Aarhus University rewards recently graduated and experienced researchers at prize-giving

Press releases 2010

Both recently graduated and experienced researchers are being honoured at a ceremony at Aarhus University on Friday 28 May 2010. A total of eight scientists – all of whom began their careers at Aarhus University – are being rewarded for their efforts with recognition and research grants.

This year, the Rigmor and Carl Holst-Knudsen Award for Scientific Research goes to two internationally recognised scientists who both began their careers at Aarhus University. They are Professor Poul Nissen, who is still attached to Aarhus University as Centre Director, and Bjarne Stroustrup, who is currently Professor at the Texas A&M University, USA.

On the same occasion, the Aarhus University Research Foundation is awarding PhD prizes to six recently graduated PhD researchers. The prize winners studied at different main academic areas of the university, and they therefore represent the scope of research activities at Aarhus University.

Recipients of the Rigmor and Carl Holst-Knudsen Award for Scientific Research

Poul Nissen

Poul Nissen

Ground-breaking cell research with therapeutic potential
Poul Nissen was born in 1967 and completed his MSc in Chemistry at Aarhus University in 1993. After completing his PhD in 1997, he was awarded the gold medal by the Danish Academy of Natural Sciences for his dissertation.

Working as a postdoctoral scholar with Thomas A. Steitz at Yale University, Professor Nissen took part in the cell research that resulted in Steitz being awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009. Professor Nissen returned to Aarhus University in 2000 to continue research into the function of cellular pumps, for which Jens Christian Skou (Professor Emeritus at Aarhus University) also received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1997.

Poul Nissen was appointed Professor of Protein Biochemistry in 2006 and Director of the newly established Centre for Membrane Pumps in Cells and Disease – PUMPKIN – at Aarhus University in 2007. The centre’s research will lead to considerable insight into pumps, which can be used to develop new and improved treatment for different conditions, such as cancer, infections and heart disease.


Bjarne Stroustrup

Bjarne Stroustrup

A Danish programming pioneer
Bjarne Stroustrup was born in 1950 and completed his MSc in Computer Science at Aarhus University in 1975. After completing a PhD at the University of Cambridge, he moved to the USA. He has been College of Engineering Chair Professor in Computer Science at Texas A&M University since 2002.

Professor Stroustrup’s crucial contribution to computer science was developing and implementing the C++ programming language, which he introduced in the mid-1980s. C++ simplified the interaction between man and machine, and is an important part of the reason that object-oriented programming is now the most widely used principle in programming and software development. Bjarne Stroustrup’s book The C++ Programming Language has been translated into 19 languages and is the most widely read book in this field.

Recipients of the Aarhus University Research Foundation’s PhD prizes

Evelyne Beatrix Cleff

Efficient mobile phone protection to stop unwanted ads
In her PhD dissertation, Evelyne Beatrix Cleff studies the market for SMS advertising to find out how adequately European and American users are protected against SMS spam. She puts forward a number of proposals for improving legislation by combining self-regulation, legislation and technological options.

Dr Cleff has now been appointed postdoctoral scholar in company law at the Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University.

Christian Fenger-Eriksen

Improved treatment opportunities for bleeding patients
As a result of his research into the clotting ability of blood, Christian Fenger-Eriksen identifies in his PhD dissertation that the fluid replacement therapy often used for massively bleeding patients actually inhibits the coagulation of blood. His dissertation also demonstrates that adding the plasma protein fibrinogen to the fluid therapy can improve the blood’s ability to coagulate and thereby reduce the risk for patients.

Dr Fenger-Eriksen has now been appointed to a position of specialist training in anaesthesia at the Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus Hospital, Aarhus University.

Carsten Jensen

Development in welfare services under left and right governments
Carsten Jensen’s PhD dissertation focuses on services in the welfare state, and studies the impact of a government’s political party colour on developing these services. His dissertation clarifies the view of the Social Democratic Party as being the staunchest supporter of the welfare state, and examines issues such as the way right-wing governments have also implemented welfare services.

Dr Jensen has now been appointed assistant professor at the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University.

Uffe Schjødt

Communication and prayer produce identical brain activity
Uffe Schjødt works with neurological studies of religion and carried out brain scans of religious believers in connection with his PhD dissertation. The results show that when they pray to God, Christians activate areas in their brains that can normally only be activated when people communicate with each other.

Dr Schjødt has now been appointed postdoctoral scholar at the Section for the Study of Religion, Aarhus University.

Søren Bertelsen

Medicine with fewer side effects
With his PhD dissertation, Søren Bertelsen enters a very competitive field, namely medical chemistry. Here he creates molecules that get chemical reactions to proceed better and with fewer impurities, and as far as the pharmaceutical industry is concerned, this makes it possible to produce medicine with fewer side effects. During the course of this process, Dr Bertelsen made more than 100 molecules that have never been seen before.

He has now been appointed postdoctoral scholar at the Centre for Catalysis, Department of Chemistry, Aarhus University.

Laura Winther Balling

New research into word recognition can help weak readers and speakers of foreign languages
Laura Winther Balling is a psycholinguist. In her PhD dissertation, she studies what happens when adults who are native speakers of Danish recognise words. She employs experimental methodologies that have not previously been used in Danish, and her results can be utilised in fields such as learning to read, learning foreign languages, dyslexia and translation.

Dr Balling has now been appointed assistant professor at the Copenhagen Business School.

Evelyne Beatrix Cleff
Christian Fenger-Eriksen
Carsten Jensen
Uffe Schjødt
Søren Bertelsen
Laura Winther Balling

About the prizes

Carl Holst-Knudsen was one of the driving forces behind the foundation of Aarhus University. For a number of years, he chaired the association called “University teaching in Jutland” (what was then the private Aarhus University). The prize was established on 28 May 1956 on the occasion of Carl Holst-Knudsen’s 70th birthday, and it is awarded once a year. In addition to the recognition given to the recipients, each researcher receives DKK 100,000.

The Aarhus University Research Foundation’s PhD prize was established in connection with the university’s 75th anniversary in 2003. The prize amounts to DKK 50,000 and is awarded each year to recent PhD graduates from different main academic areas at the university.

More information
Anders Correll
Senior Press Officer, Aarhus University
+45 2899 2235