Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

New professor at the Department of Food Science

From 1 October Carl-Otto Ottosen has been appointed professor at the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University.

[Translate to English:] Carl-Otto Ottosen er kendt af mange som en af de førende eksperter inden for sit felt. Nu kan han også kalde sig professor. Foto: Jesper Rais

Do you wish to know more about outdoor and indoor plant growth under different climatic conditions? Then you should consult Carl-Otto Ottosen. He has more than 30 years’ research experience in this subject and as per 1 October 2015 he has been appointed professor at the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University. The experienced scientist will now continue his career in the familiar surroundings at Aarhus University's Aarslev site, where he has been employed since 1984.

- I am very happy with my new title, and although my work does not change significantly, it can open new doors in the international scientific community, says Carl-Otto Ottosen.

The newly appointed professor's research can be divided into two areas. One of the areas that Carl-Otto Ottosen has spent much of his time on is basic research, primarily the physiological differences between plants in response to climate change (phenotyping) – and always with the photosynthetic reactions of plants as the focal point.

The other area is applied research, which has been a cornerstone of Carl-Otto Ottosen's career, with roots back to when the research centre in Aarslev belonged to the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences. Horticulture has traditionally had a very high energy consumption and the experienced scientist has helped to create the foundation for dynamic climate control in greenhouses – also called IntelliGrow. With the optimum control of both heat and light companies can save a lot of resources, and several of the programs that Carl-Otto Ottosen has helped to develop are widely used in the industry. This has been a contributing factor to energy consumption in Danish plant nurseries being lower than its foreign competitors.

Dialogue is the way forward

But it was not always so. A lot has happened – not only with the climate – since Carl-Otto Ottosen started his career. There is now a much stronger focus on our planet's scarce resources by the world at large:

- When we carried out the first pilot studies with energy savings, it was not something the greenhouse nurseries focused on particularly. They were not actually interested in conserving resources. It's completely different now where we in our research projects collaborate with major Danish nurseries, explains Carl-Otto Ottosen, adding that a significant strength of the Aarslev research is that they have modern climate chambers, greenhouses and advanced measuring equipment and skilled employees available. Here the scientists can test new ideas and initiatives on a small scale, and when the commercial growers see the results they are willing to test it on a large scale.

- The direct contact with the nurseries is of incalculable value. We aim to have a good dialogue with them and listening to what they need. I have spent endless amounts of time explaining the results and why plants do this or that. But it works. We once had a visiting English professor, and he was very surprised at how much the Danish nursery growers actually knew about photosynthesis, says Carl-Otto Ottosen.

But the newly appointed professor is not restricting his sights to the Danish latitudes. Carl-Otto Ottosen uses about half of his working time on international research. He has taught in China and travelled in parts of the world where you actually experience the climate changes that the Danish scientists can only model in climate chambers. The next exotic experiment is with genotypes of Rooibos tea, where the objective is to find more tolerant varieties.

Privately Carl-Otto Ottosen lives in Ryslinge on Funen with his wife, Eva Rosenqvist, who is a biologist and Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen. In his spare time he likes to walk in the garden and delivers as a freelance photographer pictures to Scanpix. Carl-Otto Ottosen is expected to hold an inaugural lecture as a workshop with some of his international collaborators in mid January - more information on this will follow soon.

Further information

Professor Carl-Otto Ottosen
Department of Food
E-mail: coo@food.au.dk
Phone: 2290 3105