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A biologist involved in popular education and a prolifically cited physicist have been appointed new honorary doctors of science

Portraits. Photo.
Kerstin Johannesson, professor of marine ecology at the University of Gothenburg and Georg Kresse, professor of physics at Vienna University, have been appointed new honorary doctors at the Faculty of Science. Photo: Susanne Liljenström/private.

Kerstin Johannesson, an evolutionary biologist who readily goes to sea to find answers to the big questions, and Georg Kresse, a physicist with outstanding achievements in computational science, have been appointed honorary doctors at the Faculty of Science, Lund University.

Kerstin Johannesson is a professor of marine ecology at the University of Gothenburg and director of the Tjärnö Marine Laboratory in northern Bohuslän where she carries out research to try to understand which mechanisms lead to an increase in biodiversity and to new species. These issues are as relevant today as they were in the mid-19th century when Charles Darwin wrote his controversial manifesto On the Origin of Species. Kerstin Johannesson’s research focuses on the barriers required for two variants to be sufficiently genetically different to form separate species. To get to the bottom of these issues, she studies marine organisms such as periwinkles, seaweeds and ascidians. There is great interest in her research and Kerstin Johannesson is an esteemed lecturer. Over many years, she has also built up collaborations with researchers at Lund University. In awarding her this honorary doctorate, the Faculty of Science hopes to strengthen and develop these collaborations.

“Kerstin Johannesson combines speciation and popular education, two important components to understand, explain and improve our world”, says Sven Lidin, dean of the Faculty of Science.

The other honorary doctor is Georg Kresse from the University of Vienna. The Austrian professor of physics – who has revolutionised the role of computational science in physics, chemistry and biology – is behind one of the most used program systems to predict material properties. The program is called VASP (Vienna ab initio simulation package) and it has had an incredible impact in the research community. The development of the system, which took place in collaboration with research teams at Lund University, has hundreds of thousands of citations in scientific journals. Thanks to the work of Georg Kresse, theoretical methods are now a matter of course in the design and interpretation of experiments. By studying a material system theoretically first, a lot of laboratory work can be avoided.

“Thanks to Georg Kresse, calculations are the new experiment for many thousands of researchers in materials science. It is a great honour for the faculty to be able to appoint Kresse and Johannesson as honorary doctors”, says Sven Lidin.