ISP news 2018

New evidence of capacity building in ISP programs

28 December 2018

A new ISP study looked at where the 250 PhD's graduated from ISP supported groups and networks between 2014 and 2017 currently are working, and with what. The aim was to see if graduates are contributing to increased competence at their academic institutions or if they are making use of their skills in other sectors or other countries.

The study shows that 95% of the PhD graduates currently are working in their home countries and regions, a large majority (94%) at universities or research institutes. Some graduates are working in their home countries but outside the academic sector at research councils, ministries and national authorities. A few graduates are working outside their home countries and regions, most employed at academic institutions.

These results are in line with the findings of previous ISP tracer studies and indicate that ISP is contributing to building capacity at academic institutions in supported countries.

Read the report

professor rescued student from war zone

ISP chemistry reference group member Prof Charlotta Turner and Lund University did the unthinkable when they sent armed security forces into an ISIS controlled war zone in Iraq to rescue PhD student (now Dr) Firas Jumaah. The operation succeeded and Firas and his family was brought safely back to Sweden.

"What was happening was completely unacceptable, I got so angry that IS was pushing itself into our world, exposing my doctoral student and his family to this, and disrupting the research." Professor Turner told Lund University Magazine (LUM).

Read the whole story

Building future network seminar at sida

23 November 2018

Research and innovation was the theme of this year’s addition the annual ISP/Sida Building Future Networks seminar held 23 November at the Sida Headquarter in Stockholm. 110 PhD students and Postdocs from Sida and ISP programs traveled from universities all over Sweden to participate in this networking day.

Students were given practical information on insurance and immigration issues followed by discussion and experience sharing. The International Theater Stockholm came and put on a great show on cultural clashes based on student experiences, and Uppsala University Innovation opened our minds to the innovation and commercialization process of research with a lecture and a rapid prototype workshop. Sida held a session on important and helpful online resources.

Thanks for a great day!  

All seminar participants.
Performance on cultural clashes by the International Theater Stockholm.
Students during the rapid prototype workshop.
Uppsala University Innovation on innovation processes and commercialization of research.

First PhD awarded in UU-Saudi science collaboration

10 October 2018

In 2011, the Faculty of Science and Technology (TekNat) at Uppsala University entered into an agreement with Al Baha University in Saudi Arabia. The aim was to improve academic programs, research training and educational quality assurance within S&T at Al Baha University, mainly through training of Al Baha lecturers at Uppsala University and development of MSc programs at Al Baha. A special emphasis is put on including female staff members and students in the activities and to provide exposure to international research and teaching cultures. All activities are funded by Al Baha University and the Saudi government. As the coordinating body, ISP sees this as an important opportunity to contribute to women empowerment in Saudi Arabia.

Mathematician and Al Baha lecturer, Dr. Azza Alghamdi, was the first PhD student to join the program. She came to Uppsala University in 2013 to start her studies at the Department of Mathematics under the supervision of Prof. Maciej Klimek. In September 2018, she successfully defended her thesis “Approximation of pluricomplex Green functions. A probabilistic approach.”

Azza Alghamdi nailing her thesis at Ångström Laboratory.

Warm congratulations! What are your future plans?

"I want to continue research. I am looking forward to contribute to research especially in complex variables and approximation theory."

What will you bring back to Al Baha from Uppsala University and Sweden? 

"I will bring back not only a PhD degree, but also a full package of a great experiences. Uppsala University offers a wonderful environment for studying and learning, which takes care of many variables. Programs, learning system, courses, teachers, students, classes, buildings, and even the beautiful small city (Uppsala), all together combined to meet the perfect educational image, one can think of. I wish students from my home city got to have a chance to learn at Uppsala University."

Two more PhD students are currently involved in the Saudi Science collaboration, one doing his PhD at the Department of Information Technology at Uppsala University, and one at The School of Education and Culture and Communication (UKK) at Mälardalen University.

Prof Rune Liminga - in Memoriam  

25 September 2018

It is with great sadness we have received information that our predecessor, Professor Rune Liminga, on 14 September 2018 has passed away, at an age of 85.

