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Alexander Henn wins the Marcus Wallenberg Young Scientists Competition

The Marcus Wallenberg Foundation organises an annual event for young researchers to promote collaboration, inspire research and create networking opportunities. Post doc and PhD students up to 35 years old are encouraged to participate in the Young Scientists Challenge by describing their research and its impact on the forest industry and society at large.
Alex Henn
Photo: Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, Johan Gunseus

What was required of you to take part in the competition?

The competition required a lot of preparation, but also a lot of courage. I have been a bit shy since childhood, although I may not seem so now. It felt strange and uncomfortable to practice in front of different people, and at first, I wouldn't have even wanted to do it in English. But I wanted to prove to myself that my personal strengths were enough to succeed.

What were you thinking when you participated in the competition?

I was really happy to be involved, but of course it was an exciting situation. I had been practicing for weeks before the competition and the excitement grew as the day approached. I got feedback from colleagues, friends, my wife, my family, and of course I was worried because everyone had different opinions. I completely changed my pitch about four times, but that's part of building a good presentation. I don't think the result was perfect, but it was clear and well put together. My goal was to win the competition. 

Would you participate again?

The whole symposium was a really great experience. I learned a lot from the competition, and I would highly recommend others to apply. I have also met other great young researchers who I might even collaborate with in the future. I have never felt so valued as a young researcher before, and my motivation is at its peak at the moment.

What does winning mean to you?

I have received a lot of support along the way. I am grateful for the financial support I received from the Wood Processing Engineers Association during this process, otherwise this would not have been possible. FinnCERES also played an important role and supported all Aalto University competitors by providing training opportunities. We were able to train and pitch at the FinnCERES and Finnish Forest Products Engineers’ Association "Afternoon of Innovation and Young Scientists" event. I received a lot of suggestions for improvement and positive feedback already there, and this of course boosted my confidence. I am also very grateful for the support of Antti Lindqvist, Jukka Hassinen, Joanna Witos, Heidi Henrickson, Christa Uusi-Rauva and Monika Österberg, in particular. I should also be proud of the university as a whole and especially of the School of Chemical Engineering. Aalto University together with FinnCERES and the finnish Forest Products Engineers’ Association created an environment in which success was possible, and I am very grateful for that!

Photos of the awards ceremony

Photos: Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, Johan Gunseus

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    You can watch Alexander Henn's competition pitch in the video below (source: YouTube, Marcus Wallenberg Prize -channel)

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