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New Head cherish respect and cooperation

Published: 19 April 2017

On May 1, assistant professor Gunilla Isaksson starts as the new Head of the Department of Health Sciences. She is a licensed occupational therapist who has experience from various positions in the academic world.

– I have a constant curiosity and are stimulated by new challenges, which made med apply for the position as the prefect. I am inspired by finding longterm solutions and build an operation in collaboration with others, says Gunilla Isaksson.

From teacher to department head

She began working as a licensed occupational therapist in 1990 in the psychiatric ward. After five years, she applied for a lecturer position at Health Sciences in Boden and in 2003 she began her graduate studies. Five years later, she was the first doctorate in occupational therapy at Luleå University of Techonlogy. After that, she has been subject representative of the research subject occupational therapy, done a post-doctoral at the Karolinska Institute, a supervisor of several PhD students and been the Head of the Department for Health and Rehabilitation.

– I've been at Luleå University of Technology for quite some time and had experiences from educational development, review processes and management tasks to move from Nursing College to University, says Gunilla Isaksson.

Research with two specializations

Her own research in occupational therapy has evolved in two directions, one focus on fragile senior citizens and the other on people with spinal cord injury - both with the goal of promoting the health and well-being of people through participation in the activity.

– My research has a predominantly qualitative approach. I place great value in collecting data, observe and meet the same people over time in different situations with varying methods to get a full and credible materials.

Collaborate and retain skills

She believes one of the strengths of the institution is current community programs with strong demand from operatione and high number of applicationa. The applying students are well motivated and the teachers in the department is very competent. The challenge is to enrole a lot of students in a lean organization and maintain the high quality.

– It is important to preserve the expertise we long-term have built and we must continue the strategic work on competence development.

More strengths is that it is the teachers great educational interest, both for regular and distance programmes. Distance education has been going on for many years the competence is very high means Gunilla Isaksson.
-– That expertise we can really highlight but we can not sit back because the digital revolution expands very fast and we must continue the educational work.

In research Gunilla Isaksson believes that it is important to collaborate and build networks across disciplinary boundaries in the Department, with other institutions, nationally and internationally to build interdisciplinary research and thus better conditions for external financing. Here is the Center for Innovation and eHealth an important part of building cooperation related to digital technologies.

How would you describe your leadership?

– I care about respect, openness, cooperation, trust and responsibility. I see the value of diversity in the working groups and work to take advantage of the best expertise within the group. For me, a good leader is not the most visible, but is available and listens to every employee and handles issues with the utmost integrity and respect to able to step forward as a leader and take the necessary decisions.


Gunilla Isaksson

Gunilla Isaksson, Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 493853
Organisation: Occupational therapy, Health, Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Health, Education and Technology