Erla Olsen
PhD, Dean, Associate Professor in Biology and Natural Science Didactics
Faculty of Education
Telephone +298 299433
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  • About
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General biology for teachers
Academic methods
Fungi and fungal ecology
Nutrients and terrestrial nutrient cycles
Below ground ecology (alive soils)

Research interests

Biological research
The ecology of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and some mushrooms with regards to which plant species they have symbiosis with, and the impact on the symbionts of factors such as temperature, grazing, humidity etc.

Educational research
Attitude and outcome of both teachers and pupils to teaching and learning in particular with regard to subjects of natural science. The methods are mostly surveys, focus group as well as individual interviews and statistical analyses.

Analysis of PISA results and how they are related to students wellbeing, teaching methods, attitude, ITC both home and at school, and other relevant factors. 

Latest publications
  • Olsen, E., Ólavsstovu, V., Hilduberg, R. and Bjarnason, G. 2019. PISAfrágreiðing 2018. Nám, pp. 1-72.
  • Dahl, J., Antoniussen, A. and Olsen, E. 2019. Lopfjølin. Mentamálaráðið/Fróðskaparsetur Føroya, pp. 1-25.
  • Kák, K., Biskopstø, O. and Olsen, E. 2019. Happing í fólkaskúlanum – ein spurnakanning. Fróðskaparsetur Føroya, pp. 1-52.
Present projects

“Teaching and learning in compulsory schools”. A project between research teams at the University of Faroe Islands and the University of Iceland. A comparative study. The main question focus on the view of teachers and pupils on the pupils learning and which teaching methods do they think is most suitable for the school of the 21st century, og how do these views fit with the public politic with regard to teaching and learning.  

Grazing, plants and arbuscular mycorrhiza.

PISA tests and the compulsory school with regard to wellbeing, teaching methods, attitude, ITC usage, and socioeconomic factors.

Finished projects

2019 PISA, science curriculum and science didactics.

2018-2019 Student wellbeing in compulsory schools

2016 “iPad use in compulsory schools” – Mobile devices are available for most students, and these can be implemented into the teaching. Some schools have provided all students with iPads, other schools have a shared class-set of iPads, while other shools are reluctant to use these new tools. The project looks into how the mobile devices are used in the schools, develops methods of using them, and evaluates the outcome.

2016- PISA, science curriculum and science didactics.

2014 “Using Citizen Science in teacher education and in compulsory schools” – An pilot project on sheep grazing and non-expert data collection.

2014- “The Nordic Knowledge Train” – The impact of outreach activities and workshops on learning in different types of schools.

2014-2017 “Biophilia Educational Programme” – Creative, active and interdiciplinary teaching.

2012 “ROSE – The Relevance of Science Education” – a study of the pupils views of science and science education. Pilot project, comparing Faroese pupils’ attitude to science with the attitude of pupils from other OECD countries.

2010 “Impact of drainage on soil nutrients and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi”. Greenhouse study.

2009-2014 Project manager of the Nordic project “Sustainable sheep management in the Arctic: Impact of grazing pressure on vegetation and the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiont, and the interaction with changes in temperature”.

2008 Two projects, of which one had the focus on arbuscular mycorrhiza, heavy metals and PCB, the other to register the mushrooms in the plantations in Tórshavn.

2007-2008 A research project and an environmental impact assessment at the Faroese Natural History Museum. The aim of the project was to examine the impact of draining on flora, fauna and soil ecology.

2007-2011 Fish offal as organic fertilizer.

2001-2006 PhD project included different experiments: Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) in different host plants (field experiment), AM from high altitude sites compared with low altitude sites (field experiment), AM in the boxes used by the International Tunda Experiment (field experiment), AM with regard to grazing, AM grown at 25°C compared with 15°C (lab experiment), and the transfer of sugars and phosphate between the host plant and the AM fungi (lab experiment).

1999-2000 Assistant for the project “Mountain Vegatation in the Faroe Islands in a Climate Change perspective” with responsibility for soil sampling and analyses.


Peer-reviewed publications:

Ross, L.C., Austrheim, G., Asheim, L-J., Bjarnason, G., Feilberg, J., Fosaa, A.M., Hester, A.J., Holand, Ø., Jonsdóttir, I.S., Mortensen, L.E., Mysterud, A., Olsen, E., Skonhoft, A., Speed, J.D.M., Steinheim, G., Thompson, D.B.A., Thórhallsdóttir, A.G. 2016. Sheep grazing in the North Atlantic region: A long-term perspective on environmental sustainability. AMBIO. DOI:

Olsen, E. 2015. Týðandi og minni týðandi lærugreinar – ella søgan um hugvísindahugaða skúlan. In: Frændafundur 8: 99-115.

Olsen, E. 2015. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities and root colonisaiton differ in relation to plant host and soil nutrients. Fróðskaparrit 62. DOI:

Fosaa, A.M., Olsen, E., Simonsen, W., Gaard, M. and Hansen, H. 2010. Vegetation transition following drainage in a high-latitude hyper-oceanic ecosystem. Applied Vegetation Science 13: 249-256.

