CRI News

Subject OJEong Resilience Institute selected as an autonomous Core Research Institute
Writer OJERI Date 2023-03-02 Read 1405
OJEong Resilience Institute selected as an autonomous Core Research Institute
― Support of KRW 9.9 billion for research on ‘Basic Science for Ecosystem Material Cycles in Response to Climate and Environmental Crises’

On June 3rd, 2021, the OJEong Resilience Institute at Korea University (Director, Professor Woo-Kyun Lee of the Division of Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering) was finally selected as a self-operating Core Research Institute supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea. The OJEong Resilience Institute (OJERI) will receive 1.1 billion won in research funds (excluding indirect costs) each year, and will lead research on “Basic Science for Ecosystem Material Cycles in Response to Climate and Environmental Crises” for the next nine years.

The autonomous operation-focused Core Research Institute program, which selects five research institutes nationwide, selects only basic science research institutes among the science and technology infrastructure establishment projects. OJERI is the only one among the selected research institutes specializing in ecosystem material cycles, and society and academia expect a greater role for basic science in responding to environmental problems and the climate crisis.

Unlike the other 28 general Core Research Institutes selected this time, the autonomous Core Research Institute, as its name suggests, guarantees the maximum autonomous operation rights in operation and receives 57% more research funds (700 million won per year for the general Core Research Institutes). Accordingly, OJERI plans to directly discover tasks by selecting ‘observation-oriented field research’, ‘ecosystem basic mechanism and theory research’, and ‘integrated ecosystem assessment modeling’ as core areas for basic research on material circulation in ecosystems. In addition, to revitalize the ecosystem research infrastructure, OJERI plans to build a database and integrate ecosystem research facilities and resources in an area of 450 square meters supported by the College of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Korea University.

Based on the support of the National Research Foundation of Korea and Korea University, by producing new research personnel in three phases of 3 years and providing sufficient support to excellent research personnel in the field of ecosystem basic science over a long period of time, OJERI will establish a regional hub (Anam-Hongneung Basic Science Valley) and lay the foundation for growth into a mid-latitude regional and global hub in the field of ecosystem material cycles.

Currently, OJERI has 23 full-time faculty members and 11 full-time research professors participating in five unique research groups: climate change resilience, sustainable waste management, water resilience, ecosystem resilience, and mid-latitude water-food-ecosystem resilience. With the selection of a research center for autonomous operation, the number of full-time research professors will increase to a maximum of 20, further strengthening research capabilities. In addition, ‘Seed’ for independent research activities of young researchers, ‘Sprout’ for researchers in basic science and protection fields, ‘Stem’ to support the growth of mid-career researchers by young research faculty, and ‘Fruit’ programs that aim to achieve world-class performance to strengthen basic science research capabilities.

Director Woo-Kyun Lee, who drew up the final selection by concentrating the researchers’ capabilities since last year to support the Core Research Institute, said, “The solution to the environmental and climate crises should be based on basic research on material cycles in ecosystems, but the level of research in the field of ecosystem conservation and restoration in Korea remains at the ‘average’ level in the basic field. On the other hand, the applied field is rated as ‘excellent’.  By utilizing the manpower and infrastructure of the Autonomous Core Research Institute, we hope to achieve the development of ‘basic science on ecosystem material cycles’ that will contribute to solving the environmental and climate crises.”