Alumnus of the Year

Each year, Uppsala University awards the title of Alumnus of the Year to an alumnus who has made an outstanding contribution to their professional field, or has accomplished something else worthy of honouring.

Nominations can be submitted by anyone with a connection to Uppsala University.

The Alumnus of the Year distinction is made possible by a gift from Professor John Frederick Morgan-Jones, an Uppsala alumnus from Canada. In his 2003 will, he wrote: "I received my degree af Fil. Lie. from them in 1960 and that this contribution is my expression af thanks for Swedish hospitality”.

Rules for the Alumnus of the Year award

Alumnus of the Year – recipients

Alumnus of the Year 2019: Emma Frans

Portrait of Alumnus of the year 2019 Emma Frans.
Emma Frans. Photo: Niklas Nyman/Volante

The Alumnus of the Year 2019 award is being presented to researcher, author, popular educator and science writer Emma Frans for her “tireless work to increase the resistance to misleading facts and fake news”. Emma Frans studied biomedicine at Uppsala University, where she also received her Master of Medical Science degree in 2006. She defended her doctoral thesis in medical epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet in 2013.

From the award citation:
“Emma Frans reaches far beyond the academic world and has found her niche by speaking in a simple, clear, easily understandable and entertaining way about widely diverse fields, but always on a disciplinary foundation. She is a modern popular educator who navigates smoothly among traditional media, public appearances and social media.”

Alumnus of the Year 2018: Sofia Wadensjö Karén

Portrait of Alumnus of the year 2018 Sofia Wadensjö Karén.
Sofia Wadensjö Karén

Sofia Wadensjö Karén is Managing Director of the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (Utbildningsradion) and has previously been editor-in-chief at VI Magazine. For a number of years she has also chaired special interest group Utgivarna. Sofia Wadensjö Karén has studied general literary studies at Uppsala University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in 1995 and then studied journalism at Stockholm University.  During her study years in Uppsala, Sofia Wadensjö Karén was active in student life, especially at Värmlands nation where she was editor of the nation’s magazine Wermlandus.

From the award citation:
“Sofia Wadensjö Karén is characterised by strong integrity, both as a person and in her professional role. She is a good role model for Uppsala University students and a wise public voice and a strong leader of change.”

Alumnus of the Year 2017: Anita Falkenek

Portrait of Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson and Alumnus of the year 2017 Anita Falkenek.
Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson with Anita Falkenek

Anita Falkenek is CEO of Krav and has long worked with environment and sustainability issues. She has a degree in ecotoxicology and biology from Uppsala University.

From the award citation:
“Anita Falkenek is deeply committed to and involved in the challenges faced by society and food production today. Through her tireless work, she has contributed to Swedish major companies understanding that environment and sustainability are self-evident areas of development and prerequisites for profitable business activities. Through her work for environmental and sustainability issues, Anita Falkenek has taken an active role in societal development and contributed to a better world. Thereby, she is a good role model for Uppsala University’s students.”

Alumnus of the Year 2016: Trita Parsi

Portrait of Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson and Alumnus of the year 2016 Trita Parsi.
Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson with Trita Parsi

Trita Parsi – political adviser and Iran expert. His studies at Uppsala University became a foundation for an international career. He has, among other things, been an adviser at the White House, won awards for his books on international relations and worked in the UN General Assembly with human rights issues.

From the award citation:
“Through his passionate work for democracy and development, Trita Parsi has become a role model who has taken action in society. His articles on Middle East issues have been published in world-leading journals and he can often be seen on CNN, NPR and Al-Jazeera. Trita Parsi personifies Uppsala University’s ultimate goal: to contribute to a better world.”

Alumnus of the Year 2015: Niklas Zennström

Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson presenting the award to Alumnus of the year 2015 Niklas Zennström.
Niklas Zennström with Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson

The title of Alumnus of the Year 2015 at Uppsala University is being awarded to IT entrepreneur Niklas Zennström, current CEO of the investment firm Atomico. He receives the award for his work in climate change and his entrepreneurship.

From the award citation:
“Niklas Zennström, founder of the technology companies Skype, Kazaa and Joost among others, has greatly contributed to the advancement of the global information and knowledge society of today. Currently, Niklas Zennström runs the investment firm Atomico, which specializes in innovative IT companies.”

Alumnus of the Year 2014: Jan and Maria Berglin

Portrait of Alumnus of the year 2014 Jan and Maria Berglin.
Maria and Jan Berglin

The 2014 Alumnus of the Year award has been awarded to cartoonists Jan and Maria Berglin. They have been chosen for the award for their important input to public debate in Sweden. As continuously current portrayers of society they are good role models for today’s and tomorrow’s students.

From the award citation:
“The comic artists Jan and Maria Berglin provide important input to Swedish public debate. As continuously current portrayers of society they are good role models for today’s and tomorrow’s students. The Berglins raise and put the spotlight on truths, contradictions and shortcomings in everyday life and society. The messages conveyed are insightful, humorous, satirical, and charitable. The comics reach a wide readership.”

Alumnus of the Year 2013: Petra Einarsson

Portrait of Alumnus of the year 2013 Petra Einarsson.
Petra Einarsson

The 2013 Alumnus of the Year Award at Uppsala University goes to Petra Einarsson, the CEO of Sandvik Materials Technology. She was selected to receive the award because of her deep commitment to diversity issues and her inclusive leadership style, and for setting a good example for students of today and tomorrow.

From the award citation:
“Petra Einarsson has distinguished herself in her career at Sandvik and is a good ambassador for Uppsala University. She started out as a trainee and then held many different positions in finance, including business controller and CFO. Petra Einarsson has demonstrated her deep commitment to diversity issues and an inclusive leadership style, and she sets a good example for today's students – and those of tomorrow.”

Alumnus of the Year 2012: Stefan Swartling Peterson

Stefan Swartling Peterson, Professor of global health at Uppsala University, has been awarded this distinction for his valuable contributions after his studies at the University. Among other achievements, Stefan Swartling Peterson helped to found the Swedish chapter of Doctors without Borders.

From the award citation:
“Stefan has made many valuable contributions after his studies at Uppsala University, particularly through his work for women’s and children’s health in developing countries. Stefan also helped to found the Swedish chapter of Doctors without Borders in 1993. In this way, he has made a concrete contribution to Uppsala University’s goals and visions of helping to make a better world. Stefan is a good ambassador for Uppsala University, and has always generously shared his knowledge and experience with both students and younger colleagues.”

Alumnus of the Year 2010: Peter Englund, Author, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy (1 June 2009 – 31 May 2015)

Peter Englund, historian and author, has been awarded this distinction “for his sharpness and saltiness in thought and words, and his desire and ability to constantly remind his readers and listeners of the meaning of history and its dialogues with our own time. Through his journey though the landscape of the past and the present, he has remained a good friend of Uppsala University.” Peter Englund came to Uppsala to study in autumn 1981. He defended his dissertation “Det hotade huset: Adliga föreställningar om samhället under stormaktstiden” (The threatened house: Adulterous concepts of society during the period of great power), and became Docent (Associate Professor)  in history in 1995. He was Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy from 1 June 2009 to 31 May 2015.