Simonsen, W., Fosaa, A.M., Olsen, E. and Mikkelsen, J. 2008. Distribution and the impact of outfield drainage on carabids (Coleoptera, Carabidae) in north western Eysturoy, Faroe Islands. Fróðskaparrit 56: 163-181.

Fosaa, A.M. and Olsen, E. 2007. The impact of grazing on mountain vegetation and the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiont. Fróðskaparrit 55: 177-187.

Olsen, E. 2006. Temperature responses of arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. PhD thesis. University of York. Department of Biology.

Fitter, A.H., Heinemeyer, A., Husband, R., Olsen, E., Ridgway, K.P. and Staddon, P.L. 2004. Global environmental change and the biology of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi: gaps and challenges. Canadian Journal of Botany 82: 1133-1139.

Olsen, E. and Fitter, A. 2004. Habitat preferences of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi of the Faroes compared with other places. Fróðskaparrit 52: 29-41.

Lawesson, J.E., Fosaa, A.M. and Olsen, E. 2003. Calibration of Ellenberg Indicator values for the Faroe Islands. Applied Vegetation Science 6: 53-62.

Olsen, E. and Fosaa, A.M. 2002. The mycorrhizal status in mountainous vegetation in the Faroe Islands. Fróðskaparrit 50: 121-130


Other publications:

Olsen, E., Ólavsstovu, V., Hilduberg, R. and Bjarnason, G. 2019. PISAfrágreiðing 2018. Nám, pp. 1-72.

Dahl, J., Antoniussen, A. and Olsen, E. 2019. Lopfjølin. Mentamálaráðið/Fróðskaparsetur Føroya, pp. 1-25.

Kák, K., Biskopstø, O. and Olsen, E. 2019. Happing í fólkaskúlanum – ein spurnakanning. Fróðskaparsetur Føroya, pp. 1-52.

Olsen, E., Højsted, I., Knudsen, J. and Gunnarson, B. 2016. PISAfrágreiðing 2016. Mentamálaráðið, pp. 1-88.

Olsen, E. and Ólavsstovu, V. 2016. Teldlanýtsla í fólkaskúlanum – ein eftirmeting. Department of Education, University of the Faroe Islands, pp. 1-82.

Olsen, E. 2015. Læring broytir vanahugsan. Frøði 2: 22-26.

Atlas til heim og skúla. Landafrøði um alt millum himmal og jørð. 2014. Týðing: Erla Olsen. Tórshavn: Nám, pp. 1-248.

Olsen, E., Þórhallsdóttir, A.G., Wehn, S., Fosaa, A.M., Bjarnason, G., Mortensen, L., Patursson, B. Þorsteinsson, B., Simonsen, W., Patursson, J., Djurhuus, R., Dalsgarð, J. and Hoydal, K. 2014. Sustainable grazing in subarctic environments with regard to vegetation and soil processes. Report. Tórshavn: Gramar Research, pp. 1-76.

Olsen, E. 2013. Samfelagið undir moldum ger av, hvat livir oman jarðar. Frøði 2: 10-11.

Olsen, E. 2013. Tað SKAL vera stuttligt at læra. Frøði 1: 10-13.

Olsen, E. 2013. Størri skúlar til størri næmingar. Greinarøðin Vitan og Vísindi. Sosialurin 53: Vikuskifti 10-11.

Olsen, E. 2011. Vandamikið kosttilmæli. Dimmalætting 117: 10-11.

Olsen, E. and Olsen, R. 2011. Fish offal from aquaculture as fertiliser. Report to the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Environment Agency. Faroe Islands.

Olsen, E. 2010. Tað dulda soppafjølbroytnið. Frøði 2: 14-17.

Fosaa, A.M., Gaard, M., Olsen, E. and Simonsen, W. 2009. Nýggj vakstrarstøð. Frøði 1: 38-39.

Austrheim, G., Asheim, L.-J., Bjarnason, G., Feilberg, J., Fosaa, A.M., Holand, Ø., Høegh, K., Jónsdóttir, I.S., Magnússon, B., Mortensen, L.M., Mysterud, A., Olsen, E., Skonhoft, A., Steinheim, G. and Thórhallsdóttir, A.G. 2008. Sheep grazing in the North-Atlantic region – A long term perspective on management, resource economy and ecology. Rapport zoologisk serie 2008-3. Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet – Vitenskapsmuseet pp. 1-82.

Olsen, E. 2008. Hundalond í plantasjunum í Havn. (Mushrooms in the plantations in Tórshavn. Report to the municipality of Tórshavn. In Faroese.)

Olsen, E. 2008. Sopprót, tungmetall og PCB. (Mycorrhiza, heavy metals and PCB. Report to the government. In Faroese.

Fosaa, A.M, Olsen, E. and Simonsen W. 2008. Eiði-2. Environmental Impact Assessment. Føroya Náttúrugripasavn. (Further some smaller technical reports from 2008-2009 on different “Environmental Impacts Assessments”.

