"It's a fun and challenging job because there's always something happening"

Alisa Heuchel in the library at Abisko Scientific Research Station.

We welcome Alisa Heuchel, who started as the new laboratory manager at Abisko Scientific Research Station on May 15th! In September, Alisa Heichel will defend her doctoral thesis in forest genetics, and even though her work at the station will involve different things, she brings experiences from her research studies.

"Forest geneticists do a lot of lab work, and my research focuses on whether genetically improved trees provide the same genetic diversity as natural forests. Therefore I work a lot with DNA analysis."

The responsibilities of the laboratory manager include laboratories, greenhouses, and experimental gardens. The work involves servicing and maintaining instruments, purchasing consumables, and handling chemicals. The laboratory manager is also responsible for coordinating deliveries to visiting researchers, such as gas and other materials, managing bookings, and developing operations. Alisa Heuchel hopes that Abisko Scientific Research Station will eventually be able to establish a DNA lab, although nothing has been decided at present.

"A DNA lab would provide an entirely new direction for Abisko Scientific Research Station and significantly contribute to Swedish research. Few places this far north have a DNA lab, and Abisko has many ecosystems to investigate."

Looking forward to the seasons in Abisko

Alisa works 50 per cent during the summer and is on leave from September to November to complete her research studies. The first two weeks have been about getting to know the station and reading manuals and instructions to familiarise herself with the work.

"It's a fun and challenging job because there's always something happening. Researchers knock on the door and ask questions about various things. It requires knowledge of routines and the environment, but it's fun. My colleagues are welcoming, open, and warm. It's nice."

After Alisa completes her PhD at the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science at Umeå University, she will move to Abisko full-time with her husband, who is a research engineer. She has visited the area before, but now there's time to explore the surroundings truly.

"It's fun to be here, and seeing how the place changes will be interesting. The seasons are fantastic, with significant differences. I enjoy skiing and hiking; that's how I recharge. I'm also very interested in handicrafts; I embroider and create with beads. I could embroider something from Abisko, a landscape or something else.

When asked if anything feels challenging, Alisa mentions chemical handling due to the significant responsibility it entails.

"It's an important task, and I need to be prepared in case someone spills something chemically so everyone can feel safe."

Alisa looks forward to the lab work and the new life in the Kiruna municipality.

"I could have applied for a job closer to Umeå, but I'm curious, and that's why this job interested me. I want to work with lab work and am interested in small things, whether DNA or beads."

Publishing date: 07 Jun 2023