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Internationally renowned climate scientist becomes new pro-rector

Sebastian H. Mernild, Professor of Climate Change and Glaciology and Managing Director of the Nansen Center research institute in Bergen, Norway, has been appointed as the new pro-rector of the University of Southern Denmark from 1 October 2020.

By Bolette Marie Kjær Jørgensen, , 6/24/2020

The person set to assume the position of pro-rector at the University of Southern Denmark this autumn is an internationally recognised profile.

After several years of research employment in Alaska, New Mexico and Chile, among other countries, Sebastian H. Mernild has since 2016 been the CEO of the renowned research institute Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC) in Bergen, Norway.

In addition, he is a professor at the University of Bergen, while also having to find the time to co-author the next and sixth major report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, set to be published in 2021.

Dissemination, research and management

In addition to strong leadership skills, acquired during his career in the Danish Armed Forces, as well as through leadership positions in the research world, to name but a few places, Sebastian H. Mernild also has a distinguished research background, which he not only brings into play among professional peers, but also as an active participant in the general debate on the world's climate problems.

In 2018, his efforts were rewarded with Rosenkjærprisen; the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s respected dissemination award, which since 1963 has been awarded to prominent scientists and cultural personalities who have managed to convey a complicated scientific topic. 

Deeply concerned about climate solutions

‘As a professional, I am deeply concerned about the climate changes and the effects of a changed climate as well as sustainability and the role of education and research in creating the necessary climate solutions for society as a whole. It is my clear goal that my research, education and management skills will enable me to increase the momentum of SDU's ambitious world agenda even more – and thus increase the value which the University creates for society,’ says Sebastian H. Mernild.

He also points out that research and education are crucial elements of the innovation needed to create the necessary climate solutions.

‘With its strong research environments and excellent education programmes, SDU has the best prerequisites for creating future employees and managers, for whom sustainability and optimal resource utilisation are natural approaches to the task solution. I would like to like to facilitate this development and see it propagate in our society.’

Value to society

As Pro-Rector, Sebastian H. Mernild will be part of the University's management together with the Rector, the University Director and the five Deans of the main faculties.

Henrik Dam, Rector of SDU, is very much looking forward to working with the new pro-rector. 

‘In Sebastian H. Mernild, we are gaining an inspiring and visionary pro-rector who has the skills, the will, the ambitions and the necessary international outlook to demonstrate the University's relevance and value to the surrounding community through education, research and knowledge sharing – not least in relation to our ambitions within sustainability and working with the UN's sustainable development goals,’ says Henrik Dam. 

Sebastian H. Mernild is married with two children and lives in Odense. He replaces Bjarne Graabech Sørensen, who has wished to retire after serving as SDU’s pro-rector for 15 years.

Foto: Anders Boe, SDU

Sebastian H. Mernild

  • 47 years old and a PhD and D.Sc. Currently Professor of Climate Change and Glaciology at the Universities of Bergen and Sogndal in Norway.
  • He is the CEO of the Nansen Center in Bergen, which is one of the most recognised climate research centres in Northern Europe.
  • Board member of the Bjerknes Centre, another recognised climate research centre in Bergen.
  • Selected as the lead author of the Sixth IPCC Report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
  • After receiving his PhD in climate change, glaciology and hydrology from the University of Copenhagen Sebastian H. Mernild received his D.Sc. degree in 2016.
  • In between, he worked at the International Arctic Research Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, USA until 2009.
  • He then worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, USA until 2013, followed by three years at the Center for Scientific Studies (Centro de Estudios Científicos) in Chile until 2016.
  • Since 2016, his professional career has taken place in Bergen and internationally at the five international Nansen Centers in China, Russia, India, South Africa and Bangladesh.
  • Sebastian H. Mernild also has a military background as a former captain in the Danish Armed Forces and served in both Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Editing was completed: 24.06.2020