First Vice President and bioscientist receive the Chalmers Medal

Chalmers’ former First Vice President, Lena Gustafsson, and Professor Jens B. Nielsen have been awarded the 2023 Chalmers Medal.

Lena Gustavsson

Lena Gustafsson graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Science at the University of Gothenburg with a bachelor of arts degree in 1972. In 1979, she received her PhD in microbiology and subsequently pursued a career as a researcher and university leader, including as Director of Studies, Head of Department and Vice Dean at the Faculty of Mathematics and Science at the University of Gothenburg. At Chalmers, Lena Gustafsson was Professor of Biotechnology and Head of Department (1999-2002) and First Vice President (2003-2006). From 2010 to 2016 she was Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University. She has also carried out assignments at bodies such as Vinnova, the Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), the Swedish National Space Agency and the Swedish Research Council.

Since 2017, Lena Gustafsson has been contributing to Chalmers’ activities again in her role as Chair of the Board of the Wallenberg Centre for Quantum Technology.

Lena Gustafsson’s commitment to Chalmers is characterised by an advanced ability to think strategically and keep her ‘eye on the ball’, which leads to strong outcomes. As First Vice President of Chalmers, her areas of responsibility included research and doctoral programmes. In these areas, she took the initiative to develop a new model for the distribution of government funding for research and doctoral programmes at the university. The conditions for doctoral students were another focus area. Her broad experience, solid research career and focus on results, combined with her straightforward, honest, outspoken personality, made her a highly valued First Vice President. In addition to her work for Chalmers, Lena has been important in many contexts and has contributed greatly to strengthening and developing the conditions for strong Swedish education, research, utilisation and innovation.

Jens Nielsen

Jens Nielsen was recruited to Chalmers from DTU in 2008 and created a research environment in microbial and human systems biology with more than 90 researchers. He was also instrumental in setting up the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering (now Life Sciences) and became its first Head of Department in 2015. At the same time, he continued to be involved in the development of the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology. Jens Nielsen also helped develop and lead the Life Sciences and Engineering Area of Advance and was instrumental in building, organising and gaining funding for key infrastructure at Chalmers, notably the Metabolomics Infrastructure and the NBIS branch. Within the systems biology research profile, Jens Nielsen focuses on metabolism, both in humans and microorganisms, with the aim of understanding and studying metabolism from a broad perspective to improve human health. In both national and international partnerships, Jens Nielsen has established tools to study and understand metabolism in healthy human cells and also in the context of cancer development.

Jens Nielsen has published around 600 articles and has been cited roughly 80,000 times during his tenure at Chalmers. He is the most cited researcher with the highest h-index in biochemistry and biology in Sweden, and he has been the most cited researcher at Clarivate since 2015. He has been active in teaching as an examiner and as the principal supervisor for more than 50 successful doctoral students, and actively involved in mentoring many young researchers at Chalmers.

The Chalmers Medal was awarded for the first time in 1948, to commemorate the birth of William Chalmers 200 years earlier. The medal is awarded to someone who has promoted the university’s activities through their interest and valuable commitment, in other words someone who has done something extraordinary for Chalmers.


Erik Krång