of the solution, meaning that we need to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries.” The project is part of a strategic partnership agreement reached between the municipality and the University in June 2019 to collaborate on sustainable social development. There are also three researchers – one full-time and two half-time – at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research who are co-financed by the University and municipality. IN THE OPINION of Åsa Dahlin, head of comprehensive planning at Uppsala Muni-


PHOTO: UPP SALA UNIVERSITET, MEDIIVIR (HACKSELL)

cipality’s Urban Planning Department, this new collaboration contributes to closing the gap between research and municipal practice. “The post-doctoral researchers have dayto-day relationships with the municipality’s strategic urban planners – something that paves the way for a shared knowledge journey. The dialogue with researchers has already contributed to deepening our understanding of analyses of socially sustainable housing stock, processes of segregation and the stigmatisation of urban districts,” says Dahlin. One of the researchers is Karin Backvall. She researches housing segregation and the image of “deprived housing estates”; for example, as disseminated in the media. When a neighbourhood is described as a “problem area”, the problems may be U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y M AG A Z I N E

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exacerbated. “I am currently processing material from the media covering reporting from Örebro, Västerås and Uppsala, all municipalities with neighbourhoods identified by the police as deprived, and I am interested in how they are portrayed in the media and what differences there might be. I am also preparing a questionnaire that will be sent to residents in and outside these neighbourhoods to see whether and how the perception of the places is influenced by differences in media reporting,” she explains. JUST LIKE THE other researchers, Backvall spends half of her time with the municipality, more specifically at the Strategic Planning Division. She conducts her research as normal but has regular contact with the municipality.

Andreas Alm Fjellborg studies the new production of housing in relation to the municipality’s goals for socially mixed housing. “I have become more aware of how research can be put to use; for example, I will not only analyse how the image of a neighbourhood is created and changes and how this varies from place to place, but also what one can tangibly do about it.” Fellow researcher Anders Alm Fjellborg is also a cultural geographer and his working day at the municipality is largely spent in meetings, discussing issues and identifying aspects that are of interest to him as a researcher. 25


Sustainable cities Together with Martin Söderhäll, another postdoctoral fellow, he studies the new production of housing in relation to the municipality’s goals for socially mixed housing and the eventual outcomes. “We have honed the issues to make them more directly relevant to the municipality. We have received useful input and, the more directly relevant it is, the more enjoyable it is. Our discussions have allowed us to make progress but we still have complete freedom to choose our own issues.” THE RESEARCHERS USE the Geo Sweden

database, which contains population registry data from Statistics Sweden, to follow the population over the years, to see how people move and what incomes they have. This allows them to study housing stock, the distribution of various groups and how this changes over time.

”Thanks to our collaboration, municipal officials are able to meet researchers who see openings for research in day-to-day activities,” says Nils Hertting

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“There is a great deal of building going on in Uppsala and there is a very ambitious plan for the coming 10–15 years. It is important to know how things have worked in earlier new production. There is also a major difference between building new residential districts and densifying existing neighbourhoods. In Rosendal it was possible to take a holistic approach as everything was built from scratch; it’s different in a residential area that is to be densified. It will be very interesting to see how the social mix is affected by planning in various neighbourhoods; for example, where tenant-owner properties are built in areas with many rental apartments.”

might not be felt until 30 years later and can last for half a century. Here, researchers can go back to study history; for example, how residential areas were built in the past. “This makes a fine contribution to practitioners and planners, given that this kind of thing is difficult to assess. The processes involved are often complex and rather cumbersome and slow going. Thanks to our collaboration, municipal officials can meet researchers and identify research approaches together,” says Hertting. 

NILS HERTTING, Senior Lecturer in Polit-

• Uppsala University and Uppsala Municipality have a strategic partnership agreement covering the period 2019–2021.

ical Science at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research, also sees great opportunities in the new research appointments. He is convinced that mutually beneficial research projects can be found in areas such as the development of deprived housing estates. “Karin Backvall’s study deals with how we talk about neighbourhoods that are considered to have problems – what we call stigmatisation. This is something that municipal planners are well aware of and try to deal with on a daily basis. How should we formulate the challenges without making the problems worse? This is the subject of some fairly sophisticated social science theories while being a difficult issue in practice for the municipality.” Research can also help when it comes to evaluating the long-term impact of home building and political decisions, effects that

Strategic partnership

• Sustainable community building is one specific focus area during the agreement period. This may include research collaborations, training, staff mobility and skills provision. • It is calculated that the population of Uppsala Municipality will grow by as many as 100,000 people over the coming decades. The municipality has stated goals of being fossil-free by 2030 and climate positive by 2050 and has also set targets for social and economic sustainability. There are therefore major challenges to be met in areas such as climate adaptation, integration, skills provision, transport, construction, energy, digitalisation and foodstuffs.


PHOTO: MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

Sustainable cities

Now, a sustainable future for historic buildings Can an ordinary house from the mid-20th century be a bearer of cultural values? And how do we protect a Renaissance palace without consuming unreasonable amounts of energy? Researchers from a range of disciplines are coming together to create improved conditions for energy efficiency in culturally valuable buildings.

