22 June 2018

Professor of exercise is the new Prorector

New Prorector

Professor Bente Merete Stallknecht will be the new Prorector of the University of Copenhagen. She will, among other things, help to bring education closer to research. She comes from a position as Head of Department of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and has conducted research into what exercise means for overweight.

The new Prorector of the University of Copenhagen knows how physical activity can help prevent and treat diseases, and she has extensive experience with interdisciplinary collaboration.

The Board has unanimously decided to appoint 54-year-old Professor Bente Merete Stallknecht as the University's new Prorector. She comes from a position as Head of Department at the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. On 1 August 2018, Bente Merete Stallknecht will take office as Prorector with special responsibility for education for a five-year term.

Photo: Mikal Schlosser

Exercise is the keyword

As a researcher, Bente Merete Stallknecht has investigated what exercise means for weight and health. Most recently she has focused on endurance training, appetite regulation and insulin sensitivity in overweight adults. Among other things, she has evidenced that "fat can be fit” – that fatty tissue can be trained to become healthier. Moreover, she has studied the effect of exercise on the body when there is no simultaneous weight loss. The result is that exercise has many other health benefits beyond a weight loss, and that fat and muscles are redistributed through training, providing a healthier body weight.

Bente Merete Stallknecht is particularly interested in how to get physical activity into everyday life. She is behind the interdisciplinary FINE project, which found that for weight and fat loss, 30 minutes of daily exercise is just as effective as 60.

Developing degree programmes

“We have chosen Bente Merete Stallknecht because she has the academic and personal competences that match the job, and because she complements the rest of the management. The University of Copenhagen is determined to strengthen the quality of education, among other things by establishing creative learning environments and by linking education closer to research and practice. In this field, Bente Stallknecht can contribute with her academic expertise, a good sense of involving students and her experience with interdisciplinary collaboration. At the same time, she has solid management experience and knows the University of Copenhagen in depth just as she is also very much aware that the University must be part of the surrounding world. I’m looking very much forward to working with the new Prorector," says Rector of the University of Copenhagen, Henrik C. Wegener.

Bente Merete Stallknecht was appointed Professor with special responsibilities within physical activity and obesity in 2013, and in 2016, she became Professor of health-enhancing physical activity. Since 2014, she has been a member of the European Commission's Scientific Health Panel, and she manages the University's Strategic Platform for Lifestyle, Obesity and Metabolic Research.

She was previously Head of Studies for the interdisciplinary degree programme in Biomedical Engineering, Course Director of Human Biology and Pathology, and a member of the study board for Public Health Science.

Bente Merete Stallknecht is used to communicating her research in alternative ways, for example through science theatre and videos as well as at "Meet science” lectures together with the Danish daily Politiken. She often features in both Danish and international media, most recently with research results showing that riding a bike to and from work can be as effective as fitness, which gave her international coverage. (Read the article in Politiken: Cykelturen lige så effektiv som fitness (in Danish only). 

“The University's role in society is to create and disseminate knowledge. A direct communication channel is through the University's students, who are enrolled, taught and later emerge as candidates for private and public workplaces. In this way, the University's knowledge reaches society as a whole, and this dissemination of knowledge is important. Therefore, I see the position as Prorector with special responsibility for education as important and attractive. I look forward to working with the Rector, the University Director and the rest of the University of Copenhagen to implement Strategy 2023," Bente Merete Stallknecht says.

Bente Merete Stallknecht will assume the Prorectorship with special responsibility for education from Lykke Friis, who resigns on 31 July.

Inaugural reception

An inaugural reception for Bente Merete Stallknecht will be held on Friday 24 August 14:00-16:00 in the Ceremonial Hall at Frue Plads, 1168 Copenhagen K.


Jasper Steen Winkel
Director of Communication
Phone: +45 28 75 42 62
Email: jsw@adm.ku.dk