Strong research profile to head the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering
Ambitions for Aarhus University's Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering are sky-high, and Professor Lars DM Ottosen is ready to secure the department a place among the world elite.
There is no doubt that nature, technology and the environment are key interests for Professor Lars DM Ottosen. He holds a degree in biology, and his educational choice back in the 1990s was driven by this passionate interest, which has remained ‘top-of-mind’ throughout his long career in research and business.
And it will continue to be his main focus when Lars DM Ottosen takes on the role as head of Aarhus University’s new Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering, which opened in January this year.
"We're working on technologies that can make the world greener and healthier. Bring back more nature, increase biodiversity. Technologies that can lead to a completely circular economy where nothing is wasted, where no fossil fuels have to be dug up from the subsurface, and where we can grow the same food we’re growing today in far less space. All this based on quantum leaps in chemical engineering and biotechnology,” he says and points out that the health and well-being of the individual is likewise at the center of the department's investments within medical biotechnology.
Encouraging cross collaborations
Today, Lars DM Ottosen is acting head of the department, so he will continue his work as leader of an area that plays a key role in accelerating the green transition.
The solutions to some of the major challenges facing the world today are to be found through biotechnology and chemical engineering, and the engineers of tomorrow will be working on Power-to-X, food and drinking water, circular bioeconomy, new medical treatments, antibiotics and vaccines and a massive technological revolution in agriculture og bioeconomy.
"As the head of department, my job is to build up a department with world-class research and education and strong ties to industry. I’ll encourage collaboration across the faculty's technical departments, and we are already well underway. A good example of this is our research and education facilities in Foulum. In collaboration with the business community and across different departments, we’re developing industry-ready technology that can be a game-changer for our society," he says.
Lars DM Ottosen graduated from Aarhus University in 1996 with a MSc in biology, and business administration as his subsidiary subject. He obtained his PhD in microbial ecology in 2000.
He started his career in research and development in Unisense A/S, a spinout company, where he worked until 2004. After this, he worked as a researcher and embryologist at Aarhus University Hospital. He completed a postdoc, and in 2007 he was offered an assistant professorship at the Department of Bioscience at Aarhus University.
People mean everything
In 2009, he became a consultant at the Danish Technological Institute, and shortly after, he was selected for a talent programme and given responsibility for the chemistry and biotechnology section at the Danish Technological Institute. The section doubled in size under his leadership.
After seven years in industry, with a couple of years as assistant professor at the university, in 2013 he was offered a position as associate professor and head of section for Biotechnology and Chemical Engineering at the former Department of Engineering.
He has long advocated interdisciplinary collaboration across sections and departments, and he is affiliated with several interdisciplinary research centres at Aarhus University.
Lars DM Ottosen was appointed professor with special responsibilities (MSO) in 2018, and became acting head of department in May 2020. In this capacity, he played an important role in the university's major reorganisation of the engineering departments, with the division of two departments into four from 1 January 2021.
"People mean everything to a university, and my ambition is to promote strong academic and social ties between teaching staff, researchers, students and administrative staff. Also across organisational affiliations. Chemical engineering and biotechnology will have a huge impact on the world of tomorrow, and we need interdisciplinary insight, understanding and strong ties between basic research and engineering in order to succeed. I'm really looking forward to realising my ambitions and developing a department that belongs among the world’s elite," he says.
Lars DM Ottosen will take up the position as head of department on 1 March 2021.
ABOUT LARS OTTOSEN
Lars DM Ottosen is married to medical MD Charlotte Weile and lives in Trøjborg in the northern part of central Aarhus. The couple have three children.