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PHOTO: MAT TON

IN SWEDEN, bisected by the Arctic Circle and thus encompassing Arctic areas, protecting culturally valuable buildings plus efficient energy use is a complicated equation to balance. Many churches and stately homes are left unheated during the winter months, often resulting in severe interior damage. With regard to more modern structures, it is estimated that one in three single-family homes suffer from problems such as damp and mould. This represents a formidable challenge for policy makers and property owners and since 2008 Uppsala University and the Swedish Energy Agency have been leading the interdisciplinary research programme Save and Preserve. “Our ambition is to provide the necessary knowledge and recommendations to ensure that the management of valuable buildings

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contributes to meeting policy objectives for both cultural heritage and energy consumption. From initially focusing on the country’s relatively few protected monumental buildings, over the years we have widened our remit to include a much higher percentage of existing building stock and even area analyses,” says Tor Broström, Professor of Conservation and the project’s scientific coordinator. UNLIKE PREVIOUS INITIATIVES aimed at either conservation or energy aspects, Save and Preserve represents an interdisciplinary arena uniting the humanities, social sciences, engineering and natural sciences. This meeting creates new perspectives and space in which to sort and weigh up various scenarios for the development of building stock. It also provides a forum for

discussion on what should actually be considered to be of cultural value. “This is a relevant question that is far from easy to answer. According to the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, buildings predating the 1920s should generally be viewed as of particular value. That said, there is no exact age limit, rather it appears to be a generational issue; for example, many younger people espouse the architectural importance of relatively modern buildings. The basic principles of energy efficiency are however the same regardless of the building’s age, so the most important thing is that we have a constructive dialogue with clear synergies between saving and preserving.” ONE OF THE common threads running through the research programme is to


PHOTO: MAT TON

Sustainable cities

In Sweden new knowledge has led to dehumidification becoming quickly established as a sustainable method for maintaining older churches.

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Tor Broström, Professor of Conservation.

Save and Preserve

PHOTO: LINNEA RONSTRÖM

• is a research and development programme initiated by the Swedish Energy Agency to increase knowledge of energy efficiency in historically valuable buildings;

provide policy support rather than answers: what needs to be considered before a renovation, what skills are demanded and what might be reasonable goals? One stated ambition is to make the decision process easier and work has already begun on a number of concrete measures. Beyond Sweden’s borders, researchers from the programme have formulated new European guidelines for improving energy efficiency in historic buildings in collaboration with the European Committee for Standardisation. In Sweden itself, new knowledge has led to dehumidification becoming quickly established as a sustainable method for maintaining older churches. “Without doubt, we are working in an international field; among other things, we have hosted a guest researcher from Cai-

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ro who is currently applying our results in Egypt. We recently accepted an offer to participate in a European collaboration tasked with implementing smart climate control in the rebuilding of Notre Dame. And in the next phase of Save and Preserve, we will be working with researchers in Norway and Germany to develop new methods for climate control and impact assessments.” IN THIS FOURTH stage of the research programme, the Swedish Energy Agency has approved grants of SEK 50 million to be shared between a number of projects. Several of these initiatives will be conducted in collaborations between academia, the private sector, institutes and public authorities. Once again, the emphasis will be on more contemporary buildings and a study will be conducted

• aims to develop and convey knowledge and technological solutions that contribute to energy efficiency in these buildings without destroying or distorting their qualities or fixtures and fittings; and • is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency and coordinated by Uppsala University.

to survey single-family homes built up to and including the 1970s, with regard to their construction, renovation and protection against distortion. “Homeowners generally make small changes when maintaining their properties; so, based on the development since the oil crisis of the 1970s until today, we will conduct a project to prepare packages of careful energy efficiency measures for various types of single-family homes – something that we hope will make a significant contribution to implementing Sweden’s integrated national energy and climate plan,” says Broström. 

– Magnus Alsne

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Super computers in the service of the scientific community 30


Computer traffic

As the production of research data increases, demands on national computer centres are escalating. New user groups are streaming to the Uppsala Multidisciplinary Centre for Advanced Computational Science (UPPMAX) from fields such as political science, economics and, not least, pharmaceutical science. text ANNELI BJÖRKMAN photo MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

T THE NOISE STRIKES you as soon as you

enter the computer centre in the basement of the Ångström Laboratory. That and the cold. This is because of fans running around the clock; otherwise, there would be a risk of computers and networks overheating and research data being lost. Servers stand in rows in the 100-squaremetre space, all linked in networks. Inside the supercomputers’ processors, 20,000 computational cores are working to perform advanced calculations for over 1,200 users at Uppsala University and other Swedish higher education institutions. The storage system containing all of the research data in UPPMAX has a capacity in excess of 23,000 terabytes and consumes an average of 350 kilowatts. UPPMAX is one of six national centres within the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), the combined energy consumption of which is equivalent to heating 1,000 Swedish houses using electricity.

