Alumnus of the Year

The six most recent recipients of the Alumnus of the Year award, from left to right: Sofia Wadensjö Karén (2018), Emma Frans (2019), Svante Pääbo (2023), Jamie LeSueur (2020), Jenny Larsson (2021) och Richard Bergström (2022). Fotographer Mikael Wallerstedt. 

Photo collage of the six most recent recipients of the Alumnus of the Year award, from left to right: Sofia Wadensjö Karén (2018), Emma Frans (2019), Svante Pääbo (2023), Jamie LeSueur (2020), Jenny Larsson (2021) och Richard Bergström (2022). Fotographer Mikael Wallerstedt.

Each year, Uppsala University awards the title of Alumnus of the Year to an alumnus who has made an outstanding contribution to their professional field, or has accomplished something else worthy of honouring. Nominations can be submitted by anyone with a connection to Uppsala University.

Who will be Alumnus of the year 2024?

The nomination period for the Alumnus of the Year 2024 award closed on 31 March.



The Alumnus of the Year distinction is made possible by a gift from Professor John Frederick Morgan-Jones, an Uppsala alumnus from Canada. In his 2003 will, he wrote: "I received my degree af Fil. Lie. from them in 1960 and that this contribution is my expression of thanks for Swedish hospitality”.

Who can nominate?

Nominations can be submitted by anyone with a connection to Uppsala University: Students, employees, alumni and friends.

Who is eligible?

The following criteria are to be the basis for the nomination:

  • The alumnus shall be a good role model for current and future students.
  • The alumnus shall have excelled in their career, made valuable contribution following the completion of their studies or otherwise have achieved something of note. A valuable contribution may be, for example, research and education of the highest quality, an important cultural achievement, an active role in society, stimulated development and innovation or in some other way have contributed to making the world a better place.
  • The alumnus should have read at least four semesters at Uppsala University.
  • It is of merit if the alumnus has been well connected to University operations or Uppsala student life.

Who selects the winner?

The decision of who is to receive the award is made by the Vice-Chancellor, after suggestions from the preparatory group which consists of representatives from the University Management, each of the three disciplinary domains, the Student Unions, Kuratorskonventet and the Uppsala University alumni associations.

When can I nominate?

The nomination period for the Alumnus of the Year 2024 is open until 31 March.


Contact us with any questions regarding the Alumnus of the Year award.

Alumnus of the Year 2023: Svante Pääbo

Svant Pääbo, Alumnus of the Year 2023

The Alumnus of the Year 2023 is awarded to Svante Pääbo for his scientific accomplishments, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2022.

From the award citation:

"Through ground-breaking research, Svante Pääbo achieved what no one thought possible: Mapping the genome of Neanderthals, an extinct relative of now living humans. He also made the sensational discovery of a previously unknown hominin, Denisova. Svante Pääbo contributes to an increased understanding of the big questions - where we come from and what makes us uniquely human. He is a credit to the entire university."

Svante Pääbo will hold an open lecture on 9 February 2024. Updated information about the lecture will be published in the university’s calendar. The Alumnus of the Year award is presented at Uppsala University's awards ceremony on 9 October 2023.

Prize ceremony and panel discussion with Svante Pääbo

Alumnus of the Year 2022: Richard Bergström

Richard Bergström has over the course of his career held influential positions in a number of government bodies as well as within the pharmaceutical industry’s interest organisations. This includes being an advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and contributing as an expert in a number of state investigations. Richard Bergström has a Degree of Pharmacy from Uppsala University.

On 23 November 2022 Richard Bergström held an open with the title: ”Vaccinsamordnare - i korsningen mellan industri, politik och folkhälsa.” The lecture was given in Swedish but the recording has subtitles in English.

From the award citation:

"Over the last few years Richard Bergström has been one of the most visible and important people in connection to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, he has always kept close contact with Uppsala University and above all the Faculty of Pharmacy and its student union. Richard Bergström is a true alumnus and a role model for our students."

