Why Pub Einar?

Einar at home, back from a research trip to Sudan (1984)

Every Friday an email is sent out to everybody on the Biology department mailing list, saying that beer is available for after work “discussions”. Sometimes the event is called the Friday Pub, but for many years and still now and then it is named Pub Einar. The official name of the pub is “Einar B:s Minne” (in memory of Einar B.), which can be read on the pub sign in the lunch room at level 2 in the Ecology Building. This name dates back more than 25 years. We hope that also in the future Pub Einar could be used for such a nice tradition. But probably a shrinking minority knows why the Friday after work beer gathering in the Ecology building is called Pub Einar. Well, the name is in memory of Einar Benedikt Ólafsson, a marine zoologist from Lund who lost his life in a boat accident on January 18, 1990, while doing a post-doc at the Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City, North Carolina.

Einar´s parents were from Iceland, and Einar was born in Iceland´s capital Reykjavik on March 14, 1950. The family moved to Sweden when Einar was in his teens, and he grew up in Lund, took his high school exam (studentexamen) in Spyken. However, Einar was very proud of his Icelandic roots, interested in Icelandic poetry, keeping his Icelandic citizenship, and following politics and culture in Iceland.

Einar with a cold (?) beer during his two-year appointment in Bergen, Norway (1978-1979)

Einar took up biology studies at LU and became a PhD student in Zooecology in the 1980-ies, then in the old Ecology Building (now housing the departments of Geology and Physical Geography). He chose to make research in marine ecology, during a period when marine biology/ecology almost became extinct at LU, due to lack of faculty support. Thus he had to work practically on his own, without neither much financial nor senior scientist support in his field. Beside Einar there was a small group doing research in botanically oriented marine ecology, especially on microalgae. However, this research group first was part of Systematic Botany and later on of Limnology.

Marine biology had a brief reappearance through courses and some research at LU´s branch in Helsingborg in the beginning of the new century, after most of marine ecology had gone to Kalmar and other places, but eventually this effort failed and now marine ecology/biology is mainly found within the Aquatic Ecology unit (with research e g on cod and on restoration of shallow marine areas using Zostera reestablishment).

Einar dressed for diving, outside Kämpinge. (1984)

When Einar pursued his PhD marine biology was (and still is) dependent on field stations and research vessels. Einar´s subject was within benthic inverterbrate ecology, and he could do with rather modest boats. As a base Einar used the small, unmanned field station that the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency maintained in the former lighthouse guardian house at the Falsterbo channel in Kämpinge. His research was to a large extent dependent on scuba diving and field experiments using cages. Einar dived even the morning after heavy partying, which today probably had been out of the question. In 1988 Einar successfully defended his thesis in Zooecology, and he was then awarded a post-doc scholarship by NFR, the predecessor of the Swedish Research Council (VR). In March 1989 Einar went to North Carolina. He drowned when the boat with him and an assistant hit a buoy. The assistant survived.

Einar was a very charismatic person. Well known among North European marine biologists. A fierce debater of many subjects, including science (especially funding) and politics, as well as the philosophy of life. Although Einar confronted many personal and academic problems, he never gave up, using the phrase “enough is never enough”. He was very keen on various ball sports, e g basket. And, maybe most important in the Pub Einar context: Einar was quite fond of beer (and cigarettes).

Einar debating the classics in Rome (1984)

Einar, together with Eva Haettner (now Eva Haettner Aurelius, literature professor at LU), has a daughter, Kristin Aslaug Persson. She is currently a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley, California. She has kindly provided us with photos and other documents regarding Einar. Johanna B. Jónsdóttir at the Undergraduate Secretariat of the Biology department helped with translations from Icelandic (Google translate cannot handle this ancient Scandinavian language). Edna was a close friend of Einar, and they both worked at the Kämpinge field station.

Calahonda, Costa del Sol, October 10, 2018

Edna Graneli
Professor emerita
Marine Ecology

Wilhelm Graneli
Professor emeritus

Some of Einars publications

Ólafsson, E. B. And Høisæter, T. 1988. A stratified two-stage sampling design for estimation of the biomass of Mytilus edulis L. In Lindåspollene, a land-locked fjord in western Norway. – Sarsia 73:267-281.

Ólafsson, E. B. And Persson, L.-E. 1986. Distribution, life cycle and demography in a brackish water population of the isopod Cyathura carinata (Kröyer) (Crustacea). – Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 23:673-687.

Ólafsson, E. B., Peterson, C. H. And Ambrose, W. G. Jr. 1994. Does recruitment limitation structure populations and communities of macro-invertebrates in marine soft sediments: the relative significance of pre- and post-settlement processes. – Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review 32:65-109. Published posthumously.

Dissertation: “Dynamics in deposit-feeding and suspension-feeding populations of the bivalve Macoma balthica; an experimental study” 1988

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  1. Thanks for sharing this little biography and piece of departmental history.
    It is important to connect to the past.
    And please make sure to keep the pub’s name alive instead of the anonymous and bland “Friday pub”.

  2. oktober 16, 2018 | 5:55 e m | Christer Löfstedt

    Great initiative Ville!

    I think that there is room for more “histories” like this! “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

    I took Ecology (10 p at the time, 15 nowadays – the normal inflation…) together with Einar. I believe it was back in 1977. Einar joined in for the field course at Öland as far as I recall. Uncertain about his participation in the marine biology part at Helsingör but that would of course have been his natural habitat! Some beer was involved also on this occasion and on the whole it was a memorable course under the leadership of Göran Bengtsson.

    I do not really remember you from Pub Einar in the basement in the old Ecology building at Helgonavägen 5? Also that was both memorable and enjoyable. Einar made an impact – socially and scientifically!