Kim Birnie-Gauvin with an 83 cm large sea trout—ready to be released in Villestrup Å stream after being tagged. Photo Jessica Desforges

PhD thesis of the year proves value of removing creek barriers

Monday 30 Nov 20


Kim Birnie-Gauvin from DTU Aqua received the PhD thesis of the Year Award at the annual PhD reception. Six other PhD graduates and the PhD supervisor of the year were also celebrated at the event.

In the past year, 339 candidates have defended their PhD thesis at DTU. They were celebrated on November 27th—not with physical handshakes and applause—but online via a Zoom meeting attended by 185 of the candidates, their family, friends, and supervisors. About 30 different nationalities in roughly 20 countries thus had the opportunity to participate in the celebration.

Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Student Affairs Lars D. Christoffersen congratulated everyone and announced this year’s prizewinners.

PhD dissertation of the Year

Kim Birnie-Gauvin from DTU Aqua, the recipient of this year’s PhD Dissertation of the Year award, was aboard a plane bound for Canada, and given her slightly unstable internet connection was only able to send her thanks via email.

Kim Birnie-Gauvin won the award for her dissertation ‘The unspoken truth about impacted rivers: Consequences and implications of barriers for conservation of freshwater fish’, which focuses on how barriers in watercourses prevent or impede the natural and vital migration of freshwater fish to and from spawning grounds. All over the world, rivers and lakes are exposed to severe environmental impacts with the result that migratory fish stocks have declined a great deal. The results of Kim Birnie-Gauvin’s research could therefore have a major impact on the protection and management of ecosystems.

In his speech, Lars D. Christoffersen described Kim Birnie-Gauvin as an exceptionally productive, intelligent, and gifted biologist. Although she is only at the beginning of her research career, she has already published 30 scientific articles where the norm is typically three to four. She is the lead author on 20 of the articles, all of which are published in reputable scientific journals. Kim Birnie-Gauvin has also taught several courses and takes pride in disseminating her results to the wider public.

Since completing her PhD, Birnie-Gauvin has been employed as a postdoc at DTU Aqua. In the autumn, she received a Villum International Postdoc grant of DKK 2.49 million, which will be used to study the adaptability of fish species to rising water temperatures caused by climate change.

See the PhD thesis 

PhD Supervisor of the Year

Every year, PhD candidates can nominate their supervisor for the PhD Supervisor of the Year Award. This year the award went to Professor Ole Bang, DTU Fotonik who, among other things, develops laser technology for the diagnosis of cancer. 

The PhD students highlight his enthusiasm and motivation—both the academic and emotional variety (when needed)—that drives the entire research group to give their very best.

Young Researchers Award

This prize is awarded to young researchers who have made an extraordinary effort and who have great potential for further development. This year, the prize went to:

  • Philip Thomas Conradsen Clausen, DTU Food, for the thesis: ‘Typing and phenotyping based on direct sequencing of samples’.
  • Andreas Eschenbacher, DTU Chemical Engineering, for the thesis: ‘Catalytic deoxygenation of wheat straw fast pyrolysis vapors for production of biofuels with improved properties’.
  • Emil Vosmar Denning, DTU Fotonik, for the thesis: ‘Quantum photonics in structured environments’.
  • Ida Lauritsen, DTU Biosustain, for the thesis: ‘Elucidation of gene regulatory mechanisms in aging bacterial colonies and tool development for cell factory optimization’.
  • Jose Juan Almagra Armenteros, DTU Health Tech, for the thesis: ‘The subcellular journey: Predicting the destination of proteins using deep learning’.
  • Teeratorn Kadeethum, The Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre, for the thesis: ‘Numerical modelling of near wellbore flow’.
20 APRIL 2021