New honorary doctorates in science and technology

4 October 2012

The Faculty of Science and Technology has named one honorary doctor in engineering, Johan Söderström, CEO of ABB Sweden, and three honorary doctors of philosophy: Nobel laureate and physicist Frank Wilczek; the director of the Vasa Museum, Marika Hedin; and leading solar energy researcher Professor Bill Rutherford.

Johan Söderström, M.Sc. in engineering, is CEO of ABB Sweden and head of the ABB Division of Power Products in northern Europe. He has made major contributions in positioning ABB in Sweden as an international leader in the development of power technology. His innovative leadership style is much appreciated and has been the subject of social scientific research. Söderström has also been instrumental in building up the second-cycle (master) engineering programme in electro technology at Uppsala University, and also the project leader programme in industrial technology in Ludvika and Västerås. He has also backed up collaborative initiatives leading to major successes for Uppsala University in the competition for strategic research commitments in the field of energy from the EU, the Swedish government, and Swedish research councils.

Professor Frank Wilczek, the 2004 Nobel laureate in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is one of the world’s best-known and most frequently cited theoretical physicists. He has made major contributions to the now well-established standard model of elementary particle physics, especially quantum chromodynamic theory for the strong force and the asymptotic freedom of quarks. He has developed new theories for, e.g., quark matter, axions, anions, and a new quantum statistics, of use in several areas of physics. Wilczek has visited and also collaborated with Uppsala University many times, most recently in connection with the Higgs celebrations at Uppsala Castle, where he was one of two featured speakers.

Marika Hedin, PhD in history, is director of the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. From 1998 to 2008 she was manager and head of public relations at the Nobel Museum and helped establish the Museum as a major actor in work to advance science. In recent years her ability to make research and research findings accessible has been appreciated by the myriad visitors to the Vasa Museum. Among other things, the findings of research projects addressing the chemical degradation of the wood in the Vasa have resulted in exhibitions, books, and programmes for a broad audience. Hedin has also contributed to new research collaboration on preserving the Vasa, with Uppsala University, among other collaborators.

Alfred William (Bill) Rutherford is a professor of the biochemistry of solar energy at Imperial College, London, long a prominent name in the field of photosynthesis and solar energy. Early in his career, he established his pioneering analytical methods with the aid of electron spin resonance spectroscopy – today one of the most commonly used methods for monitoring how electrons move when they are exposed to light. Today Rutherford’s laboratory is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of photosynthetic reaction centres. For many years he has also been interested in the evolution of photosynthetic centres, and last winter he presented a new theory for how the emergence of oxygen in the atmosphere has governed the molecular evolution of enzymes and reaction centres at the level of the atom. This theory will now be tested experimentally by a number of research teams.