Mobile Minds in a Post-Pandemic World: Automatization Processes and Researcher Mobility at Research Infrastructures

DAAD PRIME Fellowship

In recent years, research infrastructures around the world have advanced remote access or automated sample analysis that facilitate time-intensive routine data collection processes and thereby reduce travel frequencies. Such automatization processes have proofed valuable during the COVID-19 crisis when many facilities were closed. Even if pandemic-related travel-restrictions come to an end, the climate crisis too calls into question the narratives of increasingly mobile researchers.

However, the opportunities and limitations of such automatization processes for broader meanings of researcher mobility and how research infrastructures will be organized and governed in a post-pandemic world remain largely understudied. To what extent do automated and remotely controlled experiments and measurements shape and limit individual and/or collaborative travel at single-sited research infrastructures? What are the potential benefits and/or loses of increasing automatization processes and reduced travel frequencies regarding broader meanings of mobility, that include networking, collaboration, hands-on training on specialized instruments and the advancement of individual careers?

Taken together, such a perspective forms a bridge across recent scholarship in the social sciences and humanities on the governance of research infrastructures and the role of mobility events understood as constitutive dynamics for collaboration, training and career advancement. It paves the way towards the future organization and resilience of single-sited research infrastructures that balance individual and collaborative mobility requirements with the limitations and opportunities of automatization processes.

This research project is carried out in collaboration with MAX IV and Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies at Lund University.


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Dr. Katharina C. Cramer



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