20 June 2024

New head of the Department of Plant and Environmental Science


Professor Morten Petersen has been appointed new head of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, bringing with him extensive research and leadership experience.

Morten P
Morten Petersen, newly appointed head of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the Faculty of Science.

“I just loved the whole biology universe.”

Morten Petersen, newly appointed head of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the Faculty of Science at the University of Copenhagen, has no hesitation in answering why he chose to study biology after upper secondary school. His interest was and remains so deep that after receiving a PhD in 2001, he embarked on a career in research, culminating in 2014 as a professor of biology.

From 2015 to 2021, Morten Petersen was head of the Section for Functional Genomics at the Department of Biology at the University of Copenhagen. He stepped down from this position when he was appointed first vice-chair and then chair of the Danish Research Council for Technology and Production Sciences under the Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF) in 2021. From 2018 and up to and including 2023, he has carried out his council function alongside his job as a researcher and lecturer.

From 1 August, brand new challenges await him as head of one of the largest departments at the University of Copenhagen – a department which Morten Petersen has become acquainted with through research collaboration and his time as a council member in DFF.

Department with strong profile

“As a member of Independent Research Fund Denmark, I have read many funding applications from researchers at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. This has given me some really good insight into the research taking place, but also a sense of its breadth,” explains Morten Petersen, and continues:

“The department has a strong profile within fundamental research and applied research in connection with green solutions. We must maintain this profile in future, and strengthen it within the environment, biotechnology and agricultural science, with a special focus on sustainability. We must have a diverse research and teaching environment with room for creativity and quirky ideas. This is vital if we are to attract the most talented students and employees, and to ensure that we have a workplace and study environment which are characterised by well-being, strong collaborations and continued success.”

Away from work, Morten Petersen spends time with his family, and engaged in activities that clear his head: Long walks, fitness and short boat trips around Copenhagen harbour. On top of which there is the book club.

“I’m part of a small book club made up of university friends from when we started studying biology. Which is more than 30 years ago. Good relations are invaluable – both privately and professionally. Therefore, as head of department, I will support an inclusive, open and honest work environment where we want to do things together,” says Morten Petersen

Katrine Krogh Andersen, Dean of the Faculty of Science, is looking forward to working with Morten Petersen.

“Morten has extensive research insights and solid management experience, and he is deeply committed to educating future generations. I’m sure that his experience and competences combined with his enthusiasm and curiosity will benefit a large department whose research will be crucial for many years to come in our work with the green transition and sustainability. I’m very much looking forward to welcoming him on board the faculty’s management team.”

Morten Petersen is replacing Svend Christensen, who will continue his career at the department as Professor of Crop Science. Svend Christensen has been head of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences since 2008.




Morten Petersen

Email: shutko@bio.ku.dk

Tel.: +45 3175 7660


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Birgitte Lyhne


Tel.: +45 9356 5864