DKK 65 million granted to two researchers at Aarhus University

Two top Aarhus University researchers in biology and physics are among the recipients of a new VILLUM FOUNDATION funding programme. The idea behind the new funding programme – VILLUM Investigator – is to enable outstanding researchers at Danish research institutions to study the subjects they are most passionate about.

2017.03.21 | Rasmus Rørbæk

Professor Bjørk Hammer has been awarded DKK 25 million for his research in material physics. (Photo: Aarhus University)

Professor Jens-Christian Svenning is receiving DKK 40 million for his research in biodiversity. (Photo: Aarhus University)

The VILLUM FOUNDATION has granted a total of DKK 400 million to experienced and highly recognised researchers in science and technology. The recipients of VILLUM Investigator grants at Aarhus University are Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, Department of Bioscience, and Professor Bjørk Hammer, Department of Physics and Astronomy.

This is the first time that the VILLUM FOUNDATION has awarded grants to VILLUM Investigators, and a total of 11 professors out of 101 applicants have just received up to DKK 40 million each for research over the next six years. The aim of the programme is to support researchers who have the potential to make a considerable contribution to science and technology research at a Danish research institution. At Aarhus University, the grants have been awarded to two researchers.

Professor Bjørk Hammer’s project is called Machine learning in atomic structure determination, and he has been awarded DKK 25 million.

Professor Hammer’s fields of research are surface physics, nanoscience and nanotechnology, and the overall aim of his research is to achieve a deeper understanding of the structure of advanced materials on an atomic scale, thereby explaining observations in areas such as chemical catalysis, solar cells and electronics.

Computer modelling of material properties is a strong research tool here. The research will set a new standard for how the structure of advanced materials is reliably determined, and will mainly use expertise already developed – in collaboration with experimentalists – to study the structure and effect of catalytic material surfaces.

In assessing the project, it was emphasised that Professor Hammer is an outstanding researcher with an excellent proposal and a solid research plan, and that he works in a top research environment.

Professor Jens-Christian Svenning’s project is entitled Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World, and the new programme has granted him approximately DKK 40 million.

Professor Svenning carries out research into macroecology, including biodiversity and climate change. He is working to achieve a greater understanding of how biological diversity responds to strong climate change, and he will develop models to predict future dynamics and develop solutions, so that diversity in nature can be combined with an increasing population size.

The idea in this project is to utilise strongly improved calculation methods and data collection via satellites, and to integrate a big data approach with theory, experiments and field studies. This way of gathering knowledge will be coupled with a strong interdisciplinary approach and expertise in areas including technology, society and people.

The expert assessors placed great weight on the fact that Professor Svenning personifies an outstanding researcher who is both focused and very productive, and that the spirit of the project completely hits the target as regards the mindset behind the new programme.

For more information, please contact
Professor Bjørk Hammer
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Aarhus University
+45 8715 5629

Professor Jens-Christian Svenning
Department of Bioscience
Aarhus University
+45 2899 2304

Read more about the new programme (in Danish only) here.

Science and Technology, Public / media, Staff