K2 Retreat Refreshed

K2 recently hosted its annual retreat on Tuesday, April 30th. In a departure from tradition, this year’s gathering took place at UiB’s newly renovated premises on Nygårdsgaten 5, rather than the usual Solstrand location, prompted by the institute’s current financial situation.

The retreat proved to be highly informative, offering valuable insights for all participants. After a warm welcome from outgoing head of department Pål Njølstad, we delved into the “healthy economy” project, presented by Dean Per Bakke. While K2’s financial health currently faces challenges, there’s optimism for improvement in the near future. On the bright side, K2 continues to excel in research, benefiting from a robust influx of external funding. Importantly, no staff members will face termination. However, the deficit and hiring freeze pose challenges, particularly affecting administrative roles. As of June, the administration team will operate with only 1.5 positions, necessitating teamwork and creativity. Boundaries between subject areas are fluid, and PhD students’ responsibilities extend beyond teaching to include administrative tasks. Stepping out of comfort zones will be essential.

In the pursuit of creativity, artificial intelligence (AI) emerges as a powerful tool. Robert Hetlelid, from the IT department, provided an insightful overview of UiB-chat and Copilot—tools exclusively available to UiB employees. These tools surpass Chat-GPT in functionality, prompting me to cancel my Chat-GPT subscription in favor of Copilot. For Helse Bergen PC users, remember to log in to Edge using your UiB account.

Perhaps consider leveraging Copilot for crafting better applications? Research advisor Susanna Pakkasmaa highlighted various application possibilities during the retreat. While K2 performs well, there’s room for improvement, especially in securing EU funding. Success stories further motivated us: Research student Jonas Hodneland Sundfjord shared insights from longitudinal GWAS analyses on the Mother-Child cohort, while Professor Simona Chera outlined the KG Jebsen Center for Myeloid Blood Cancer’s mission. Chemicals play a crucial role in research, and proper disposal is essential. Consult with Bente-Lise P. Lillebø, senior adviser at the Occupational Health Service, to navigate chemical handling—an area where UiB has a good agreement with BIR.

The retreat concluded with an update from Professor Simon Dankel on Vestlandslegen, followed by anniversary celebrations. Notably, Pål Njølstad received an AI-generated artwork crafted by researcher Marc Vaudel as a token of appreciation.

For those who missed out, fear not—next year promises a fresh retreat. Perhaps our collective success will allow us to reconvene at Solstrand?

Wishing you a wonderful weekend,

Eystein Husebye
Acting Head of Department

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