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Lund University’s Wallenberg Scholars are announced

Marie Dacke, Mia Liinason, Heiner Linke, Martin Dribe, Tobias Uller, Vanya Darakchieva and Oksana Mont are the new Wallenberg Scholars
Marie Dacke, Mia Liinason, Heiner Linke, Martin Dribe, Tobias Uller, Vanya Darakchieva and Oksana Mont are the new Wallenberg Scholars

Twelve researchers at Lund University have been appointed Wallenberg Scholars, a programme funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation that supports excellent basic research, primarily in medicine, technology and the natural sciences. The total funding amounts to SEK 239 million.

The grants, which are for a five-year period, are worth up to SEK 18 million each for researchers in theoretical subjects and up to SEK 20 million each for researchers in experimental subjects. As the winner of a Nobel Prize, Anne L’Huillier receives a grant of SEK 40 million. 

“Fantastic news, and my warmest congratulations to them all! Lund University has never been granted so many Wallenberg Scholars at one time. The Wallenberg Foundations’ aim for international impact and more long-term projects within prominent basic research, provides powerful leverage for our ambitions at Lund University”, says Erik Renström, Vice-Chancellor of Lund University.

The scholars and their projects are as follows:

Marie Dacke, professor of Sensory Biology, will focus on understanding how insects can navigate despite the considerable risk of excessive noise in the insects’ biological compasses. By gaining knowledge about how dung beetles make precise decisions based on noisy input data, Dacke wants to contribute to new approaches to technological innovations in robotics and artificial intelligence.

Tobias Uller, professor of Evolutionary Ecology, studies how evolution functions and why certain species seem to have endless possibilities to change, whereas others keep within narrow limits. Historically, the focus has been on ecological factors that give rise to natural selection, but Uller is instead examining the innate characteristics which mean that organisms can develop new characters and thereby give momentum and direction to evolution.  

Martin Dribe, professor of Economic History, will focus on the long-term development of demographic disparities and the factors that contribute to inequality in people’s lives – from finances to family, children, health, longevity and neighbourhood. Economic inequality has increased in recent decades, and this also applies to inequality in health and longevity. Enhanced knowledge about the historical causes could help us to meet today’s challenges. The research covers the early 1800s and the subsequent two hundred years.

Heiner Linke, professor of Nanophysics. Proteins are the building blocks of life. Certain proteins play an important role in converting energy into motion – and can therefore also be described as nature’s smallest motors. Learning to build using protein molecules has long been a remote prospect for researchers. He recently came one step closer to this goal when, together with colleagues in Nature Communications, he demonstrated the world’s first synthetic motor that creates motion using proteins. As a Wallenberg Scholar, he wants to take further steps forward.  

Vanya Darakchieva, professor of Semiconductor Physics, wants to create new, environmentally-friendly semiconductor materials. The focus will mainly be on as yet unexplored ultra-wide bandgap (UWBG) semiconductors. These semiconductors are deemed to pave the way for the next generation of environmentally-friendly power electronics components due to better performance, cheaper production and advantages for mass production.

Oksana Mont, professor of Sustainable Consumption Governance, wants as a Wallenberg Scholar to investigate the role of the business sector in a wellbeing-oriented post-growth society, which can contribute to shaping a more ecologically sustainable and socially just future. She wants to explore potential roles for companies and organisations in an economy based on growth independence, develop principles for businesses in a post-growth economy and to create tools for evaluating business models. In addition, she wants to examine what institutional changes could support organisations in a transition to a post-growth economy.

Mia Liinason, professor of Gender Studies, will study resistance to women’s and sexual minorities’ struggle for rights in various anti-establishment movements in five European regions. Although resistance to gender equality and sexual rights is nothing new, researchers today see a fundamental difference in the way in which anti-gender agents build up hybrid networks of right-wing populists and religious fundamentalists with demands for a return to traditional values. The conflicts we are experiencing today are deemed to reflect a turning point.

In addition, Lund University’s five current Wallenberg Scholars – Anna Blom, Anne L’Huillier, Kimberly Dick Thelander, Stephanie Reimann and Johannes Rousk receive grants.  

In total, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has granted SEK 2.1 billion to 118 Wallenberg Scholars in Sweden in this round.

Read more on the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation website including details of other researchers in Sweden who are receiving funding: