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New vice-deans at NAT: Boost to career development and external collaboration

Two experienced AU profiles will strengthen Natural Sciences within careers, research and collaboration with business and industry as newly appointed vice-deans.

Ole Bækgaard Nielsen og Poul Nissen, Aarhus University. AU Foto.

Two well-known AU profiles will start as vice-deans at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Aarhus University from January 2024. Ole Bækgaard Nielsen, head of the Department of Public Health at Health, is to be the new vice-dean for career development, and Poul Nissen, head of the DANDRITE research centre, is to be the new vice-dean for research, enterprise and innovation. 

"Ole Bækgaard Nielsen and Poul Nissen are two well-liked and experienced people who will be joining the Dean's Office. They have ambitions to strengthen and develop our faculty within careers, research and business collaboration. Both Ole and Poul have been selected from a field of strong candidates, and we’re looking forward to them starting," says Kristine Kilså, vice-dean for education and representative for the appointment committees for both positions. 

"It’s a great strength when young researchers contribute to society in other areas than academic research"  

Ole Bækgaard Nielsen, 62, graduate biologist and PhD from Aarhus University. He has been a professor at the Department of Biomedicine and he is the co-founder of the company NMD Pharma. He has headed the Department of Public Health for the past six years. He is looking forward to returning to natural sciences. 

"I’ve experienced the value of working closely with other disciplines, I’ve enjoyed interdisciplinary collaboration and I’ve experienced the challenge of starting a company and navigating a much more commercial world. Now I'm looking forward to returning to science and to the faculty where I started my life at the university," says Ole Bækgaard Nielsen.  

As a vice-dean at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, he wants to help ensure that discussions about career development include the world outside the university, just as much as inside.   

"We have to find a place where it's perfectly natural for PhDs or postdoc’s to talk about a career outside the university. The skills we give our young researchers must not only make them better researchers; they must also prepare them to take the plunge into the many career opportunities in the private and public sectors. It’s important to see it as a great strength when a skilled PhD or postdoc goes out into society to contribute in areas other than academic research." 

"I’m looking forward to strengthening NAT's position within science and innovation, nationally and internationally" 

Poul Nissen, 56, MSc in chemistry from Aarhus University and PhD in molecular biology from the same university. He is particularly well-known and award-winning for his ability to map and understand the significance of the proteins floating around the membrane surrounding the cells in the body, e.g. the sodium-potassium pump. For the past 10 years, he has headed the interdisciplinary research centre DANDRITE (The Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience), which is the Danish division of the Nordic EMBL Parternship for Moelcular Medicine. When he starts as the vice-dean for research, business and innovation at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, he will draw on his experience from DANDRITE.  

"As the head of DANDRITE, I’ve really appreciated creating a framework and promoting the development of exciting and important new research environments and their positive impact on society. This will also be a crucial task in my new job as the vice-dean, just on a much larger scale. I look forward to contributing to strengthening NAT’s position in science an innovation, both nationally and internationally, and I am excited to promote research collaborations and networks between our departments and faculties, nationwide and internationally." 

In his new role as vice-dean, he continues to be active in research.  

"I consider it an advantage to maintain a close connection to the research environment. It’ll certainly lead to challenges in finding time for everything, and I’ll will gain some new experiences, but in key areas such as research infrastructure, I see challenges and great opportunities, where close contact with research in practice will provide a valuable outset," says Poul Nissen. 

With the appointment of the two new vice-deans, from 1 January 2024 the Dean's Office at the faculty will consist of acting Dean Erik Østergaard Jensen, Vice-dean for Education Kristine Kilså, Vice-dean for Career Development Ole Bækgaard Nielsen and Vice-dean for Research, Enterprise and Innovation Poul Nissen. 

The reason for appointing two new vice-deans at the faculty is in this news item from June 2023: https://nat.medarbejdere.au.dk/nyheder-og-arrangementer/nyheder/vis/artikel/strategisk-udvidelse-af-dekanatet-skal-styrke-erhvervs-og-karriereindsatsen 

See also: 

Poul Nissen steps down as the director of DANDRITE to become vice dean for research 

Ole Bækgaard to be the new vice-dean at Natural Sciences


Vice-dean for Education Kristine Kilså  
Aarhus University, Faculty of Natural Sciences 
Mobile: +45 9352 1238 
Mail: kkj@au.dk 

Head of Department Ole Bækgaard Nielsen 
Aarhus University, Department of Public Health 
Mobile: +45 6020 2674 
Mail: obn@ph.au.dk 

Research director, Professor Poul Nissen 
Aarhus University, DANDRITE 
Mobile: +45 2899 2295 
Mail: pn@mbg.au.dk