Developing the skills and knowledge of both its own scientists and those from institutions outside the network is an essential component of ENDURE’s integrating activities, which seek to overcome the fragmented and localised nature of integrated pest management (IPM) research.
A key plank of this strategy is a well-funded mobility programme, which makes it easier for scientists to spend time at other institutions. The mobility programme is led by Maurizio Sattin, from Italy’s Institute of Agro-environmental and Forest Biology - National Research Council, and with the network’s third human resource exchange now getting underway, we caught up with him.
QUESTION: What are the benefits of mobility?
ANSWER: Increasing the exchange of research staff is among the strategic purposes of European Union research policy. There are multiple benefits: it benefits the capacity and competitiveness of the EU crop protection research community, it benefits the participants by increasing their professional experience through visiting highly qualified laboratories and research groups (especially PhD students and young researchers), and it also benefits the ENDURE project itself by strengthening scientific and personal relationships among partners.
QUESTION: How does ENDURE help?
ANSWER: First of all, by providing the resources for a researcher’s mobility (including travelling costs, a monthly allowance and/or accommodation and living expenses and contributions to the expenses of hosting institutions). These are not easily found otherwise, especially in the New Member states. Within ENDURE this is the case for our Polish and Hungarian colleagues, who are making wide use of ENDURE mobility. We help the process in other ways too, by setting up and regularly updating the mobility web pages on ENDURE’s public website where all the relevant information can be found. We have also created a link with the ERA-MORE network to facilitate mobility and solve practical problems. My assistant, Federica Piccolo, is always available to answer questions and give advice.
QUESTION: Is it only for those working with ENDURE partners?
ANSWER: No. An open call for two researchers from INCO (International Cooperation) countries was issued last year, and the two people selected will implement their mobility this year in two ENDURE Institutions. Another call will be issued in about three months. We are also planning to publish an open call for two experienced researchers to support and fill gaps in our knowledge and know-how identified by the leaders of our research sub-activities
QUESTION: How many people are/will be involved?
ANSWER: All ENDURE’s research partners are involved as either sending or hosting institutions. Twenty six researchers (PhD, junior and senior) were included in the first internal mobility plan (MP) and 11 of these implemented their mobility during 2007. A further 43 researchers were included in the second internal MP and 20 of these implemented their mobility during 2008. Some 28 researchers were recently included in the third internal MP and three researchers have already started their stages. As mentioned before, two researchers from INCO countries will benefit from mobility during 2009. In fact, one has just started his mobility at Scuola Superiore Sant’ Anna (SSSUP) in Pisa, Italy.
QUESTION: What kinds of work are they doing?
ANSWER: Almost all of ENDURE’s research sub-activities are benefiting from mobility plans, however the network’s integrating and spreading activities are also involved. During their mobility period some researchers collaborate and contribute to actions or tasks strictly linked to ENDURE work, while others take the opportunity to learn new techniques or about new scientific instruments or tackle new (for them) theoretical issues related to crop protection and IPM in particular. Therefore both lab and desk work is involved.