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Danish Centre for Rural Research - CLF

Esbjerg University Prize 2021: Barbora wins for her PhD on rural branding

PhD Barbora Gulisova is one of this year's recipients of the Esbjerg University Prize. The prestigious recognition was presented on Tuesday afternoon at AAU Esbjerg. Guest speaker was owner of Sports Connection Aps / Skechers Peter Jørgensen.

By Ane Line Søndergaard, , 11/2/2021

The Esbjerg University Prize is awarded annually to two students from SDU Esbjerg and AAU Esbjerg. The award is presented by Business Esbjerg in collaboration with a number of foundations and is awarded to outstanding students at the city's universities for promoting business-oriented research. The honor comes with a cash prize of DKK 25,000 each.

PhD in rural marketing

One of the award recipients is business economist Barbora Gulisova from SDU Esbjerg. She completed her PhD on rural branding earlier this year. Here she took a closer look at how smaller communities brand themselves to create a strong community identity and attract new families.

- Unlike larger cities, small communities don't have a communications department that works to develop and maintain the village's image. There is no designated authority to take care of it. Therefore, it's often people who are passionate about their work out of love for the place they live," she says.

The PhD was based on studies from villages in municipalities such as Esbjerg, Varde and Skive. Through interviews and analyses, Barbora Gulisova has looked at the collaboration between municipalities and rural areas and at how smaller communities organize themselves in relation to facilitating and driving local development and what resources it requires.

Pleasantly surprised researcher

The award of the Esbjerg University Prize came as something of a surprise to Barbora Gulisova.

- I was very surprised to find out that I was nominated for the award. I'm not used to this kind of thing, and I'm just doing my job, she says. "But I'm both happy and proud. I think it's crazy that I'm getting it.

Part of the money that comes with the award will be used by Barbora Gulisova to improve her professionalism.

- There is an interesting conference that I would like to go to, but I haven't been able to find the money to attend. I can afford it now," she says.  

Efficient mushroom batteries

Sebastian Birkedal Kristensen from AAU Esbjerg receives the award for his research into mushroom-based batteries. In his PhD, he has developed and optimized methods for cultivating and purifying fungi so that they can be used more efficiently to store electricity.

Batteries based on organic material from fungi are a promising new technology developed by researchers at AAU Esbjerg. In a few years, the batteries could have a major impact on sustainable energy security.

His research has taken Sebastian Birkedal Kristensen to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he was part of a research group working with computational molecular chemistry to find the most suitable battery mushrooms.

He then focused on refining and streamlining the mushroom cultivation method and building a test center to test the electrochemical properties of the mushrooms in real life.

- We've never had a test center for mushroom batteries before, so I had to team up with researchers in Aarhus to figure out what to buy, how to build it and how to make batteries," he says.

Cash prize for professional development

Sebastian Birkedal Kristensen is proud and happy to receive the Esbjerg University Prize, but has not yet decided what to do with the cash prize.

- It will probably ease the cost of conferences in the future," he says. The corona pandemic has resulted in fewer conferences being held in the last couple of years, but hopefully there will be more now..

The award-winning researcher defends his PhD on Thursday, November 11. He has recently moved to the Netherlands with his girlfriend, where he has joined a pharmaceutical company developing medical cancer treatments. However, the development of the mushroom battery continues in Esbjerg - partly based on Sebastian Birkedal Kristensen's work.

- My research into the fungi has helped create a foundation that my colleagues at the university are continuing to work on," he says.

Editing was completed: 02.11.2021