Photo: The Velux Foundations

Four DTU researchers chosen as Villum Young Investigators

Monday 28 Jan 19


Cornelia Jaspers
Senior Researcher
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 32 47


Mehdi Mehrali
Senior Researcher
DTU Construct
+45 45 25 47 95


Andreas Hougaard Laustsen-Kiel
DTU Bioengineering
+45 29 88 11 34


Yunhong Ding
Senior Researcher
DTU Electro
+45 45 25 65 87


VILLUM FONDEN (a part of THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS) is a philanthropic foundation that supports technical and scientific research, as well as environmental, social, and cultural activities in Denmark and internationally.

VILLUM FONDEN was established in 1971 by graduate engineer Villum Kann Rasmussen, the founder of VELUX A/S and other companies in the VKR Group, the mission of which is to bring daylight, fresh air, and a better environment into people’s everyday lives. VILLUM FONDEN is the majority shareholder in the VKR Group.

Read more about Villum Young Investigators.
Four young DTU researchers will each receive DKK 10 million for their research. This takes place at the annual appointment of Villum Young Investigators, at which VILLUM FONDEN will award grants totalling DKK 205 million this year.

Each year, VILLUM FONDEN supports research talents who harbour ambitions of creating their own, independent research profiles. The Villum Young Investigator programme distributed research grants for the first time in 2012 and has supported a total of 150 young research talents with just under EUR 134 million (DKK 1 billion). Four young DTU researchers are among the recipients of this year’s 21 grants.

Postdoc Cornelia Jaspers from DTU Aqua will conduct research into animals such as jellyfish—and other types of so-called gelatinous zooplankton. They are of increasing importance to coastal ecosystems, but have not been the object of much research. The question is whether they will be favoured by the changed environmental conditions resulting from climate change. The grant will fund a postdoc, a PhD student, and equipment.

Postdoc Mehdi Mehrali from DTU Nanotech will conduct research into the opportunities offered by the increasing use of 3D-printed elements in building and construction, as well as interior design. The objective is to develop an environmentally friendly composite which not only meets the existing challenges of 3D printing of concrete, but also have other properties that are beneficial for the life cycle of buildings. The grant will fund three PhD students and two postdocs.

Associate Professor Andreas Laustsen from DTU Bioengineering will create a new generation of snakebite antivenoms. As the existing snakebite antivenoms are based on antibodies isolated from horse blood, they may have hyperallergic side effects. The objective is to base the antivenoms on human antibodies instead. This will save snakebite victims worldwide—without serious side effects. The grant will fund two postdocs and two PhD students.

Read more about Andreas Laustsen’s grant.

Associate Professor Yunhong Ding from DTU Fotonik will develop new quantum technology components which will enable much faster performance of computing tasks than today. He will create an efficient single-photon data transmission source, very large programmable quantum processors, and— finally—examine applications of complex quantum data processing. The grant will fund three postdocs, a PhD student, and equipment.

VILLUM FONDEN received a total of 214 applications for the programme. The 21 talents have been through academic assessments and interviews with the Foundation’s Committee as well as final approval by the Foundation’s Board.

“Our strategy is based on the basic belief that inspired scientists carry out inspired research. Therefore—with our Villum Young Investigator Programme—we focus on supporting the very best young talents and contribute to giving them the best opportunities and framework for expressing their talent and developing their own research teams in the coming years, and thus make a significant contribution to the advancement of technology and science,” says Thomas Bjørnholm, Executive Chief Scientific Officer in VILLUM FONDEN.

International focus
The Villum Young Investigator programme’s support to young, ambitious research talents is one of the VILLUM FONDEN’s means in the fields of technology and science with the focus being on attracting talented scientists to Danish universities. And—as the names of the four DTU recipients show—the new Villum Young Investigators comprise researchers with backgrounds from a number of countries.

“As a philanthropic foundation, it is our ambition and privilege to be able to contribute to establishing, developing, and maintaining an international research environment in Denmark—-in close dialogue and collaboration with the universities,” says Thomas Bjørnholm.

All Villum Young Investigators can join a network of like-minded researchers and are invited to attend 1-2 seminars each year on themes from which researchers at the same career level can benefit, for example recruitment and research management.

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