“It is incredibly exciting with this relatively young department, which has expanded rapidly and conducts excellent and innovative research. I look forward to being a part of, and leading and developing a research environment with a stable foundation and many prominent researchers,” she says.
Maria Faresjö will succeed the current Head of Department, Stefan Hohmann, when he retires in September after six years in the position. She has been involved in research and education in biomedicine for 25 years and will bring this experience, together with her solid experience of strategic development of research and visions, to her new workplace.
Eager to meet the employees at the department
She has been working at Jönköping University, JU, since 2009, with issues regarding development high on the agenda − a priority which will remain valid for her future work at BIO. Top priority, though, is to get to know the organisation.
“The greatest challenge for me, a positive challenge, is to get to know the research and all the members of BIO. Initially, I want to meet with the management and faculty to understand the direction in which the Department is heading, and how to achieve existing goals. In the long run, I also want to investigate how new strategies for further development could be implemented”, she says.
“Of course, I also wish to contribute with the experiences I have gained from my own research. I know that my knowledge in biomedicine can contribute, for example, to development in health engineering. But we need to find ways to do that in tandem with the needs and routines of the organisation.”
The position as Head of BIO also includes participation in the University Management Group.
“I am looking forward to being part of the management group, to participate in discussions about development, strategies and Chalmers' vision. I hope that my knowledge and experience can be useful for Chalmers' operations and development in the future,” Maria Faresjö says.
Professor of Biomedical Laboratory Science
Maria Faresjö already knew that she wanted to become a researcher at the age of ten. How would she otherwise get the answers to all her questions? At that time, she was perhaps not fully aware of what a researcher does, but as the years passed it became very clear.
After achieving a bachelor’s degree in biomedical laboratory sciences at the School of Health and Welfare in Jönköping, her research career took off. She defended her thesis at Linköping University in 2000 and stayed there as a researcher. In 2009 she changed workplace after a total of 15 years in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. That year, she returned to Jönköping and JU and was appointed Professor of Biomedical Laboratory Science.
Research focus: the immune system in children with type 1 diabetes
Maria Faresjö's focus in research has always been the immune system and how it behaves when activated. By studying biomarkers, she has been able to monitor the immune system in children with type 1 diabetes. In her research she has also worked on finding precise biomarkers to identify infections in new-borns as early as possible to, in order to avoid, if possible, antibiotic treatments. An additional project has involved using biomarkers for identification of inflammation due to pressure problems when using prostheses and orthoses.
“Trying to understand the mechanisms of the immune system in diseases such as type 1 diabetes has always been relevant and important to me. In addition, being part of research that can contribute to better treatment and possibly also prevention has given me motivation to continue forward in this field of research”, she says.
Listening to people important for development
At JU, she was appointed Head of Research at the School of Health and Welfare at JU (corresponding to a department at Chalmers), with the responsibility for strategic development of research in health and welfare issues. She was also in charge of the development of a new vision and strategies for JU for the period 2020− 2025.
“During the process of developing a new vision, I got to spend time on what I love the most − meeting, talking to, and above all, listening to people, from researchers to students and administrative staff, to form an overall picture of the university”, she says, continuing:
“That experience really suited me, as I always try to stay open and interested in the people I work with. I really want to listen to and understand the organisation and the people in it. It enables me to stake out a positive direction for development. This is also how I would like to work at BIO.”
Believes in collaboration with many actors
Cooperation is the key to all development, says Maria Faresjö. Therefore, she strongly believes in interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration in research − but also in education and utilisation. Successfully reaching out to society is a way of creating additional value from new knowledge. In addition to finding ways to collaborate internally at BIO, there is great potential in collaboration with different societal actors, such as regions, other universities, businesses, and industry.
“In this area Chalmers is at the forefront. It is one of Chalmers' strengths and why the university’s research has such great impact on society. Even though my experience is modest, I think it is essential for the future of research to expand and enhance collaboration with wider society,” she says.
As spring arrives, so does BIO’s new Head of Department, and all members of BIO will have the opportunity to get to know her better. With focus on collaboration with all the department, Maria Faresjö hopes to create great conditions for further development.
Text: Susanne Nilsson Lindh