In the computer centre the fans are running around the clock; otherwise, there would be a risk of computers and networks overheating and research data being lost.

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Computer traffic THE ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION at UPP-

MAX has remained stable over the past four years, despite a quadrupling of computing and storage capacity. This is due to the more efficient and larger systems installed to meet growing demand for data processing. “Research needs have become more extensive and almost all research now requires computing resources of a completely different order than have traditionally been available,” says Ingela Nyström, chair of the board of SNIC, who adds that competition for capacity to process research data at computer centres will only increase. This is particularly true as these centres provide researchers with several levels of user support. “Given the current crisis, we have ensured that research into COVID-19 has slight priority to our resources,” says Hans Karlsson, Director of the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC). If that wasn’t enough, new user groups are constantly being added, many of whom are looking for sufficient resources to be able to quickly obtain new answers so that they can move on with their research. In this regard, as Carl Nettelblad, technical coordinator at UPPMAX, says: “We are already finding it challenging to support these two user groups – those conducting very large-scale computations and those with less extensive requirements but who demand rapid, interactive flows.” PREVIOUSLY, ASSIGNMENTS have primarily come from researchers in the fields of physics, chemistry and fluid mechanics; however, data analysis is increasingly in demand in digital humanities such as political science, economics and philosophy. In addition, according to Hans Karlsson, the explosion in demand for computation in life sciences has pushed the issue of long-term funding to the top of the agenda. “During the coming year, a government inquiry will be looking at the organisation, governance and financing of national research infrastructure. We hope that this will give due consideration to the new, broader need for data processing. This is a matter of modernising computers, increasing storage capacity and providing training and support to both new and existing users.”

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“Given the current crisis, we have ensured that research into COVID-19 has slight priority to our resources.”

The storage system containing all of the research data in UPPMAX has a capacity in excess of 23,000 terabytes and consumes an average of 350 kilowatts.

UPPMAX ALSO HOSTS SNIC-SENS, a project that provides secure storage and processing of sensitive personal data (such as human genomic data) to the research community. In conjunction with the pandemic outbreak in spring 2020, UPPMAX contributed unutilised computational capacity to the international research project Folding@home. The computer centre’s supercomputers analysed proteins on the cell surface of the COVID-19 virus. Simulations were run in the hope of identifying possible candidate drugs for the treatment of infected patients. In another project, involving Lynn Kamerlin’s Uppsala University research group among others, mathematical models were developed to show how COVID-19 might spread in the Swedish population depending on the implementation of various types of measures. “UPPMAX WAS ONE of four SNIC computer centres used for computations involving over 10 million people,” says Elisabeth Larsson, Director of UPPMAX, who adds: “Our high-performance computing systems can play a crucial role in understanding COVID-19 and we will continue

From the left: Ingela Nyström, Hans Karlsson, Lars-Owe Ivarsson, Elisabeth Larsson and Carl Nettelblad.

to ensure resources for projects related to the virus.” Operationally, UPPMAX has coped well with this spring’s challenges without any serious disruption to systems. “This is pleasing given just how many researchers are affected by the smooth running of our facility,” says Larsson. 


Computer traffic

Voluntary measures were very effective Voluntary measures to reduce the spread of infection have been crucial in limiting the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 in Sweden. These are the findings of a study in which researchers have used a model loaded with extensive information about Sweden’s population. Different countries have used varying strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19, and in international comparisons Sweden has stood out as a country with relatively moderate restrictions. Since the country’s strategy to limit the spread of the infection is largely based on recommendations from authorities, many people expected a large number of deaths in Sweden. But this worst-case scenario has not come to pass. Researchers at Uppsala University have used a computer model to explain why. “When we initially modelled the effect of the restrictions from the Swedish Public Health Agency, we expected many more deaths and hospitalisations than actually occurred. We can conclude that many people in Sweden have taken voluntary measures to limit the spread of the infection. These individual efforts have had a large effect and fundamentally changed the course of the pandemic in Sweden,” says Peter Kasson, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Uppsala University. Together with Lynn Kamerlin, Professor at the Department of Chemistry, he has used a computer model that takes every

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individual in Sweden into account to simulate how the disease spreads from person to person depending on individual social behaviour. This model predicted that the mandatory restrictions from the Public Health Agency alone would have little effect on the spread of the infection and lead to an overwhelmed health system. However, this did not turn out to be the case for Sweden. When the model was adjusted to consider voluntary measures, the forecast aligned better with reality. To create a more accurate model that can explain a course of events is valuable even after the fact. It can be a tool in comparisons, analyses and reflections on what worked well and what could have been done differently. “We see that significant individual measures can work almost as well as an extensive shutdown of society, if a large percentage of the population adopts such measures. Studies of the movement patterns of Swedes in the last few months indicate that at least a third of the population reduced its exposure to the virus at workplaces and in other social situations. This has had a large impact on the course of events,” says Kamerlin.

