Enzyme researcher joins Young Academy of Sweden

Chalmers University of Technology

​Johan Larsbrink, Associate Professor in molecular enzymology at Chalmers, is elected one of eight new members of the Young Academy of Sweden.

​”It feels great and I am honored to have been elected. I see it as a possibility to influence the conditions for young researchers in Sweden. It is also a good opportunity to get to know other researchers around the country from completely different research areas,” says Johan Larsbrink.

The Young Academy of Sweden​ (YAS) is an independent academy which bring young researchers together and provides a platform to influence current and future research policy and create new, and unexpected, interdisciplinary collaborations. YAS also aims to spread knowledge and influence society at large. Among other things, the academy’s work is focused on inspiring and educating children and young people.

“Like all members of YAS, I will contribute with my own experiences and perspectives. The academy is very dynamic, so there are good opportunities to spark new ideas,” says Johan Larsbrink.

Enzymes that degrade biomass and dietary fiber

His research at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering is about enzymes that various microorganisms use to break down biomass and use it as nutrition. Biomass degradation is an important step in the production of biofuels. Increased understanding of these enzymes can provide more efficient processes and more sustainable fuel production.

Johan Larsbrink’s research group also study gut bacteria that break down dietary fiber, in order to give a better understanding in how different diets benefit different species in the gut. Some of the enzymes studied could also be used as antimicrobials, by breaking down the protective barriers surrounding harmful microorganisms.

Look forward to interdisciplinary collaborations

The members of YAS are elected for five years and there are currently 38 members in the academy.

“We take huge pleasure in welcoming new members, the number of applicants this year was record high. We look forward to unleashing our energy on new activities together,” says chair Sebastian Westenhoff in a press release from YAS.

“With the number of applicants, it of course feels very special to have been elected. I applied because I have heard of many positive things about YAS. I now look forward to working with committed people at a similar stage in their careers – but from different research fields,” says Johan Larsbrink.

Focus on researchers’ conditions and transparent supervision

On his agenda is, among other things, the different conditions for researcher at different universities. For example, the proportion of research grants that can fund the research project and what amount that must cover other costs at the university .

“I also think it is important that we strive for a better and more transparent follow-up of supervision, which is typically a very important part of the doctoral education,” says Johan Larsbrink, who was named Researcher Supervisor of the Year at Chalmers 2019.

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Text: Susanne Nilsson Lindh

Photo: Martina Butorac

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