The new dean grew up in a greenhouse, is a decent midfielder – and likes nothing better than making things bloom

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Kristian Pedersen, professor of space science, will be the first dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. His new job starts on April 1st.

2020.02.06 | Lotte Bilberg

“I’ll try, but there’s a reason I didn’t become a photographer,” said the coming dean of Natural Sciences when I asked him to take a selfie during his trip to London. And here’s the result. Kristian Pedersen’s Twitter handle is @SpacePedersen. He’s also on Facebook, which makes him a real social media ninja relative to the other members of the senior management team.

Five quick questions for Kristian Pedersen

1. The last time I really blew my top was when...I was illegally tackled from behind in a soccer game just as I was about to score a goal.

2. Almost no one knows that I...went to dance classes for ten years when I was young. Not that it had any lasting effects on my skills as a dancer...

3. There’s nothing better than when I...help make something bloom and make someone happy. 

4. The last time I was really embarrassed...was at a department meeting when I announced that one of my employee’s contracts was ending, and that she would no longer be working there. It’s just that this wasn’t the case, so she was pretty surprised.

5. My next vacation will be...with my mother-in-law in Skagen or somewhere in the Mediterranean – there’s something special about vacationing on an island.

For the past eight years, Pedersen has served as the director of DTU Space, Denmark’s international space research centre, an institute with 170 employees located in Lyngby outside Copenhagen. But now he’s decided to change lanes, and as dean  he will head the new Faculty of Sciences at AU.

At the time of writing, Pedersen was in London, busy with meetings, and he was hard to get hold of. So this interview was conducted by email. 

Why do you want to be a dean in Aarhus?

“AU is an internationally leading university in a lot of fields, and it’s full of deeply committed students and staff. In addition, the university has a beautiful and centralised location in Aarhus, a town I’m very fond of.”

You were born in the small village of Kundby at the northwestern end of the island of Zealand. What was it like to grow up there?

“Dark, so you could see the stars, and there were a lot of fields right nearby. And the countryside. My father was a nurseryman, so I grew up in a greenhouse, and I was close to becoming a nurseryman myself.”

How old are you?

“53, and I’ll be 54 when I start at AU.” 

I’ve read that you have two daughters. How old are they?

“My eldest daughter Katrine is 23, and almost finished with her MSc in engineering at DTU. My youngest, who’s 20, is transgender. It’s correct that she was born as a girl, but for the past three years she’s identified as male, and has changed her name to Esben.”

Where do you live now?

“In a house in Kongens Lyngby.”

Whatever the new dean may lack in terms of photographic expertise, he certainly compensates with his eye for a good subject. Notice the sign over his head. (Frederic William Farrar (Bombay, 7 August 1831 - Canterbury, 22 March 1903). Dean of Canterbury Cathedral from 1895 until his death in 1903. Wikipedia.)

Are you going to move to Aarhus? 

“Yes, it’s too far to commute from Lyngby. ☺Katrine doesn’t live at home any more, and Esben is moving out this summer anyway.”

I understand that you play soccer. Old boys? 

“Hey, watch it! It’s soccer for mature men ☺I‘ve always played soccer – first at home in the yard, and in different clubs since I turned ten. So I’m looking for a club in Aarhus with other mature top scorers – especially in the third half in the dressing room after the game. I’m a solid midfielder or defensive player, if you ask me.” 

Translated by Lenore Messick

Five quick questions for Kristian Pedersen

1. The last time I really blew my top was when...I was illegally tackled from behind in a soccer game just as I was about to score a goal.

2. Almost no one knows that I...went to dance classes for ten years when I was young. Not that it had any lasting effects on my skills as a dancer...

3. There’s nothing better than when I...help make something bloom and make someone happy. 

4. The last time I was really embarrassed...was at a department meeting when I announced that one of my employee’s contracts was ending, and that she would no longer be working there. It’s just that this wasn’t the case, so she was pretty surprised.

5. My next vacation will be...with my mother-in-law in Skagen or somewhere in the Mediterranean – there’s something special about vacationing on an island.

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