The STAR project finished on 31st July 2015 - page no longer being updated
Long-term sustainable integration of European radioecological research
Key Goal: To efficiently integrate important organisations, infrastructures, and research efforts into a sustainable network that contributes to a European Research Area in radioecology
Currently leading experts in radioecology are approaching retirement, education related to radioecology has steadily declined and funding for radioecological research is at a minimum in many European countries. With a renewed interest in nuclear energy and the scientific challenges related to the nuclear fuel cycle, the need for radioecological expertise is increasing world-wide. To face this challenge and avoid further fragmentation, nine leading organisationshave established the STAR Network of Excellence in radioecology.
Strategic Research Agenda (SRA)
One of our goals is to develop the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA). The SRA will provide a long term vision of radioecological research needed within the European community and guidance on future collaborative research lines. The content of the SRA will be improved and developed through consultation with the wider radioecological community and relevant stakeholders (e.g. industry, national regulators, and international organisations).
Promoting effective collaboration and integration
To promote effective collaboration and integration we will survey data bases, sample banks, analysis methods, models, and facilities available within the different STAR partner organisations. A virtual laboratory will be created on the STAR webportal that contain information about radioecology facilities, procedures, methods, and available expertise. The virtual laboratory will also provide on-line demonstrations of procedures and wiki blogs to enable interactive communication. It will encourage integration through better planning of joint research projects, joint use of infrastructure, and establishing best practices.
Observatories for Radioecological Research
One or more contaminated field sites will be chosen as Observatories for Radioecological Research. Focused research at these common sites will lead to the improvement of methods and models, leading to an enhanced understanding of radionuclide behavior and effects. The observatories will foster innovative co-operation amongst the partners. Over time, they will involve the wider radioecological and stakeholder community in the development of a sustainable European Research Area in radioecology. General requirements for choosing an Observatory include a long-term perspective for shared field work and the attractiveness for scientists in related disciplines, e.g. ecotoxicology. The candidate site will be well characterized and subject of long-term investigations.
Integration on the scale envisioned by STAR requires new ways of thinking by scientists, supported by an effective management and governance structure. It invokes new approaches to radioecology. Research conducted by the STAR Work Packages requires mutual access to laboratories, equipment, material, data and knowledge, as well as exchanges of researchers. Transition to a fully functional, integrated programme will take time. The logistics of integrating have been planned in three additional phases that begin with the establishment of STAR and evolves, 4.5 years later, to the ALLIANCE consortium.
By the time the STAR contract comes to an end, the management of the SRA and related integrated R&D programmes will be managed through the ALLIANCE’s integrated governance system.
European Radioecology Alliance
The Director Generals of EIGHT organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding in June 2009 and established the European Radioecology ALLIANCE. Members of the ALLIANCE will bring together parts of their respective R&D programmes into an integrated trans-national programme that maintains and enhances radioecological competences and experimental infrastructures, and addresses scientific and educational challenges in assessing the impact of radioactive substances on humans and the environment. It is encouraged that in addition to the founding organisations, other laboratories in the field of radioecology will join to the ALLIANCE.
This workpackage is co-ordinated by Tarja Ikaheimonen of STUK