Obituary for Lene Kielsen Holm (1963-2021)

Published January 14, 2021

We were deeply sorry to receive the news that Lene Kielsen Holm lost her battle with cancer, and that we lost Lene, on January the 10th.

Lene was an outstanding person, and a pioneering scientist. She was engaged and inquisitive, stubborn and persistent in her research – generous and cheerful, caring and interested as a person. She always had a smile in her eyes when you met her.

Lene grasped the value of knowledge in all its forms at an early age. Through her interdisciplinary work, she showed how local knowledge and scientific methods can be united, taking research to new heights. Lene always focused on engaging local, Greenland knowledge on equal terms to that of other forms of knowledge.

The enormous respect Lene enjoyed here and in the international scientific community can be seen in the number of mails and other expressions of sympathy we are receiving from near and far. People from all levels of the scientific community feel moved to express what Lene meant for them as individuals or teams; how she introduced anyone interested into Greenland society and research ethics in her friendly and inclusive manner, how she talked about building meaningful relationships, and how different forms of knowledge can be combined. One thing we hear repeatedly, is of the personal and positive impression she made wherever she went. Lene shared her knowledge without reservation and was a mentor to many, taking not only the scientist, but the whole person, under her wing.

Lene Kielsen Holm received several international awards for her extensive work, that now stand as a monument to her expertise and engagement. Most recently in 2018, Lene and her collaborators received the prestigious Norwegian Mohn Prize, for their pioneering work on the ‘Siku – Inuit – Hila’ project, and book ‘The Meaning of Ice’.

Lene will be remembered in the Greenland scientific community as a visionary anthropologist and project leader with considerable integrity and format. Those of us who knew Lene will remember her as an incredibly warm, cheerful, and generous person. Her premature death is a major loss for the Greenland research community, and for us.

Our thoughts are with Lene’s family.

Lene Kielsen Holm, rest in peace.

Josephine Nymand

Greenland Research Council

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