President Alar Karis was born on 26 March 1958 in Tartu.
President Karis graduated from the Estonian Agricultural Academy (now the Estonian University of Life Sciences) in 1981. He earned a Master of Science degree in parasitology in 1987, with his later research focussing on molecular genetics and developmental biology.
President Karis worked at the Estonian Research Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science and later at the Estonian Biocentre of the Academy of Sciences. He has also worked at universities in Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and joined the University of Tartu as a professor in 1999. His research has been among the most widely cited internationally of any Estonian scientist of his generation.
In 1999 President Karis founded the University of Tartu-spawned Visgenyx with Professor Eero Vasar, serving as a member of the management board until 2005. The company was involved in the development of transgene organisms for European biotech companies and universities.
President Karis has served as the rector of both the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the University of Tartu. He has led the work of Universities Estonia (the national council of university rectors) a number of times.
President Karis has served as the Auditor-General of the Republic of Estonia and as the head of the EUROSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (EUROSAI WGEA).
President Karis was also the director of the Estonian National Museum.
President Karis has previously been a member of the Academic Council and Academic Advisory Board of the President of the Republic and of the Research and Development Council; a member of the supervisory boards of the Estonian Fund for Nature, the European University Association, the Entrepreneurship & Living Environment Development Division of Enterprise Estonia, the International Council of Archives, the International Council of Museums and the museums of the University of Tartu and the Estonian Literary Museum; and the chairman of the supervisory boards of the Estonian Development Fund and the Estonian University of Life Sciences. He has also been a member of the World Cultural Council since 2011.
Prior to becoming the head of state, President Karis served as the honorary consul to the Republic of Chile in Estonia for 10 years. He is a member of the Estonian Students Society and the Tartu Rotary Club.
President Karis is married to Sirje Karis. They have three children.
From 2021 | President of the Republic of Estonia
2018-2021 | Director of the Estonian National Museum
2013-2018 | Auditor-General of the Republic of Estonia
2007-2012 | Rector of the University of Tartu
2003-2007 | Rector of the Estonian University of Life Sciences
1999-2018 | Professor at the University of Tartu
1998-1999 | Extraordinary Senior Research Fellow at the Technology Centre of the University of Tartu
1996-1998 | Extraordinary Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology of the University of Tartu
1993-1998 | Research Fellow at Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands)
1992-1993 | Research Fellow at the National Institute for Health Research (UK)
1991 | Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Hamburg (Germany)
1990-1992 | Senior Research Fellow at the Estonian Biocentre of the Academy of Sciences
1987-1990 | Research Fellow at the Estonian Biocentre of the Academy of Sciences
1981-1987 | Research Fellow at the Estonian Research Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
‘A Letter to the Future: Articles, Addresses, Interviews & Opinions’ (2012)
2007 | Order of the White Star, 4th class
2008 | Commander’s cross of the Order of Leopold II of Belgium
2011 | Commander’s cross of the Royal Order of the Polar Star of Sweden
2013 | Commander’s cross of the Order of the Lion of Finland
2019 | Cross of Recognition of Latvia, 3rd class
2021 | Order of the National Coat of Arms chain
2023 Chain of the Three Star Order of the Republic of Latvia
2023 Sweden Royal Order of the Seraphim
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