Annual report (2022)

1. Short presentation of the center – research perspectives and main goals

As witnessed during COVID-19, pandemics are among the largest threats to global health and the world economy. The core idea of PANSOC is that infectious disease pandemics created by influenza or coronaviruses have always been more than just a medical problem. Their epidemiology and impact are profoundly shaped by social and economic structures.

The overarching aim of our research centre is to study historical and modern data to enhance the understanding of social and biological risk factors for severe influenza and COVID-19 outcomes by socioeconomic and ethnic status and to improve pandemic preparedness.

This is the second annual PANSOC report. In the following, we present our 2022 research projects, funded applications, research team, published journal articles and outreach activities.

2. Research projects and funding applications

One of our key projects in 2022, Social Science Meets Biology: Indigenous People and Severe Influenza Outcomes, started in mid-August 2022 and will run to the end of June 2023. This Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) project brings together 15 international researchers with a background in epidemiology, genetics, social sciences and history to study why Indigenous peoples are vulnerable to serious disease during pandemics. PANSOC is the first OsloMet group awarded a stay at CAS at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo.

One of our researchers passed step 1 and was invited to an interview for the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant scheme in September 2022. The application was not funded, but we received financial support from the Research Council of Norway for applicants who got to Step 2 to resubmit to the ERC Consolidator grant program in February 2023.

One of our researchers was successful in receiving a highly prestigious Young CAS Fellowship 2023/2024 for the project Work and Wellbeing in History – CAS. PANSOC is the first OsloMet group to be awarded a Young CAS Fellowship, and to our awareness, we are the first research group to have both a standard CAS-project and a young CAS project at the same time (Spring of 2023). The Young CAS-project will bring together labor historians, economic historians, and labor economists to improve and extend the Historical Occupational Quality Index and integrate historical and present-day job quality measurement.

3. Research team and institutional collaborations

In 2022, the core team has consisted of five people, head (professor Svenn-Erik Mamelund) and co-head (Jessica Dimka) of PANSOC and three post-docs (Margarida Pereira, Benjamin Schneider, and Alexandra Blinkova). Five other researchers have also contributed to various projects, including Andreas Lillebråten, Nan Zou Bakkeli, Daniele Alves, Vibeke Narverud Nyborg and Hilde Orderud. Finally, we also had three master’s students in 2022: Carla Louise Hughes, Lara Maria Dora Steinmetz, and Christina Stylegar Torjussen.

The PANSOC visiting scholars program supports guest researchers to visit Oslo, to present ongoing research, and to discuss potential collaborations. As part of this program, we invited one guest researcher in 2021 (Mathias Ingholt Mølbak, University of Roskilde), one in 2022 (Kaspar Staub, University of Zurich), and after a review of the applications for the 2022/23 program (59 applications from across the globe), we will welcome Kristina Thompson, Wagenigen University (in January 2023) and Natalie Bennet, Newcastle University (in May 2023).

Via the ongoing PANRISK-funded Research Council of Norway project (2020-2023) and the CAS-project 2022/2023, PANSOC collaborates with the Pandemic Center in Bergen (Esperanza Diaz), the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Birgitte Klüwer), PandemiX Center, the University of Roskilde (Lone Simonsen, Søren Ørskov, Mathias Mølbak Ingholt), and with researchers at the universities of Umeå (Åke Brännström, Per Axelsson and Peter Sköld), Zürich (Kaspar Staub), ISPUP, Portugal (Ana Isabel Ribeiro), Philadelphia (Megan Todd), Missouri (Lisa Sattenspiel & Taylor P. van Doren), California, Irvine (Andrew Noymer), Michigan (Siddharth Chandra), Arizona (Amanda Wissler, Gerardo Chowell-Puente), Northern British Columbia (Lianne Tripp), Alberta (Courtney Heffernan), Queensland (Katherine Kedzierska), Melbourne (Kirsty Short & Lauren Steele), Auckland (Heather Battles, Marama Muru-Lanning), Otago (Michael Baker), and NIH (Jeffrey Taubenberger).

The team for the Young CAS Project Work and Wellbeing in History is Jane Whittle (University of Exeter), Judy Stephenson (UCL), Robin Philips (University of Utrecht), Vincent Delabastita (Radboud University), and Meredith Paker (Grinnell College).

