EU network of mesocosms facilities for research on marine and freshwater ecosystems open for global collaboration.

Transnational Access

Between January 2018 and December 2020 AQUACOSM will offer more than 11500 person-days of Transnational Access (TA) to more than 37 different leading and highly complementary European mesocosm facilities located at 19 AQUACOSM partners throughout Europe. The mesocosm facilities represent a cross section of European aquatic ecosystems ranging from the Sub-Arctic to the Mediterranean and beyond, from mountains to lowlands, from freshwater to estuarine and fully marine systems, and spanning from ultra-oligotrophic to hyper-eutrophic conditions. Detailed information about each mesocosm facility, technical design and available resources etc. can be found here.

During the first Transnational Access call we received 30 group leader applications (with 86 group members in total) and 27 individual applications (17 experts, 10 trainees). In total we had 143 applicants for Transnational Access in 2018. The TA-team forwarded compliant applications to the independent User Selection Panel (USP). The USP evaluated and prioritised applications for Transnational Access according to a set of transparent criteria (see details on TA evaluation procedure below). Following the USP recommendations, the facility providers sent out grant letters to the successful TA applicants who have already started performing experiments with TA users at the respective AQUACOSM partner facilities.

The SECOND CALL for Transnational Access in 2019 is now open!

An overview of open time periods and research activities at each facility in 2019 is given in the TA-Calendar-2019. Detailed information about each mesocosm facility, including ongoing and planned experiments, open time slots for own research projects, technical design and available resources etc. can be found here.

For detailed information about the TA application procedure, please see section WHEN, & HOW to apply for TA below.

To effectively explore the possibilities of each facility we strongly encourage all TA applicants to contact the respective facility providers – as early as possible in the proposal process – about possible usage of available resources and cooperation at the infrastructures. Please also consider the aims (explained below) and ensure that all requirements below are met before submitting a proposal for Transnational Access (TA).

WHEN to apply for Transnational Access (TA)?

  • The application deadline for the SECOND CALL for Transnational Access in 2019 will be Tuesday, 30 October 2018, 13:00 Central European Time (CET).

HOW to apply for Transnational Access (TA)?

  • Users must request access by submitting (in writing) a description of the work (project) that they wish to carry out and the names, nationalities and home institutions of the users.
  • Please read the TA-Application Guidelines (available in August 2018) carefully before filling in the application.
  • Users can apply for Transnational Access by filling in the Transnational Access Application Form and submit before the deadline. The application includes a number of documents (listed in the Guidelines) that you should prepare before filling in the TA-Application Form (online in August 2018).
  • The research group leader submits the application for the whole group, including their own CV and the CV of the users. An individual applicant submits the application and their CV. For the evaluation and selection process, it is required to use the CV Template TA-2018 (available in August 2018).

The Transnational Access (TA) AIMs to:

  • Attract and support a wide range of users from Europe and third countries effective access to high-quality infrastructures and services at unique and diverse aquatic mesocosm facilities, enabling first-class experimental research in aquatic ecology, including industrial Research & Development (R&D) activities.
  • Develop unexplored research and development potential between largely separated communities, such as freshwater and marine sciences, and between science, industries, environmental managers, and other relevant stakeholders.
  • Broaden cross-disciplinary collaboration and coordination of approaches and investigations over environmental gradients (salinity, climatic, nutritional, etc.).
  • Specifically offer access and train users from countries that lack state-of-the-art freshwater or marine mesocosm facilities, and/or have not previously been involved in experimental investigations using aquatic mesocosm facilities.
  • Applications from female users are particularly encouraged!

Why is Transnational Access (TA) important?

All 19 AQUACOSM infrastructure partners have developed mesocosm facilities and supporting laboratories with different complimentary state-of-the-art, instrumentation, methods and know-how. To fully utilise this potential, we do not only open our facilities for external users but also aim to integrate these activities into our future science projects and utilise the cross-disciplinary knowledge within the consortia to the most. International networking by AQUACOSM partners and participation of external users from different fields through TA activities in new-externally suggested experiments or already planned experiments will ensure effective transfer of know-how, especially between freshwater and marine partners, where prior connections have been limited or non-existent.

Note that an important aim of the TA is to invite students, scientists, industry, technical developers and other stakeholders that do not have access to similar facilities, know-how or services in their own country or institution. Further, to foster a truly global initiative, AQUACOSM will welcome up to 20% of the funded participants from countries outside the European Union and associated states. This integrated networking and international exchange of scientists and other interested parties is expected to increase the scientific output from each of the experiments by increasing the cross-disciplinary scientific and technical know-how exchange between the TA users and facility hosts.

WHAT does Transnational Access (TA) offer?

TA offered by the AQUACOSM project provides access free of charge to approved users to at least one of the AQUACOSM partner facility. The access includes logistical, technological and scientific support and specific training to users. Each facility provider of the AQUACOSM partner institutes (=WP task leader) is responsible for the local administration of the TA users after they have been assigned to the respective AQUACOSM partner facility and time period. The AQUACOSM coordinators at each site will be responsible for practical installation and day-to-day scientific supervision.

