Creatives & Changemakers

LINXS − the cohesive link for future researchers

Caroline Wendt
June 13, 2022

Since the end of 2021, Professor Trevor Forsyth is the new Director of LINXS. His mission is to build up the scientific dialogue in a manner that helps maximise the scientific exploitation of MAX IV and ESS and to form bridges between research institutes nationally and internationally that will make use of these facilities.

The facilities are huge investments and there is a major scientific responsibility to maximise exploitation, but also a responsibility to help form the next generation of research users. In parallel with this, the Science Village (SV), now being built on Brunnshög in the area between ESS and MAX IV, will provide outstanding surrounding scientific and industrial infrastructures. LINXS will, within the next two years, be amongst the first tenants on SV and will play a crucial role in developing a scientific culture in the region.

Trevor Forsyth has Irish nationality, comes from the UK and has over twenty years of experience from similar research facilities in Grenoble, France. He works half the time as Director of LINXS and the other half as a professor in the Biomolecular Centre (BMC) at the Lund Faculty of Medicine. As a biophysicist, he uses both neutron and synchrotron-based techniques himself and is committed to facilitating better linkage between fundamental sciences and clinical science.

Linking researchers and institutes from all over the world

LINXS is an International Institute for Advanced Neutron and X-ray Science. The ambition is to develop into a national and international competence centre, research network hub and a think tank for the education of future generations of neutron and synchrotron users. World-leading researchers come on short and focused research visits and will be able to collaborate with other researchers through the networks that LINXS offers in a totally neutral and fertile environment. LINXS is also aiding links between MAX IV and ESS and their users, and also between international researchers from the EU and the rest of the world.

” In many ways Lund and Grenoble have similar research capabilities, but there are many differences in the way they work and function”, says Trevor Forsyth. What is similar is that Lund and Grenoble both host world-leading synchrotron X-ray and neutron beam facilities, and the local and national environment will be able to contribute an extremely powerful array of complementing science capability that will allow a remarkable user research experience.

Trevor Foryth, LINXS

“Just as is the case in Grenoble, researchers coming to Lund to use one of the big facilities will have easy access to a whole range of powerful technology platforms, as well as the highly active, fertile, and neutral environment provided by LINXS. However, in contrast to Grenoble, which has a highly compact scientific environment, the Lund Science Village is much more extended and will accommodate a larger range of scientific and commercial institutes as well as facilities that will help to interconnect them and nurture collaboration. Through close connection between the University, the city, and the region, the Science Village will connect in a highly transparent way to education and outreach and to the general public. The area is already serviced by a tram system that connects Lund City centre to MAX-IV, ESS, and the growing Science Village”.

Researchers form specific themes for three years within three focus areas

LINXS’ activities are founded on scientific themes in each of three focus areas that include Hard Condensed Mater, Soft Matter and Life Sciences. Specific themes within each of these general areas are proposed by the scientific community and reviewed by an external Science Advisory Board. If approved, they will last for a period of three years. At the moment, there are themes running in the areas of” New Materials”,” Northern Lights of Food”, and” Integrated Pharmacology and Drug Discovery”.

“All of these containing high profile groupings from all over the world – and the last of them benefits from the participation of Mikael Dolsten, the CEO of Pfizer. LINXS support of these themes is not designed to signify a limited lifetime for these areas. Indeed it is expected that LINXS themes establish a life of their own after the three year period – perhaps by establishing a more extended and dedicated commitment that leads to a funded project. The Northern Lights on Food has done just this and attracted substantial external funding that will resource this grouping well beyond the duration of the theme that brought it into existence. Within LINXS the themes are encouraged to interact, and to encourage young researchers to propose and organise their own events and activities, says Trevor Forsyth.”

“One of my priorities is to create a greater international engagement as part of the LINXS mission. We are having discussions with potential international partners who are interested in establishing scientific "homes", where their scientists can work in optimal conditions and collaborate effectively.”

Another of Trevor's priorities is to educate - both by creating awareness amongst the public and by investing in young researchers for the future scientific communities

“We will have facilities that provide amazing opportunities and need to prepare for the next generation of young researchers to establish their own programmes. LINXS will have a role in developing an academy where we can include the young people in the teams so that they can interact with others. Networks of this type tend to grow organically from the ground up and the young researchers are often free of some of the history of their predecessors – which, on average, is a good thing.”

Do you think that the facilities in Lund will generate results that lead to a researcher receiving the Nobel Prize?

“It would be surprising if it did not. Synchrotron X-ray science has played crucial roles in determining the structures of viruses, the ribosome, receptors, aquaporins and there have been several Nobel prizes associated with synchrotron facilities around the world. For neutrons, the nature of the science is very different, but neutron experiments have also been associated with a number of Nobel prizes. The advanced facilities being installed at MAX IV and ESS are world leading and there is every prospect of them delivering Nobel prizes in the future. Obviously, it is crucial that national funding agencies support the young scientists who will become the next generation principal investigators and who will build up the national user communities.”

What are you most looking forward to with the work in Lund?

“The scientific atmosphere! In Grenoble we created a very lively and extremely collegiate atmosphere, all in the context of inter-institute partnership and technical complementarity. For LINXS I want to see motivated, driven and curious people who work together across classical boundaries to create remarkable work environments and fantastic results!”

More facts

LINXS was established by Lund University in summer 2017, with Peter Schurtenberger as its founding Director after 4 years of efforts. Steve Hall replaced Peter as Director as of autumn 2018, and Trevor Forsyth took over as the third Director on 1st December 2021.

LINXS is currently located in the IDEON Science Park but will move to new extended premises in Science Village in 2024.

MAX IV was inaugurated in 2016

ESS- the forecast for completion is 2027

Translated by LINXS


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