2019 in review

Doing a review of the past year is such a great way to sum up accomplishments and formulate goals for the next year. Having such posts is also a nice way to be able to go back in time and remember what were the big events of that year. Thus, this is a short summary of what happened in my (academic) life in 2019:

Parental leave

I was on parental leave for nearly all of 2019, which might explain why this post will be quite a short one, and also why there are no blog posts at all for 2019. I went on parental leave from my job at Aalborg University at the end of January, the baby was born in March and I will be back at work on January 13th. I really value the parental leave opportunities in Scandinavian countries and I can’t imagine what it would be like to be forced to go back to work after just a few weeks of giving birth. I did miss working though so I haven’t been completely away from university life: I’ve taken my baby to seminars, workshops and other meetings and learned that it’s possible, although not always easy.

New old job

In 2018 I had started a new position as assistant professor at Aalborg University (AAU) in Copenhagen, to work on a project on migration to Northern Europe. This was a three year position so I had taken a leave from my job as researcher at Lund University. During my parental leave, it became more and more clear that the commute of 1 hour and 15 min (one-way) wouldn’t be viable with my (new) family situation. Therefore, I decided to resign from that position and resume my position at Lund University. I have never resigned from a job before and it was not an easy decision, however I’m grateful to the time I got at AAU and look forward to coming back to Lund University.


One of the best news of the year was that I, together with two colleagues, got a grant for early career scientists from FORMAS, to continue working on climate stress in Syria. It will be very interesting to see what we end up with in this interdisciplinary project.


Climate change is expected to have widespread effects on societies across the world. While it is difficult to predict exactly how we will be affected in the future, we can gain a better understanding if we study earlier extreme climate events and their effects on society. A great fear is that climate extremes, in the future, will lead to a world with more armed conflicts and refugee displacement. The civil war in Syria that followed a severe drought is viewed as an important example of this. There is, however, much we do not know about what happened in Syria during and after the drought. This project aims to study the drought’s effect on agriculture and rural population through a combination of remote sensing and interview studies. This will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms that link climate, land systems, society, and conflict, which can provide important information about how we can reduce vulnerability in the future. The project will push the field of land system science forward by contributing with a detailed and integrated study of land system changes in the context of drought and conflict. An understanding of this will help us predict future changes to the land system and allow us to assess the needs for post-conflict rebuilding of more drought-resilient societies.


In February I was asked if I would be interested in making a contribution to the next International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Assessment Report 6. It was a tough decision because I didn’t know what life with a baby would be like, but I decided to try to contribute. Thus, most of my computer time this year I’ve spent working on a contribution to the water chapter, focusing on water and human migration. While there are no guarantees that my part will be included in the final report, I’m very happy that I got the chance to work on it together with many brilliant scientists. I’ve also been expert reviewer for two chapters, and just getting an insight into the process of the report has been very interesting.

Photoshopping skills: acquired

I didn’t know how much work a baby really is, so in April I signed up for a distance learning course in digital image editing. By the time the course started my baby had started crawling, so not so much time for me to do course work. But I have nearly finished it and I am so happy to finally have a basic understanding of how to edit images in photoshop. To prove it I give you my masterpiece: “My cat’s daydream” below. I hope to be able to use my skills for more serious work in the future, to make nicer figures and maps in my articles and in science communication.

To sum up

It’s been an interesting year, both privately and career wise. I’ve managed to do much more work-stuff than I ever thought I would, but also realized my boundaries. An important thing to note is that I haven’t been forced to do any work, so whatever I’ve done has been because I wanted to. I appreciate that people have respected the fact that I’m on parental but also been encouraging and positive about the things I have done.

2020 then?

I look forward to starting to work again and hope that I will be able to settle in without becoming too exhausted. I have several papers in the pipeline and also ideas for new project applications. By the end of 2020 I hope to have at least two papers published, one as first author and one as contributing. I also hope to start the new project on Syria, submit at least one application, and become better at writing blog posts. Sounds reasonable, eh?


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