PANSOC is also associated with MERIT – MothER Income InequaliTy ( This project includes the Institute of Public Health, University of Porto, Portugal and Centre for Research on Pandemics and Society, OsloMet, Norway (EEA Grants, SGS3A2). The MERIT – MothER Income InequaliTy project will produce knowledge about the impact of motherhood in women’s income and careers and will produce a combination of concrete public policy proposals to minimize asymmetries and promote gender equality in the labour market, especially through motherhood. Research team: Teresa Leão, Joana Amaro, Ana Sofia Maia, Silvia Fraga, Raquel Lucas, Milton Severo, Pedro Norton, (ISPUP, Porto (Portugal) Julien Perelman National School of Public Health (NOVA University of Lisbon), Margarida Pereira, Svenn-Erik Mamelund and Jessica Dimka (PANSOC, OsloMet, Norway).

4. Research outcomes/activities

We published twelve journal articles in 2022, of which two were in highly ranked level 2 journals (in Norway, highly ranked journals are level 2, others at level 1). One paper was published in Annals of Internal Medicine (see paper 1 below). This highly prestigious journal has an impact factor of 25.4 and is considered one of top five in medicine together with JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and The BMJ. Other articles were published in the fields of public health, anthropology, infectious diseases, and computer science. Since the start of PANSOC in January 2021, we have published 24 papers, of which three appeared in highly ranked level 2 journals (13.0%).

Three master’s students who started in 2021, and who have been affiliated with and have had advisors at PANSOC, finished their degrees in 2022 (2 with A’s and 1 with a B). One of the students published a paper based on the thesis in BMC Public Health (see paper 8 below).

In 2022, we held 31 webinars with guest speakers and audience from all parts of the globe (12 in the Spring semester and 9 in the Fall). We have also written several opinion pieces, been interviewed in both national and international newspapers and radio and participated in podcasts on how to keep up the pandemic memory and invest in pandemic preparedness. PANSOC was cited in the second report published by the Norwegian Corona commission. Finally, PANSOC organized and presented at the 2nd Norwegian Historical Demography Meeting (on zoom) in January 2022 and held a symposium with two internationally prominent guest speakers on the hunt for the virus causing the 1918-20 pandemic at the Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo in November 2022.

5. Summary

PANSOC continues to publish medical- and social science-related pandemic research in high-ranking international journals; we have been successful in getting competitive research grants; our master’s students finish and deliver high quality research on time; and our international PANSOC visiting scholars’ program and webinar series are very popular.

Master’s students finishing in 2022

  1. Carla Louise Hughes – Master’s thesis (2022): The Association Between the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Suicides in Norway.
  2. Lara Maria Dora Steinmetz – Master’s thesis (2022): COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in eastern Oslo: Addressing sociodemographic determinants and main reasons for vaccine hesitancy
  3. Christina Stylegar Torjussen – Master’s thesis (2022): «Dødsseileren» – losjiskipet i Horten: En kvalitativ og kvantitativ analyse av årsakene til den høye dødeligheten på MS «Kong Sverre» under spanskesyken i 1918 [“The Death Ship” – the accommodation ship in Horten: A qualitative and quantitative analysis of the reasons for the high mortality on MS “Kong Sverre” during the Spanish flu in 1918].

