Ocean sciences professor receives guest professorship ‘by the hand of the king’

By Kelly Foss | Feb. 6, 2014

Dr. Ian FlemingThe Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA) has appointed Dr. Ian Fleming the first holder of its Wallenberg Professorship.

The purpose of the Wallenberg professorships is to establish ties with prominent foreign scientists, who can contribute towards the renewal of Swedish science in the green sector, and to universities and academic institutions.

The academy’s press release states: “Professor Fleming will be able to contribute to a more integrated perspective, from evolutionary ecology to fisheries and aquaculture sciences and conservation biology. The professorship will further broaden ongoing and planned European collaboration by adding a North American perspective.”

Dr. Fleming will be attached to the University of Gothenburg (UGot) where he will bring new skills to strengthen activities within fisheries and aquaculture. The university nominated Dr. Fleming for the award and its Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences will play host to him during his time as a guest professor in Sweden. He will also take shorter visits to the UGot’s Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences at Tjärnö on the Swedish west coast.

“I have a colleague at the university with whom I’ve been working with for a number of years,” said Dr. Fleming. “He knew I was thinking of a sabbatical and was encouraging me to do one there. So when this opportunity came up, he put my name forward and I was fortunate enough to receive the professorship.”

Dr. Fleming was invited to KLSA’s 202nd commemorative meeting in Stockholm in late January to recognize the announcement, which was followed by a banquet in the presence of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, both keen environmentalists. The event was held in the Stockholm City Hall (Stadshus) – the same location as that of the Nobel laureate ceremonies.

His professorship will begin in January 2015 and plans for the year are already well underway.

“Together with Swedish, Norwegian and Danish colleagues, we are just finishing up a project looking at ecologically and ethically sounds methods for production of salmon from artificial culture for rehabilitation and supplementation of populations in Scandinavia,” said Dr. Fleming. “We have another just starting that will be investigating the causes and consequences of invasion of aquatic systems by non-native fishes, particularly salmonids. This project involves colleagues from Sweden, Norway, Germany and France.

“During the year we’re also interested developing collaborations on the effects of climate change on Arctic fish communities, and I’ll co-lead a Swedish-Scandinavian short course at one of their field marine stations. There is also the thought that we might begin the process of writing a joint book on fish reproductive ecology.”

Dr. Fleming also hopes to visit other universities in Sweden and the Academy, itself, to build stronger ties with colleagues throughout the country; something he hopes will benefit Memorial when he returns.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for Memorial. Gothenburg is one of two principal sites for marine research in Sweden, so there are natural ties.”

This is the first Wallenberg Professorship to be handed out by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry. Their role is to promote agriculture and forestry and associated activities, including fisheries and aquaculture, with the support of science and practical experience and in the interest of society. The academy began its work in 1813 on the initiative of King Karl XIV Johan of Sweden and celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2013.

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation donated 12 million kronor to the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry on that occasion. This is the same family as that of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who helped rescue tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Second World War and for so doing, was recognized as Canada’s very first honorary citizen. With the funds, the academy is setting up seven one-year guest professorships of the highest international standard in the green industries.


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