Richard Bergström's lecture on Youtube (subtitles in English)

Jenny Larsson holds a lecture in the university main building.

Alumnus of the Year 2021: Jenny Larsson

Jenny Larsson is Country Managing Director Sweden at Hitachi ABB Power Grids and has a Master’s degree in Environmental and Water Engineering from Uppsala University. She has held a series of senior positions during her career. In her various positions, she has promoted gender equality and diversity issues and actively worked to get more women into leading roles.

From the award citation:

Jenny Larsson has had a brilliant engineering career and her professional success, interest in the environment, solid leadership and commitment make her an excellent role model for the University’s students.

Here your can watch the lecture she held 5 October in connection with being named Alumnus of the Year 2021. The lecture is titled “An ecosystem of technology and people – for sustainable progress” and was given in Swedish.

Jenny Larsson´s lecture on Youtube

Jenny Larsson holds a lecture in the university main building.

Alumnus of the Year 2020: Jamie LeSueur

The Alumnus of the Year 2020 award was presented to Jamie LeSueur, Global Head of Emergency Operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Jamie LeSueur is a specialist in humanitarian relief and disaster management with extensive experience of managing Red Cross humanitarian operations in disaster and conflict situations throughout the world.

Jamie LeSueur has a Degree of Master of Arts from Uppsala University, with Peace and Conflict Studies as his main subject. As a student in 2013–2015, he held a Peace Fellowship at the Uppsala Rotary Peace Center at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research.

From the award citation:

With his profound commitment to people in disaster-stricken areas and his dedication to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, Jamie LeSueur is an important source of inspiration and an extraordinary example for students at the University.

Watch the lecture with Alumnus of the Year 2020 Jamie LeSueur online

Jamie LeSueur receives diploma from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Coco Norén.

Alumnus of the Year 2019: Emma Frans

The Alumnus of the Year 2019 award was presented to researcher, author, popular educator and science writer Emma Frans for her “tireless work to increase the resistance to misleading facts and fake news”. Emma Frans studied biomedicine at Uppsala University, where she also received her Master of Medical Science degree in 2006. She defended her doctoral thesis in medical epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet in 2013.

From the award citation:

“Emma Frans reaches far beyond the academic world and has found her niche by speaking in a simple, clear, easily understandable and entertaining way about widely diverse fields, but always on a disciplinary foundation. She is a modern popular educator who navigates smoothly among traditional media, public appearances and social media.”

Emma Frans outside the university main building.

Alumnus of the Year 2018: Sofia Wadensjö Karén

Sofia Wadensjö Karén is Managing Director of the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (Utbildningsradion) and has previously been editor-in-chief at VI Magazine. For a number of years she has also chaired special interest group Utgivarna. Sofia Wadensjö Karén has studied general literary studies at Uppsala University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in 1995 and then studied journalism at Stockholm University. During her study years in Uppsala, Sofia Wadensjö Karén was active in student life, especially at Värmlands nation where she was editor of the nation’s magazine Wermlandus.

From the award citation:

“Sofia Wadensjö Karén is characterised by strong integrity, both as a person and in her professional role. She is a good role model for Uppsala University students and a wise public voice and a strong leader of change.”

Sofia Wadensjö Karén gives a lecture in front of a projection on the wall

Alumnus of the Year 2017: Anita Falkenek

Anita Falkenek is CEO of Krav and has long worked with environment and sustainability issues. She has a degree in ecotoxicology and biology from Uppsala University.

From the award citation:

“Anita Falkenek is deeply committed to and involved in the challenges faced by society and food production today. Through her tireless work, she has contributed to Swedish major companies understanding that environment and sustainability are self-evident areas of development and prerequisites for profitable business activities. Through her work for environmental and sustainability issues, Anita Falkenek has taken an active role in societal development and contributed to a better world. Thereby, she is a good role model for Uppsala University’s students.”