Papers published in 2022

  1. Kaspar Staub, Radoslaw Panczak, Katrina L. Matthes, Joël Floris, Claudia Berlin, Christoph Junker, Rolf Weitkunat, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Marcel Zwahlen, Julien Riou (2022): Historically High Excess Mortality During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Switzerland, Sweden, and Spain. Annals of Internal Medicine.  
  2. Nan Zou Bakkeli (2022): Predicting Psychological Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Do Socioeconomic Factors Matter? Social Science Computer Review (level 2 journal)
  3. Jessica Dimka, Taylor P. van Doren and Heather T. Battles (2022): Pandemics, past, and present: The role of biological anthropology in interdisciplinary pandemic studies. Yearbook of Biological Anthropology, 178 (Suppl. 74): 256-291.
  4. Daniele E. Alves, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Jessica Dimka, Lone Simonsen, Mathias Mølbak, Søren Ørskov, Lisa Sattenspiel, Lianne Tripp, Andrew Noymer, Gerardo Chowell-Puente, Sushma Dahal, Taylor P. Van Doren, Amanda Wissler, Courtney Heffernan, Kirsty Renfree Short, Heather Battles, Michael G. Baker (2022): Indigenous peoples and pandemics. Scandinavian Journal of Public health, 50 (6), 662-666.
  5. Esperanza Diaz, Jessica Dimka and Svenn-Erik Mamelund (2022): Disparities in the offer of COVID-19 vaccination to migrants and non-migrants in Norway: a cross sectional survey study. BMC Public Health, 22, 1288.
  6. Sushma Dahal, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Ruiyan Lua, Lisa Sattenspiel, Shannon Self-Brown, Gerardo Chowell (2022): Investigating COVID-19 transmission and mortality differences between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Mexico. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 122, 910-920.
  7. Christina Stylegar Torjussen and Svenn-Erik Mamelund (2022): Extreme Overcrowding and Extreme Lethality During the 1918Influenza Pandemic. American Journal of Public Health, 112 (10), 1372-1373.
  8. Lara Steinmetz (2022): Sociodemographic predictors of and main reasons for COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in eastern Oslo: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 22, 1878.
  9. Pereira, Margarida; Bakkeli, Nan Zou; Dimka, Jessica; Mamelund, Svenn-Erik. “Identifying obesity and COVID-19 overlapping risk-factors: Protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis”. Journal of Public Health Research 11 3 (2022): 227990362211065.
  10. Correia, Gustavo; Pereira, Margarida; Gomes, Andreia; Bragança, Maria do Rosário; Weber, Silke; Ferreira, Maria Amélia; Ribeiro, Laura (2022). “Predictors of Medical Students’ Views towards Research: Insights froma Cross-Cultural Study among Portuguese-speaking Countries”. Healthcare 10 2 (2022): 336.
  11. Pyzikov, Denis D; Blinkova, Alexandra; Khizhaya, Tatiana I. (2022). Libraries of Orthodox Theological Schools of the Russian Empire. Bylye Gody. Vol. 17.…

Annual Report (2021)

Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC)

1. Short presentation of the center – research perspectives and main goals

PANSOC is an internationally innovative research center that uses social science approaches to understand the past and present effects of pandemics. Similar centers have appeared at several prestigious universities during the COVID-19 pandemic, but only PANSOC has members that have been researching pandemics for over 25 years using social science and historical perspectives. Most of the other pandemic centers have their origins in medical schools, are primarily concerned with biomedical challenges, and only examine recent infectious diseases outbreaks. The extensive expertise and unique perspective of PANSOC’s researchers enable us to advance the global scientific frontier and contribute to important public and policy debates.

The creation of the center is mainly due to OsloMet’s investment in five Centres of Research Excellence (CRE), as well as individual researchers’ efforts to secure external research funding in Norway (FRIPRO) and in the EU (ERC) since 2016, in cooperation with the R&D department at OsloMet. PANSOC is not a further development of the existing research groups, and pandemic studies were not a focus research field at OsloMet until 2021.

2. Research projects and funding applications

In order to build up PANSOC from scratch, it has been absolutely necessary to win external research funding. The center has received funding from the EU (MSCA) and two programs in the Norwegian Research Council (PANRISK: funded by the SAMRISK program, with a top score of 7 in all areas, and CorRisk: COVID emergency call). We have also succeeded in obtaining funding for a stay at the Center for Advanced Studies (CAS) at the Norwegian Academy for Science and Letters in Oslo from August 2022 to June 2023. During the latter project, 15 international researchers with a background in epidemiology, genetics, social sciences and history will study why Indigenous peoples are vulnerable to serious disease during pandemics. PANSOC is the first OsloMet group awarded a research stay at CAS. The selection of CAS research groups follows an extensive review process by international experts, which shows the outstanding international quality of PANSOC’s research.

PANSOC sent three applications for pandemic studies to Excellence pillars in the EU and Norway including MSCA (12 October 2021 deadline, with a researcher from the University of St. Petersburg, Russia), Young CAS Fellow (9 December 2021 deadline) and ERC starting grant (13 January 2022 deadline). We also sent one proposal for an EEA Grant, which was funded (in collaboration with ISPUP, Portugal).

