Former Governor Dorte Olesen turns 75


Consultant, Professor Dorte Olesen, Gentofte, turns 75 on 8 January.

Dorte Olesen obtained her master’s degree in mathematics and physics in 1973 and quickly entered a scientific career in the border area between these two subjects. She got her PhD degree from the University of Southern Denmark in 1975 and in 1981 she became a DSc from the University of Copenhagen (KU), shortly after her appointment as Associate Professor at the Department of Mathematics.

Foto: Rochelle Coote

Her research career also led her to the USA as a Member of the Mathematical Sciences Research Centre at Berkeley for the academic year 1984-85, and she was quickly entering  leadership positions at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Copenhagen and became the first (and until 2019 also the only) female dean of natural sciences in 1986. In 1988, she became Denmark’s first female full Professor of mathematics. She was also a member of the Danish Government’s Research Policy Council from 1987-93, where she, among other things, spearheaded an evaluation of Danish health science.

In 1989, she became director of the newly formed UNI-C, Denmark’s IT-Center for Research and Education, which was a merger of the computer centers at the Technical University and the big universities in Copenhagen and Aarhus. UNI-C was responsible for a number of IT services for schools and universities, including the Danish research network DENET, which was Denmark’s major link to the Internet. Since several university teachers wanted an Internet connection to their homes, in 1991 UNI-C established the first general Internet service for ordinary PC users, the so-called inet service. This provided a significant breakthrough for the use of the internet in Denmark, and this commercial ISP part of UNI-C’s business grew rapidly in the following years. In connection with the liberalization of telecommunications, it was sold to Tele2 in 1997, and UNI-C then focused sharply on establishing a range of easily accessible services for schools, e.g. SkoleIntra and Unilogin and the education portal EMU – originally the abbreviation stood for “Electronic Marketplace for Teaching Materials”, but the time was not yet ripe for e-commerce, and EMU changed character to a learning platform. Dorte Olesen then, as chairman of a committee under the Danish Association of IT-companies, ITB, helped to establish the Danish E-commerce Award, which for a number of years was awarded in close cooperation between UNI-C, ITB and the newspaper Børsen. When e-commerce had become more widespread, the annual award processing was handed over to the Association for Danish Internet Trade.

In 2011, Dorte Olesen returned to mathematics at DTU’s large institute for mathematics and computer science, DTU Compute. Together with a colleague from the University of Copenhagen, she updated and republished a textbook on the research field C*-algebra in 2018. She is still employed at DTU Compute as a consultant in a large research project, and in recent years she has also spent much of her time disseminating natural science and technology to wider circles, not least in connection with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Hans Christian Ørsted’s discovery of electromagnetism, HCØ2020 – here she was, among other things, deeply involved in a major exhibition about Ørsted’s discoveries, which, despite the Corona-pandemic, was had more than 150,000 visitors, first in Rundetaarn July-September 2020, then at the Southern Danish University Library October-December 2020 and then at the Steno Museum in Aarhus throughout 2021. Right now, the majority of the exhibition is set up at the energy company Ørsted in Gentofte.Already in 1988, Dorte OIesen had become President of the Society for the Dissemination of Natural Science, founded by Hans Christian Ørsted in 1824. She has just handed over this post to the astrophysicist Anja C. Andersen, but she is still involved in the work, and the Society is thriving and experiencing a greatly increased interest in its activities.

Since 1990 she has been a member of Denmark’s oldest Zonta club, Copenhagen I. She has been Club President and member of numerous club committees. The 20 Danish clubs have a strong collaboration in Zonta Denmark, which is also Area 01 in District 13, and nationally Dorte Olesen has, among other things, been at the forefront of awarding special biannual Danish Zonta fellowships to female PhD students in engineering and natural sciences and annual Jane M. Klausman Women in Business scholarships to female business students with strong leadership potential. In the period July 2018- June 2020 she was Governor for ZI’s district 13, and July 2020- June 2022 International Director of Zonta International and Zonta Foundation for Women. Now she is back in district work as Chair of District 13’s UN and Council of Europe Committee, and the Amelia Earhart Committee.A number of other board positions have also taken her around Europe, in Denmark she has been a member of  the board of the natioanl newspaper Politiken, the insurance company Fagpension, The Pharmaceutical University and Roskilde University, where she was chairman of the first board in 2004. -2008. At European level, she was 2003-2009 President of the European research network organization TERENA, and in 2014-17 member of the board of the organization GEANT with offices in Amsterdam and Cambridge, a post requiring quite a bit of travel, so she left this in December 2017 to make time for becoming  Governor of District 13 in 2018 -20. Also the EU Commission has over many years asked her to participate in a large number of expert groups and as an evaluator for new IT development projects. In 2016, she was a member of a UN high-level expert group on a technology bank for the least developed countries set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She now sits on the board of the Politiken Foundation and Politiken Holding Company as well as the Society for the Dissemination of Natural Science, and has just joined the board of the Ellehammer Observatory.Leisure time is often spent in the garden, which over the years has become more and more biodynamic, so that both people, plants, birds and insects thrive. This applies both at home in Gentofte and in the summer house in Vollerup near Kalundborg, which the family has owned for more than 40 years.


