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Research groups

Short presentations

Biomechanics and Biomedicine

Muscles make it possible to move our body. Nerves trigger the muscles and transfer information to the brain from both the body and the environment. Research projects in biomechanics and biomedicine aim at understanding how muscles and nerves work.

“The human being is the centre in all our projects", says Sofia Olandersson, a Ph.D candidate involved in the Hand project. The aims of the Hand project are to develop methods to examine muscles acting on the hand and to a better understanding of the dysfunctional hand in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases affecting joints and muscles. Hopefully this will create possibilities to a better understanding of disorders and environmental factors that may affect the musculature. Possible environmental factors may include nutrition, injuries and physical training. See also the presentation of PRODEA — Centre for product development within the network alliance Health Technique.

The Pain project also focuses on the human being. The team collaborates with other partners to develop methods to examine the function of pain sensitive nerves. In addition, this will open up possibilities to better diagnostic tools and new strategies for the treatment of pain.

The project Training focuses on training and elite athletes, in which the exercise efficiency and the effect on the immune system are being studied.

In all our research projects there is a close collaboration with researchers nationally and internationally. “This is essential", says Marita Hilliges, the research team leader. Studies of patients would not be possible without the collaboration with experienced clinicians. Our collaborations are a prerequisite for research at a high scientific level and give our research students possibilities to make international experiences.
Contact: Lina Lundgrenopens in new window

Ecology and Environmental Science

The research performed within Ecology and Environmental Science is oriented towards applications within environmental and nature management. It connects to the unique profile of the region combining agriculture, huge forests, the sea, tourism, and outdoor life. A large proportion of the research is performed in collaboration with the Wetland Research Centre. This research is described under the Wetland Research Centre. Other projects are described here.

Wind turbines and humans
Wind turbines produce renewable energy with low impact on the environment, but the planning process is often delayed by public objections based on fear of disturbances. Are people living in the vicinity of wind turbines affected by noise and shadows? If so, is this effect due to the exposure or to other factors influencing the variation in perceived annoyance?

Environmental effects of nitrogen deposition
The northern hemisphere receives large amounts of atmospheric inorganic nitrogen deposition. Beneficial effects that initially appear, e. g. increased forest production or decreased emissions of carbon dioxide from soils may turn into negative effects after long-term high deposition. Such negative effects are increased emissions of the greenhouse gas dinitrogen oxide and coastal water eutrophication. The possibilities to counteract negative effects are poorly known and are studied from regional and global perspectives.

Effects of nitrogen deposition on plants
Other effects of nitrogen deposition are increased concentrations of different nitrogenous compounds in forest trees and ground flora which may lead to changes in plant nutrient balance and in plant species composition. Plant species show differences in their sensitivity to high nitrogen deposition. Studies are made on forest edge effects and in areas near point sources of ammonia in order to find the limits for stable forest ecosystem functioning.

Environmental effects of use of biogas residue as fertilizer
Farm-scale anaerobic digestion produces, apart from gas, also a digested residue. Digestion of manure and agricultural residues produces a stabilised fertilizer with a more controlled nutrient release than regular manure. Thus, emissions of ammonia and greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and nutrient leaching can be avoided. Studies are made on how different substrates and process conditions influence the quality of the digested residue, including nutritional and environmental aspects.

Effects of eutrophication on suspension feeders in Fucus communities in the south-east Kattegatt
Eutrophication has a negative impact on various suspension-feeding organisms. Further studies in this field may relieve a variety of shortterm- and longterm effects on the biodiversity in the coastal seaweed communities. These are important breeding and feeding areas for many species of fish and should be considered of major environmental interest.

