Dear CIRFA-partners, colleagues, and collaborators,

2020 soon becomes history. It has been an extraordinary year for all of us. As society, family, colleagues and friends, we have been faced with challenges no one was prepared for, and we have gone a long way to learn and adapt the way we work and interact. This is certainly also the case for CIRFA. In March, we were suddenly sent home to work from our kitchens and lofts. We held meetings on Teams and Zoom, and for almost 3 months, we only met our colleagues on the screen. Luckily, to our knowledge, no CIRFA employee or colleague with collaborating partners, have been sick by the virus. Moreover, we are proud that we managed to keep working persistently towards our goals and despite the challenges, good progress was made in all work packages.

The work has been guided by the workplans for 2020. There has been more focus on developing DEMOs related to the application-oriented work packages than in previous years. This was well appreciated by CIRFA’s Scientific Advisory Board, who commented “Demonstration exercises has been really improved!”.  In terms of publications, 2020 has been a record year with about 25 journal papers, published or accepted for publication. And, despite of the fact that all international conferences have been moved to a digital format, CIRFA members have been very active, with numerous contributions.

This year CIRFA has celebrated two PhD defenses. Before the end of the year, two more candidates will submit their theses, with tentative defenses at the end of February 2021. Unfortunately, this year two PhD fellows decided to give up their studies, according to their grounds, due to personal reasons. Their research themes will be taken over by two new candidates starting at CIRFA in early 2021. On the negative side, we also regret to inform you that Total withdrew as partner in CIRFA, ending an 8 years long successful collaboration with UiT.

We missed the opportunity to meet you all at Sommarøya Arctic Hotel this year. The CIRFA Conference, as you know, moved to the digital universe, and around 50 participants joined us for this 3-days event. In times of restricted travels, we could still enjoy presentations and discussions with participants and colleagues from Europe and the United States. Of course, we missed the coffee chats, but we hope you were able to enjoy the meeting and get an impression of the progress towards the mission of CIRFA.

We had a successful ‘digital site-visit’ from the Research Council on the “lucky day” of Friday November 13th. In the meeting, the Research Council was updated on the status of CIRFA, and recommendations from the midterm evaluation, the funding situation, ideas and plans for the afterlife of CIRFA as well as covid-19 consequences were discussed. The feedback from RCN was positive and CIRFA is now looking forward to enter its next phase.

After a more or less normal summer and early autumn, at least work wise, we are almost back to a situation where the corona virus has taken a role in our work and lives again. We surely hope to return to a more normal situation soon. This Christmas will be different. With restricted travelling, many foreign employees will not be able to celebrate with their families this year. We still hope they and all of you can relax and recharge to enjoy a peaceful break and have a refreshed start of the New Year.

We wish all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Best wishes, Andrea and Torbjørn