Jan Jacob Keizer

Jan Jacob Keizer

Departament of Environment and Planning & CESAM
 Universidade de Aveiro
 Campus Universitário de Santiago
 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal

     Tel: + 351 234 370200 (ext. 22612)

      Email: jjkeizer@ua.pt


1. What are your personal perspectives as a researcher, especially now that you will supposedly be Work Package leader of a large EU project?
Although contract negotiations are indeed delayed, we are confident that the RECARE project will go ahead, including because it obtained one of the highest scores in the second-stage evaluation of the call (FP7-ENV-2013-two-stage).
It is, of course, an exciting prospect to have a coordinating role in such a large project - 28 partners - and, more specifically, in a Work Package that will test and demonstrate measures for the prevention, remediation and restoration of 11 different threats to soils and their ecosystem services across 17 case studies located all over Europe, from Iceland to Cyprus.
At the same time, the project will be an outstanding opportunity to continue our team’s past and ongoing research, as the case study in Portugal concerns the threat posed by soil erosion by water, in particular following wildfires.
Finally, the project will provide a guarantee that my own salary is secured during the next 5 years.

2. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges in your area of research?
The biggest challenge, in scientific terms, is to develop an approach that assesses and predicts the on- and off-site effects of wildfires in an integrated manner, addressing not only the physical, environmental and biological aspects but also the socio-economic dimension. In ultimate instance, the fundamental difficulty is to join the people that have the skills and drive to make this happen. In my experience, this requires a core team with a considerable critical mass of experts and expert-to-be, covering the principal scientific fields, and, at the same time, active collaboration with “external” specialists, whether from next door or from the other side of the world. Of course, money makes the world go around, so that getting the necessary funding has increasingly become a major challenge.
In practical terms, a key challenge is to get our know-how to work in the real-world management of recently burnt areas. This seems to be very much a European problem, as colleagues from the USA are actively involved in selecting the most appropriate post-fire land management practices. Hopefully, however, the RECARE project will help to bridge this gap with private and public land owners, as it envisages active collaboration with stakeholders throughout the project, including, in the Portuguese case study, with the selection of the measures to prevent, remediate or restore from post-fire soil erosion.

3. Where are the strengths of the UA in your opinion?
Based on my experience, I would argue that three important strengths of the UA are its horizontal organization, its tradition towards flexible and solution-oriented management (including financial) and its increasing culture of collaboration across research units, departments and disciplines.

4. Could you give one idea to improve research in the UA?
If I can give just one idea and, as any idea to reduce the precarious nature of the “contracts” of the bulk of those doing research may not seem sufficiently realistic in the present context, I would suggest reinforcing the integration of especially the PhD and post-doctoral researchers within the institutional framework, giving them a greater say in shaping the environment where they are spending a significant part of their (initial) scientific careers. For example, I strongly applaud that it is now possible at the UA for post-doctoral researchers to be the principal supervisor of a PhD student.
última atualização a 08-07-2014
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