Classics, folk music and jazz framed the installation ceremony
“As a professor, one is in a unique position to translate new knowledge into care, “ said Vice-Chancellor Ole-Petter Ottersen as he opened Karolinska Institutet’s annual installation ceremony for new professors and recipients of academic awards.
Prizewinners, new professors, visiting professors and adjunct professors gathered together on Thursday 12 October in Aula Medica on Karolinska Institutet’s campus in Solna. Many of them had brought along their families and friends to take part in the ceremonial occasion.
KI’s Vice-Chancellor Ole-Petter Ottersen wished everyone a very warm welcome.
“You will inspire and lead. At KI we have faced trials and setbacks during the recent crisis has put now it’s time to look ahead,” he said.
The ceremony continued with Pro-Vice-Chancellor Karin Dahlman-Wright presenting the recipients of KI’s Grand Silver Medal. Senior Lecturer Tore Curstedt was rewarded for his innovative methods for treating premature babies with breathing difficulties. Professor Emeritus Marc Bygdeman received the medal for among other things having developed safe methods for abortions.
“Every year, about 50,000 women die as the result of unsafe abortions. New methods have enormous importance for women’s health,” said Karin Dahlman-Wright.
Awards and prizes for significant contributions in research
Several awards and prizes were also presented for significant contributions in research and pedagogics. These concerned, among other areas, how DNA damage can lead to cancer and ageing, physical self-perception and technology to make the invisible visible in cell biology.
Then followed the official welcoming of adjunct professors and visiting professors and the inauguration of 16 professors.
“To be a professor is not a privilege for the few but a position to the benefit of the many. With academic freedom comes responsibility. We are to give patients, families and society at large hope,” said Ole-Petter Ottersen.
Films for more personal portraits
The new professors were presented in films that also showed the people behind the researcher role. Choir-singing, running, chess, cooking, painting, minimalistic music, reading and a little too few visits to the gym were some of their varied leisure activities. For many of them, there is a linkage between their professional and their private lives.
“Chess is like research. It’s strategic and sometimes you have to accept failure and begin again,” said Helle Kieler, professor in Pharmacoepidemiology.
Emily Holmes, Professor of Psychology, gave the inauguration speech on behalf the new professors. She presented her research on mental imagery. In one of her experiments, people who had been involved in a traffic accident or traumatic childbirth played a session of Tetris, a visually demanding computer game. This reduced the risk of flash-backs.
The ceremony was framed by music; classical music, Swedish folk music and jazz, where singer Viktoria Tolstoy was one of the performers. Lilla akademien’s string ensemble of 16 young violinists were given an extra long round of applause.
Prizes and awards
- The Grand Silver Medal 2017 was awarded to Marc Bygdeman and Tore Curstedt
- The Dimitris N. Chorafas prize was awarded to Arvid Guterstam
- The Erik K Fernström prize was awarded to Óscar Fernandez-Capetillo
- The Sven and Ebba-Christina Hagberg prize was awarded to Katja Petzold and Simon Elsässer
- Karolinska Institutet’s pedagogical prize was awarded to Ewa Ehrenborg
- The Håkan Mogren prize was awarded to Folke Hammarqvist
- The Malin and Lennart Philipson prize was awarded to Volker Lauschke
- The Medicine Doktor Axel Hirch prize was awarded to Nils Hansson
- The Lennart Nilsson Award prize was awarded to Xiaowei Zhuang
Text: Ann Patmalnieks
Professor – The highest academic position
The installation of professors is an academic ceremony where the university’s new professors are welcomed to the highest academic position. The inauguration has no formal significance, the professors having by this time already signed their employment contracts and been given tenures.
The tradition of ceremonially inaugurating professors dates back to the early 1600s. The new professor would normally give an oration, a solemn speech. Music and bell-ringing framed the ceremony. It was for a long time customary for the professor to pay for a banquet for the university’s leaders, something that might put a severe financial burden on a researcher who did not have much money and was already in debt.
“Karolinska Institutet’s vice-chancellor of the time decided in 1996 that the ceremony was to take place slightly differently than at other universities,” Master of Ceremonies Ylva Blomberg says.
The new professors have since then been presented in films and a popular scientific publication. Nowadays an inauguration speech is given at the end of the ceremony by one of the new professors, who represents the whole group.
The professors lend a hood for the ceremony.
“The hood and the hat are the outward symbols of being made a professor but the insignia in actual fact have more significance at doctoral degree conferment ceremonies,” says Ylva Blomberg.
Source, in addition to Ylva Blomberg: Lagerkransar & logotyper. Torgny Nevéus