Candidates for the NTNU Board election

Here is the presentations of the candidates for temporary academic staff for the NTNU Board election 2024.

Norsk: Kandidater til styrevalget.

Main page about the election

Jakob Bonnevie Cyvin

PhD candidate at Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences (SU), Department of Geography (Dragvoll)

Brief description of what you stand for: What are NTNU's biggest challenges going forward and why voters should vote for you?

NTNU must be open and accessible to the population to fulfill our mission. NTNU is to be a broad university, where financial, practical, and administrative framework factors must be in place for the constant development of teaching practice, fundamental research, and applied research regardless of subject area. Fundamental research requires dedication and time but is hardly visible in this year's budget. I think this is important – the university is not a company. The university must be a safe arena, where students, student employees, temporary, administration, and permanent staff work together towards the goal of "knowledge for a better world". With a background in geography and environment-related issues, it is also natural in this context to highlight the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. I think it is naive to believe that by exclusively focusing on in-depth research in our subject area, we will be able to solve large complex problems and societal challenges of our time.

NTNU has the challenge of finding itself after many major organizational changes, while new changes still are in process, regarding the campus project, internal invoicing solutions for laboratory collaboration, and financial tightening in general, to mention a few. In Universitetsavisa, I have repeatedly been very critical of moving from Dragvoll. But this has now been agreed upon, and we must now focus on making the project the best possible for present and future staff and students and attend to the broad organization with the relatively new merger with HIST, Gjøvik, and Ålesund in mind. The sustainability aspect of the campus project must also be sufficiently taken care of.

As a student at NTNU Dragvoll, HiNT (now NORD), UiO, and NMBU, and later in project positions at NTNU Ålesund and NTNU, I have gained insight and experience of NTNU's breadth. Now, I lead the five-year interdisciplinary educational project VR-Learn and participate in Erasmus+ projects with partners in six other countries. This gives me a large network which I believe will be a great advantage in a board position at NTNU.

I am currently a department board member and faculty board deputy representative (SU). On the current board, only Aksel Tjora works at Dragvoll. As a board representative, you must represent the whole organization, but it will benefit the whole of NTNU to have representation from all parts of the organization.

Grace Katharine Forster

PhD candidate at Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (MH), Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science (Tungasletta)

Brief description of what you stand for: What are NTNU's biggest challenges going forward and why voters should vote for you?

I choose to stand for election to represent the temporary academic staff in the board election because I want to ensure that our opinions are listened to and that our interests and needs are prioritised in the decision-making processes at Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

NTNU's biggest challenge as I see it, is the need to fulfil its social missions, while at the same time trying to deal with the economic crisis by offering fewer and fewer resources for staffing and career prioritization to temporary academic employees. This current approach with large employee turnover and little-to-no career development is not a sustainable solution.

As a temporary employee myself, I have personally experienced many of the challenges that several of you also face. In the coming year, I promise to focus on three main areas. The first concerns introducing broader support for career development that applies to all temporary academic positions. The second area is to ensure better opportunities for transition to permanent positions after temporary employment by facilitating the acquisition of the necessary experience and competence. Finally, as a temporary scientific employee with an international background, I see considerable room for improvement in terms of inclusion and equality of international staff and it is important that the voices of the international community are heard and taken seriously.

If I am elected, I promise to address these issues, while at the same time I will actively listen to and put forward other needs and issues that you wish to be taken up at the NTNU Board.

Kim Rainer Mattson

PhD candidate at Faculty of Engineering (IV), Department of Energy and Process Engineering (Gløshaugen)

Brief description of what you stand for: What are NTNU's biggest challenges going forward and why voters should vote for you?

NTNU faces multiple practical and principal challenges moving forward, with two challenges being particularly important to me. The first one relates to the work environment and health of temporary employees. In the last couple of years, there has been increased attention to the psychological health and working conditions of PhD candidates and other temporary employees. However, few concrete measures have been taken to improve the situation. For instance, many PhDs experience unclear expectations and boundaries in relation to supervisors and other management, which can cause unnecessary uncertainty and stress. I believe it is important to work towards more formalized procedures regarding expectations, duty work, and responsibilities between temporary employees, supervisors, and general management is important, and this should be part of an organization-wide strategy.

The other challenge that I believe should be heavily prioritized is NTNU’s continued work on sustainability, both on campus, regionally, and globally. My PhD research focuses on sustainability assessment in the waste management sector, indicating my particular interest in the topic. However, I am of the impression that many at NTNU wish for stronger and a more concrete sustainability policy. Environmental sustainability is something I would actively promote, and I believe some of my prior experience in strategy development in the public sector can be beneficial in this regard.

Runar Mellerud

PhD candidate at Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (IE), Department of Electric Energy (Gløshaugen)

Brief description of what you stand for: What are NTNU's biggest challenges going forward and why voters should vote for you?

Several faculties report of poor economic times and some have to make significant budget cuts. It is important that this does not affect us temporary employees. We are a vulnerable group with high demands, a tight schedule, and much uncertainty. To continue to deliver excellent work, we depend on good follow-up and training from NTNU, but also good lab resources and participation in international courses and conferences.

To do a PhD or postdoc at NTNU should mean that you are in Norway’s best arena for personal development within research, dissemination, and technical competence. The improvement potential here is still large, even though NTNU produces candidates who are very attractive after obtaining their degree. In this area, I will make an effort to ensure that we can spend more time on research and less on figuring out formalities.

A concrete example can be to modernize our courses and help resources. As an alternative to time-scheduled classes with registration, we could have a webpage with videos we could watch at our leisure. NTNU has some of Norway’s best researchers, disseminators, and teachers. Videos of 10-30 minutes with their tips on how to for example structure a research study, article, or popular science piece could be of immense value for new employees and give their work a flying start.

Anita Solem

PhD candidate at Faculty of Natural Sciences (NV), Department of Biotechnology and Food Science (Kalvskinnet)

Brief description of what you stand for: What are NTNU's biggest challenges going forward and why voters should vote for you?

NTNU has an exciting yet challenging period ahead. Unification to one campus and tighter financial circumstances are challenges that will impact everyone at NTNU. In such situations, it is important to protect the interests of everyone and to ensure that everyone is included and heard. I believe in transparency across levels and that employees should have influence on decision-making processes.

Challenging times also bring opportunities. To arrive at the best solutions, we need input from both employees and students. I find it essential to ensure that cost-cutting measures do not hinder the ability of employees to do their jobs in a good way. For scientific staff, this means that one should be able to prioritize teaching, research, and dissemination. With regard to this, it is important to ensure that the temporary academic employees are treated equally to the other academic staff.

Fairness and predictability are factors that I highly value. Predictability is especially important for temporary academic staff, and the career opportunities within academia for temporary academic staff need to be preserved. I find that engaged employees, passionate about research and communication, also contribute to high-quality education. Therefore, it is both right and important to make it both possible and attractive to stay in academia for this group.

I want to represent the temporary academic staff on the NTNU board because this gives me a great opportunity to influence major cases and decisions at NTNU. I will work to raise the matters of the temporary academic staff and to promote a dialogue between my colleagues, and the other groups represented on the board. Here, involvement is central. Lastly, I will work to ensure that I and my colleagues contribute in a way that promotes NTNU as a university where it is attractive both to be an employee and to be a student.


Election secretary: Kristin Wergeland Brekke, HR- and HSE Division