Words of remembrance: Senior Researcher Chris Kjeldsen

Our good colleague Senior Researcher Chris Kjeldsen passed away on 3 September 2022 after long illness. Chris Kjeldsen was 53 years old.

It is with great sadness that we in the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University have had to say goodbye to our devoted colleague Chris Kjeldsen, who has passed away all too soon due to illness. Chris was an extremely well-liked and esteemed colleague, a skilled teacher and not least a committed researcher in agricultural systems with a special sociological focus. 

Chris grew up on a farm in Boldrup, Vesthimmerland, where he took an interest in agriculture, particularly cattle farming, from an early age. On the family farm, he still helped with the day-to-day running of the farm while during his high school years. After a few years travelling in India and elsewhere, he graduated as an agronomist from the Royal Agricultural and Veterinary University in 1998 - a course of study that would not only launch his research career, but also prove to be the start of many lifelong friendships with several people who were also his colleagues here in the Department of Agroecology. 

After his time at the Royal Agricultural and Veterinary University, he briefly tested his abilities as a consultant at the Agricultural Advisory Centre under Leif Knudsen, before entering the world of research. In 2004, Chris defended his PhD thesis, and shortly thereafter he was hired as a researcher at what was then called the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, but later became the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University. At the same time, Chris also spent a year and a half as an assistant professor at the University of Southern Denmark. In 2010, Chris became a senior researcher focusing on rural development, food geography and organic food systems. Chris was particularly interested in investigating the interactions between natural systems and agricultural systems and how this was reflected in our food. One of Chris' key drivers for research was the desire to investigate and create food networks of the highest quality. But Chris's work consisted of so much more than research. Teaching, mentoring students, networking, project applications and dissemination were just some of Chris' many facets. His skills included communicating research through comics, which was also one of his private hobbies. His special ability to show not only genuine interest in other people, but also concern for those in difficulty, was evident both to colleagues, but also as a tutor to students, by his always open ears, storytelling and, not least, his smile and wonderful, good and sometimes wry sense of humour. 

During his more than 17 years at the Department of Agroecology in Foulum, Chris was thus characterised by a positive attitude and a highly humorous and philosophical approach to life. This was reflected in a great deal of generosity and helpfulness towards others. Chris always welcomed everyone, and was always up for a more or less philosophical chat over lunch or a slice of afternoon cake, where he often told funny anecdotes about, among other things, some of his many and long bike rides. 

Chris always participated in a natural and constructive way in professional discussions with both junior and senior staff, and with his deep insight and philosophical approach to life he helped to develop the strong professional environment we are so proud of here at the Department of Agroecology. 

Chris was a great research talent who we would have liked to benefit from for many years to come. Sadly, we have lost our very talented, cheerful, empathetic, approachable and much-loved colleague at too young an age. Chris was a thoroughly good person and he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with Chris' loved ones. 

Honored be his memory 

On behalf of the Department of Agroecology and Aarhus University

Head of Department Jørgen E. Olesen