Ilustration: Doctoral Awards Ceremony. Photo: Thor Nielsen / NTNU
Photo: Thor Nielsen / NTNU

Welcome to the Doctoral Awards Ceremony

10th March 2023

Welcome to the Doctoral Awards Ceremony

Program March 10th.

Program March 10th.


Trondhjems Studentersangforening | Conductor: Edvard Aalstad Grønvoll

  • «Gaudeamus Igitur», arrangement: Gavin David Lee

Academic Procession

Row 1 Row 2
Rector Anne Borg Pro-rector Tor Grande
NTNU Honorary Award Pro-rector Toril Hernes
NTNU Honorary Doctor Vice-rector Gjøvik
Vice-rector Ålesund ØK - Fakultet for økonomi
MH - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences SU - Fakultet for samfunns- og utdanningsvitenskap
NV - Faculty of Natural Sciences VM - NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet
IE - Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

HF - Faculty of Humanities

IV - Faculty of Engineering AD - Faculty of Architecture and Design

Music ​after Academic Procession

Trondhjems Studentersangforening | Cond.: Edvard Aalstad Grønvoll

  • «Vé No Velkomne Med Æra», arrangement: Eva Holm Foosnæs



Dear new doctoral graduates. 


In the past half-year, 189 candidates have completed doctoral degrees at NTNU. Today, we are celebrating 108 of you. The doctoral awards ceremony is one of our most important days of celebration. This marks a special day for each graduate, for the guests here with you, and not least for the whole of NTNU. As Rector, I am proud, happy and humble to be able to share this day with you.  

When you are presented with your doctoral diploma soon, you will also have achieved the highest academic education one can attain. You have reached a milestone in your life and in your career. The doctoral diploma is tangible proof that the views you convey have weight and integrity in your discipline. Your doctorate also gives you both responsibility and authority.  

Manage both of these well! 

The pandemic had an impact on much of your doctoral pathway, creating different limitations and challenges for each of you – but now you are here, after successfully completing your doctoral work.  

Your doctorate marks the end of the studies you have taken at NTNU. But that does not mean we will go our separate ways. Quite the opposite! We regard you as an important member of our national and international network, as NTNU’s ambassadors both in Norway and abroad.  

Because you are important to us! NTNU and the network you have built up over the years with us will continue to be important to you in the future. 

I hope that we will see and hear a lot from each of you in the time ahead. And that you will keep in touch with NTNU in your career by getting involved with our academic community.  

What you have achieved will always be in demand. Your knowledge and scientific curiosity are what the world needs.  

Because today, more than ever, the world needs knowledge ambassadors. We are living in volatile and dramatic times.  

During two years of the pandemic, the population of the whole world has witnessed how important knowledge is to meet an urgent challenge and find solutions.  

For over a year, we have witnessed a brutal war of aggression in Europe. As well as ongoing and emerging conflicts in many places in the world. We are experiencing political polarization in many countries. The battle for energy resources has intensified and we are seeing an escalating climate crisis. In many places, there are shortages of food and water. Our planet is being polluted, and species are disappearing.  

All of this, and much more, means that the world is in desperate need of good solutions based on knowledge. 

Because knowledge can mean the difference between well-being and poverty, between a world that is sustainable and one that is not.  

We can never take respect for knowledge for granted. Nor can we take respect for human dignity and democratic values for granted. They go hand in hand, and our responsibility is to stand up for them.  

Therefore, stand up for knowledge, human dignity and democratic values with all the authority your doctorate gives you. Contribute to an open, knowledge-based debate. Counterbalance unfounded assumptions and ignorance. 

Fortunately, research is becoming ever more highly valued by society. We see a growing awareness of how important it is to work together, across both disciplines and national borders. And we know that the great challenges in society can only be solved through interdisciplinary efforts. 

You who are here today know that research is universal. It knows no borders. To succeed in developing new solutions to tomorrow’s challenges, we must work together across national borders and with the best academic communities. This is the way we can bring the world forward, by building on the social and cultural values we share and creating the sustainable society of the future. 

Knowledge always makes a difference. For each individual, for the society we live in, for the world. At NTNU, we call it Knowledge for a Better World. 

In her doctoral thesis, Elisabeth Thronsen has studied the structure of aluminium alloys down to the atomic scale using advanced characterization techniques. The Norwegian aluminium industry is using the results to develop and improve alloys through composition and processing for products such as automotive parts. 

Hasan Ahmad Masood Hamdan's doctoral thesis explores sustainable urban development. Sustainable zero emission neighbourhoods are an approach to urban development that will contribute to a more sustainable society. Hamdan has studied how establishing good practices for procurement can contribute to the goal of zero emissions. 

These are two examples of knowledge that makes a difference. I could have given many more.  Through your work on your own doctorate, each of you here have contributed meaningful knowledge that will make a difference.  

