Birgit Schiøtt is the new dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences

On 1 May, Professor Birgit Schiøtt will become dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Schiøtt will head the faculty where she has built a career as an internationally recognised researcher who has helped advance our understanding the chemistry of the brain, and where she also served as head of the Department of Chemistry for eight years.

Birgit Schiøtt
Photo: Marjun Danielsen, AU Foto

Professor Birgit Schiøtt holds an MSc and a PhD in chemistry from Aarhus University. And the main events of her subsequent academic career have also unfolded at AU’s Department of Chemistry, where Schiøtt became associate professor in 2001, professor MSO in 2009 and professor in 2014, as well as serving as the head of the department from 2014 to 2023. Her scientific achievements include the establishment of an independent research group within medicinal chemistry and biophysics, as well as research and teaching on the behaviour of drugs, the chemistry of enzymes and the body's proteins. Her scientific work has also taken her to prominent universities abroad for long-term research stays.

At Aarhus University, Schiøtt has been deeply involved in teaching and development activities, in addition to holding a number of external honorary offices. For example, she served as a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters research policy committee and is a member of the board of Independent Research Fund Denmark, a position she will step down from in connection with her appointment as dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

“Birgit Schiøtt understands the university and the faculty inside out, and she also possesses deep insight into our sector’s regulatory and political framework. She has a very strong research and teaching background, and she has solid experience in collaborating with the society around us. And finally, Birgit is a skilled, result-oriented leader, as I’ve observed over the years. In short, she has a very broad range and has the qualifications necessary to succeed in leading the faculty,” said Rector Brian Bech Nielsen. He is looking forward to working with Birgit Schiøtt when she joints the senior management team: she was selected for the position of dean by a unanimous appointment committee from a strong field of applicants.

Schiøtt is looking forward to working more closely across and with the individual departments at the Faculty of Natural Sciences as dean. She said:

“Now I’ll be getting to know them even better. I’m really looking forward to that, and to how we can play to each other’s strengths, with respect for the individual and for the team, in order to find opportunities for NAT within research, education and collaboration. The natural sciences offer so many potential solutions to our global challenges, but we still need a lot more research – not least basic research within the natural sciences – to succeed. In lots of ways, our focus is on the long view at NAT, but at the same time we’re also good at putting our research to work. I’ve experienced this at Chemistry, but it applies across the natural sciences, where we often take an interdisciplinary approach to problems.”

As head of department, she has served as part of the faculty management team and understands that the departments have different strengths, opportunities and challenges. A solution that works in one place won’t necessary work somewhere else:

“I have great respect for the need for us to find the right balance, with respect for each other’s differences,” she said. “Mutual respect is something I value highly as a leader – I place a high priority on a good work and study environment and on a good workplace with good career opportunities throughout the career.”

Schiøtt will start her new job as dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences on 1 May. Her contract is for five years with an option to extend her term for up to three years.

On 1 May, Acting Dean Erik Østergaard Jensen will return to his original position as head of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics (MBG) for a shorter period. The position will be advertised soon. 

The appointment committee consisted of:

  • Rector Brian Bech Nielsen
  • Pro-rector Berit Eika
  • University Director Kristian Thorn
  • Dean Eskild Holm Nielsen, Faculty of Technical Sciences
  • Vice-Dean for Education Kristine Kilså, Faculty of Natural Sciences
  • Head of Department Hans Brix, Department of Biology 
  • Deputy Director of AU HR Anne Lindholm Behnk
  • Aske Dahl Sløk, head of the faculty secretariat, Faculty of Natural Sciences

The following staff also participated in the recruitment process as an advisory group to the appointment committee:

  • Associate Professor Bjørn Panyella Pedersen, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • Professor Trine Bilde, Centre Director, Department of Biology – Genetics, Ecology and Evolution
  • Professor Michael Drewsen, Department of Physics and Astronomy –Centre for Complex Quantum Systems
  • Professor Rikke Louise Meyer, Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center
  • Special Consultant Yvonne E. G. Eskildsen-Helmond, Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center, Research and Education, East
  • PhD student Heiðrikur í Garði Mortensen, Department of Geoscience