On 7 May 2019, Nobel Laureate Professor Sir John Walker FRS, FMedSci was presented with the University of Helsinki Silver Medal, the University's highest award, in recognition of his contributions to bioenergetics and structural biology and for advising the University's Institute of Biotechnology, as a member of its Advisory Board for nearly twenty years from 1999 to 2018.
The medal was designed by Sculptor Kalervo Kallio in 1957. The design on the obverse depicts profiles of a youth and a maiden. Behind them is "the muse of science" showing them the way with a laurel branch in her hand. In the background is the facade of the University's Main Building. The theme of the reverse is the seal of the university, the present type of which was confirmed in 1919. Added to the seal is the decoration of the Order of the Cross of Liberty, which was awarded to the university in 1940. When Finland became independent in 1919, the name of the institution became the University of Helsinki. This is the Latin form, VNIVERSITAS HELSINGIENSIS. The emblem of the seal consists of a Baroque-style cartouche with the inscription A(nno) MDCXL/ABOE/COND(ita), (founded in Turku in 1640). Above this is the radiant name of God in Hebrew. The cartouche is enframed by cornucopias and laurel branches and above it is a royal crown as a memory of the earlier history of the institution and its founder, Queen Christina of Sweden.