The current debate on the scientific basis for the agriculture package has unfortunately raised doubts about the academic integrity of AU researchers. It is deeply unacceptable for highly respected researchers to be subjected to these kinds of accusations on the basis of what can at best be termed loose speculation. At Aarhus University, we are not thin-skinned. But we draw the line when our employees are unjustly placed under suspicion.
Nonetheless, the current debate does highlight one relevant issue, namely whether competitive tendering of public sector consultancy services with regard to food and the environment is at all appropriate. While I would have preferred this debate to have arisen on more objective grounds, it is an important debate of major significance to both universities and society.
I pointed out last summer that competitive tendering is not a flower which was sown and cultivated in the garden of the universities. This is partly because, in introducing competitive tendering in this area, the ministry is gambling with strong research groups, in addition to inhibiting willingness to invest in these research areas at the universities, and partly because it risks putting Danish public funding in the hands of foreign competitors. Moreover, the current procedure means that AU is forced to tender without assurances of the necessary basic funding, which serves the best interests neither of us or the country’s politicians.
- Brian Bech Nielsen
The Danish government launched its long-awaited Technology Pact a couple of weeks ago. The aim of this is to encourage more young people to take an interest in and choose degree programmes within technical and digital subject areas. The Technology Pact is to be implemented by politicians, educational institutions and the business community working in partnership, and according to Rector Brian Bech Nielsen, the pact appears to harmonise with a number of the initiatives launched by Aarhus University over the past few years.
Innovation Fund Denmark's Innovator Prize for 2018 has been awarded to honorary professor Ole Green, while senior researcher Peter Løvendahl has been awarded the Grand Solutions Prize for breeding eco-friendly cattle. The awards were presented on Friday, 26 January.
Ivan Bjerre Damgård, professor of computer sciences, is the recipient of the 2018 Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award for Technical and Scientific Research. This award is worth DKK 5 million and is Denmark's largest research award that can be presented to an individual. At the award ceremony held on Tuesday, 23 January, the Villum Foundation also celebrated this year's 18 recipients of Young Investigator awards, including Christiano Spotti from the Department of Mathematics.
Aarhus University's recently opened interdisciplinary Centre for Water Technology (WATEC) has received four donations from the Poul Due Jensen Foundation, totalling just over DKK 40 million. The funds will be used for research into sustainable water circuits. Moreover, it is the largest amount ever donated by the Poul Due Jensen Foundation to water research.
Researchers from Aarhus University are some of the key players responsible for the application submitted for the state-of-the-art research platform in Lund, which has just received a huge amount of funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. This platform will make it possible to study proteins at a previously impossible level of detail, thereby forming a foundation for development of new medicines and other products.
Associate professor Tomonori Takeuchi has received a Young Investigator Award from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The award also includes DKK 20 million of funding, which will make it possible for the Japanese researcher to join the Department of Biomedicine and AIAS, as well as establishing a research lab and research group at Aarhus University's DANDRITE basic research centre.
An initiative to increase the use of IT in teaching at AU is taking shape. The manager and the first few staff members are now in place at the interdisciplinary hub, and will be working together with the educational development centres to ensure that lecturers receive the right support. Efforts to improve Blackboard have also commenced.
Registration is now open for anyone wishing to attend the MatchPoints Seminar, Aarhus University's flagship conference series. The conference is open to the public and, true to tradition, it will be held in cooperation with the City of Aarhus on 24 to 26 May 2018 at the Lakeside Lecture Theatres and Concert Hall Aarhus.
Professor Jørgen Elklit has taken over responsibility as the driving force for the conference from Associate Professor Michael Böss this year. The MatchPoints Seminar was held for the first time back in 2007, and its purpose is to create dialogue between Aarhus University and the general public on issues of broad interest in the community.
The theme this time is the welfare state, and all four faculties will be represented at the conference. Here, conference delegates will be able to meet researchers like James Heckman, American winner of the Nobel Prize, a broad selection of experts, politicians, commentators and practitioners working in the field of welfare – and two welfare robots, Norma and Silbot.
Early bird prices are available to anyone signing up before 18 March. Please note that spaces are limited.
A couple of weeks ago, the media reported that the construction work for the Department of Biomedicine has gone DKK 80 million over budget and will be delayed by two years.
This is due to the construction of the Skou Building, the new building complex with laboratory facilities which is located in the southern part of the University Park, along with renovation of the buildings from which the researchers are relocating. The Danish Building and Property Agency is the developer for the project and allocated a total of DKK 813.9 million to the construction work in early 2013.
University Director Arnold Boon has confirmed that the budget has been exceeded. The Danish Building and Property Agency bears responsibility for the overall budget and schedule in its capacity as the developer. The university will be renting the finished building that the contractors are expected to hand over to the Danish Building and Property Agency in July.
The overruns are due in particular to the fact that different foundation methods to those planned initially had to be devised, as there were fears that the Steno Museum building would start to crack. We also saw enormous amounts of rainfall in the summer of 2016, which flooded the ongoing construction of the basement which then had to be emptied and dried. And ultimately, the Danish Building and Property Agency had to terminate a contract with one of its contractors that was failing to supply the required quality and work to schedule.
From 1 February, more parking areas at AU will be reserved for AU employees. You have to register your car at au.dk/parkering if you would like to use the car parks and have not already set up a parking permit.
The Danish University Extension has now completed the programme for the Festival of the Century, an initiative involving a partnership between the Danish University Extension, Aarhus Municipality and Aarhus University. A large number of researchers from Aarhus University will be giving performances entitled La Belle Époque 1871-1914 on stages around the city.
The Senior Management Team publishes a newsletter every week. This newsletter includes a brief description of current activities and discussions. You can sign up for the Danish version of the newsletter at http://info.au.dk/medarbbreve, after which you will receive an e-mail whenever the newsletter is issued.
If you would like to subscribe to the English version of News from the Senior Management Team, please go to http://info.au.dk/medarbbreve/index.asp?sprog=en. The English version of News from the Senior Management Team is available at http://www.au.dk/en/about/uni/seniormanagement/newsletter/.
You can read previous editions of News from the Senior Management Team at http://www.au.dk/en/about/uni/seniormanagement/newsletter/2017.