News from the Senior Management Team no. 33/2012

Talents celebrated at annual celebration

True to tradition, the annual celebration on Friday afternoon kicked off with an official ceremony in the Main Hall, which was attended by HM Queen Margrethe and the Minister for Science, Innovation and Higher Education Morten Østergaard, among others.  Aarhus University used the occasion to recognise particularly talented researchers and students who are making an impact on research and education at the university. Speeches and music provided a backdrop to the day’s prize-giving, award presentations, the conferring of honorary doctorates and the naming of this year’s honorary alum.


Honorary alumna 2012

The title of honorary alumna of the year went to former ambassador Birgit Storgaard Madsen, who graduated from Aarhus University in 1969 as the first Master in Ethnography – today called anthropology. After a position as assistant professor at Aarhus University, she travelled in 1971 to Africa, where she devoted her life to development work. This was a passion which, in 1994, made her the first anthropologist to become a Danish ambassador, first in Ghana and subsequently India and Tanzania.

Previous honorary alums include: HRH Crown Prince Frederik, former prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, CEO of Maersk Nils Smedegaard Andersen and Harvard professor Lene Vestergaard Hau.


The Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation's Prizes of Honour for Pedagogics and Research Communication

The Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation's Prizes of Honour were awarded to Professor Tobias Wang and Associate Professor Lone Koefoed Hansen.

Tobias Wang, a professor in zoology at the Department of Bioscience – Zoophysiology, received the Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation's Prize of Honour for Research Communication for his skill at communicating complex physiological issues in an easy-to-understand and captivating way that successfully engages audiences outside the scientific world.

Associate Professor Lone Koefoed Hansen was selected as this year's recipient of the Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation's Prize of Honour for Pedagogics for her contribution to developing the innovative humanistic IT programme Digital Design. Lone Koefoed Hansen is acknowledged for her skills at combining practice and theory in her teaching and for directly involving the students in current research projects. 


Queen Margrethe II Travel Grants

For the first time, Aarhus University has awarded four rather than two Queen Margrethe II Travel Grants. The number of travel grants was increased in January to mark the 40th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne. The four recipients are:

  • Political science student Kristina Bakkær Simonsen, Department of Political Science and Government
  • PhD student Peter Moe Astrup, Department of Culture and Society – prehistoric archaeology
  • Medical student Nina Bjerre Andersen, Department of Clinical Medicine
  • PhD student Oleg Sitsel, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, PUMPKIN

The four students have each received DKK 25,000 for their studies abroad.


Four new honorary doctors

At the annual celebration, four prominent international researchers were awarded the official title of honorary doctor:


Sport and music in the University Park

While the annual celebration's traditional ceremony was taking place in the Main Hall on Friday afternoon, the University Park was transformed into a large and festive stage for the Sports Day and Denmark’s biggest Friday bar for the students.

The event, which is held every year in conjunction with the university’s annual celebration, saw sporting activities being held throughout the day and concerts being performed on several different stages. 

The Friday bar and the sports day are organised by the Studenterrådet (Student Council) and Aarhus Universitets-Sport.


Danish artists provide musical finish to annual celebration

A string of Danish artists provided a musical finish to the university’s annual celebration at an evening event at Concert Hall Aarhus.

As master of ceremonies, the actor Niels Olsen guided the 2,400 guests and staff from AU through the evening's entertainment. Artists performing at the event included names such as Ida Corr, Anders Blichfeldt and Andrea Pellegrini.

New exhibition celebrates royal 50th anniversary

HM Queen Margrethe II not only celebrated the university's 84th anniversary when she participated in the formal ceremonies at the annual celebration on Friday. Together with the university, she also celebrated the 50th anniversary of her studies at Aarhus University.

Aarhus University had decided to mark the 50th anniversary with a new exhibition of the university's Etruscan collection in the Museum of Ancient Art. During the autumn, it will be expanded with artefacts from the National Museum and Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket.

Rector receives Order of the Dannebrog, Commander Star

On Friday 14 September, Rector Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen was awarded the Order of the Dannebrog, Commander Star. It was presented by the Danish Minister for Science, Innovation and Higher Education, Morten Østergaard.

The Commander Star is one of the Order of the Dannebrog's five classes and is awarded to Danes and foreigners who have made a particular contribution to Danish interests.

The Order of the Dannebrog was instituted in 1693 and amended in 1808.

The heads of departments at the ministries propose candidates to HM the Queen.

More ERC Grants for AU researchers

The European Research Council (ERC) has selected three more researchers from Aarhus University as recipients of ERC Grants this year. The recipients are Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, Associate Professor Hans Fynbo and Associate Professor Thomas Bataillon.

Jens-Christian Svenning, professor in biology at the Department of Bioscience - Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity, has been awarded a European Starting Grant of EUR 1.5 million for a research project which will study global causal connections which can possibly reveal how the natural world will look in future.

Another ERC Starting Grant of EUR 1.5 million is being awarded to Associate Professor Hans Fynbo, a nuclear physicist at the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The grant will be used to research processes that take place during a star's life and death, which is the key to understanding how the elements originated.

Moreover, Associate Professor Thomas Martin Bataillon, an evolutionary biologist at Aarhus University's Bioinformatics Research Centre (BiRC), has been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant. It has been awarded to a five-year research project which will attempt to create greater correlation between the evolution models arising from laboratory experiments and the "real" evolution that takes place in nature.

Two weeks ago, it was also announced that Mads Meier Jæger, professor with special responsibilities at the Department of Education, has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant 2012.

There are five different types of ERC Grants.

Increased research collaboration with South Korea

Aarhus University has signed a so-called Letter of Intent with KOPRI, the Korea Polar Research Institute in the Republic of Korea. The Letter of Intent will lead to closer research collaboration between Denmark's and the Republic of Korea's polar activities.

KOPRI's President Dr Hong Kum Lee and Dean of Science and Technology Brian Bech Nielsen signed the agreement on Sunday 9 September in Ilulissat in Greenland. Dr Hong Kum Lee was in Greenland in connection with an official visit by the President of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung Bak.  The South Koreans met the Danish delegation in Illulissat, including HRH Crown Prince Frederik and Minister for the Environment Ida Auken.

The agreement gives KOPRI and Aarhus University access to each other's research infrastructure in the Arctic and Antarctic and will provide a platform for developing research collaboration between the parties.

AU still in top 100 in new QS ranking

Aarhus University has retained its position in the top 100 universities in the new QS World University Rankings. The university has advanced according to most of the indicators on the list, but nevertheless falls ten places from 79 in 2011 to 89.

The rankings are based on six indicators such as the number of citations, the number of international students and the university's reputation among other researchers.

Aarhus University's overall score has improved since 2011, with the number of citations increasing by 15% in the year, just as there is also an increase in the number of researchers and students. However, other universities have done even better, which explains why Aarhus University has fallen ten places in the new ranking.

Special lecture by US ambassador

On Friday 14 September, Laurie S. Fulton, the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, gave a lecture at the Department of Political Science and Government about the forthcoming American election and its significance for American foreign policy, especially in relation to the EU.


  • 18-19 September: University Board meeting and seminar
  • 20 September: Main Liaison Committee meeting
  • 21 September: Inauguration of the Arctic Research Centre (ARC)
  • 24 September: Polar Research Day
  • 31 October: University Board meeting