3. Research team and institutional collaborations

PANSOC consists of 16 researchers/scholars with a diversity of international backgrounds, experience, gender and age. Only the head of PANSOC, Professor Svenn-Erik Mamelund, is permanently employed. The co-leader, Jessica Dimka (PhD in anthropology from the University of Missouri), came to OsloMet in 2019 as a MSCA fellow. With CRE and RCN funding, two postdoctoral fellows have been employed, and they come from the highly renowned University of Coimbra, Portugal (Margarida Pereira, a geographer, since May 2021), and the University of Oxford, England (Benjamin Schneider, an economic historian, since March 2022). PANSOC also has three master’s students, two from OsloMet’s master’s program «International Social Welfare and Health Policy» (Lara Steinmetz from the Netherlands and Carla Hughes from England) who are supported by stipends from CRE funds, and one history student from University of Southeast Norway (USN) (Christina Stylegar Torjussen). Our MA students have contributed to our academic activities including presenting at internal meetings, PANSOC webinars, conferences, and taking part in interviews with media and in podcasts. Our 3 MA students are expected to submit their thesis in the Spring of 2022.

An associate history professor from USN has spent her research time on pandemic projects in collaboration with PANSOC. Five researchers from the Work Research Institute and Consumption Research Norway at OsloMet, as well as two research assistants, have contributed to various projects.

Additionally, the growing profile of PANSOC has attracted guest scholars. A fourth year PhD student in demography from The European University Institute, Florence, (Hilde Orderud) is a guest researcher at PANSOC in 2021-22. For a week in December 2021, PANSOC was also visited by a guest researcher from the University of Roskilde (historian Mathias Mølbak Ingholt), and future visits are also planned by other international colleagues (e.g., Prof. in history Kaspar Staub, University of Zürich, who will stay for a week in May 2022).

Via the ongoing PANRISK-funded RCN project and the upcoming CAS-stay, PANSOC collaborates with the Pandemic Center in Bergen (Esperanza Diaz), the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Birgitte Klüwer), PandemiX Center, the University of Roskilde (Lone Simonsen, Søren Ørskov, Mathias Mølbak Ingholt), and with researchers at the universities of Umeå (Åke Brännström), Zürich (Kaspar Staub), ISPUP, Portugal (Ana Isabel Ribeiro), Philadelphia (Megan Todd), Missouri (Lisa Sattenspiel & Taylor P. van Doren), California, Irvine (Andrew Noymer), Michigan (Siddharth Chandra), Arizona (Amanda Wissler, Gerardo Chowell-Puente), Northern British Columbia (Lianne Tripp), Alberta (Courtney Heffernan), Queensland (Katherine Kedzierska), Melbourne (Kirsty Short & Lauren Steele), Auckland (Heather Battles) and Otago (Michael Baker).

4. Research outcomes/activities

During 2021, PANSOC published 13 articles in internationally recognized journals (paper 1 below at level 2); gave 18 invited keynote speeches at international universities (16 talks, e.g. at annual Posthumus Conference in the Netherlands & a conference at University of Ottawa) and at the United Nations (2 talks on resp. COVID-19 and fertility and COVID-19 and indigenous peoples) and presented at a number of conferences; were interviewed several times by Norwegian and international newspapers (e.g. Der Spiegel), radio stations (e.g. National German Radio program post Deutchlandfunk Kultur), podcasts (e.g. Viten & Snakkis and Infectious Historians Podcast) and TV; and wrote 9 invited op eds (e.g. in Aftenposten and Morgenbladet). On 27 September 2021, the question “What can we learn from the history of pandemics and the Covid-19 situation,” specifically regarding mental health, was discussed in a panel conversation organized by OsloMet University library and with 3 panelists from PANSOC (Nan Zou Bakkeli, Carla Hughes, and Jessica Dimka).

The first report from the Norwegian Corona Commission was presented 14 April 2021. PANSOC contributed by delivering an invited report and the report cites several of our op eds and also scientific journal publications (e.g. article 9 in appendix 1 below). This shows that our work has had clear political impact also in a Norwegian context.

PANSOC began to organize a webinar series in spring 2021, which has had nearly 30 talks to date, given by international researchers with participants from most world regions. The presentations encompass the breadth of research by PANSOC’s members and our many global collaborators, showcasing work on the social, economic, political, and cultural impacts and aspects of past pandemics as well as COVID-19.