Working on a doctorate is not a sprint. It is a marathon. Anyone who sets out on this journey must have high ambitions and work hard. The goal is far ahead, and one must never lose sight of it. Behind me, above the entrance to the library, these words were etched in stone more than a hundred years ago: Per aspera ad astra – through difficulties to the stars.  

Knowledge changes the way we think, gives us new perspectives, inspires and challenges us. Knowledge gives us a better tool to make wise choices for ourselves and the society around us. And it is laid down in NTNU’s strategy. 

Dear new doctors.  A vast treasure of great value is in your hands. The knowledge you have developed and pass on will help determine what tomorrow’s society will look like. 

I wish you all the best for the future! And wherever the road takes you from here: 

carry on creating Knowledge for a Better World. 




NTNU Brass

  • «La Réjouissance», composer: Georg Friedrich Händel, arrangement: Hans Petter Stangnes

This year’s Award of Honour has been proposed by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at NTNU and SINTEF Industry. The award is being presented to a man who has devoted a long and especially active professional life to research and industrial construction. He was born in Oslo in 1941 and graduated with a doctorate from the University of Oslo with a thesis on the analysis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, often called tar substances, in the environment.  

The award winner has held positions at both the University of Oslo and the University of Bergen. Later he served as Research Director at SINTEF, Director of Research at Norsk Hydro, and Director of Technology in Elkem. 


The award winner is among the pioneers in renewable energy in Norway. His contribution in this field has had a major impact on the establishment of important industrial companies and research communities. 


Drawing on his solid research background and his unique entrepreneurship, the award winner has founded several companies in renewable energy and advanced materials. All the start-ups have been firmly anchored in research and technology. 


In 1994 he founded Scan Wafer, later renamed Renewable Energy Corporation (REC). This has been one of the largest companies – not only in Norway, but in the world – that produces silicon wafers for solar cells. 


A decade later, he founded the company NorSun. The company produces premium monocrystalline silicon. Today, NorSun’s silicon solar cells and modules are regarded as among the most efficient on the market.  


The companies founded by the award winner have all been important partners during NTNU’s development of our own research activity in solar cell technology. He has also personally been an important partner and advisor for our research communities, both in solar cell technology and in other areas of materials technology.  


Over many decades, the award winner has won wide recognition for his work and has been an inspiration to young researchers for just as long. He has helped to put Norway on the world map in renewable energy, and has also created many important jobs.  


Along the way, he has received a number of awards and accolades, and is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. In 2006, he was invested as Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav for his commitment to Norwegian industry and business. 

It is therefore a great pleasure for me to award this honour to a man whose contribution to society over many years has supported NTNU’s vision of Knowledge for a Better World. 

This year’s Award of Honour goes to Alf Bjørseth. 



NTNU Brass

  • «Bryllup på Troldhaugen», composer: Edvard Grieg, arrangement: Hans Petter Stangnes

Carla Shatz is here today both as one of the founders of modern neuroscience and because of her help to build up a world-class neuroscience community at NTNU’s Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience.

Carla did her PhD with Nobel laureates David Hubel and Torstein Wiesel at Harvard. She was the first woman to obtain a PhD from the Harvard Department of Neurobiology, in 1976. In 2000 she became the first woman to lead a basic research group at Harvard Medical School. In 2007 she moved to a professorship at Stanford, where she is now the Sapp Family Provostial Professor and Catherin Holman Johnson Director for Stanford Bio-X, a huge interdisciplinary bioscience institute that brings together biosciences, physics, computer science and engineering.

Carla’s breakthrough contribution was the demonstration of how neural circuits are wired by activity of the developing nervous system. In the 1990s, she discovered retinal waves, spontaneous waves of neural activity spreading from the retina during early stages of development, well before vision is possible. Retinal waves were shown to be necessary for the activity-dependent segregation of ganglion cell outputs into eye-specific layers. Similar waves were later found in the developing cortex, suggesting that they represent a general mechanism for wiring of the nervous system. The finding introduced an entirely novel principle for neural wiring in the developing brain.

Carla has subsequently focused on the molecular mechanisms of activity-dependent plasticity. She made the totally unexpected discovery that major histocompatibility cell (MHC) class 1 genes are expressed not only in the immune system but also in neurons and that expression of these genes is essential for synapse elimination during refinement of connections in the visual system. MHC class 1 genes were found to be necessary also for downregulation of synaptic plasticity in the adult nervous system, suggesting that adult learning is based on mechanisms similar to those used in the early nervous system. In recent work she has shown that these plasticity mechanisms may be altered in Alzheimer’s disease, pointing to genes for MHC1 and their receptors as possible targets for intervention.

