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Interview with Jonatan Lenells

Published Nov 30, 2021

Hello Jonatan, tell us a little bit about you, where you come from, your academic studies etc?

I grew up in Växjö, Sweden, and I have always been interested in mathematics and physics. I received a PhD in mathematics from Lund University in 2006. After that I worked at universities in the UK, Germany, and the US, before joining the KTH mathematics department in 2014.

Taking up a new position is a challenge on its own. How has your time as a professor been so far, any significant changes compared to your previous position as an associate professor?

My time as professor so far has been very good. Not much has changed compared to how it was before, except that I had several postdocs and PhD students who finished recently so I have fewer people to supervise this semester.

Tell us about your research, what makes it important?

My main research area is nonlinear partial differential equations and their applications to problems in physics and engineering. For example, I have studied the propagation of water waves, Einstein’s equations of relativity, and various problems in quantum field theory. Partial differential equations are central in the description of most physical phenomena. By understanding them better, we can better understand the world.

Has your work been affected by the pandemic?

Since the pandemic started, all our group meetings have been online. But working remotely has worked very well for us and it has not affected our work much. I was also on part-time parental leave for 12 months, so I would have been home a lot anyway.

Why did you choose your field of research in particular?

I have always been curious about the universe and how things work. I liked the precision and beauty of mathematics – how elegant it is and how it generates eternal truths. By working in mathematical physics, I had an opportunity both to experience the elegance of pure mathematics and to study problems in physics and engineering.

What would be your message or advice to youngsters who are interested in pursuing scientific professions?

Be curious and pursue what you are passionate about. Do not let anyone discourage you just because you are young.  

Text: Elina Charatsidou