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The Coronavirus

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Researchers gather around COVID-19 text ANNICA HULTH photo MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

“Scientists are a fantastic resource and many are keen to help,” says Siv Andersson, Professor of Molecular Evolution and co-director of national research centre SciLifeLab, who has been involved in allocating funds to 67 different projects across Sweden related to the coronavirus and COVID-19. U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y M AG A Z I N E

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The Coronavirus

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DURING SPRING 2020, SciLifeLab redi-

rected its organisation to focus on the new coronavirus and COVID-19. As Siv Andersson tells us, the need for urgent action was already apparent in March, when she was invited to a board meeting of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation to give a presentation on the current state of knowledge about the coronavirus: “The board was considering whether to intervene in the emergency. A week later, the Foundation returned with an offer, stating that it was prepared to fund coronavirus testing via SciLifeLab.” A laboratory was set up relatively quickly at Karolinska Institutet under the direction of Lars Engstrand to test for infection in real time. THE WALLENBERG FOUNDATION invest-

ed a total of SEK 50 million to be distributed to various research projects. There was considerable interest among researchers, as Andersson explains: “We received almost 300 applications to a call that was only open for six days. In the first phase, we primarily approved grants for the development of technology and testing methods, including antibody tests.” After the first decision on grants was reached on 8 April, the management group examined the applications in more detail, dividing them into a dozen or so fields and appointing experts to examine applications in their own field. In Johan Lennerthe end, a total of 67 apstrand, Associate plications were grantProfessor of Clinical Microbiology. ed, a quarter of which

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came from Uppsala University and a quarter from Karolinska Institutet. The remainder were from universities across Sweden. ACCORDING TO ANDERSSON , the enor-

mous interest can in part be explained by the fact that many researchers were able to adjust their research to focus on the coronavirus: “This might be anything from developing new methods for tracing the virus or testing for antibodies to studies of viral sequence evolution or the immune system, or drug development research and how to trace the spread of the virus in the environment from water treatment plants. “Then we have biobanks, where we have particularly invested in Huddinge as well as other universities that collect samples we believe will prove valuable for many years to come.” SciLifeLab is also in the process of constructing a COVID-19 portal through which research data can be disseminated and channelled to a European data portal. MANY PAPERS HAVE already been pub-

lished thanks to an accelerated working method, making results available to other researchers. “This is the only way to work in such a crisis. That said, it does mean that the research is not quality assured, rather we are in the midst of the research process. As a researcher, one is only too aware that this may be somewhat confusing to the public. What is fact and what is a research conclusion that may not be one hundred per cent reviewed and critiqued?” says Andersson. As a member of the Management Group at SciLifeLab, Professor Andersson has found herself at the centre of events – her days filled with meetings, discussions and coordination. “It has certainly been different and unlike anything else I have done in my 40 years as a researcher. We have adopted a completely different way of working, while at the same time we have been under intense media scrutiny.” ONE OF THE RESEARCH groups that re-

directed its efforts during spring 2019 is the Zoonosis Science Center (ZSC) at the Uppsala Biomedical Centre, under the leadership of Professor of Virology Åke Lund-

During the spring, funds were allocated to 67 different projects across Sweden related to the coronavirus and COVID-19.

kvist, where intensive research is underway to develop effective drugs to combat the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. “We want to develop antiviral drugs that attack various targets in the virus. There will be a need for multiple effective drugs, ideally ones that can be easily taken in tablet form,” says Johan Lennerstrand, Associate Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the Department of Medical Sciences, whose research group has focused on developing an inhibitor for a unique enzyme, the virus’s main protease, found in the virus but not in human cells. “Such protease inhibitors have previously proven successful in the treatment of HIV and Hepatitis C,” says Lennerstrand, who has spent 20 years of his career researching HIV drugs and the past 10 years researching drugs to combat Hepatitis C. WITH THE ASSISTANCE of colleagues at

Oxford University and Karolinska Institutet, the group has been able to obtain SARS-


Kulturarv

CoV-2 in pure form. Initially, the research is being conducted on SciLifeLab’s Drug Discovery and Development Platform, where they can utilise virtual screening in combination with the vast substance libraries held at SciLifeLab. Lennerstrand is confident that they will find several interesting matches between the enzyme and various substances. They will then carry on working with the most promising results in collaboration with Anja Sandström, a researcher at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, who has a wealth of experience in developing protease inhibitors against Hepatitis C and HIV. “Once we have identified a few initial candidates using chemical synthesis we will test for toxicity, partly using enzymatic tests and partly in our biosafety laboratory here at ZSC,” explains Lennerstrand. “Perhaps we can contribute one piece to the puzzle together with many other researchers doing the same thing internationally. We are developing points of departure for drugs.”

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ONE IMPORTANT ISSUE for researchers is to

map the spread of infection in Sweden. This is the aim of the COVID Symptom Study project, which is simultaneously studying risk factors for serious illness. The project, which is based on a mobile app to which users log in each day to state whether they have any symptoms, is being run in a collaboration between Lund University and Uppsala University. The app was launched on 29 April and by the end of August it had gathered data from over 188,500 adult volunteers in Sweden. “While registering symptoms using the app is a cost-effective method of monitoring the development of the disease, it needs to be combined with other data sources. Based on the symptoms the users report, we calculate the percentage of sick residents in each postcode in Sweden,” explains Professor Tove Fall of the Department of Medical Sciences, who is leading the research at Uppsala University.

