ⓘ Jaak Aaviksoo


ⓘ Jaak Aaviksoo

Jaak Aaviksoo is an Estonian politician and physicist, rector of Tallinn University of Technology.

Aaviksoo has been the Estonian Minister of Defence and Minister of Education and Research, he was a member of the liberal conservative party Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica.

He is a former rector of University of Tartu.

Jaak Aaviksoo is the first rector in Estonia who is also an academician. He is also one of the tallest rectors in the world 198 cm.


1. Education and career in science

Aaviksoo was born in Tartu. After graduating from Tartu Secondary School No. 2 present-day Miina Harma Gymnasium in 1971, he entered the Tartu State University physics department in the chemistry-physics faculty and graduated cum laude in the field of theoretical physics in 1976. From 1976 to 1992 he was first junior, then senior and then leading scientist at the Physics Institute of the Estonian Academy of Sciences named Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR until 1988. There he also became a Ph.D. in Physics Thesis: "On Resonant Secondary Emission in Sodium Nitrite and Anthracene" in 1981. Aaviksoo was the first president of the Estonian Physical Society, founded in 1989. In 1992 he returned to University of Tartu, this time as a professor of optics and spectroscopy. In 1995 he was the acting director of the Tartu University institute of experimental physics and technology and from 1992 to 1995 also the first vice-rector of University of Tartu. He became a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences and thus an academician in 1994. From 1981 to 1994 Aaviksoo worked in many foreign institutes as a guest professor, namely the Novosibirsk Institute of Thermal Physics, the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Osaka University and University of Paris VII: Denis Diderot.


2. Politician and rector of University of Tartu and TalTech

From November 1995 to January 1996 Jaak Aaviksoo was Minister of Culture and Education and from then to November 1997 he was the Estonian Minister of Education in the governments of Tiit Vahi.

In 1998 he became the rector of University of Tartu. He was re-elected for another five-year term as a rector in 2003.

In 2006 Jaak Aaviksoo announced that he would be leaving the post of rector of University of Tartu to run for a seat in the Estonian parliament Riigikogu in the 2007 elections as a member of liberal conservative Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica. Before joining the party and leaving his post as rector, Aaviksoo was considered as a candidate for the presidential elections in 2006, which were won by Toomas Hendrik Ilves. After already having joined Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica, Aaviksoo sought to become the partys leader for the 2007 parliamentary elections and so candidate for Prime Minister of Estonia, but lost a closely contested duel within the party to internationally renowned two-time former Prime Minister Mart Laar.

In the elections he gained 4241 votes in his district and was elected to Riigikogu. He became the Minister of Defence in Andrus Ansips second government. Having assumed office on 5 April 2007, his first primary goals as Minister of Defence were restructuring the power management of the Estonian Defense Forces and dealing with the situation of the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn, a Soviet war monument, which was moved to a cemetery, causing much controversy and ethnic tension between a large proportion Estonians and local Russians. He also saw the Estonian youths weak will of defending their country as a serious problem.

In 2011 he was re-elected to parliament and he became the Minister of Education and Research in Andrus Ansips third government. As the Minister he strongly supported school reform and separating primary schools from gymnasiums.

In March 2015 he gained 1405 votes at the parliament elections and became a member in Riigikogu. In the summer of 2015 he ran for the position of the rector of Tallinn University of Technology.

Since September 2015 Jaak Aaviksoo is the rector of Tallinn University of Technology TalTech.


3. Personal life

Aaviksoo is married to Tiina Kaalep. He is a father of three, a grandfather of seven and a great grandfather of one.

He speaks fluent English, German, Russian and French on an average level.


4. Works

Aaviksoo has publicized over 100 scientific articles and over 80 publicistic articles from 1976 to 2002. His more important publifications from the past decade are:

  • J. Aaviksoo, C. Gourdon, P. Lavallard, "Power nonlinearities in the luminescence spectrum of GaAs/AlAs superlattices", Solid State Communications
  • J. Aaviksoo, C. Gourdon, R. Grousson, P. Lavallard, "Photoluminescence quantum yield in GaAs/AlAs superlattices", Solid State Electronics
  • T.Reinot, J.Aaviksoo, Propagation of polariton luminescence pulses in anthracene. - J. Lumin., 502 259-264, 1991.
  • S. O. Kognovitskii, V. V. Travnikov, J. Aaviksoo, I. Reimand, "Light Scattering by electrons in the absorption region of GaAs" - Phys. Solid State
  • J. Aaviksoo. Priorities for Higher Education in Central and Eastern European Countries. - Higher Education Management.
  • J.Aaviksoo, I.Reimand, V.V.Rossin, V.V.Travnikov, Quenching of exciton luminescence by hot electrons in GaAs. - Fiz. Tverd. Tela, 338 2408-2412, 1991. in Russian.
  • J.Aaviksoo Estonian physicist: Active and Productive. - Science, 275, 463, 1997.
  • I. Reimand, J. Aaviksoo, "Exciton interaction with hot electrons in GaAs", Phys. Rev. B 61, 2000, no 24, p 16653-16658
  • J. Aaviksoo, "Estonian physicist: Active and productive", Science
  • J.Aaviksoo, I.Reimand, V.V.Rossin, V.V.Travnikov, Kinetics of free exciton luminescence in GaAs. - Phys. Rev. B, 453 1473-1476, 1992.
  • J.Aaviksoo, J.Kuhl, K.Ploog, Observation of optical precursors at pulse propagation in GaAs. - Phys. Rev. A, 44, 25353-25356, 1991.
  • J.Aaviksoo, I.Reimand, V.Rossin, V.Travnikov, Kinetics of exciton formation and relaxation in GaAs. - J. Lumin., 53, 423-426, 1992.
  • J.Aaviksoo, T.Reinot, Ballistic propagation of luminescence pulses in anthracene crystal flakes. - J. Mol. Cryst. Liquid Cryst., 217, 147-151, 1992.
  • I.Reimand, J.Aaviksoo, Surface polarization dynamics revealed by time-resolved resonant reflection of light. - Opt. Commun., 862 142-146, 1991.
  • I. Reimand, J. Aaviksoo, "Exciton interaction with hot electrons in GaAs", Technical digest of X International Conference on Ultrafast Phenomena in Spectroscopy, Tartu, 1997, p. 82


5. Honors

  • Member of the Academy of Sciences of Estonia 1994
  • Order of the National Coat of Arms, class IV, of the Republic of Estonia 2000
  • Order of the Three Stars of the Republic of Latvia 2009
  • Medal of the University of Tokyo 2000
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany 2000
  • Order of the White Rose of Finland 2006
  • Honorary Doctor of the University of Turku 2003
  • Cross of Merit of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, III class 2007
  • Estonian Defence League White Cross, I class 2011
  • Order of the White Star, class II, of the Republic of Estonia 2006
  • Order of Merit of France 2007
  • Honorary Doctor of the University of Lapland 2012
  • Member of Academia Europaea 2004
  • The Medal of the City of Tartu 2002