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Gold medal and prize money for Lund biologists

The Royal Physiographic Society of Lund will present awards to three Lund biologists at the society’s annual ceremony on 2 December.
Three buildings along a street.
The Royal Physiographic Society of Lund has its office in the old bank building (brown-red building) at Stortorget in central Lund. Photo: Jan Olsson

Lars Olof Björn has been awarded the Rosén Linnaeus Medal in Gold. Susanne Åkesson and Staffan Bensch share the Rosén Linnaeus Prize in Zoology and each receive SEK 560 000.

Ozone holes effect on plants

Lars Olof Björn is professor emeritus in Botany at the Department of Biology in Lund. In its citation, the society writes that Lars Olof Björn “has for many years been an internationally very well-known plant physiologist, above all for his ground-breaking work in photobiology and the effect of light on plants and plant cells.”

Lars Olof Björn was awarded a PhD in 1967 for his thesis The effect of light on the development of root plastids. He became a professor in 1972 and was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1981.

The citation particularly emphasises Lars Olof Björn’s many years of investigating ozone holes in the atmosphere and their effect on the world’s plants, as well as his considerable commitment to popular science.

Winner of the prestigious August Prize

Susanne Åkesson became professor of Evolutionary Ecology at Lund University in 2006. The same year she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute for Navigation in London. For ten years she was the coordinator of the Centre for Animal Movement Research at the Department of Biology in Lund. Three years ago, she was elected as a member of the class for biosciences at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

In her research, Susanne Åkesson focuses on how animals move and navigate. The society’s citation states: “Åkesson’s research has been innovative and ground-breaking, with articles in top-ranked international journals and a considerable impact in the research community. Furthermore, her research has reached the general public in an exceptionally successful way”.

In 2009, Susanne Åkesson won the August Prize for non-fiction for her texts in the book “Att överleva dagen” (To Survive the Day).

Expert in avian malaria

Staffan Bensch became professor of Evolutionary Ecology in Lund in 2004. He received the Elliot Coues Award from the American Ornithological Society, a prize that is only awarded to researchers who have made an extraordinary contribution to ornithological research. In 2016, he was the co-winner of the Katma Award presented by the Cooper Ornithological Society in the USA for the most ground-breaking and significant article published in the period 2015–2016.

The society’s citation describes Staffan Bensch as a pioneer in molecular ecology in terms of the use of modern DNA methods in research.

“Bensch is a world-leading researcher, particularly within the research fields of avian malaria and the speciation of birds”, writes the society.

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