Björkén Prize for evolutionary biologist and palaeontologist
29 November 2019
Per Ahlberg, Professor of Evolution and Developmental Biology at the Department of Organismal Biology, and Lars Holmer, Professor of Historical Geology and Palaeontology at the Department of Earth Sciences, have won the Björkén Prize – one of Uppsala University’s largest scientific awards for outstanding research – for 2019.
The University Board explained its choices with the following citations.
For his pioneering work on evolution of the earliest tetrapods, especially key changes in their lifestyle and morphology associated with moving from an aquatic to a territorial existence. Ahlberg obtained his PhD in Zoology at Cambridge in 1989, and is now a professor at Uppsala University’s Department of Organismal Biology. His memberships of, for example, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Academia Europaea reflect his broad international commitments. Based on using a broad spectrum of techniques, his research group’s work is regularly published in the very highest-ranking scientific journals.
Lars Holmer is one of the world’s leading experts on the origin and early development of the brachiopods, which are among the most important fossil groups of marine animals. However, his expertise ranges much further afield: his extensive research has also contributed to significant insights into habitat changes in the early Cambrian Period, half a billion years ago. Holmer studied for his doctorate at Uppsala University, gaining it in 1988, and his ensuing monograph was named the best of the year by the Paleontological Society in the United States. Employed as professor at Uppsala University’s Department of Earth Sciences, he also engages in broad international collaboration, especially in Xi’an, China (where he is a visiting professor), and in Australia. In the course of his career, Holmer has studied the evolution of life and, moreover, carried out fieldwork on a large scale worldwide.
The Prize will be awarded at the Winter Conferment Ceremony in January 2020.
The Prize is one of the largest of Uppsala University’s scientific awards for outstanding research. The first winner received it in 1902, and it alternates among four different categories. “Botany, Zoology and Landscape Planning” is the category in which the 2019 Prize is being awarded in 2019.