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Strategy

Strategy Aarhus University

In the strategy for 2025, Aarhus University presents vision, mission, and basic values.   

Information regarding the Aarhus University strategy 2025


Strategy Faculty of Natural Sciences

The Department of Chemistry is part of the Faculty of Natural Sciences which is preparing a new strategy for its departments and centres during 2021.

Information about the Faculty of Natural Sciences


Strategy Department of Chemistry

Strategy – Preface

Department of Chemistry at Aarhus University is engaged in research, education and innovation in chemistry at the highest level. Bachelors, Masters and PhD students are educated through research-based teaching. Department of Chemistry’s primary task is to train excellent students for both the private and public sectors. The knowledge accumulated is directly helping to solve society's major challenges. Department of Chemistry explores chemistry in a broad sense, and has also established three core areas as focal points: "Life Chemistry", "Functional Materials" and "Energy, Environment and Climate". These interdisciplinary research themes across traditional disciplines of chemistry provide the framework for an innovative research and educational institution.

World-class research

Department of Chemistry at Aarhus University wishes to maintain and strengthen the strong position we have one of the best chemistry departments in the world. The institute is traditionally founded in basic research, and covers the classical disciplines such as organic, analytical, physical, theoretical, inorganic materials and medicinal chemistry. In today’s modern research culture these disciplines are integrated in interdisciplinary and international research projects involving students, researchers and industrial partners. Our unique cooperation with iNANO contributes significantly to the collaboration across research fields. Department of Chemistry’s strong international position as a chemistry institute in world must be strengthened through more and better research. Therefore, it is an institute goal to publish more and better scientific articles in international journals, to get involved with additional international partners, both academic and industrial, and to establish educational collaborations with other top chemistry institutions around the world.

Education grounded in science

It is important for the Department of Chemistry that the study programs are research-based. Good relations between the academic staff and students are therefore weighted highly. There are calls for an open and inclusive work environment, so you can involve the students in the current and interesting research, already in the Bachelors program. In addition, the students are assigned a mentor among the academic staff, which helps to shorten the distance between students and staff, already at the beginning of their studies. The students have access to research facilities in the various research groups, and this is helping to promote an independent and stimulating student culture.

Elite programs to more students

According to Statistics Denmark, Department of Chemistry educates the largest number of chemists in the country. Training of chemists for society is Department of Chemistry’s core business, and our programs can be described as elite programs in that expectations for students are high, and their future employers appreciate graduates and PhDs who have been trained by us. Therefore, we offer research-based education of undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students at a high international level. These students should acquire skills to help solve major societal challenges, in both private companies and public institutions, and some will be leading in the future in academia. It is the aim of Department of Chemistry that education has close connection between theory and practice, and to develop teaching continuously. There is a massive demand for chemists trained at the Department of Chemistry, which means that there is no real unemployment among the graduates. We want to meet this demand by educating more people and simultaneously maintain the high quality of the programs. This requires that we attract talent from around the world for our programs. We envision all of Denmark as a recruitment base for undergraduate studies, and will through state-of-the-art facilities and excellent teaching attract top talent. The department has set up a special talent program - Challenges in Chemistry – which is an offer for undergraduate students with the highest ambitions. Department of Chemistry also wants to hire more academic staff to carry out these important tasks in the future.

Study environment that promotes student development

The students' well-being is our focus, and we provide a good physical and academic framework for development. Among other things,  a student café is offered several times a week, where PhD students offer undergraduates professional help and guidance. In addition there is established a study lounge, which calls for a social and academic community among the students, and a larger number of workstations and group rooms. These facilities and activities will be further developed and given high priority at the department.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Department of Chemistry wants to strengthen the capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship for students and staff. Therefore, it is a goal to integrate a philosophy of innovation in everyday teaching, and raise awareness of the possibilities of creating new start-ups and spin-out companies. Working along with the Faculty of Natural Sciences, a plan is under way to establish facilities for enabling this.

Intensified industrial cooperation

By involving small and large companies in the research projects, the distance between the latest science and its application is reduced. As part of this strategy, it is a goal to increase the number of research projects involving industrial partners across the country, as well as internationally. It is also the Department of Chemistry’s aim to increase the number of dialogue and contact activities with industrial partners. This includes several invitations to conferences, seminars and the like. The department also wants to increase the opportunities for companies to access the department's research infrastructure, such as equipment, analysis, etc.

Research Infrastructure

As students and researchers at the Department of Chemistry, one has access to state-of-the art instruments and apparatus. At the Department of Chemistry, we consider the technical staff as being an indispensable part of the department, and therefore these job functions must be attractive to attract the best technical staff. This is achieved by integrating the technical staff in research and teaching, and to offer access to the best research facilities. Department of Chemistry also participates in several international projects, providing access and opportunities for the development of major facilities, such as supercomputers, synchrotrons, neutron sources and XFELs.

 

Action plan for more women in research 

At the Department of Chemistry we want to promote talent regardless of gender!

  • We recognise that we currently have an imbalance in gender distribution in our VIP group (and other professional groups at the department). This leads to a structural risk of wasting talent. Thus, it is an ambition to increase gender equality over time.
  • Therefore, we want to increase the absolute number of women in our VIP group by 25-30% during the next 3 years as per our recruitment plan (starting point 1/1-2016) and generally strive to improve gender equality in all our staff groups.

But even more important than the target figure, we must incorporate gender equality as an integrated part of our recruitment processes, which is also crucial in our ongoing dialogue and supervision of our students, PhD students, and postdocs.

  • Therefore, we will focus on especially advising our female students – but also our male students – on how to make the ambition of an academic career to work together with for instance the desire to start a family, since this is one of the reasons why women opt out of their academic career.
  • In our recruitment work, we will focus on encouraging qualified women to apply for our positions, and when assessing candidates, we will incorporate the recommendations of broad advertisements as well as be aware of evaluating applicants broadly (avoiding ”gender mirror images”).

Since our gender distribution in our VIP group is skewed, we will strive to have women in search committees etc. when academically relevant, but not at any cost. We cannot demand way too much work in such situations from our female colleagues. Furthermore, it is our experience that the recruitment processes at the department include all VIPs, so that both men and women are heard before hirings. Moreover, we consider it more important - than having women’s quotas in all committees - to work targeted with the implicit bias that both men and women have in the academic environment related to recruitment and assessment of the academic work made by women and men, respectively. [1]

In our future work, the Department of Chemistry will closely follow the Aarhus University action plan for more women in research, and we will regularly incorporate the recommendations of the report in our internal culture.

An essential piece in this work would be if the Dean’s office could prepare materials with relevant examples of when and how this implicit bias regarding gender occurs in everyday life and at employments. In addition, specific examples of how we make broad advertisements (in terms of value and language).[2]

Specific measures

  • Better supervision of young talents of both genders. Supervisors and PhD days offering help with applications etc.
  • Using searching committees when posting VIP positions would identify and contact possible female and male applicants
  • Requesting the Nat Faculty to prepare examples of job postings and other materials with less implicit text bias

 

[1] Chemistry World, May 2015: Royal Society to Address Gender Imbalance”

[2] Assistance could be to contact our own (AU) Evanthia K. Schmidt, who is a researcher on the subject.