– Travel expenses of the users from the location of the user’s home institution to the chosen installation and return shall be reimbursed on the following basis: The airfare shall be reimbursed on submission of the original ticket with a travel imbursement form after the completion of the travel. The travel must be on economy class. Local transportation costs (bus, metro, train) for the arrival and departure dates may also be reimbursed upon presentation of receipts. Taxi fares are not eligible for reimbursement unless properly justified and clarified with the facility providers beforehand. Please make sure to retain the receipt and provide a written justification. If you need to travel by car, a justification and a budget should be included. When traveling by car, travel expenses shall be reimbursed up to the cost of an economy airfare according to the rules at the host institution. Where two or more persons entitled to reimbursement of travel expenses use the same car, only the person responsible for the car shall be reimbursed following national laws (e.g. in DE driven km*0.20 € and maximal reimbursement one way = 130 EUR). Costs of car rental or car insurance will not be covered.

– Lodging will be booked and paid directly by the AQUACOSM partner facility provider. The duration of the proposed project may vary, but generally between ca. three weeks to three months for each person.

– Subsistence expenses will be provided for in the form of either a per-diem fare or through all meal costs covered by the facility provider dependent on the facility and the country. 

The AQUACOSM Transnational Access program will not cover salaries or honoraria! Appointed users should make their own travel, health and other insurance arrangements.

WHO can apply for Transnational Access (TA)?

Individual users and groups of users from all over the world can apply for AQUACOSM Transnational Access as long as the following regulations are met:

  • When more than one applicant submits a proposal, the group is led by a “user group leader”. All TA grants to user group leaders, group members, individual users (experts and trainees) are personal. The person/s named on the application form cannot be exchanged.
  • The number of TA access days is also personal, Modifications may be allowed after evaluation on an individual case basis.
  • After the call is closed it is not possible to add participants on TA funding.
  • The user group leader can neither transfer the grant leadership, nor a significant amount of allocated personal time to another member(s) of the group.
  • The user group leader and the majority of users must reside in a country other than the country where the installation/research infrastructure is located.
  • Only users and user groups that are allowed to publicly disseminate the results generated under the action can benefit from TA, unless the user represents an industrial/private enterprise (for which special rules apply-please contact us for further info).
  • User groups with a majority of users not working in an EU or associated country is limited to 20% of the total amount of units of access provided under the grant.
  • Members of the AQUACOSM consortium/partners and present members of their research groups cannot apply for TA funding.
  • Non- associated members at partner institutions e.g. from another Department or Research Group can apply for TA. However, all requirements mentioned above apply. Thus in the case of comparably good scientific proposals, generally the most external, and new users will be prioritised.

HOW are users/user groups selected for Transnational Access (TA)?

  • The users will be selected by the User Selection Panel (USP) composed of international experts in the field and being independent from the beneficiaries.
  • The USP must base its selection on scientific merit, taking into account that priority should be given to user groups composed of users who
    • have not previously used the installation and
    • are working in countries where no equivalent research infrastructure exist.
  • It will apply the principles of transparency, fairness and impartiality.

TA evaluation procedure

  • Incoming TA applications are initially collected, sorted and registered by the AQUACOSM Project Office (WP1) and checked for formal compliance according to the present European Commission Requirements.
  • The Project Office then forwards compliant applications to the independent User Selection Panel (USP), which is composed of four distinguished aquatic scientists with international expertise on all aquatic systems addressed in WP6 (see 3.2)
  • The USP is asked to prioritise applications for Transnational According to a set of transparent criteria (see Application Assessment). Most important are scientific merit and attributes of prospective users as defined above.
  • The Steering Committee (SC) and WP6 task leaders will then comment on the feasibility of the proposed activities at the specific sites based on the available expertise, collaboration potential and schedules at the respective facility.
  • Final decisions are taken by the USP after consultation of the SC and respective task leaders.
  • Facility providers start organising the planned activity as soon as they are informed about approved TA applications.
  • Decisions on TA approval will be also reported to the Project Office and publicly communicated via the outreach pathways of WP5.
  • Special cases: If more qualified applicants seek access to the same facility than there are available time slots, the less qualified applicants will be either directed to another facility (if they have given a second choice facility), alternatively put on a waiting list or their proposal will be declined.

What to know about Transnational Access (TA)?

Soon after the completion of the project in one of the AQUACOSM partner facilities, the appointed group leader should submit a short report. Travel expenses will be reimbursed upon approval of the report. All publications resulting from the project should acknowledge this EC-support.

The applicant is entitled to publish the results of their own work at the infrastructure in the open literature. Proprietary research (research where results are not generally available to the public or only made available under confidentiality arrangements) cannot be supported.

If you have ideas for open project(s) you wish to discuss with us please contact us any time, we are here to help developing the best possible open science projects! Welcome!

 

Contact for AQUACOSM Transnational Access:

WP6 Leader: Dr. Stella A. Berger
Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB)
Department of Experimental Limnology
Alte Fischerhütte 2
16775 Stechlin
GERMANY
e-mail:  Berger@igb-berlin.de
Office phone:  +49 33082 69941

WP6 Co-Leader: Dr. Tatiana Tsagaraki 
Tatiana.Tsagaraki@uib.no
Department of Biology
University of Bergen
Thormøhlensgate 53 A/B
e-mail: Tatiana.Tsagaraki@uib.no
Office phone: +47 55584630