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Two AU professors at the National Academy of Sciences

Astrophysicist Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard from Aarhus University has become a member of the exclusive and highly esteemed American scientific society, the National Academy of Sciences. This means the academy now has two members from AU, as Bo Barker Jørgensen, a microbiologist, was admitted in 2020.

Professor Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard, Department of Physics and Astronomy at Aarhus University, new member of the National Academy of Sciences. Photo: Frank Grundahl
Professor Bo Barker Jørgensen, Department of Biology at Aarhus University, new member of the National Academy of Sciences. Photo: Private photo

The two professors will formally be elected at an official ceremony in Washington on Friday 29 April.

They will be joining a very exclusive group.

The National Academy of Sciences has approx. 2,400 American members and 500 members from other countries. 190 of them are Nobel Prize laureates.

At the moment, eight members come from universities in Denmark. During the 157 years, the academy has existed, a total of 21 Danish members have been elected.

Great honour and a lot of work

Membership of the National Academy of Sciences is not just an honorary title; it entails a lot of scientific work. The academy's National Research Council is an important consultancy body for American politicians, government agencies and research institutions, not least through their Decadal Surveys, which recommend research priorities over the next ten years.

Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard is proud that some of the academy have nominated him. This was in secrecy, and he was not notified until he received the invitation.

The background is also secret, but not difficult to guess.

Leading authority on star-quakes

Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard has played a key role in developing seismic studies of the Sun and other stars. As the head of the basic research centre, the Stellar Astrophysics Centre (SAC) at Aarhus University, he has been deeply involved in the study of star-quakes and exoplanets from the two NASA space telescopes, Kepler and TESS. He has organised the more than 500 researchers at the TESS Asteroseismic Science Consortium (TASC).

"I believe that I’ll almost immediately be involved in the next round of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey. It’s a very comprehensive process that collects ideas from the entire community and brings them together in recommendations. The James Webb telescope, which was launched in December 2021, for example, is the result of a recommendation from the Decadal Survey twenty years ago," says Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard.

Who, by the way, is retiring on 30 June and will be appointed as an emeritus professor at Aarhus University.

Professor Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard

  • Born 6 October 1950 in Kolding, Denmark
  • MSc in astronomy from Aarhus University in 1975
  • PhD in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge, UK, in 1978.
  • Postdoc positions in Liège, Belgium; Boulder, Colorado, US; and the University of Copenhagen up to 1984
  • Associate professor at the former Department of Astronomy (now the Department of Physics and Astronomy), Aarhus University, 1984
  • Member of Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, 1990
  • Professor of helio- and astero-seismology at the same place, 2001
  • Head of the Danish AsteroSeismology Centre from 2004.
  • Head of the Stellar Astrophysics Centre (SAC) from 2012.

Read more about Bo Barker Jørgensen’s election to the National Academy of Sciences here.

The list of members on the National Academy of Sciences’ website is not entirely systematic. The list below is best available of Danish members over time (current members marked with *):

1925: Niels Bohr, University of Copenhagen

1937: August Krogh, University of Copenhagen, Nobel Prize laureate

1938: Søren P. L. Sørensen, Carlsberg Laboratoriet

1947: Johannes N. Brønsted, University of Copenhagen

1952: Niels Bjerrum, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University

1971: Aage Bohr, University of Copenhagen, Nobel Prize laureate

1971: Bengt Strömgren, University of Copenhagen

1973: Ben Mottelson, Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, Nobel Prize laureate

1975: Niels Kaj Jerne, University of Copenhagen, Nobel Prize laureate

1978: Helge Larsen, Arctic Institute

1980: Hans Ussing, University of Copenhagen 

1988: Jens Skou, Aarhus University, Nobel prize laureate

1989: Ester Boserup, UN

1992: C. J. Ballhausen, University of Copenhagen

2007: Donald Canfield, University of Southern Denmark *

2011: Tom Fenchel, University of Copenhagen *

2014: Eske Willerslev, University of Copenhagen *

2018: Charles Marcus, University of Copenhagen *

2019: Jens Nielsen, BioInnovation Institute *

2020: Bo Barker Jørgensen, Aarhus University *

2021: Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard *