SLU news

The SLU Honorary Doctors 2024

Published: 13 June 2024

This year, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences will be awarding six honorary doctorates. There are two international recipients - Professor Tom Hobbs (US) and Delia Grace Randolph (United Kingdom and Kenya), and four Swedish recipients – CEO Kenneth Alness (Knivsta), Business Executive Antonia Ax:son Johnson (Upplands Väsby) Biologist Mats Karström (Vuollerim) and Agronomist Hans Lindberg (Bollnäs).

This year’s honorary doctors have been recognised for their contributions to subjects such as nature conservation, food safety, foods of the future, environmentally friendly plant protection, wildlife management and agricultural outreach.

They will be awarded their honorary doctorates during the conferment ceremony in Uppsala on 5 October 2024. Our honorary doctors will hold lectures open to the public on 4 October.

Read more about the six honorary doctors appointed by the SLU faculties in 2024.

Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Science

CEO Kenneth Alness has worked with research and innovation in agriculture and forestry, and has contributed to inventions that have reduced pesticide use. The award-winning ThermoSeed method is one highly successful example. ThermoSeed is a form of pasteurisation that uses hot steam to remove seed-borne pathogens, leaving crops free from disease thus improving their growing power. The method has its origins in research at SLU and in 2017, it was selected as one of the three best innovations that were developed at SLU during its first 40 years as a university. Kenneth Alness has held leading positions in organisations such as the Lantmännen agricultural cooperative and his own company Acanova AB. He has also been a board member in a number of development companies and research organisations, including SLU Holding AB..

Kenneth Alness. Photo: Private

Antonia Ax:son Johnson led the family-owned company Axel Johnson AB for several years and she has been a driving force behind the development of Swedish consumer goods and retail. Her dedication to sustainability – not least when it comes to food products – led her to start Axfoundation in 1993, an independent non-profit organisation focusing on future food and materials. To accelerate the green transition, Axfoundation works together with researchers and professionals to develop practical solutions to complex sustainability challenges. At the foundation’s Torsåker Farm, sustainable and tangible solutions are developed and tested – in the field, the experimental garden, and the test kitchen. In addition, the farm hosts plant breeders from SLU who are improving agronomic traits of new perennial grains in a long-term field site while Axfoundation explores the foods for which these grains would be best suited. Other SLU research groups collaborate with the foundation as part of efforts to develop more sustainable protein fodder for fish, and to counteract antibiotic resistance.

Antonia Ax:son Johnson. Photo: Peter Jönsson

Faculty of Forest Sciences

Professor Emeritus Tom Hobbs at Colorado State University is a leading authority on natural resource management and wildlife ecology. He is driven by a genuine interest in developing ecological models to gain new insight from data collected on animal populations, and his models are widely used to support decisions in wildlife management. He is particularly interested in understanding controls on population dynamics of large mammals in Western North America and Scandinavia. Over the past two decades, Tom Hobbs has been part of a long-term joint collaboration with SLU, which has contributed to SLU’s positive international ecology reputation, and resulted in a series of high-impact scientific publications. During his time in Uppsala, Grimsö and Umeå, he has had roles such as visiting professor, visiting research fellow, external reviewer and keynote speaker. In addition, he has held several highly appreciated doctoral courses.

Tom Hobbs. Photo: Henrik Andrén

For almost 40 years, biologist and upper-secondary school teacher Mats Karström has been increasing awareness and knowledge about the biological values in forests in northern Sweden. He pioneered using red-listed species in nature conservation work, and developed an inventory methodology based on value pyramids as well as indicator and signal species. This has since been integrated into the Swedish nature conservation inventory. His dedication has contributed to the protection of more than 100 forests. Mats Karström’s unique teaching skills and enthusiasm have been appreciated by SLU students as well as the many Swedish and international researchers he has helped collect data from the forests around Vuollerim in Swedish Lapland. He has inspired many to pursue studies at SLU to learn more about forests and biodiversity.

Mats Karström. Photo: Ola Jennersten/N

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science

Agronomist Hans Lindberg is an animal husbandry advisor at Sweden’s Växa association that focuses on milk and meat producers. His extroverted nature and good contacts with researchers, advisors and farmers make him an important link between SLU’s research and practice. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that agricultural producers adopt new findings relating to the feeding of dairy cows and on the utilisation of ley pastures. Furthermore, he has drawn SLU’s attention towards new needs-motivated research questions. His ongoing achievements include contributions to the work with, a science-based tool for harvesting the best possible fodder at the right time, as well as the development of optimisation software for dairy cow feed. He was also the driving force behind the creation of a dairy conference that is organised by the industry and SLU every three years.

Hans Lindberg. Photo: Maria Nyberg

Veterinarian Delia Grace Randolph is Professor of Food Safety Systems at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom and a Joint Appointed Scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya, where she worked for many years. Her research has mainly focused on informal food markets in Africa and Asia, and she has conducted extensive efforts to reduce the presence of infectious agents and toxins in animal foods in particular. She has a solid network within both academia and the United Nations System and participates in international work for improving regulations and decision-making basis for food security and improved food safety and nutrition. Her expert knowledge in the ‘one health’ research area, addressing the links between animal health, human health and ecosystem health, has been and continues to be an important asset for several SLU researchers.

Delia Grace Randolph. Photo: ILRI/Dinesh