Biodiversity, indicator species and morphological adaptations
Dragonflies (Insecta: Odonata) are used to detect changes in species richness in agricultural and forested areas in Sweden. Dragonflies are predators and their presence in aquatic habitats may indicate high diversity. Similar studies are performed in tropical environments: rain forests in Costa Rica and deserts in Namibia. In addition, morphological and ecological adaptations of these insects to different environments are studied in relation to their known phylogeny.
Contact: Marie Mattssonopens in new window

Functional Surfaces

The research in this group has the aim to produce surfaces 100% “tailor-made" for specified purposes. Whether a dental implant will last 5 or 50 years or if our cars and trucks will be able to reduce their petrol consumption or if a mobile phone will have a high-quality texture appearance are topics addressed within the scope of the research group´s work.

The research has a wide application range. General methods within research areas, such as signals analysis, statistics, physical metrology, and quantitative topography characterisation can be applied to support engineering applications. The applications vary from the automotive industry with manufacturing of low fuel- consumption engines, silent gear boxes, and complex car body panels, to manufacturing of dental implant surfaces and characterisation of artificial hip joint-implants for improved function and long product life.

The topic within the functional research group are by definition cross- and multi- disciplinary. PhD students and researchers from the University in Halmstad, Chalmers in Göteborg, Göteborg University, Linköping University, and Lund University co-operate and find partners within the mechanical- and biotechnical industry. Most of the financial support comes from the industrial branches mentioned and the governmental VINNOVA, as well as the national SSFand KK-foundations.

Focus for the research is to analyse surface topography and texture to enable detailed modelling of manufacturing and function of general surface applications.

The two main application areas: Automotive and Biotech, are organized in project areas; engine cylinder-liner and piston interactions, transmission surfaces, car body panel surfaces, and dental implant surfaces. Common for the automotive applications is the endeavour towards friction and wear control. Dental implant surfaces need to be correctly characterised for improved manufacturing quality and bone integration. The research in the Bio area is placed within the research platform/centre PRODEA.

The manufactured micro- and nanostructures on the titanium dental-implant screws (left picture) contribute significantly to a strong jaw-bone anchoring and possibilities for early, safe loading after the surgery.

When controlling the manufacturing of the micrometer-large criss-cross pattern of the cylinder liner walls of an internal combustion engine, the research group and its partners have the tools to significantly change the fuel- and oil consumption, with strong impact on the environment.
Contact: Bengt-Göran Rosénopens in new window

Photonics and Microwave Technology

Direct measurements of changes in the pattern and polarization of electromagnetic wave fronts represent the most sensitive probes in physics. Electromagnetic waves may penetrate media of varying physical properties, changing its amplitude, phase, and polarization in a way that is specific to the content and structure of the media. Thus molecular gas, and solids, will emit or absorb electromagnetic radiation mainly depending on its composition, density, the physical temperature, the molecular structure, or the electric and/or magnetic fi eld in the area where the gas resides. Radio astronomical techniques, and especially interferometer techniques where one has direct access to the wave front data, are very well suited to be used for any such probes.

In a rare case of technology transfer into new research and development, the Photonics and Microwave group, with research in radio astronomy, at the University of Halmstad and MEFOS of Luleå are together developing new technologies for dynamically and in real-time measure multiple levels and off-gases in industrial processes. The development is close collaboration with Swedish and European steel and metal industries, in some cases within the frame works of the European Coal and Steel Collaboration (ECSC).

The research program includes:
* Three-dimensional imaging with microwaves. This project aims to develop a new fully 3-D imaging system which from a single vantage point will make a complete microwave holographic image of the burden surface of a blast-furnace.

* Analysis of off-gases. The project aims to analyze the molecular composition, concentration, and temperature of the off-gas from industrial and combustion processes. The analysis is made with a phase-coherent microwave spectrometer mounted across the duct channel.

* Tomographic imaging of fiber material. This project aims to make holographic images of fiber material, e.g. meat and wood, with coherent polarized microwave signals.
Contact: Lars Bååthopens in new window

Plant Cell Biology: Intracellular Protein Transport

In plant cells, energy transduction takes place in two specialised organelles (compartments in the cell enclosed by biological membranes), the mitochondrion and the chloroplast. In the chloroplast, solar energy is stored as chemical energy in a process called photosynthesis.

