Lunds universitet i Science Village

Lunds universitets etablering i Science Village

Per Mickwitz: “Outdated facilities pave the way for Science Village, but well-thought-out planning is crucial”

Guest blog entry by Per Mickwitz, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Sustainability, and Campus Development.

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Picture from the tour at the Department of Physics. From left: Joachim Schnadt, Head of the Department of Physics, Per Eng-Johnsson, Director of Lund Laser Centre, Per Mickwitz, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Knut Deppert, Professor Aerosol Physics, and Erik Swietlicki, Professor Nuclear Physics. Image: E. Lytken

I had the privilege of joining two exciting tours in the early autumn, visiting both the Department of Chemistry and Physics. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to explore these captivating environments, complete with labs, lecture halls, and offices. As the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Sustainability, and Campus Development, it is invigorating to visit different parts of the campus and witness how operations are conducted. These tours also underscored why our establishment in Science Village is so essential.

The tours not only provided me with a wealth of new information but also many moments of laughter and shared experiences with my colleagues in chemistry and physics, as well as the project team for the Science Village establishment. We also had participants from SVS AB join us during the tour of the Department of Chemistry.

Regarding the tours, they were highly educational. What truly surprised me was how central fume hoods were to the social life at the Department of Chemistry. The PhD students I spoke with revealed that they spend a significant portion of their work time at these fume hoods, which turned out to be the epicenter of social interaction. They meet their lab neighbors and discuss science over a cup of coffee, or in this case, a chemical solution.

A doctoral student at one of the many fume hoods located in the Department of Chemistry. Students and researchers devote a significant portion of their time working at these fume hoods. Image: C. Turner

Another insight that became clearer during this visit was the importance of logistics. Carefully planning how the facilities will be used before construction begins is crucial. While I’m not an expert in lab building and planning, it was evident that well-thought-out new buildings can significantly simplify the lives of both researchers and technical staff. In Science Village, logistics can be much improved compared to what is currently available at the Department of Chemistry today.

Technical expertise from the departments crucial

During my visit to the Department of Physics, I learned about the impact of vibrations on experiments. Minimizing vibrations is essential when constructing labs and experimental facilities. This is something we must consider when planning Lund University’s Science Village establishment. This insight emphasizes the need to involve employees with specialized expertise in creating a functional premises programme. Those who have worked in this field for many years know their microscopes, lasers, and other equipment inside and out. Their insights are invaluable in meeting the specific needs of the departments within Science Village. It was, therefore, particularly pleasing to hear that the project team has initiated a network that brings together technical expertise from both departments to regularly discuss these issues. The first meeting had an impressive turnout of 30 participants!

The discussion about random and planned meetings was also fascinating. Students, teachers, and researchers need places to meet and converse. Where else can they discuss the latest discovery or plan the next experiment? Finding ways for all employees and students to meet in Science Village will be a central focus for the project team to further investigate and incorporate into the premises programme.

Creating an attractive campus

An inspiring and practical study environment that offers a variety of study spaces, teaching and lab facilities, as well as affordable restaurants and cafes, are additional key factors in creating an appealing campus where students thrive. This was a point that arose in discussions with the students I met during the tours.

In summary, these visits opened my eyes to the challenges and opportunities that await us with the Science Village establishment. The facilities we have today are far from optimal, even though it is possible to conduct research that could result in a Nobel Prize in them. If we can harness the competence and insights that our departments possess and combine them with the expertise at LU Byggnad, I am confident that Science Village will create the best conditions for future research.

So, thank you to the Department of Chemistry and Physics for opening your doors and sharing your laughter and insights with me. It was a memorable tour that I will carry with me for a long time, and I look forward with excitement to what lies ahead in our collective journey toward Science Village.

Guest blog by Pro Vice-Chancellor Per Mickwitz, for Research, Sustainability, and Campus Development.