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The Coronavirus We hope that the results will contribute to an even better use of symptom data; for example, in the government’s efforts to check new major outbreaks. THE APP WAS de-

veloped in the United Kingdom by ZOE Global Ltd in collaboration with researchers at King’s College London and Guy’s and St Tove Fall, Professor Thomas’s Hospitals in at the Department London. In addition to of Medical Sciences. the United Kingdom and Sweden, the app has also been launched in the United States. During July, the app was used by a combined total of over four million people in the three countries. Data collection will continue for as long as COVID-19 infections are reported in Sweden. “We hope that the results will contribute to an even better use of symptom data; for example, in the government’s efforts to check new major outbreaks. Through the research project we will also learn more about when symptom registration data is likely to work well or less well, which will be of immense help in future COVID-19 research, as well as when we want to study other types of diseases,” says Fall. MENTAL HEALTH IN different countries

is also currently being surveyed. Professor Karin Brocki of Uppsala University’s Department of Psychology is studying the psychological effects of the pandemic. Her initial findings show higher levels of mental illness in the Swedish population Karin Brocki, during the COVID-19 Professor at the pandemic compared Department of Psychology. to public health data

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“It has certainly been different and unlike anything else I have done in my 40 years as a researcher,” says Siv Andersson, Co-Director of SciLifeLab.

collected in 2018 and similar studies prior to the pandemic; this despite Sweden adopting a more liberal approach and lighter restrictions to prevent the spread of infection than many other countries. “We identified clinically significant levels of depression (30%), anxiety (24%) and sleep disorders (38%), figures that are comparable with the levels of mental illness reported in psychological studies conducted in China and Italy during the pandemic,” says Brocki. “While there are certainly differences in methodological aspects, phases of the pandemic and recruitment strategies, we can see that the mental health of a significant percentage of people in all surveyed countries appears to have been adversely affected.” Over 1,500 people between the ages of 18 and 88 participated in the online survey so that researchers can map which groups are most affected.

“One interesting factor is psychological flexibility – the ability to cope with whatever your current circumstances might be. Our results demonstrate that this is a protective factor but that low psychological flexibility is also a vulnerability factor for mental illness. This is an attribute that can be trained and that responds to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT),” says Brocki. Another study is looking at how children and their families are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions. This is an international collaboration initiated by Cambridge University in England. The study will be conducted in a total of seven countries: the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. AS CO -DIRECTOR OF SciLifeLab, Siv An-

dersson has been closely following the intensive events of recent months. She finds


Hello there The Coronavirus

They are developing methods for assessing immunity ULF LANDEGREN, Professor of Molecular Medicine at Uppsala University, whose research group is developing a new method for large-scale analysis of coronavirus immunity and evaluation of potential vaccines.

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project has been impacted by the difficulties inherent in operating during the pandemic. As always in research, it is therefore difficult to predict an approximate timeframe.” Do you see a risk that the ongoing crisis will drive researchers to rush their work? “Right now there is an enormous demand for available data and clearly some papers are being published without undergoing the usual scientific scrutiny. That said, we are in an extreme situation in which the shortest possible route from research to publication is likely to benefit society. Such haste carries the risk that many people will be simultaneously attacking identical issues in an uncoordinated manner, which makes SciLifeLab’s coordinating role crucial to the work we are conducting in Sweden.”

PHOTO: MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

it interesting to see how during the crisis the role of researchers has evolved into active and truly beneficial involvement; for example, performing tests. It was far from obvious that researchers would be involved in mass testing and initially this was questioned. “It can be very difficult to cross boundaries. Scientists are a fantastic resource and many of them are keen to help; however, at first society was not really prepared to utilise that resource.” She has even been asked whether there is a need for so much research in Sweden when so much is being conducted in other countries. “My usual response is that, if we are to critically evaluate and question the research conducted in other countries, we need to have researchers who are sufficiently conversant to understand it.” 

What’s going on in the laboratory? “We are developing a variation on one of our established tools for identifying target proteins. The project is one of several life science initiatives currently being coordinated by SciLifeLab in order to improve the effectiveness of the fight against the coronavirus.” What benefits will your work have for healthcare? “Society is faced with an enormous challenge and research into the coronavirus is being conducted all over the world, making it a challenge to contribute anything unique. That said, we are hoping to do our bit by creating a new method for large-scale analysis of who is carrying antibodies and is therefore immune to the virus, while simultaneously measuring other immune responses that might have an impact on the prognosis for individual patients. Should we succeed with our specific approach of beginning with self-testing by patients at home, the tests may prove indicative of the kind of care patients need.” When will you be able to present a result? “This is a prioritised assignment and we have now begun analysing patient samples on a smaller scale. To a certain extent, the

Ulf Landegren, Professor of Molecular Medicine at Uppsala University.

