Biography

President Alar Karis was born on 26 March 1958 in Tartu, where he graduated from High School no. 2 (now Miina Härma Gymnasium) in 1976 and from the Estonian Agricultural Academy (now the Estonian University of Life Sciences) as a veterinarian in 1981. He then worked at the Estonian Research Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science and later at the Estonian Biocentre of the Academy of Sciences. He earned a Master of Science degree in parasitology in 1987. In the intervening years, his research has focussed on molecular genetics and developmental biology. He has 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.

President Karis served as the rector of the Estonian University of Life Sciences from 2003-2007 and of the University of Tartu from 2007-2012. He has led the work of Universities Estonia (the national council of university rectors) a number of times.

President Karis served as the Auditor-General of the Republic of Estonia from 2013-2018 and as the head of the EUROSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (EUROSAI WGEA) from 2014-2018.

President Karis was the director of the Estonian National Museum from 2018-2021.

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 International Council of Archives, the International Council of Museums, the museums of the University of Tartu and the Estonian Literary Museum; a member of the advisory board to the Entrepreneurship & Living Environment Development Division of Enterprise Estonia; and the chairman of the supervisory boards of the Estonian Development Fund and (from 2020-2021) the Estonian University of Life Sciences. He has also been a member of the World Cultural Council since 2011.

President Karis served as the honorary consul to the Republic of Chile in Estonia from 2010-2021. He is a member of the Estonian Students Society and the Tartu Rotary Club.

President Karis’ wife Sirje (born 1956) is the director of Tartu City Museum. Previously, she worked as the director of the Estonian History Museum from 2005-2018. They have three children.

Alar Karis was elected as President of the Republic of Estonia by the Riigikogu on 31 August 2021 and was sworn in on 11 October 2021.

Career

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

Publications

‘A Letter to the Future: Articles, Addresses, Interviews & Opinions’ (2012)

Decorations

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

Languages

English and Russian