News from the senior management team no. 2/2016

Denmark’s biggest individual research award goes to Professor Jens Stougaard from Aarhus University

On 22 January, Professor Jens Stougaard received the DKK 5 million Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award for Technical and Scientific Research.

Jens Stougaard was awarded the 2016 award in recognition of, and as a source of inspiration for continuing, his excellent research on plant biology, for example on the root nodules resulting from the symbiotic relationship between legumes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The foundation also stresses the extremely high degree of originality of Jens Stougaard’s research. There are some extremely interesting perspectives to Jens Stougaard’s research, for example in relation to optimising crop production and making it more sustainable. A specific project is investigating the possibility of engineering varieties of maize with similar self-fertilising properties to legumes.  

The Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award cannot be applied for. The board of the Villum Foundation selects the recipient of the annual award on the recommendation of a committee of experts which solicits a statement on each candidate from international experts in the field of research in question.

In addition, three young researchers from Aarhus University were awarded grants from the Villum Foundation’s Young Investigator Programme. Under this programme, the Villum Foundation each year awards a number of large grants to junior researchers at universities across Denmark to boost their research careers. 

The three recipients of the Young Investigator Programme grants are:

  • Kasper Green Larsen, Department of Computer Science – DKK 5 million
  • Magnus Kjærgaard, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics/Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre (iNANO) – DKK 5 million
  • Emmanuel Arthur, Department of Agroecology – DKK 4.47 million    

Read more (in Danish)

New study progress reform rules to be implemented according to a joint model

The four faculties at Aarhus University must decide on a joint model for implementing the changes to the study progress reform resulting from an agreement reached by a majority in the Danish Parliament in November last year.

This was decided by the Committee on Education at the beginning of the new year. The committee has therefore initiated a process together with AU Student Administration and Services which involves looking at a number of possible scenarios and presenting a proposal on how to handle the changes. In March, the proposal will be discussed with the faculties, boards of studies and student organisations prior to the model being decided by the Committee on Education in April.

Søren K. Kjærgaard steps down as department head

After 11½ years as department head, Søren K. Kjærgaard, Department of Public Health, has decided to step down and resume his research and teaching activities from 1 June this year.

Søren K. Kjærgaard will return to a position as associate professor at the department, where his focus will be on research into health prevention and the degree programme in public health science.

The Department of Public Health has advertised the position as department head.

DKK 909 million to strengthen innovation in Danish companies

Danish companies must have better opportunities for developing new methods and products. Therefore, the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation has awarded DKK 909 million to 94 projects which the eight research and technology organisations making up the GTS – Advanced Technology Group network will be carrying out in the period 2016–18. The GTS institutes help Danish companies to develop new products based on the latest research results.

Dean advocates national coordination of welfare technology initiatives

On 15 January, the Danish financial newspaper Børsen published an article by Dean Allan Flyvbjerg advocating the coordination of welfare technology initiatives. He emphasises that to succeed it is crucial that the various initiatives focus on clearly defined areas of interest so as to ensure that not all health technology centres in Denmark devote their time and efforts to the same issues. 

In a post on Altinget, a Danish news website about Danish politics, on 19 January, Dean Allan Flyvbjerg discusses the important role of large national health data registers in relation to research as well as quality assurance of the treatment of patients. He also stresses the need for legislation which can ensure the effective protection of such data.

The dean is a member of Altinget’s health panel. The panel consists of stakeholders from different areas of the Danish health service. 

‘Book a Researcher’ is looking for speakers

The ‘Book a Researcher’ initiative is for researchers who would like to volunteer to speak about their research to the general public in connection with the Festival of Research at the end of April. Each year, about 300 researchers volunteer to give a lecture at – now is your chance to join in. The deadline is 26 February, and you must at least be a PhD student or research assistant at Master’s degree level. The lectures can be booked anywhere in Denmark, and there will be a minimum of 20 participants at the events.


  • 29 January: Welcome reception for Arnold Boon, new university director
  • 1 February: Minister for Higher Education and Science Esben Lunde Larsen meets with the Rector’s Office at Aarhus University
  • 22 February: Esben Lunde Larsen visits AU Herning
  • 24 February: Board meeting



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