In the early 1960’s, Rune became engaged in the support in X-ray crystallography provided by the Department of Chemistry, Uppsala University, to Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, given within the framework of the recently started “International Seminar for Research and Education in Physics.” To facilitate support in chemistry in a wider sense, Uppsala University 1966 proposed SIDA to launch also a seminar in chemistry. Rune was entrusted the task to plan the activities, and was later assigned to lead the “International Seminar in Chemistry”, from its start 1970. He stayed in that position until he left the program in 1997.

The aim of the Seminars was to “initiate the creation of research groups or to provide assistance to already existing research groups at universities or national laboratories in developing countries”. Rune was one of those who realized that long-term support was needed to fulfil this. Furthermore, he realized that fellowships for research training in Sweden needed complementary contributions for equipment, support for MSc and PhD program, etc. He was pushing for such discussions, which finally, in 1978/79, resulted in a five-year agreement with the Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries (SAREC). Now, the realization of the visions could commence, with “project support” tailored to needs and starting conditions.

An important component was the cooperation with strong research teams predominantly in Sweden, but also in the regions, and postgraduate education was an essential feature. At an early stage, Rune realized that PhD students spending all their training in the North faced difficulties in returning to their home countries, regarding both their professional and social life. He was therefore among the pioneers to promote “sandwich” training programs, where periods with a host institution in the North were layered with periods at the home institution. This contributed to a continuous transfer of knowledge, and profoundly reduced “brain drain”. Sandwich programs are operated still today, by ISP and Sida, and by other organisations.

Rune worked energetically to develop the program, and his vision stretched far beyond the “seminar” concept. To mirror the development of activities, he initiated the organization in 1987 of the two seminars under the common name “The International Science Programme” (ISP), and the Chemistry Seminar became “The International Programme in the Chemical Sciences” (IPICS).

Besides the support to viable research teams, Rune realized the importance of forming connections between scientists in the South in thematic, scientific networks. He was personally engaged in the initiating of several such networks, many of which are still active today.

In many respects, Rune’s visions, philosophy, and hard, persistent work to develop IPICS became a model for what ISP still is today, and many hundreds of researchers and graduates in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have benefited from the implementation of his visions. After retirement, Rune still followed the development of the program with great interest.

Rune, for us it has been a great honour, challenge, and pleasure to continue operating IPICS – and ISP – along the path you did lay out. Rest in peace.

Peter Sundin
IPICS Director since 2006, and Head of ISP since 2007

Malin Åkerblom
IPICS Director 1997-2006

Lennart Hasselgren
Director for the Physics program 1982-2007
Head of ISP 1998-2007

On behalf of current and previous ISP co-workers and Board members

ISP evaluation and management response

24 September 2018

An external evaluation was carried out of ISP in 2018, commissioned by Sida. In sum, it finds that "ISP fulfils a direct, facilitating and promotive role in supporting scientific activities in its partner research groups and university departments". It is concluded that ISP’s support is aligned with Swedish policies for research in development cooperation, that the support is highly relevant to the development of recipients scientific research capacity, and that much of the supported research has clear relevance to country specific needs. Further, it is considered that ISP has an pragmatic approach to problems and issues that has been effective, and ISP's work to promote gender equality is positively acknowledged.

However, a number of recommendations and inputs were given to provide new thinking on the future development of ISP. To summarize, it is concluded that there is a need for ISP to revise its results framework and thinking, to facilitate program learning and reporting. Furthermore, it is considered that there is room for improvement in evaluating and assessing the development of each individual supported research group and network on a more regular basis, in which the Scientific Reference Groups could be more involved. The evaluation also recommend ISP to consider a more time bound modality, since there is concern that ISP's long term funding may have trapped supported groups and networks into financial dependency on ISP.

Read the full evaluation report and ISP's management response below!

Evaluation report

Management response

Our 2017 Annual Report is out now!

3 July 2018

Our 2017 Annual Report is now available, in full and in summary!

Full Annual Report
Summary Annual Report


ISP welcomes 4 new board members

June 2018

ISP warmly welcomes four new board members! Their diverse competences will contribute to further development of ISP and our programs.

