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In memory of AIAS Director Søren Keiding

After a hard time struggling with cancer, director of AIAS Søren Keiding has passed away, leaving behind his wife, Lis Keiding, two adult children and a grandchild. He will be deeply missed.

Photo: Søren Rud Keiding in his office at AIAS. Credit: Lars Kruse.

It is with great grief and immense sadness that AIAS has received the news that AIAS Director, Professor Søren Keiding has passed away on 4 March 2023 at the age of 63, after struggling with the illness since the summer of 2022.

Søren Keiding came to AIAS in October 2019, from a position as vice dean of research at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Aarhus University, and before that, from 2003-2015, he was a professor of chemistry at Aarhus University. He obtained his PhD degree in physics in 1990 and became dr. scient. in 1998. As a chemical physicist, his research was within the area of ultrafast motion of molecules, in particular water, studied with lasers. For decades, Søren has held numerous positions of trust, most recently as a member of DFIR, the Danish Council for Research and Innovation Policy, appointed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in Denmark.

“It is with great sadness I received the news that Søren Keiding has passed away. Those of us who knew him either as a colleague, Vice Dean for Research or as Director of AIAS know that we and Aarhus University have lost a very special person. Søren was a multi talent: an excellent scientist and teacher, a gifted musician with a warm personality and a wonderful sense of humour, and he was a very capable director of AIAS. Søren was a well-known and popular person at Aarhus University, and he managed to reach out to most of its corners via the Associate fellowship programme at AIAS. Apart from his own research field in physical chemistry, he had a broad insight in many other fields in natural and technical sciences. He had a deep understanding of research policy and research funding and was always willing to generously share his knowledge. Søren will be truly missed,” expressed Brian Bech Nielsen, rector of Aarhus University.

During his time as director of AIAS, Søren was of great inspiration to all and made a huge imprint on both the staff and the fellows that he worked with on a daily basis, but also through his commitment to develop the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in new directions.

“As a strong director of AIAS Søren Keiding contributed with very important new directions of AIAS with two ‘tracks’ by adding the new theme-based group fellowships to the existing individual fellowships. Søren had a very great sense of the directions in research policy and for the societal demands of current research, which he managed to bring to life at AIAS,” said Professor Jørgen Frøkiær, chair of the Board of Directors at AIAS.

On top of his management obligations at AIAS and his commitments in research policy, Søren had a passion for communicating his research knowledge to a broad audience. Most recently his book in the series Tænkepauser: Vand [Reflections: Water] on the unique properties of water was published at Aarhus University Press, in November 2021. That book reflects his unique ability to communicate difficult research with a great sense of humour. But first and foremost, during his directorship at AIAS, he cared for the thriving and the talent development of the fellows and staff at AIAS:

“Søren took a very special interest in all fellows’ well-being. It was important to him that both fellows’ personal life and the academic advancement was well balanced, and he did all he could to help those in need. Not least his personal commitment towards the development of the AUFF-Ukraine Research Fellowships for researchers fleeing the war in Ukraine bears witness of his compassion and action towards helping where he could. For all of us at AIAS it is a great loss not to have Søren with us anymore. We will miss his creative ideas and effort to encourage dialogue and collaborations between all researchers connected to AIAS and at Aarhus University. But most of all, we will miss his genuine effort to make us all smile on a daily basis,” said Lotte Holm, head of the secretariat and deputy director at AIAS.    

Memorial service at AIAS on Saturday 18 March at 14.00 to 17.00

Søren wished to have his funeral memorial service held at AIAS, and family, friends, fellows, colleagues and collaborators are invited to join this. In the true spirit of Søren and as one of his last wishes, this will bring his family and colleagues together.

Søren’s nearest family has been with him during this difficult time. Søren leaves behind his wife Lis Keiding, two adult children and a grandchild. Søren will be deeply missed.

In honour of his memory.


Lotte Holm, Head of Secretariat, Deputy director at AIAS, Acting director
Phone: +45 2134 2914

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, AIAS
Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B
DK-8000 Aarhus C