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University life

Not for

just Behind the University Library, a historic sport is being coached. Students have been fencing in Uppsala since the seventeenth century – and this spring and summer, training moved outdoors. text ANNICA HULTH photo MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

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the nobs


LATE AFTERNOON IN Carolina

Park. On the gravel between the University Library and the English Park Campus, members of Upsala Fencing Club are training. The theme of today’s training session is running technique and footwork and, as usual during summer 2020, training is taking place outdoors. “We moved all training outside in March due to the corona pandemic. We train a couple of times a week,” says Sofie Larsson, the club’s head coach. After a warm-up involving sprinting, lunges and squats, the group pulls on fencing jackets, masks and gloves. As coach, Larsson is dressed in black, while the others wear white clothing.

LARSSON TOOK UP fencing way back in 1994, at the tender age of nine. She is now a full-time coach. “I enjoy the complexity. A good physique alone doesn’t make a good fencer, nor does a good brain. The technique is difficult; you need tactics but, at the same time, you need to be strong and fast. That’s why all fencers face different challenges, whether that be physical or psychological.” Fencing has been taught at Uppsala University since 1663, when a royal decree required the University to teach the courtly exercises of riding, modern languages, fencing, music, dancing and drawing. This knowledge was deemed beneficial to the noblemen who had begun to stream into the University to prepare for careers as diplomats, army officers or public officials.

ing Club and the University remains the large number of students among its members. “We have approximately 100 members who train with varying frequency. They may attend anything from two to seven or eight sessions a week,” says Mattias Edlund, deputy chair of the club and an alumnus of the University, where he studied languages. “The majority have been fencing since childhood and many remain in Uppsala as they are able to study here. This is an advantage for us and we also see fencers from other parts of the country moving to Uppsala to study.” FENCING IS ABOUT speed, strength, fitness and coordination – but also mentality. It is a constant struggle to bamboozle and outsmart one’s opponent. Fencing demands hard training and a great deal of practice to develop a good technique. Larsson instructs and demonstrates various patterns of movement together with Eriksson. “Look at the tip. The tip should be ahead of the feet! Take short steps, braking from the left knee!”

The group then splits into pairs, taking turns to thrust with épées. Probing, sweeping movements, sudden rapid lunges, a great deal of eye contact and intense interplay; fencing has similarities to dance. FOR LARSSON THIS is a full-

time job, involving a great deal of travelling to competitions in various parts of the world. Unusually, a great deal of her time has been spent on home soil during 2020. She is currently preparing for the Swedish and Nordic Championships. “There’s still a big question mark as to whether there will be any World Cup events or even an Olympics to dream of next season. But we won’t be wasting any time – we’ll be training in the parks of Uppsala.” Fencing may be an individual sport, but training is very much a group activity. “The great thing is that you can train together at different levels. We have various age categories, girls, boys and veterans. All of them can train together,” says Larsson. In 2020, fencing isn’t simply a sport for noblemen preparing for a career. 

“Fencing is about speed, strength, fitness and coordination – but also mentality.”

Sofie took up fencing way back in 1994 at the tender age of nine. She is now a full-time coach.

The theme of today’s training session is running technique and footwork.

TO THIS DAY, there is a fencing

master at Uppsala University, although the present incumbent of the post is currently abroad; however, the strongest link between Upsala Fenc-

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University life

The VR game that takes you to medieval Visby Using a VR helmet, you can try your hand at archery in 14th century Visby. This new VR game has been developed by the game company Disir, which was founded by a game developer and three archaeologists, two of whom are researchers at Uppsala University. THE GAME CONSISTS of five levels with different degrees of difficulty, inside and outside Visby’s town wall. The player draws the bow and shoots arrows using handheld controls. We find ourselves in medieval Visby with its town wall, buildings, marauding soldiers and lots of period-authentic details. Everything is based on research, to provide a correct picture of what it looked like at the time. The game is loosely based on historical events related to Valdemar Atterdag’s invasion in 1361. “The vision was to build up medieval Visby in virtual reality and show what it looked like, both for educational and entertainment purposes,” says John Ljungkvist.

“But additional investments are needed to continue developing the game and for it to become a commercial success,” according to Ljungkvist. Ljungkvist and Daniel Löwenborg are researchers at the Department of Archaeology at Uppsala University. In connection with a research project in Old Uppsala, they began researching different digital solutions for visualising history. “It grew out of research on Old Uppsala, where John had led an archaeological dig and I had worked with digital solutions in archaeology, like GIS (geographic information system) and compiling data. From the start, it was about both expanding our understanding and communicating our interpretation of history,” says Löwenborg.