Danish Zonta role model Jytte Hilden turns 80 on September 12, 2022

Foto: Sara_Skytte

Former Minister of Culture, Minister of Research and Head of Culture Jytte Hilden, Member of the Zonta Club Copenhagen I, turns 80 on September 12, 2022.






Personally she has this short summary: ”Pedagogics and politics became my destiny, I love the Periodic Table, the Danish Constitution and the Moraine landscape of Odsherred. In 1953 my parents bought a small house in Odsherred, and we have stayed in the plantation since then. So this is also where I shall celebrate my 80th birthday together with my family.

My life has been long, with light, shadow, bumps on the road, black holes and star moments. I was born curious with a desire to change the world, and this lasts a lifetime.”

Not many people would declare their love of the Periodic Table for the elements, but Jytte Hilden loved her education as a chemical engineer and stayed with her subject for many years, first as a researcher and then as a high school teacher. Her enthusiasm for the subject inspired many of her students to also choose to study chemistry, and especially for the girls she was undoubtedly a role model. After many years as a very popular chemistry teacher at Nørre Gymnasium, Jytte became headmaster at Roskilde Katedralskole from 1983-93. At this point her political career in the Social Democratic Party had also picked up speed and this led to her becoming part of the Government as Minister of Culture 1993-96 and later as Minister of Research from 1996-98. In both offices she has left her marks – the most visible probably being the new big building for the Roayal Library in Copenhagen, named the “Black Diamond”. This new building gave the library a much better frame for its activities and contributed significantly to the new Waterfront of Copenhagen. She is also remembered for her efforts to improve the career opportunities for female researchers, both for the sake of the women involved and to ensure that Denmark can realize its full potential in the competitive international world of research.

From 1999-2004 Jytte Hilden was Head of Culture at the Royal Library, and afterwards she threw herself into a long and varied series of activities, including travels with her 6 grandchildren and writing or editing a series of books, including the ”99 pink elephants” about an impressive series of Danish women who broke the norms for what women could undertake.

She was early on active advocating for equal rights and opportunities for women in all areas, and this has lasted throughout her long and active life, first as a teacher, then as a top politician and in the last 20 years as an active member of the Zonta Club of Copenhagen I. She was active in developing Zonta Clubs in Lithuania and often housed Zonta committee meetings in her flat in Copenhagen, and she was the one who finally got the Club on Facebook. Still spending much time in her summer home in Odsherred, she also formed connections to the Zonta Club in Holbæk and has been active the Women’s Network in Odsherred.


Danish space scientist received the 2021 Amelia Earhart Fellowship

Astrophysicist Christina Toldbo from The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) has been awarded the 2021 Amelia Earhart Fellowship for young female researchers in aerospace related engineering.

During the past more than 30 years this Fellowship has only once before been awarded to a young Danish scientist – the last time was in 2014 when Lonnie Grove Petersen from the Danish Institute for Space Medicine received it.

Christina has a MSc from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and is now a PhD-student at DTU Space.

Her PhD-project is about the methods, techniques and instruments that will enable mankind to take the next steps into space, and her research is expected to contribute significantly to the development of both manned and unmanned space travel to the Moon an to the planet Mars.

Christina is also a very popular lecturer for both children and grown-ups and has been working actively with dissemination of physics and space science before starting her PhD-study.

She has received a Gold Medal at the international iGEM competition in biology in 2015, where she together with other students worked with genetically modifying moss so that it might grow on the planet Mars. In 2019 she was awarded the Danish ”Women in Physics Prize” for being a role model for women studying physics.

Christina looks forward to using her Fellowship of 10.000 USD for studying abroad and says: ”I am both happy and proud to have been honoured with a Fellowship named after flight-pioneer Amelia Earhart. I hope that one day I myself may travel into space and also in this way contribute to new space research.”