ST Awards 2018

Recognition is important. Recognition is the key to what motivates us to make great efforts. Recognition of specific achievements focuses attention on our values. Giving recognition is something we are not always good enough at doing in our busy lives. This is something where there is much room for improvement.

To celebrate members of staff who have made great efforts – generally and during the year that has passed since last year’s summer celebration – we present six prizes that give recognition. The six prizes are awarded in different areas, and each one consists of a diploma and the sum of DKK 10,000. The six prizes are:

See below who the award winners 2018 are and why they each receive an award.

Niels Chr. Nielsen

ST Education Award

rofessor Thomas Vosegaard, Department of Chemistry. Photo: AU PURE
rofessor Thomas Vosegaard, Department of Chemistry. Photo: AU PURE

The ST Education Award 2018 goes to Professor Thomas Vosegaard, Department of Chemistry, for his tremendous efforts to 'gamify' introductory structural chemistry teaching.

A key part of chemistry teaching at Bachelor’s level is training in analysis of spectroscopic information. In traditional teaching, students have been provided with experimental data in the form of spectra that they interpret under supervision. This approach has demonstrated various shortcomings.

Professor Vosegaard has come up with a pedagogical development to remedy these problems in an innovative and engaging way. He has designed a web-based computer game in which the student is awarded a number of points (currency) that can be used to 'buy' experimental data. Subsequently, the student is given access to the information purchased and can work with data without preconditioning or bias, i.e. without any implicit teacher-mediated interpretation. If the student is not able to solve the problem with the points available, the software will automatically switch from the training mode to instruction mode and help the student.

Professor Vosegaard has collated his experience with the software in a scientific article published in the Journal of Chemical Education. Experience with the software has been excellent and is expected to result in vastly improved student learning.

ST Industrial Collaboration Award

Senior researcher Lise Nistrup Jørgensen, Department of Agroecology. Photo: AU PURE
Senior researcher Lise Nistrup Jørgensen, Department of Agroecology. Photo: AU PURE

The ST Industrial Collaboration Award 2018 goes to Lise Nistrup Jørgensen, senior researcher at the Department of Agroecology, for her long and extensive business collaboration with the agrochemical industry and plant-breeding companies.

Lise has a deep understanding of disease control in major agricultural crops, including the interaction between cultivation methods, culture-technical conditions and their effect on disease progression. On this basis, she contributes knowledge and suggests solutions to mitigate loss-making attacks by disease on agricultural crops. This helps to ensure continued, sustainable, intensive agricultural production with adapted and reduced application of fungicides. Based on her long-standing project collaboration with the chemical industry and plant breeders, Lise can propose efficient and financially optimal solutions.

Decision support systems that can help farmers assess the control needs are another focus area for Lise. Several new model solutions to optimise the timing of controlling specific diseases form part of research her projects with other researchers as well as projects with business partners.

ST Science Award

Professor Troels Skrydstrup, Department of Chemistry and iNANO. Photo: AU PURE
Professor Troels Skrydstrup, Department of Chemistry and iNANO. Photo: AU PURE

The ST Science Award 2018 goes to Professor Troels Skrydstrup, Department of Chemistry and iNANO, for his ground-breaking research on transition metal catalysis, with special focus on carbonylation reactions.

Professor Skrydstrup and his research team have developed a completely new method for handling CO (carbon monoxide) in organic synthesis. CO is an odourless gas and it is extremely toxic. This makes it problematic to work with and has restricted the use of CO in synthesis, despite the fact that CO is otherwise an ideal reagent. Part of the new method entailed developing a stable solid substance which forms CO under controlled conditions in one of the two chambers in a specially-designed reaction flask. The CO is transported in gas form to the second chamber that contains the remaining chemical reagents, thus enabling the reaction with CO to proceed without the CO having to be handled outside the closed system.

This work is an excellent example of how basic research has been cleverly coupled with practical applications within a wide range of industries. The technology is now used for isotopic labelling of clinical drug candidates by some of the largest international pharmaceutical companies, and Professor Skrydstrup’s spin-out company, SyTracks A/S, which markets the technology, has been running at a profit since its establishment in 2011.