WHEN THEY STARTED the company, they

were three archaeologists and a game developer, who does lots of the work. They developed a mobile app to visualise the burial grounds in Old Uppsala in the Viking Age. Using augmented reality (AR) technology, the app shows on the user’s phone what a place may have looked like at some time in history. A VR version was later developed that can be used by museum visitors. The company has also developed an AR platform for five historical destinations in Uppsala. The archery game is their first game, and it has allowed them to take another step in bringing history to life. “Here it is less about facts and knowledge and more about communicating a sense of immersing yourself in history and integrating with it,” says Löwenborg. – Annica Hulth

AN EARLY VERSION of the game was tested

at Visby’s Medieval Festival in August last year and the final version was demoed at a medieval Christmas event in Visby at the end of the year. The game is now available to buy on the net.

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John Ljungkvist draws his bow in a virtual Visby.


PHOTO: MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

Column University life

The Ten Equations you need to know… Maths is often seen in terms of a lonely genius trying to answer a difficult obscure riddle. For me, maths has never been like that. In my research at Uppsala University I have used maths to model everything – from ant trails and fish schools, to racial segregation in schools and epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa, to football and gambling. These studies have taught me that maths has a softer side. It is about working together with biologists and social scientists. It is about seeing biology, society and sports in a different, deeper way. It is about cooperation and teamwork. It is also very much about describing things which are everyday and part of all our lives. I decided to take some of the techniques I have used at work and think about how you might apply them in your life. The answer comes in the form of The Ten Equations that I believe everyone needs to know about. Maths can be used to think about whether you should give

up (or stick with) a romantic relationship. It helps you deal with feelings of insecurity that arise when you compare yourself to others. It provides ways of coping with the vast flood of information from social media and deciding how long your kids should be allowed to spend on their phones. It can even help you binge on Netflix series without a fear of missing out on something better. One of the situations I describe in The Ten Equations that Rule the World: And How You Can Use Them Too concerns Jess, who is unsure if she should quit her job at a human rights organisation. Her boss is horrible, but the job is for a worthwhile cause.

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Jess starts using a star-based system, similar to that used on Tripadvisor, to rank each day with between 0 and 5 stars. After a few months, she uses the third equation of the Ten, the confidence equation, to decide whether or not her 2.1 (± 0.1) star job is worth the hassle. Jess’s situation is fictional, but her story illustrates how easy it is to use an equation (in this case the confidence interval) to make life-changing decisions. No advanced mathematical expertise required. The book was written before the current crisis. A crisis in which numbers have played an important role.

For me, the spread of COVID-19 and the changes it has brought to society has reinforced the power of the Ten Equations. The equations can be used to navigate new challenges as they come up. You can use the judgement equation to assess your personal risk from the coronavirus or use the influencer equation to understand why viruses spread so fast. Maths can model an epidemic but, as I find when I look at the morality of mathematics with the help of the universal equation, I also find that maths can’t be used to put a numerical value on any person’s life. Maths is about learning the right way to solve new problems as they come up, rather than about having all the correct answers ready in advance. Maths when used properly is about approaching life carefully and considerately. It is a soft approach. This is the approach I take in my research, in my teaching and in my writing. It is also an approach I try to take in living my own life. – David Sumpter

i New book The Ten Equations that Rule the World: And How You Can Use Them Too by David Sumpter, Professor at the Department of Information Technology, Allen Lane, 2020

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University life

ILLUSTRATION: JOHAN GÖRANSSON

A runestone’s fate and adventures

In University Park, Uppsala, there are a number of Viking-era runestones, all originating from Uppland – by far Sweden’s runestone-richest province with close to 1,300 inscriptions – and all with their own story to tell. Perhaps one of them in particular? This is the story of the special Örby Stone’s fate and adventures from the Viking era to the present day. 44

T


i The Örby Stone

T

THE STONE WAS originally

erected in the eleventh century by a man named Vigmund in Örby in the parish of Rasbo east of Uppsala. According to the inscription, he was a ship’s captain who, together with his wife Åfrid, commissioned the stone to commemorate himself. It also states that, in his own estimation, he was “the most skilful of people”. Here the stone stood beside the road for several centuries until, one day in 1628, it was shipped from Örby to the garden of the linguist and historian Olof Verelius on Övre Slottsgatan in Uppsala, to be used in his teaching. ON VERELIUS’S DEATH in

1682, the famous Uppsala resident Olof Celsius had the stone moved to his own garden on Östra Ågatan. Olof Celsius the elder – who was related to the famous inventor of the temperature scale, Anders Celsius – was a versatile fellow. He was professor, successively, of Greek, Oriental languages and theology. Finally, in 1736, he became dean of the cathedral. Apparently, his interests also stretched to runestones. The Örby Stone was joined in his garden by two more runestones from Uppland.

2

International Exposition of 1867 held on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. Anonymous – Le Monde illustré 1867. Public Domain

other stones from Olof Celsius’s garden proved to be a great success among the nearly one million visitors to the exposition, where they were awarded a bronze medal.

Örby Stone could now be safely and securely shipped back to Uppsala, where it was placed in the Linnaeus Garden on Svartbäcksgatan.

