At the height of his personal and professional life, professor Niclas Jonzén peacefully died a week after his 42nd birthday, on May 9, 2015. The sequelae of the pancreatic cancer diagnosed six years ago could no longer be harnessed. Niclas leaves behind his wife Malin Terjestam and their young sons Tim and Teo.
Niclas obviously lived his last years under considerable strain. Yet, he managed to live a full and rich life with his family, who meant everything to him, and a professional one in science with astonishing creativity and productivity. Niclas lead his research group with unyielding energy and his network of national and international collaborators was ever growing. Also, the Department of Biology in Lund, especially the CAnMove and BECC research environments could reap the benefits of Niclas’ unique blend of skills and across-the-board knowledge of everything biological.
Niclas was born in Kalmar and after having paid both accordion playing and near-elite level table tennis serious visits, he turned his full attention to natural history, field biology and especially bird-watching. The well-known Ottenby Bird Observatory’s proximity to Kalmar made it an irresistible magnet for the young bird-watcher and Niclas devoted more and more time to bird banding and studies of bird migration. Soon it became clear that Niclas aimed at a research career in ornithology and what was more natural than studying biology in Lund, a world-leading center of bird migration research. This did not disbar a stint in Gothenburg where Niclas took marine biology and physiology.
But it was the theories of ecology and evolution and mathematical modeling of biological systems that eventually caught Niclas’ interest. His PhD published thesis defended in 2001 covered and combined two difficult fields – harvesting theory, especially in fisheries, and stochastic processes. The latter became one of Niclas’ main fields of expertise, honed and perfected during his postdoc with professor Hugh Possingham in Brisbane, Australia.
There is nothing like coming home, and Niclas’ lifelong interest in birds could no longer be quenched, also academically. Niclas started combining general theories of life history evolution with the problems birds are facing when timing breeding, moult and migration in a changing environment, such as one warmed by global climate change. In 2009 Niclas was awarded a Research Fellowship from the Swedish Research Council and phenological shifts and life history evolution became Niclas’ salient focus. Hence, his close collaboration to the very end with the bird migration and global change biology groups in Lund and with groups sharing his interests all over the world.
Niclas mastered every aspect of science. He combined his intellectual assets with a profound love for the profession, a contagious enthusiasm and untold creativity and imagination. Students and postdocs shone in his presence and enjoyed his warmhearted mentorship. He never ceased to delight his environment with playful tongue-in-cheek comments on everything from science to modern music.
The department has lost a great colleague and the world a great human being.
Per Lundberg Jörgen Ripa Christer Löfstedt