Her findings are fundamental, introduce entirely new principles of neural operation, and have been recognized by major scientific awards such as the Kavli Prize in neuroscience in 2016 and the Gruber Prize in neuroscience in 2015. She is a member of the National Academy of Science in the United States and the Royal Society of London.

Carla’s engagement extends way beyond her scientific studies. She has contributed substantially and unselfishly to the development of the neuroscience community at large. She has been President of the Society for Neuroscience, with its 30,000-plus members. As one of the first women to lead an independent research group at Harvard, she has paved the road for many women.

Carla is here today also because of her commitment to the development of neuroscience at NTNU. Since 2012 she has been chairperson of the Kavli Institute’s Scientific Advisory Board, which regularly evaluates its progress and research direction and gives scientific and strategic advice to NTNU, the institute, and principal investigators. Carla puts an enormously thorough effort into this function. What is impressive about her work is not only the thoughtful and visionary content and advice but also the steady day-to-day commitment in her interactions with the institute, and her ability – with her high standing – to assemble and lead a team of the world’s most experienced neuroscientists to help her with the task


Bergmund Skaslien

  • «Ascensions for mind and AI», composer: Bergmund Skaslien
  • AI video art: Hauge Í Gongini

Award of doctoral degrees

Congratulations to the new doctors

Pro-Rector for Research and Dissemination Tor Grande

Dear new doctoral graduates.  

The doctoral awards ceremony is a day you can be proud of.  First and foremost for all the new doctors, but also for us at NTNU. 

Warmest congratulations! 

A doctorate from NTNU is not easy to achieve. It calls for hard and goal-oriented efforts. It is demanding and may bring many frustrations in the process. Because of new challenges, many of you have needed to adjust your approach along the way. You have completed this journey during a period marked by the pandemic – a formidable task.    

Today’s ceremony recognizes your achievement of the highest education one can obtain at a university. This is a huge accomplishment.   

In many ways, work on a PhD is like sailing in uncharted waters. You map the seas bit by bit until you understand them and know them well. Your goal is constantly to find new information, draw new conclusions and create a contribution to your discipline.  

For many, the main driving force is the quest for new knowledge and ensuring that all the hard work is worthwhile.  

And it is definitely worthwhile!   

A doctorate opens doors to careers at the highest levels in our society. It gives you added authority in your field and an advantage over other candidates in the job market.  

A doctoral thesis provides new knowledge and expertise. You gain a whole new perspective on how to focus and solve problems that extend beyond your specialization.  

Your collaboration with other specialists and supervisors during your work is an important experience. This network of colleagues will continue to be valuable to you in the future. 

I will now switch to English for a moment. Many of you were born outside Norway. Science sees no borders and it is important that we recruit talent from all over the world. The diversity you have brought to our campuses is of paramount importance for the development of our academic communities across the different scientific disciplines. 

The PhD dissertation is the end of a long education taking place over several decades. A new journey has started and most of you have already left NTNU and started a new career elsewhere in academia or industry. Some of you have also left Norway, maybe to return to your home country or to a post doc position in an institution somewhere in the world. I wish you all the best in your future careers.  

My greetings to the guests who have come with you to celebrate our new doctors. For many of you, family and friends are key supporters in a long and arduous journey. In different ways, you have contributed to your loved ones’ completion of their doctorate. Thank you for your support!  

To all the academic staff at NTNU who have contributed to cooperation and supervision: My warm thanks to you as well. And we should not forget our partners in the private and public sectors and academia both here in Norway and internationally. Such partnerships play a key role in creating high quality and relevance in doctoral work.  

And again – congratulations on this very special day! 


NTNU Brass

  • «Hyldningsmarsj fra Sigurd Jorsalfare», composer: Edvard Grieg, arrangement: Hans Petter Stangnes

Trondhjems Studentersangforening | Conductor: Edvard Aalstad Grønvoll

  • «Sjungom», composer: Prins Gustaf av Sverige og Norge, arrangement: Herman Sätherberg

Per Stian Monsås (born in 1990) works with graphics and installations. He was born and lives in Trondheim. He graduated with a master’s degree from the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art. His works have been commissioned for Hurtigruten’s hybrid-powered expedition ship MS Roald Amundsen and Kjell Inge Røkke’s exploration vessel REV Ocean.

Everyday existence and his own experiences and observations provide starting points for his art. Abstraction of these starting points, with a focus on the properties of the material and the method, forms the basis for his expression.

His work invites situations and moments that play on the body’s perception of what is around us and how this experience can be shared with others.

The circle is a recurring motif throughout his graphics. The circle inspires a sense of openness and endlessness, but it also has qualities that can be seen as limiting and closed. Between these points, a space swarming with expectations opens up, where a new image can take shape – often based on phenomena and the emotions related to them. Here, the different parts converge into a new whole.