Peter Brzezinski - Stockholm University

Picture from:
Jennifer Blanke - African Development Bank

Veronica Crispin - Uppsala University

Barbara Brena - Uppsala University

Jennifer Blanke Vice President Agriculture, Human and Social Development at the African Development Bank Group
With a PhD in International Economics and over 25 years of experience, Jennifer is a globally well-known and respected development economist. Previous to her current position at the African Development Bank, she was Chief Economist at the World Economic Forum. Her areas of expertise covers economic, human and social development, and private-public partnerships as drivers of inclusive and sustainable growth. She is an advisor to several governments in Africa on these topics and presently serves as a member of the Canadian government's Advisory Council on Economic Growth. Besides her new engagement as a member of the ISP Board, she also holds a number non-executive board responsibilities in other none-profit organizations.

Why did you join the ISP Board and what are your expectations?
- As a development economist I have spent much of my career studying and advocating efforts aimed at increasing national productivity, growth and competitiveness. Education and scientific knowledge are among the most important drivers that lift countries to higher trajectories of inclusive and sustainable development, while preparing them to find home grown solutions to their challenges. I have been impressed by ISP’s work in fostering environments for education and scientific research in developing countries, and I am pleased to bring my experience from Africa and other developing regions to the Board. In the short to medium term, in particular I look forward to fostering synergies between the work of ISP and other groups advocating and supporting the science and technology agenda in Africa, ensuring that the work is mutually reinforcing rather than overlapping.

Peter Brzezinski   Professor at Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Stockholm University
After obtaining his PhD degree in Biophysics at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden in 1989, Peter spent two years at University of California San Diego, USA. After moving back to Sweden he was assistant Professor at Göteborg University before taking on a Professorial Chair of Biochemistry at Stockholm university in 1998. His main research interests are centered around mechanisms of energy conversion in living organisms. He has held several commissions of trusts within academia, and is since 2007 an elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA).

Barbara Brena – Docent at Department of Physics and Astronomy
Uppsala University

Barbara's research focuses on materials modeling for renewable energy sources, using theoretical soft x-ray spectroscopy. Her academic career did however start with experimental research at the synchrotron Elettra laboratory in Trieste, Italy, where she also origins from. Barbara serves on the board of Uppmax (Uppsala Multidisciplinary Center for Advanced Computational Science), and previously as a Board Member for a non-profit organization working with education in developing countries (U3V).

Veronica Crispin Quinonez – Senior Lecturer at Department of Mathematics
Uppsala University

Veronica is a commutative algebraist working with operations on ideals. After gaining her PhD at Stockholm University in 2006, she spent two years at University of Oregon, USA, amongst other places. In 2010, she came to Uppsala and is since then responsible for the teaching education program at the Department of Mathematics. Veronica coordinated the Master Programme in Mathematics 2011-2012 (her first contact with ISP), was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences National Committee for Mathematics 2012-2017, and co-organized the mathematical contest Baltic Way in Stockholm 2015. She is fluent in Swedish, Russian, English and, to some extent, Italian.


SDG Student Networking Meeting at KI

17 April 2018

As a pre-meeting to the The Swedish Global Health Research Conference 2018, Karolinska Institutet (KI) and ISP jointly organized a PhD student networking meeting at KI in Stockholm.

The aim of the meeting was to give PhD students part of ISP- and Sida programs an opportunity to network with each other, present their research and learn how and why their research can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Maria-Teresa Bejarano, Adjunct Professor in Infection Biology and Senior Research Advisor at Sida, was invited to give a lecture on the SDGs followed by a workshop.

Left: PhD students together with ISP, KI and Sida representatives
Top right: Moderator Cecilia Stålsby Lundborg, Professor in Global Health from KI
Bottom right: PhD student Lwidiko Edward Mhamilawa from University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

PhD Networking Meeting at Sida

26-27 Mars 2018

The second networking meeting for Sida- and ISP funded PhD students in mathematics took place 26-27 Mars at Sida in Stockholm. The event was jointly organized by ISP and Linköping University (MAI in Africa).

25 PhD students from universities in Africa and Asia have gathered to network, discuss challenges and opportunities with PhD training at their home universities, and present their research.

Last modified: 2021-10-20