John Colonias: “It’s my way of giving something back”
Thanks to a donation totalling USD 100,000, a new scholarship fund has been established for doctoral students at the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The Colonias–Jansson Foundation will award one scholarship per year to a doctoral student, preferably of Greek origin.
The Colonias–Jansson Foundation was established by a donation from John Colonias. He took a doctorate in physics at Uppsala University in 1980 and wants his scholarship fund to help students complete their doctoral education in physics at Uppsala University.
“It’s my way of giving something back to the University. I feel I’ve received so much all my life, and now it’s time to repay it,” says Colonias.
Colonias originally comes from Greece and a Fulbright Scholarship gave him the chance to take a degree in electrical engineering at Oregon State University. He went on to doctoral studies in nuclear physics at the University of California, Berkeley.
“There I met Professor Kai Siegbahn in the mid-1970s. One of his students, Bengt Olsen, came to Berkeley to do experimental work in electrical engineering.”
Colonias helped Olsen to develop his experiments and they wrote an article together. A year or so later he received an invitation to come to Uppsala.
“It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. So I travelled to Sweden and met the research team. I really liked the country and the people.”
A year later, he saw Kai Siegbahn again at Berkeley.
“He asked me when I had received my doctorate. I told him I hadn’t yet, and probably never would since I didn’t have enough time for research. He couldn’t believe his ears, and right after that I got an offer to complete my doctoral education at Uppsala University.” After three years at Uppsala University, Colonias received his doctorate. He also met his wife, Irene Jansson, during his time in Uppsala.
“We were planning to move back to Sweden when we retired, but then she died of cancer. That’s why I want to name the scholarship fund for her as well.”
Colonias had been thinking about making a donation to the University for some time, and initially intended to include the donation in his will.
“But when I talked to Bengt Olsen, he said: ‘Why wait? Isn’t it better to give while you’re still alive?’ I thought it over for a while and decided he was right. And it felt quite natural that the donation should go to Uppsala University. After all, I’ve received so much here, both my doctorate, which has helped me professionally, and my wife and part of my family. I hope the scholarship will benefit many doctoral students in future.”