21 January 2013

Prominent research prize to macroecologist


Professor Carsten Rahbek from Department of Biology at the University of Copenhagen, receives this year’s Villum Kann Rasmussen's Annual Award for Technical and Scientific Research of DKK 2,500,000. He is awarded for his visionary and broadly based biological research in biodiversity, evolution and ecology.

Carsten Rahbek. Foto: Lars Juul Hauschildt.

Carsten Rahbek. Foto: Lars Juul Hauschildt.

Macroecology is not a commonly known word, but award winner Carsten Rahbek, known locally and internationally as one of the most influential researchers of this field, has plenty of experience  with describing it:

“Macroecology is the large-scale distribution patterns of plants and animals, their variation over time and space and their dependence on ecological and climatic factors. All in all, it involves the most basic and fundamental questions when trying to understand why life on Earth is distributed the way it is.”

During his career, Carsten Rahbek has contributed significantly to the development of environmental strategies for the protection of biodiversity in a time of climate change and anthropogenic pressure.

“I have always been fascinated by the great variation of species on Earth. Why investigate other planets when there is still so much to learn from our own? Particularly now, it is essential that we improve our knowledge on how species originate, disperse and potentially go extinct, if we are to make long term solutions for biodiversity,” says Carsten Rahbek.

Millions of data used to map the natural world

In recent years, Carsten Rahbek has been at the forefront of new research in macroecology and macroevolution.

Particularly noteworthy is his use of databases with millions of geographic data on species occurrence and climate in order to uncover what determines the distribution of life on Earth.

His research also includes the use of modern methods in molecular genetics to investigate the evolutionary relationship of species and modern GPS and satellite surveillance to investigate dispersal patterns.  

International research disseminator

Carsten Rahbek’s research career is characterised by a number of international collaborations with leading macroecologists. Additionally, he has been active in the work of both Danish and international environmental organisations.

Carsten Rahbek has also contributed to the education of future biologists and he has made great efforts to popularize and disseminate his research results at all levels.


Carsten Rahbek is 47 years old. He is a graduate of biogeography at the University of Copenhagen, where he received his PhD in 1993 after a stay at Smithsonian Institution.
In 1995 he was appointed associate professor at the Zoological Museum at the University of Copenhagen. In 2001, he was appointed Professor (with special responsibilities) at the same place and in 2005 at the Department of Biology.

He currently leads the Danish National Research Foundation Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen.

Carsten Rahbek is also Editor-in-Chief of Ecography, a Fulbright Scholar, President-Elect for The International Biogeography Society and adjunct professor at Peking University.

He has received several Danish and international awards and honorary titles including the Elite Research Prize 2010 and a Bingzhi Forum Professorship at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The awards ceremony

Carsten Rahbek will receive Villum Kann Rasmussen's Annual Award at 3 pm on January 23rd 2013 at a ceremony at The Royal Library, The Black Diamond, Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1, DK-1219 Copenhagen.  Here he will present the main focus of his current and future research.

The annual award is given by the VILLUM Fondation which was created in 1971 by Villum Kann Rasmussen. The late engineer was particularly known for his invention of the VELUX skylight window.

Representatives from the press are welcome to take part in the award ceremony. Photos from the ceremony will also be available. If you are interested, please contact Eva Beckmann at tel 2084 2085.

In addition to the presentation of the Annual Award, 19 young researchers will receive grants from the Villum Fondation´s Young Investigator Programme.

Further information

Professor Carsten Rahbek
Phone 35321030

Head of Department, Professor Karsten Kristiansen
Phone 35324443

The VILLUM FONDATION, Lennart Rasmussen
Phone 39570992