Photo: Vibeke Hempler

Four young DTU researchers are granted millions for research

Friday 22 Jan 16


Yi Sun
Associate Professor
DTU Nanotech
+45 45 25 63 19


Søren Kegnæs
Associate Professor
DTU Chemistry
+45 45 25 24 02


Martin Lindegren
Senior Researcher
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 34 92


Kaare Hartvig Jensen
Associate Professor
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 27 49

Four young DTU researchers receive a total of DKK 23.1 million from the VILLUM FONDEN’s Young Investigator Programme on Friday, 22 January.

The funds create jobs as virtually all projects involve the recruitment of additional researchers (postdocs and PhDs) to implement the project, which will typically run for 3-5 years.

According to the VILLUM FONDEN, the recent grants have resulted in a tenured position within their research area for several of the young scientists. They have established research groups and  have been able to attract additional research funding from the EU, for example.

This year, 20 researchers under 40 years receive up to DKK 7 million each for their scientific and technical research. from the VILLUM FONDEN’s Young Investigator Programme.

Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award
At the same ceremony where the young researchers receive their grants, the Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award—Denmark’s largest individual research award of DKK 5 million—will be presented to Professor Lone Gram from DTU Systems Biology for her research within bacteria ecology and physiology, 

The four young recipients are:


Associate Professor Yi Sun, DTU Nanotech, granted DKK 7 million for "Advanced NanoBiosensor for Rapid and Sensitive Detection of Multiple Contaminants in Food" 

Food safety is a global concern. Online detection methods that can rapidly screen multiple contaminants in food are urgently needed. This project aims to develop a versatile nanobiosensor by combining advanced nanotechnology with cutting-edge biosensing techniques. The device can be widely adopted at different stages of the food production chain, so that food safety can be controlled in a much faster and cost-effective way. The grant allows the recruitment of two PhD students and one postdoc.

Associate Professor Søren Kegnæs, DTU Chemistry, granted DKK 7 million for "Engineering highly selective heterogeneous nanoparticle catalysts"

Many processes in the chemical industry rely on supported metal nanoparticle catalysts. Unfortunately, the metal nanoparticles are often prone to sintering, which decreases the catalytic activity over time. The aim of this research project is to develop new methods to prepare highly selective heterogeneous catalysts with sinter-stable metal nanoparticles. The grant will cover investments in new test equipment and engage two PhD students and two postdocs during the project period.

Senior Researcher  Martin Lindegren, DTU Aqua, granted DKK 4.7 million for "Marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: key patterns and processes in nature"

The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (so-called “BEF”) has been debated for decadThes. Due to a shortage of observational studies, the degree to which theory explains BEF in nature is largely unknown, especially in the oceans. This project will use observational data on marine fish communities, covering a pronounced biodiversity gradient to investigate the key patterns, processes and mechanisms of the BEF relationship in nature. The grant will allow the recruitment of a postdoc and two PhD students.

Assisstant Professor  Kaare Hartvig Jensen, DTU Physics, granted DKK 4.4 million for "Biomimetic models of sugar transport in plants"

Sugars molecules produced by photosynthesis in plant leaves feed our planet. However, the transport mechanism for conveying sugars into the leaf veins is still poorly understood. The project will combine synthetic plant models with new experimental methods in living plants. This will provide a unique system for studying sugar transport in plants, and a new bioinspired platform for biofuels from photosynthetic microorganisms. The grant will provide funding for two postdocs and experimental equipment.

Young Investigator Programme

Each year VILLUM FONDEN grants a number of large amounts for young researchers at universities to accelerate their research careers.

VILLUM FONDEN’s Young Investigator Programme was established in 2011 to target funds to the younger—Danish as well as foreign—research talents,  who often stand in the shadow of the more well-known and well-established professors.

In 2016, This year a total of 20 researchers from five Danish universities receive a total of DKK 119 million from the VILLUM FONDEN’s Young Investigator Programme.