Sabbatical good for the entire research team

Anna Godhe considers the greatest benefit of her sabbatical in the USA was the opportunity to focus completely on research and experience a world-leading research environment.

The School of Oceanography at the University of Washington is a world leader in research on diatoms, so when Godhe applied for a sabbatical, choosing where to carry out the sabbatical was not difficult. Her application accepted, in 2015 she took her husband and ten-year-old daughter with her to Seattle for four months.

“It was hard to apply for a place at a school because it took us a while to find a place to live.” But as soon as they had arranged housing, the school issue resolved itself as well. “Since I have done quite a bit of research in India, my daughter is used to tagging along. She’s adaptable.”

Anna Godhe, professor of marine ecology, conducts research in phytoplankton ecology. Diatoms divide by cloning — that is, asexually — but occasionally they reproduce sexually. Godhe had free access to the laboratory in Seattle, so she was able to perform lab experiments in which she could focus on the reproductive processes. She could also test their protocol for DNA extraction, something very helpful since there had been some problems with that back home. This allowed her to refine her tools.

She brought DNA data to Seattle from diatoms of varying ages. Godhe is interested in looking at genetic differences over time, from a hundred years ago up to the present. When she arrived, she received valuable support in her work with these analyses. The lab in Seattle included a skilled data analyst and highly competent bioinformatics specialists. There were also four technicians who had worked there for a long time.

“Having such a base is a fantastic support for research. My sabbatical benefited not only me, but my entire research team. We were able to link up bioinformatics specialists here in Gothenburg with others in Seattle. And having been able to get help from a data analyst was also incredibly valuable.”

Godhe remains in frequent communication with her colleagues in Seattle, exchanging thoughts and ideas.

Sabbatical programme

Since 2013, the Faculty of Science has had a sabbatical programme for permanently-employed
teaching staff and researchers. The focus is on development and renewal of research efforts.
Financial support is awarded to allow full-time research for up to six months on any topic the
researcher prefers and in an international environment.