This process is unique for plants, algae and photosynthetic bacteria. In the mitochondrion, the cellular respiration takes place. In this process, common to both animals and plants, energy is recovered when energy-rich compounds (carbohydrates and fats) are degraded. Both photosynthesis and cellular respiration are complicated processes, which can be divided into many partial reactions. Despite the fact that photosynthesis may appear as the opposite of cellular respiration, the two processes do in fact share many similarities. One important similarity is that many of the enzymes involved are membrane proteins, integral components of biological membranes.

Most of the proteins in the organelles are synthesised outside the organelle and must be transported into it. They are synthesised with an extension called presequence, which functions as an "address tag". This tag is recognised by receptors on the surface of the organelle, and thereafter the protein is transported into the organelle. In plant cells, which have both chloroplasts and mitochondria, this process is more complicated than in animal cells. The presequences directing proteins to mitochondria and chloroplast are similar, but there are small differences that determine to which organelle the protein is directed.

We study the structure of these address tags, and how they are able to direct a protein to chloroplasts or mitochondria and also further within the organelle. As experimental organisms, we use higher plants, mostly pea and wheat, and the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas.

To map the mechanisms that regulate the transport of proteins to and within chloroplasts and mitochondria, we use isolated DNA clones encoding specific chloroplastic and mitochondrial proteins. Using the DNA clones as templates, we produce radioactively labelled proteins. These labelled proteins are mixed with isolated chloroplasts or mitochondria, or with purified membrane fractions. In this way, we can study the molecular mechanisms of protein/ membrane interactions. To study protein transport directly in living cells, a hybrid gene with a modified sorting signal has been constructed. When this gene is introduced in algal cells we will be able to compare the sorting of the modified protein and the original protein in the cells.
Contact: Lars-Gunnar Franzénopens in new window

Wetland Research Centre

The Wetland Research Centre is a free-standing centre of knowledge based at Halmstad University. Today, wetlands are restored and constructed in the landscape to obtain various societal benefits including water quality improvement, increased biodiversity and landscape diversity, water storage, as well as improved quality of life. Our network consists of scientists and professionals with practical experience applying to wetlands. The research at the Wetland Research Centre is oriented towards applications of wetland knowledge within environmental and nature management.

Flow-proportional water sampling. Variation in nutrient removal values between wetlands is very large, and removal values also vary between years for the same wetland, weakening modelling estimates on overall nutrient removal. We attempt to produce better data for modelling nutrient removal by applying flow-proportional water sampling in three agricultural wetlands in South Sweden. We intend to test if removal data from periods with different water flows can be used for modelling the removal capacity of individual wetlands.

An experimental wetland research facility with replicated wetland units. The experimental wetland research facility consists of 18 similarly shaped wetland units (mesocosms) in which water flow, water depth, and vegetation composition can be controlled individually. The number of wetland units makes replication of treatments possible, thus facilitating statistical evaluation of obtained results. Experiments are primarily performed to reveal which factors are most important to obtain a high nitrogen removal in wetlands. Important factors assessed in the experimental wetlands and assumed to be important for nitrogen removal are: hydraulic load, nitrogen load, temperature, water depth, and vegetation composition.

Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in wetlands. This project approaches the different impacts of species composition and diversity on magnitude and stability of ecosystem functioning. How are biodiversity and plant composition linked in constructed wetlands in the agricultural landscape? How is ecosystem functioning (specifically retention of phosphorus and nitrogen) linked to biodiversity and vegetation composition in these wetlands? How can ecosystem functioning and biodiversity be optimised in such wetlands? The answers will enable us to deliver concrete guidelines regarding wetland construction and management.
Contact: Stefan Weisneropens in new window

Updated 2008-02-06