News & media

Five new medal recipients named

2014-12-10

This year’s gold Linnaeus Medal is being awarded to Birgitta Bremer, Professor Bergiana at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Director of Bergius Botanic Garden in Stockholm. The Rudbeck Medal for 2014 is awarded to three researchers at Uppsala University: Nils Mårtensson, Ann-Christine Syvänen and Henrik Williams. Lastly, this year’s recipient of the Torgny Segerstedt Medal is Marie-Christine Skuncke.

The medals will be presented at the Conferment Ceremony on 30 January 2015.

The Uppsala University Linnaeus Medal, instituted in 2006, was first awarded on the occasion of the Tercentenary of Carl Linnaeus’s birth on 23 May 2007. This gold medal is awarded ‘first of all, for truly outstanding scientific achievement, especially in the Linnaean subject areas or fields close to the memory of Linnaeus’.

Birgitta Bremer, Professor Bergiana at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Director of Bergius Botanic Garden in Stockholm, is to receive the Linnaeus Medal for her outstanding ability to combine research on biodiversity with developing one of Sweden’s foremost botanical gardens. Bremer’s research has furthered our understanding of how different species are related at molecular level. In particular, she studies major plant families, which are often perceived as difficult to understand and therefore disregarded, despite being of great interest in terms of basic research, biodiversity and conservation biology. Her research involves identifying, at DNA level, the emergence of various characteristics (evolution of various forms of pollination, dispersion and life) and their interconnections, but also how they relate to speciation, geographical range and adaptation to different environments. Her research concerns, above all, plants in tropical and subtropical material collected during her travels in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Ecuador and Africa (South Africa, East Africa and Madagascar). Bremeria, a plant genus from Madagascar comprising some 20 species, is named after her.

Uppsala University’s Rudbeck Medal was instituted in 2002 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of Olof Rudbeck the Elder. It is awarded ‘for extraordinarily prominent achievements in science, to be conferred primarily for such accomplishments or findings attained at Uppsala University’. This year’s medal is being awarded to the following three researchers.

Nils Mårtensson, Professor of the Physics of Metals and Metal Surfaces at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has contributed to the first-class research in synchrotron radiation-based science that is under way in Sweden. After heading the MAX IV Laboratory for 13 years and paving the way for the new synchrotron radiation facility now being built in Lund, Mårtensson has returned to his research on solar-cell materials. In this work, he is developing new, sensitive instruments that can be used for such purposes as studying magnetic properties. They enable electrons to be measured much more accurately than before. Mårtensson’s significance in terms of world-class Swedish research is great and his work will be important for generations of researchers in physics, chemistry and materials science.

Ann-Christine Syvänen, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the Department of Medical Sciences, has successfully established a research group that studies human diseases by using modern techniques in genomics and epigenetics. In recent years, the research has focused particularly on childhood leukaemias and autoimmune diseases. Professor Syvänen has also established a technology platform, initially with support from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. This SNP&SEQ Technology Platform is the largest in Uppsala’s SciLifeLab, and provides genotyping of SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) and second generation sequencing as a service to academic researchers in Sweden and other countries. Over the years, Syvänen has taken part in several international collaborations that have generated publications in high-ranking journals.

Henrik Williams, Professor of Scandinavian Languages at the Department of the same name, has a leading international position as a scholar in runology. He has not only achieved new interpretations of inscriptions, but also introduced a social dimension into the understanding of rune-stones, as in his 2008 article ‘Rune-Stone Inscriptions and Queer Theory’. By both strengthening the established research tradition in his field and simultaneously coming up with new angles from modern linguistics, Henrik Williams’s work breaks new ground and is exceptional of its kind.

The Torgny Segerstedt Medal, instituted to honour Torgny Segerstedt for his work as Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University for 23 years, was first awarded in 1988. The medal is awarded every other year to Swedish scholars in the social sciences. A sum of prize money is associated with the medal.

This year’s recipient of the Torgny Segerstedt Medal, Professor Marie-Christine Skuncke, has carried out research on 18th-century Sweden, in particular. From a European and global perspective, she has especially studied theatre, opera, Swedish princes’ education and upbringing, political rhetoric and issues in the history of media. In her research, she often uses a historical personage as her starting point, providing a wide-ranging account of that person’s life and work. Her latest study is of Carl Peter Thunberg, one of Linnaeus’s travelling pupils or ‘apostles’, and his journey to Japan in 1775–76. Skuncke has written numerous scholarly books, articles and other works, which have been appreciated by a wider public as well as in the research community. Her writings have been published in several languages – mainly Swedish, English and French. For several decades, she has worked as a teacher at Uppsala University’s Department of Literature. She has also, for many years, headed the Uppsala Interdisciplinary Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies, attended by researchers and students from various disciplines.