On November 28, the Research Council of Lithuania announced the results of the competition of applications for world-class research projects. Four projects submitted by Klaipėda University won € 2,36 mln grants. Two projects belong to the category of scientific research of world-class research groups, and the other two, to the category of development of scientific excellence of scientists, other researchers, and students through practical-scientific activity.
The Research Council of Lithuania, in accordance with the Agreement of Implementation of the EU Structural Funds Global Grant Measure with the Republic of Lithuania Ministry of Education and Science, allocated nearly €35 mln for the implementation of the most solid ideas of research groups over the period of 2018-2021. In total, 60 projects of Lithuanian researchers won grants.
The applications were evaluated by foreign experts with experience in assessing applications for European Research Council competitions. The main criteria for project selection were the quality of the project, the viability of the research, and the applicant‘s scientific qualification.
As indicated in the report of the Research Council of Lithuania, ” 23 groups of scientists from Vilnius University and 6 from Kaunas University of Technology won the funding for the projects. Klaipėda and Vytautas Magnus University, as well as the Centre for Physical Sciences and Technology of the National Institute of Scientific Research, will implement 4 projects each.” Klaipėda University got the funding for more projects than Mykolas Romeris University, the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Šiauliai University, or the Lithuanian Sports University.
Projects-winners of Klaipėda University
“We are happy that the scientists of Klaipėda University were recognised by foreign experts and are among the leaders in the context of Lithuanian universities,” said dr. Rita Vaičekauskaitė, KU Vice-Rector for Studies.
4 projects of KU research groups received funding. One of them, winner in the category of scientific research of world-class research groups, is the project Mesolithic-Neolithic People and the Baltic Sea: Relict Shores and Settlements under Water and on Shore by prof. dr. habil. Vladas Žulkus, chief researcher of the KU Institute of Baltic Region History and Archaeology. The aim of the project is to examine the Early Mesolithic- Early Neolithic habitats on the Baltic seacoast and to reconstruct the natural-cultural landscapes of the Early Holocene. The Baltic seabed (by Juodkrantė, Klaipėda, and Palanga) will be explored, and underwater archaeological research and excavations of the present coasts (Aukštumala, Svencelė, and the Tyrai swamp) will be carried out. Moreover, in the process, the researchers will seek to develop an original research methodology to be applied in order to identify human habitats on the coasts presently flooded by the sea and the characteristics of the vegetation and fauna in the climatic conditions of the explored period in search for traces of human activities on the seabed.
The group of researchers who will be implementing the project is interdisciplinary: archaeologists prof. dr. habil. V. Žulkus (underwater archaeology), prof. dr. habil. A. Girininkas (prehistoric archaeology), and KU doctoral student T. Rimkus (experimental archaeology and traceological research). The group includes archaeological zoologist prof. dr. habil. L. Daugnora, paleobotanist dr. M. Stančikaitė, geophysician N. Dobrotin, and geochemist dr. J. Petkuvienė.
Another project under the leadership of world-known scientist in Social Sciences Judith Green from USA is Research on Training Professionals Able to Provide Comprehensive Assistance to People with Disabilities in the Health Care System through the Development of Researcher Competences. The aim of the project is to explore and improve the training of specialists through an original methodological approach of interactive ethnography in order to ensure comprehensive assistance to people with disabilities in the health care system and simultaneously to enable scientists, other researchers, and students to professionally develop high-level scientific competences. In the implementation of the projects, the researchers will seek: to find out how assistance is rendered to people with disabilities in the health care system; how specialists are trained to provide such kind of assistance; in the process of ethnographic activity research, specialist training will be improved by orienting them towards the provision of comprehensive assistance; scientific competences will be improved through the implementation of a scientific research project; the understanding and knowledge gained in the project will be used for further development of science and practice.
The project will be implemented by Judith Green and prof. dr. Audra Skukauskaitė (USA), as well as a team of scientists from KU Faculty of Health Sciences: prof. dr. Ingrida Baranauskienė, prof. dr. Liudmila Rupšienė, dr. Brigita Kreivinienė, dr. Sonata Mačiulskytė, Aelita Skarbalienė, prof. dr. Arvydas Martinkėnas, and prof. dr. Artūras Razbadauskas.
The third project that won the grant in the category of development of scientific excellence of scientists, other researchers, and students through practical-scientific activity was The Impact of Associations between Bottom Invertebrates and Bacteria on Nitrogen Conversions in the Estuary Ecosystems under the leadership of dr. Mindaugas Žilius, researcher of KU Marine Science and Technology Centre. The results of the project will provide detailed data on the nitrogen cycle and will contribute to the achievement of the aims laid out in the EU Habitats and Marine Strategy Framework Directives, i.e. to restore good environmental status.
Since for the project implementation a team of young researchers was formed boasting different competences that include ecological genetics, microbiology, physiology, and biochemistry, the implementation process will be based on a wide range of technical and scientific knowledge, will help to attract foreign researchers to Lithuania, and thus will expand the international cooperation network.
The fourth project-winner is Future Ecosystem Services in the Coastal Zone of Lithuania in the Context of Global Change (EcoServe) under the leadership of prof. dr. Hans Georg Umgiesser, chief researcher of KU Open Access Centre for Marine Research. The project aims to evaluate future ecosystem services in the coastal zone of Lithuania through improving the ability of Lithuanian scientists to apply multidisciplinary tools for analysis, modelling, and forecasting. In the process of the project implementation, the cartography of ecosystem services, evaluation, and modelling will be carried out in the Nemunas Delta and the Curonian Lagoon, as well as in rural areas within ~10 km from the coast in the context of changing climate and future socioeconomic scenarios.
Project leader H. G. Umgiesser is a well-known scientist in the area of oceanography and mathematical modelling. Over 30 years of his career, he developed a programme code which solves equations describing hydrodynamic processes in transit systems of coastal zones. He works at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Venice, Italy, and at Klaipėda University. Beside project activities, he also gives lectures on oceanography and mathematical modelling to graduate students at KU, Southampton (Great Britain), Malta, Granada (Spain), and Venice (Italy). Presently he acts as scientific supervisor of three KU doctoral students.