PANSOC organized and hosted the 2nd Norwegian Historical Demography Meeting (NHDM) 17-18 January 2022. The first NHDM was held in Trondheim 1-2 December 2019. The planned NHDMs in 2020 and 2021 were postponed due to COVID-19 but was held this time on Zoom. In total, 13 talks from colleagues across 6 universities in Scandinavia were held in 6 sessions. Carla Hughes, Christina Stylegar Torjussen, Jessica Dimka and Svenn-Erik Mamelund were PANSOC members presenting.

The outstanding quality of PANSOC’s junior researchers and leadership team have both been recognized in the last year. A PANSOC’s master’s student was named “Student of the Year” at OsloMet (Carla Hughes), and another student won the award for best presentation at a student and research conference in Bergen (Christina Stylegar Torjussen). PANSOC’s leader, Professor Mamelund, was also nominated for “Name of the Year in Academia” by readers of the newspaper Khrono.

5. Summary

During 2021 and to date, PANSOC has attracted some of the best international students and researchers doing social science and historical research on pandemics, sent applications to excellence pillars in funding entities, published many articles in top international journals, shared our research findings with the national and international public, and our research has had clear policy impact.

Papers published in 2021:

  1. Mamelund, Svenn-Erik, and Jessica Dimka (2021). “Not the great equalizers: Covid-19, 1918–20 influenza, and the need for a paradigm shift in pandemic preparedness.” Population Studies 75, no. sup1: 179-199 (level 2 journal, cited 2 times).  
  2. Klüwer, Birgitte, Kjersti Margrethe Rydland, Ida Laake, Megan Todd, Lene Kristine Juvet, and Svenn-Erik Mamelund (2021). “Influenza risk groups in Norway by education and employment status.” Scandinavian Journal of Public Health.
  3. Ingelsrud, Mari Holm (2021): “Standard and non-standard working arrangements in Norway–consequences of COVID-19.” Labour & Industry: a journal of the social and economic relations of work 31, 4: 387-404.
  4. Mamelund, Svenn-Erik, Clare Shelley-Egan, and Ole Rogeberg (2021). “The association between socioeconomic status and pandemic influenza: Systematic review and meta-analysis.” PloS one 16, no. 9 (2021): e0244346 (cited 6 times).
  5. Pereira, Margarida, Helena Nogueira, Augusta Gama, Aristides Machado-Rodrigues, Vitor Rosado-Marques, Maria-Raquel G. Silva, and Cristina Padez (2021). “The economic crisis impact on the body mass index of children living in distinct urban environments.” Public Health 196: 29-34.
  6. Diaz, Esperanza, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Jarle Eid, Henriette Sinding Aasen, Oddvar Martin Kaarbøe, Rebecca Jane Cox Brokstad, Siri Gloppen, Anders Beyer, and Bernadette Nirmal Kumar (2021). “Learning from the COVID-19 pandemic among migrants: An innovative, system-level, interdisciplinary approach is needed to improve public health.” Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 49, no. 7: 804-808 (cited 3 times).
  7. Bakkeli, Nan Zou (2021): “Health, work, and contributing factors on life satisfaction: A study in Norway before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.” SSM-Population Health, 14 (cited 6 times).
  8. Ingelsrud, Mari Holm (2021): Ikke alle har mulighet til å jobbe fra hjemmekontor. Ramazzini. Norsk tidsskrift for arbeids- og miljømedisin, 28(1): 14-18.
  9. Mamelund, Svenn-Erik, Jessica Dimka, and Nan Zou Bakkeli (2021). “Social Disparities in Adopting Non-pharmaceutical Interventions During COVID-19 in Norway.” Journal of Developing Societies 37, no. 3, 302-328 (cited 3 times).
  10. Mamelund, Svenn-Erik, and Jessica Dimka (2021). “Social inequalities in infectious diseases.” Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 49, no. 7, 675-680 (cited 8 times).
  11. Dimka, Jessica, and Lisa Sattenspiel (2022). ““We didn’t get much schooling because we were fishing all the time”: Potential impacts of irregular school attendance on the spread of epidemics.” American Journal of Human Biology 34, no. 1, e23578 (first published online in 2021).
  12. Mamelund, Svenn-Erik (2021). “COVID-19: The Power of Historical Lessons.” American Journal of Public Health 111, no. 3, 405-406 (invited editorial).
  13. Pereira, M., Correia, G., Severo, M., Veríssimo, A. C., & Ribeiro, L. (2021). Portuguese Medical Students’ Interest for Science and Research Declines after Freshman Year. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 9(10), 1357.