Commitments related to publications:

Reviewer for “Applied Soil Ecology”

Reviewed for “Journal of Vegetation Science”

Reviewed for “New Phytologist”

Editor of Atlantsoyggjar (

Editor of Heimurin sambært Brekkustovu (

Member of editorial board of Frøði

Board member of Frændafund

Editor of Fróðskaparrit 2015-2019


2007 PhD in Biology (University of York, UK).

2001 Communicating Science (Open University, UK)

2000 Fungal ecology (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)

2000 BSc in Biology (University of Faroe Islands)


2017- Associate professor at the Department of Education at the University of the Faroe Islands. General biology and science didactics.

2013-2017 Assistant professor at the Department of Education at the University of the Faroe Islands. General biology and science didactics.

2011-2013 Teaching lecturer at the Department of Education at the University of the Faroe Islands. General biology.

2008- Independent scientist working on the impact of grazing on soil nutrients and symbiotic fungi

2007-2008 Scientist. The impact of drainage on vegetation, soil nutrients and soil fungi. The Faroese Museum of Natural History.

2006-2007 Case officer in environmental issues at the Faroese Food-, Environmental and Veterinary agency.

2005- Casual lecturer at the Department of Science and Technology at the University of Faroe Islands on the subjects fungi, fungal ecology, soils, nutrients, belowground ecology, symbiosis.


2017 Meginúrslitini frá Biophilia verkætlanini í Føroyum / The main results from the Biophilia project in the Faroe Islands. Biophiliadagur 19 April 2017, Nordic House, Tórshavn.

2016 Kreativ, aktiv og tvørfaklig undirvísing / Creative, active and interdiciplinary teaching. Frændafundur 9, 27 Aug 2016, Reykjavík, Iceland. (Olsen, E. & Ólavsstovu, V.)

2016 Týdningurin av Fróðskaparritum/ The importance of the journal Fróðskaparrit – Faroese Scientific Journal. Accademia del Frignano – Lo Scoltenna, 7 May 2016. Riolunato, Italia.

2015 The Sound of Science. Poster at NERA 43td Congress, 4-6 March 2015. Göteborg, Sweden.

2015 Using the obvious potentials in science teaching. NERA 43rd Congress, 5 March 2015. Göteborg, Sweden.

2015 Kom syngjandi til vitan / Sing and learn. Býarbókasavnið á Mentanarnátt, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

2015 Okkara felags ábyrgd fyri mold, jørð og jarðarknøtti / Our common responsibility for soils, earth and globe. Heystfagnaður, fyrilestur í Rit og Rák tann 14. okt. 2015.

2014 Er viðbrekna føroyska náttúran óspilt – og hvat skal til fyri at náttúrutilfeingi verður gagnnýtt burðardygt? / Is the Faroese Nature onspoilt – and what is required for sustainable utilisation of natural resources? Politiskir skeiðsdagar. 22 May 2014. Skálavík, Faroe Islands.

2014 Soppar alneyðugir og fjølbroyttir skrellimenn / Fungi provide crucial and diverse garbage service. Vísindavøka (Researchers Night). Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

2013 The required joy of learning. NERA 41st Congress, 9 March 2013. Reykjavík, Iceland.

2013 Important but boring. Poster at NERA 41stCongress, 7-9 March 2013. Reykjavík, Iceland.

2013 Between insects and seabirds – through the soil and the diversity therein. Biodiversity and sustainable land use, 17 May 2013. Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

2013 Kærkomin lærdómur, men tað er ikki stuttligt / Appreciated knowledge, but it is booring. Setursdagur, 18 May 2013. Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

2013 Týðandi og minni týðandi lærugreinar – ein hugburðskanning. / Important and less important school subjects – a study of attitudes. Frændafundur, 24 Aug 2013. Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

2013 Tað sigur BANG – og dreingirnir rakna við. Um undirvísing í náttúrufakum / There is a BANG – and the boys awake. On teaching in science subjects. Speki. Faroese Television. Sjónvarp Føroya 27 Nov 2013.

2010 Mycorrhiza, grazing and erosion. Nordic symposium in Tórshavn. Lendisforum.

2010 At kanna tað ósjónliga, um niðanjarðar vistfrøði við denti á grasrøtur og arbuskul soppar / Examination of the invisible. Belowground ecology of grassroots and their arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. “Glotta-framløga” fyri Føroya Fróðskaparfelag.

2010 Lívfrøðiligt fjølbroytni niðanjarðar. Landbúnaður og lívfrøðiligt margfeldi / Biological diversity below ground. Symposium on agricultural and biological diversity. Temadagur í Norðurlandahúsinum hjá Føroya Lívfrøðingafelag.


2017 Náttúruvísindi standa í skugganum av øðrum lærugreinum. Samrøða við Turið Kjølbro. Skúlablaðið 2: 14-16.

2016 Er lærugreinin týdningarmikil, so er hon eisini stuttlig / If the school subject is important, it is also fun. Samrøða við Turið Kjølbro. Skúlablaðið 1: 26-28.

2011 Blámusoppur / Mould. Childrens radio, 18 march 2011. Útvarp Føroya.