Tommy Nylander: "For me it’s about the community and the knowledge exchange."

Tommy Nylander, professor at Physical Chemistry, has been part of LINXS since the start. He reflects on why he chose to be active in LINXS, and why others researchers should join too.

– For me it’s about the community and the knowledge exchange. That’s what LINXS can give me as a researcher. We have missed a physical place where we can meet and collaborate on x-ray and neutron science.

– LINXS gives me an opportunity to discuss techniques and methods with likeminded researchers, in a space which supports activities specifically aimed at pushing research and ideas forward.

According to Tommy Nylander, LINXS can also serve as a cement in terms of bringing Swedish and international institutes together, and help strengthen links between MAX IV, ESS and universities.

– There has been quite a lot of criticism of how Sweden has handled MAX IV and ESS in relation to bringing the Swedish universities together. Here I think LINXS has an important role to play as a vehicle to invite researchers, organise collaborative events, and to build an active user community from all of Sweden.

– We need to look further than individual university concerns and raise our perspective. Only then can we promote research in Sweden and internationally. Can we use the inherent energy and resources within the people who are here at LINXS to do that?

According to Tommy this includes moving beyond discussions of what name LINXS should be given if it grows to become a international institute.

– If we focus on discussing the name, we have started in the wrong place. We need to go back to how collaborative work could and should look like between universities and research institutes.

He can identify different ways in which LINXS could work with developing its offering to researchers.

– I think it would be valuable to give researchers the opportunity to stay on at LINXS one to two days after they’ve done experiments at the facilities. Then you can start with processes and analysis directly, as opposed to going home and pushing it to the side. If researchers can discuss the data with people who have more experience than themselves, it can help them along enormously.

– That’s why LINXS should be seen as a flow, not a box. You can be part of the flow according to your own needs, by meeting different people and participating in different events.

Another way to develop LINXS, according to Tommy Nylander, is to work more with tying researchers to the institute, at different stages of their careers.

– LINXS fellows is a good place to start. We should work towards a visit to LINXS becoming a valuable career step for both emerging and established researchers.

At LINXS, Tommy Nylander is part of the working group Dynamics and Structure of Membranes and Their Constituents, under the Dynamic theme, where he focuses on the dynamic and structural aspect of biological membranes. During the summer, he launched an additional research programme, Structure and dynamics utilizing the GISANS technique. This is one of four new research programmes starting at LINXS.

– Within a year, I hope we have developed a programme for methods to get to know structure and dynamics, including molecules, related to cell membranes. The other thing I want to achieve is to develop a vision for how we can start building a new Swedish instrument at ESS, using the GISANS technique, grazing-incidence small-angle neutron scattering. I see this as a research area in which Sweden could be very successful, especially because we are very strong in nanostructures.


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Noomi Egan