On Friday, 22 November, Mikkel Rank Nielsen, Section for Chemical Engineering, was one of two students honoured with the Esbjerg University Award at a ceremony at ECH Park in Esbjerg.
The award is given to excellent students to promote business-facing research with international perspectives, and was presented by former Minister of Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers (V) also known as an entrepreneur and investor on Danish Broadcasting’s The Lion’s Den. The honour includes a cash prize of DKK 25,000 to each of the two award recipients.
Groundbreaking fungal researcher
Mikkel Rank Nielsen of Aalborg University Esbjerg completed his PhD in Molecular Biology earlier this year.
His research has helped to develop a method that has set a new record in transferring large genes between moulds. This opens up a range of new possibilities in the pharmaceutical industry, biological battery technology, and the possibility of discovering new chemical substances.
- The award is the biggest pat on the back you can get from the university, he says.
- I'm really glad they’ve shown such confidence in me, which of course also inspires me to continue to working on this research.
Prize money for research stays
Mikkel Rank Nielsen is affiliated with AAU Esbjerg as an academic staff member until 2022.
As early as next year, he begins a research collaboration with Professor Hal Alper, UT Austin, Texas, USA, one of the world's leading researchers in Metabolic Engineering. He will work on utilizing small yeast cells to produce large quantities of molecules for building biological batteries or producing natural medicines.
- The new research collaboration means I’ll be doing a stay in Texas, so the prize money will come in handy there. If I can afford to take my partner along or rent a car, it will undeniably make the research stay more enjoyable, he says.
Mikkel Rank Nielsen was nominated for the Esbjerg University Award by his PhD supervisors, Jens Laurids Sørensen and Jens Muff, Head of the Section for Chemical Engineering.
The award is given each year to outstanding students at Aalborg University Esbjerg and the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) Esbjerg to promote business-facing research on innovation, competence and internationalisation. The Claus Sørensen Foundation, the Danske Bank Foundation in Esbjerg, Business Esbjerg, the Esbjerg Foundation, and the Lida & Oskar Nielsen Foundation make a capital base of up to DKK 50,000 available for the University Award each year.
The other award recipient this year was Julie Dalgaard Guldager, PhD in Public Health, SDU Esbjerg.