WHEN THE INTERNATIONAL Ex-

Örby Stone was reunited with its two fellow runestones from the Paris exposition when, together with six others, they were erected in the University Park in front of Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum, where they can still be viewed today. 

position closed, the runestones were to be returned home to Uppsala by boat from Le Havre on the French coast; however, while being loaded on board, the heavy Örby stone plunged into the water. Recovery was deemed impossible and instead Uppsala University claimed 200 kronor on its insurance policy and the stone was left in the murky depths of the French harbour.

IT WAS NOT UNTIL 1949 that the

– Anna Malmberg

• The stone was carved in the eleventh century. Both sides are marked with a cross, dating the stone to the late Viking era. The runes on the stone’s right-hand side are reversed. • Inscription, standardised to Runic Swedish: “Vigmundr let haggva stæin at sik sialfan, sløgiastr manna. Guð hialpi sial Vigmunda styrimanns. Vigmundr ok Afriðr hioggu mærki at kvikvan sik” • English translation: “Vigmund had this stone carved in commemoration of himself, the most skilful of people. God save the soul of the ship’s captain Vigmund. Vigmund and Åfrid carved this memorial while he lived.” Source: The strange story of the Örby Stone can be read in the book Runestones: a colourful memory.

3

BUT THAT WAS not the end of

the Örby Stone’s story. Some 30 years later in the 1890s, when the harbour of Le Havre was being dredged, an excavator fished up a large stone covered with ‘strange’ symbols. The salvaged 1

THERE THEY ALL remained until

1867 when they were lent to the Paris International Exposition. The Örby Stone and the two

Olof Celsius the elder.

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The runestone in front of the orangery in the Linnaeus Garden, home of the Museum of Nordic Prehistory during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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And finally IMAGE: PE TEKNIK & ARKITEKTUR

Illustration showing what the pendulum will look like.

“It’s important to bear in mind that students are individuals with a life outside the classroom, just like us. When I look around the classroom, I generally remind myself that everyone in the room is better than me at something.” Christine Mackay Tircomnicu, lecturer at the Department of English, who was awarded the 2020 Free Distinguished Teaching Award on the theme of feedback to students.

“A magical contraption” The Ångström Laboratory will soon have a new attraction in one of the buildings currently under construction on campus: Foucault’s pendulum. This installation has been made possible by a private donation by Johan Tysk, Vice-Rector of the Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology.

77 46

“I have always been fascinated by Foucault’s pendulum. It is a magical contraption that makes us feel part of something greater,” says Tysk. The pendulum consists of a heavy bob that swings from a 28-metre-long wire attached to the ceiling. Its movement proves that the earth rotates around its own axis. It is an illustration of

the interplay between science and technology. The pendulum is named after Jean-BernardLéon Foucault, the French physicist who first demonstrated the experiment in 1851. It will however be some time before we can experience the pendulum in the Ångström Laboratory, as the building will not be completed until 2022.

50,000 admissions An unusually large number of students were admitted to Uppsala University in the autumn of 2020. In all, almost 50,000 admissions were made to the nearly 140 programmes and more than 2,000 courses. That is 4,000 more admissions than in the autumn of 2019.

77th, that is Uppsala University’s place in the new ranking of world universities recently published

by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. The 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) ranks Uppsala University in 77th place in the top 100 list, the third highest ranking among Swedish universities after Karolinska Institutet in 45th place and Stockholm University in 69th.


Image And finally

PHOTO: MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT

Art cabinet in safe keeping

The Art Cabinet holds about 1000 different pieces.

The Augsburg Art Cabinet, which arrived in Sweden in 1633, is the University’s most highly valued art object. When Uppsala University Museum Gustavianum began its renovation in November 2019, the famous cabinet was dismantled, packed up and placed in safe keeping. The various pieces of the cabinet are being stored in a secret location while the renovation is ongoing. It is expected that the

Augsburg Art Cabinet will be back at Gustavianum in 2022. The cabinet was a gift to King Gustav II Adolf from the free city of Augsburg in Germany. The art cabinet contains some 1,000 artefacts, including a birdcage, a strip of human skin, board games of various kinds and a mummified claw.

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Art manager Mattias Terras (in the foreground) and curator Anna Hamberg.


For four centuries, Uppsala University Library has played a central role in disseminating knowledge, within both the University and society at large. The library’s collections contain everything from thousand-year-old manuscripts, early printed works and images to scientific publications.

These cultural treasures are an enormous boon for researchers, students and curious visitors alike, presenting an opportunity to explore our past, understand our present and gaze into our future. Prior to the University Library’s quadricentennial in 2021, a new exhibition space has been prepared in Carolina Rediviva to make our cultural collections accessible to more people. The exhibition presents a sample of delights from the

collections – including the worldfamous Codex Argenteus, or Silver Bible. Through the exhibition, one can follow the development of writing over the millennia, the emergence of the printed word and how scientific discoveries came to be disseminated in print. This special anniversary exhibition also examines the library’s changing milieu – from damp premises in Uppsala Cathedral some 400 years ago to today’s physical and digital environments.

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PHOTO: MAGNUS HJALMARSSON

A wealth of knowledge for all