Chapter 19: Professor Anja Boisen


Anja Boisen’s father was a physics teacher. One time, he brought physics books and the periodic table with him on a camping holiday in France so that Anja could catch up on her school work the summer she skipped 8th grade. But Anja was not captivated by physics. She wanted to be a journalist, and Mette Fugl (a Danish reporter) was her role model. Therefore, in high school, she chose social studies. After high school, she went to the United States, where she combined a job as an au pair with studies at Stanford. When she returned to Denmark, she did not have the patience to wait until the entrance exams at the school of journalism were held, so she applied for admission to Roskilde University.

“So, it was Roskilde University’s two-year basic education program that made me change my mind. I believe I began to consider that maybe I should have something to do with physics when I did my second project at the university. We were walking around measuring radon in the basements of the university and it was a lot of fun. And then I got a mentor, Karen, who was a year older than me. She wanted to study physics and mathematics, and she was a great inspiration to me, and I chose to stay at RUC and study physics. Karen and I also chose to finish our last years of studies at the University of Copenhagen, because RUC is a small place with limited opportunities to do a lot of different experiments.”

Anja wrote her thesis on solid-state physics at the H. C. Ørsted Institute, with Poul Erik Lindelof as her adviser. He helped her apply to a Ph.D. program; however, she did not get in. After that, she was a teacher at Vestre  Borgerdyd primary school  for a year. But even though it was fun and the students were nice, her enthusiasm for teaching faded, so she applied for an industrial Ph.D. in a small start-up called Danish Microengineering.

“I was employed as a business researcher and was associated with a very talented mentor, François Grey, who was a professor at the time. He hired me after I received my Ph.D., and he also encouraged me to apply for a FREJA grant, even though it was a little early to apply for my own grant and to hire others a year after I had finished my own Ph.D. I got the grant, and I’ve been working in this field ever since.”

You can read the full portrait of Professor Anja Boisen by downloading the chapter below. (In Danish)

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