The new Research School of Forest Genetics, Biotechnology and Breeding started in spring 2013 and is organized by Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC) with major funding from the Berzelii Centre for Forest Biotechnology, forestry industry partners (Bergvik Skog, Holmen Skog, Stora Enso Skog, Sveaskog Förvaltnings and Skogforsk), and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). The School is also supported by Kempestiftelserna and Föreningen Skogsträdsförädling.
The overall aim of the research program is to train a new generation of researchers and specialists in forest genetics, population genetics and breeding that are well versed in the recent development of biotechnology. The future opportunities for such individuals are ample as a large number of retirements of forest geneticists are expected within 5 to 10 years and the great worldwide demand for quantitative and population geneticists as well as breeders knowledgeable in biotechnology. Many of the Swedish and international forest industries have also realized the strategic importance of biotechnological methods to support future breeding programs, plant propagation and silvicultural methods, as well as in getting novel high value uses of wood fibers.
The focus of the research school will be new molecular techniques, biotechnology, quantitative and population genetics, and operational tree breeding both as a continuation of the work of organizing previous research school in forest Genetics and Breeding and satisfying the demand for qualified personnel in the forest industry R&D organizations. This will continue to create a strong knowledge base with great potential for both research and industrial applications. The integration of molecular and quantitative genetics methods is a key component that will be achieved by tailored PhD courses and research projects.
The establishment of global contacts and collaborations are encouraged within the Research school. Leading international researchers give invited lectures and the PhD students operate in research environments with strong international networks.
The post-graduate students are registered at different departments of SLU in Umeå and Uppsala, and at the University of Umeå, and are employed by various forestry companies throughout the five year program. Four years are dedicated to PhD studies and research, while one year is set aside for applied R&D in cooperation with the host company.
The Research School comprises eight PhD students, academic and industry supervisors, management, and operational resources.