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Jens-Christian Svenning receives Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award

Professor Jens-Christian Svenning conducts research into the dynamics of biodiversity and ecosystems to reveal the factors that shape, threaten and safeguard biological diversity on Earth. He has received the prestigious Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award of DKK 5 million for his work.

[Translate to English:] Enlarge this photo
[Translate to English:] Professor Jens-Christian Svenning modtager Villum Kann Rasmussens Årslegat på 5 mio. kr. for sit markante bidrag til teknisk og naturvidenskabelig forskning.

Professor Jens-Christian Svenning from the Department of Biology has received the Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award of DKK 5 million for his significant contribution to technical and scientific research.

The Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award for technical and scientific research is the largest Danish research award for an individual. It is awarded in recognition of particularly valuable work in the technical and natural sciences. The award includes a cash prize of DKK 5 million and it is not open for applications. The board of the Villum Foundation select who is to receive the annual grant. This follows a recommendation from a committee of experts which solicits a statement on each candidate from international experts in the field of research in question.

"I'm very honoured to receive the Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award. This is exceptional recognition of my research and will be of great inspiration in the years to come," says Jens-Christian Svenning about receiving the annual scholarship.

The Villum Foundation says that the reason for selecting Jens-Christian Svenning this year was his exceptionally broad and deep knowledge of biology. It covers animals and plants at species level; the ecological interplay between living organisms and their surroundings; in many different ecosystems; and all this in the past and the present. His research describes the significance of expected climate changes for future life on Earth.

"If we continue to burn fossil fuels at the rate we are now, our research shows that more than three billion people will live at an annual mean temperature of 29 degrees Centigrade or more by the end of the century. This corresponds to the hottest places in the southern Sahara and Arabia today. The conditions are almost impossible to live in. They’re extreme," says Jens-Christian Svenning.

A researchers obligation

Jens-Christian Svenning’s research centre conducts research into the dynamics in biodiversity and ecosystems across most of the world. Knowledge from fieldwork is combined with data from satellites and large databases to calculate relationships and consequences in statistical models.

The work combines pure basic research with applied research to try to solve the biodiversity crisis. For example, this includes the development of methods to monitor nature effectively using satellites.

"As a researcher in this area, I see it as my obligation, to work on overcoming the biodiversity crisis and reversing trends so that we can maintain a rich biological diversity on Earth," explains Jens-Christian Svenning.

The annual award was presented on Friday, 22 January 2021.

Professor Jens-Christian Svenning,
Department of Biology,
Aarhus University,
Tel.: +45 2899 2304
Email: svenning@bios.au.dk