Anita Falkenek stands next to former vice chancellor Eva Åkesson in the university building, holding a diploma

Alumnus of the Year 2016: Trita Parsi

Trita Parsi – political adviser and Iran expert. His studies at Uppsala University became a foundation for an international career. He has, among other things, been an adviser at the White House, won awards for his books on international relations and worked in the UN General Assembly with human rights issues.

From the award citation:

“Through his passionate work for democracy and development, Trita Parsi has become a role model who has taken action in society. His articles on Middle East issues have been published in world-leading journals and he can often be seen on CNN, NPR and Al-Jazeera. Trita Parsi personifies Uppsala University’s ultimate goal: to contribute to a better world.”

Trita Parsi gives a lecture in front of a white board in the university main building

Alumnus of the Year 2015: Niklas Zennström

The title of Alumnus of the Year 2015 at Uppsala University is being awarded to IT entrepreneur Niklas Zennström, current CEO of the investment firm Atomico. He receives the award for his work in climate change and his entrepreneurship.

From the award citation:

“Niklas Zennström, founder of the technology companies Skype, Kazaa and Joost among others, has greatly contributed to the advancement of the global information and knowledge society of today. Currently, Niklas Zennström runs the investment firm Atomico, which specializes in innovative IT companies.”

Niklas Zennström stands in front of an old oil painting in the university building

Alumnus of the Year 2014: Jan and Maria Berglin

The 2014 Alumnus of the Year award has been awarded to cartoonists Jan and Maria Berglin. They have been chosen for the award for their important input to public debate in Sweden. As continuously current portrayers of society they are good role models for today’s and tomorrow’s students.

From the award citation:

“The comic artists Jan and Maria Berglin provide important input to Swedish public debate. As continuously current portrayers of society they are good role models for today’s and tomorrow’s students. The Berglins raise and put the spotlight on truths, contradictions and shortcomings in everyday life and society. The messages conveyed are insightful, humorous, satirical, and charitable. The comics reach a wide readership.”

Alumnus of the Year 2013: Petra Einarsson

The 2013 Alumnus of the Year Award at Uppsala University goes to Petra Einarsson, the CEO of Sandvik Materials Technology. She was selected to receive the award because of her deep commitment to diversity issues and her inclusive leadership style, and for setting a good example for students of today and tomorrow.

From the award citation:

“Petra Einarsson has distinguished herself in her career at Sandvik and is a good ambassador for Uppsala University. She started out as a trainee and then held many different positions in finance, including business controller and CFO. Petra Einarsson has demonstrated her deep commitment to diversity issues and an inclusive leadership style, and she sets a good example for today’s students – and those of tomorrow.”

Alumnus of the Year 2012: Stefan Swartling Peterson

Stefan Swartling Peterson, Professor of global health at Uppsala University, has been awarded this distinction for his valuable contributions after his studies at the University. Among other achievements, Stefan Swartling Peterson helped to found the Swedish chapter of Doctors without Borders.

From the award citation:

“Stefan has made many valuable contributions after his studies at Uppsala University, particularly through his work for women’s and children’s health in developing countries. Stefan also helped to found the Swedish chapter of Doctors without Borders in 1993. In this way, he has made a concrete contribution to Uppsala University’s goals and visions of helping to make a better world. Stefan is a good ambassador for Uppsala University, and has always generously shared his knowledge and experience with both students and younger colleagues.”

Alumnus of the Year 2010: Peter Englund

Peter Englund, historian and author, has been awarded this distinction “for his sharpness and saltiness in thought and words, and his desire and ability to constantly remind his readers and listeners of the meaning of history and its dialogues with our own time. Through his journey though the landscape of the past and the present, he has remained a good friend of Uppsala University.” Peter Englund came to Uppsala to study in autumn 1981. He defended his dissertation “Det hotade huset: Adliga föreställningar om samhället under stormaktstiden” (The threatened house: Adulterous concepts of society during the period of great power), and became Docent (Associate Professor) in history in 1995. He was Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy from 1 June 2009 to 31 May 2015.


Questions about alumni activities: