Infection rates are increasing in Uppsala and we need to be particularly careful right now and in the coming weeks when we choose to meet physically. After all, in many cases digital alternatives work extremely well. However, sometimes meeting in well-planned and orderly ways helps us to keep going now, when we know that this situation is going to last longer than we thought at first.
We decided quite early on in the pandemic not to routinely postpone or cancel activities, but to try to adapt instead. Many events have necessarily been almost completely digitalised – and have far surpassed expectations. Others have been adapted with spacing to enable us to meet anyway, sometimes in combination with online streaming.
This past week we have participated in several adapted events of this kind. Being able to meet in somewhat more formal ways to celebrate important occasions and initiatives gives an energy boost and new momentum, and creates memorable moments.
One example is the recent inauguration of the interdisciplinary research project AI4Research. This is a five-year project designed to reinforce, renew and further develop research in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. We are delighted to have received generous support from the Beijer Foundation and Anders Wall for the new Beijer Chair in Artificial Intelligence, held by Professor Thomas Schön, director of the new project. This is an exciting venture that will benefit the entire University and many fields of research. Another exciting project that was inaugurated this week is GlobeLife, a project for developing interdisciplinary collaborations in global health between our University and Karolinska Institutet.
It was a particular pleasure to have the opportunity as Vice-Chancellor to present the award “For Zealous and Devoted Service of the Realm” at a fine – and carefully distanced – ceremony in the University Main Building on Thursday. This award dates back to 1803 and is presented once a year to those who have been employed by the state for at least 30 years, or 25 years in connection with retirement. This year, 61 people were thanked for the important work they have done and do at Uppsala University.
It was also pleasing to have the opportunity to plant a new tree in the Botanical Garden, a gift from Akademiska Hus. My thanks for this gift, and for a good partnership over the years!