Academician Jaak Aaviksoo, a member of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, served the Republic of Estonia as the Minister of Defence for four years before assuming the post of Minister of Education and Research. In the 1990s, Aaviksoo was also the Minister of Culture and Education and the Minister of Education.
By education, Jaak is a physicist. He graduated cum laude in the specialisation of theoretical physics in the Department of Physics in the Faculty of Physics and Chemistry of the University of Tartu in 1976. He holds a PhD degree and has been elected the Professor of Optics and Spectroscopy of the University of Tartu. He has been a Vice-Rector of the University of Tartu and been twice elected the Rector of the University of Tartu. Owing to his achievements in research, Aaviksoo has been elected a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Honorary Doctor of Turku University and the University of Lapland and a member of the Academia Europaea.
From 1981-1992 Jaak conducted research in the Novosibirsk Institute of Thermal Physics, in the Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart, in the Osaka University in Japan and in the Paris VII University.
As the Minister of Education, Jaak launched the Tiger Leap programme to bring the Internet to Estonian schools. As the Rector of the University of Tartu, he was a member of the European University Association and of the European Cultural Foundation. As the Minister of Defence he launched cyber defence operations in the Estonian Defence Forces and was the initiator of the establishment of NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Estonia.
For outstanding services, Jaak has received the Order of the White Star Class II (2006), the Order of the National Coat of Arms Class IV (2000) as well as the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the German Federal Republic, the National Order of Merit of the French Republic (2001) and the Order of the White Rose of the Republic of Finland (2001).
Since 2004 Jaak has been a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences and belongs to ten other professional associations. For instance, he has been the chairman of the Estonian Council of Rectors and a member of the Academic Council of the President of the Republic. Since 1976 he has published almost 200 research and other articles and participated in over a hundred research conferences in 23 countries.
Date and place of birth: 11 January 1954, Tartu
1981 Candidate of Physics-Mathematics, Physics Institute of Estonian Academy of Sciences
1976 University of Tartu, Faculty of Physics and Chemistry, Theoretical Physics cum laude
1971 Tartu 2nd Secondary School
Minister of Education and Research as of 6 April 2011
2011 – XII Riigikogu, member
2007 – 2011 Minister of Defence
2007 – XI Riigikogu, member
2003 – 2007 University of Tartu, Rector
1998 – 2003 University of Tartu, Rector
1996 – 1998 University of Tartu, Institute of Experimental Physics and Technology, Head
1995 – 1996 Minister of Education
1995 – 1995 Minister of Culture and Education
1992 – 1995 University of Tartu, first Vice-Rector
1992 – present University of Tartu, Professor of Optics and Spectroscopy
1976 – 1992 Estonian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Physics, junior, senior and lead researcher
Party membership: Pro Patria and Res Publica Union
Foreign languages: English, Russian, German, French (intermediate) & Spanish (elementary)