ST TAP Award

Peder Damgaard, specialist manager at ST Finance, Administration Centre ST. Photo: AU PURE
Peder Damgaard, specialist manager at ST Finance, Administration Centre ST. Photo: AU PURE

The ST TAP Award 2018 goes to Peder Damgaard, specialist manager at ST Finance - ST Administrative Centre, for his solid competences and knowledge, his excellent collaborative skills, and his exceptional contribution to work on the Faculty’s new financial model.

In 2005, as a recent graduate with an MSc degree in Mathematics-Economics and subsidiary subjects, Peder was employed as an administrative officer in the former Dean's Office at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. In 2010, he became a special consultant, and in 2014 he was employed as a team leader for internal coordination at the present ST Finance

Peder’s well-structured and constructive way of dealing with challenges has resulted in the development of the PhD database (ERNA) used both by ST Finance and GSST. He has also developed a budget template that ensures that all ST areas now use the same template when reporting financial data to the dean. These reports have earned great praise from the rector and the director at budget meetings, because they provide detailed insight into ST's finances, right down to location-code level. Furthermore, since 2014 Peder has worked on the new financial model (NØM) at ST. This has involved a lot of time and hard effort, but now the work has been completed and it is paying off. This would not have been possible without Peder's involvement.

Despite his exertions, Peder is always positive and easy to work with. He always helps out if someone has a question, and he is pleasant, diplomatic and inclusive colleague. ST Finance is lucky to have Peder on board, but in fact the entire faculty reaps great benefits from his work.

ST Talent Award

Helene Halkjær Jensen, prev. Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. Photo: AU PURE
Helene Halkjær Jensen, prev. Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. Photo: AU PURE

The ST Talent Award 2018 goes to postdoc Helene Halkjær Jensen, the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, for her great creativity and scientific understanding, combined with a high degree of technical skill and persistence in connection with her research projects.

Helene defended her PhD dissertation in November 2017. The dissertation was entitled ”Pertubation of epithelial organization Overexpression of NHE1 and AQP5 in cancer and EPEC infection mechanisms”. In her work, Helene focuses on changes in the epithelial cells that are behind the development of cancer and determine how pathogenic E. coli bacteria attack intestinal cells.

Helene has been on several research stays abroad, for example at King's College London, UK. Furthermore, she has regularly presented her research and progress at international meetings, including the American Society of Cell Biology Annual Meetings.

In addition to her research work, Helene has found time to engage very actively in PhD associations at department, faculty, and university level, and for several years she served as the chairman and has sat on the boards of these associations.

Helene has been very active in applying for external funding for her research, studies abroad, and for conferences. Furthermore, she has been awarded a postdoc fellowship from the Lundbeck Foundation and is now a postdoc at Aalborg University.

ST Public Sector Consultancy Award

The ST Public Sector Consultancy Award 2018 goes to employees from the Wildlife Ecology, Marine Mammal Research, Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity, Genetics, Ecology and Evolution and Zoophysiology sections at the Department of Bioscience.

Employees from these sections have invested outstanding efforts during the 2017-18 academic year in preparing a proposal and winning an EU tender on research-based public-sector consultancy for the Ministry of Environment and Food. The tender was divided into two sub-contracts. Sub-contract I concerns research and consultancy within the management of hunting, conflict species and invasive birds and mammals, while Sub-contract II concerns research and consultancy within the management of birds and mammals in general, as well as management of anthropogenic effects on species. The two contracts represent a total contract sum of DKK 84 million over a period of six years.

The proposals were prepared by a total of 44 specialist colleagues from the sections, assisted by key and competent employees from the Danish Centre for Environment and Energy. One of the challenges was that the tendering period was only five weeks and even overlapped with the first weeks of the 2017 summer holidays, when all the colleagues had already planned their vacations.

Evaluation of the two tenders by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency resulted in AU being selected as the clear winner. This shows that AU clearly has the academic competences required to conduct research and consultancy on birds and mammals.