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SMART SCIENCE BY SMART PEOPLE University of Eastern Finland 2018


FINNISH EDUCATION – A GLOBAL SUCCESS STORY Equal society, equal opportunities




Weight loss reduces liver fat effectively

Gaining competitive advantage

Collaboration is key in conflict resolution


Universities and society’s changing educational needs




peaking at the Nordic Business

of the population with tertiary education. The

Forum this January, Apple’s

ministry believes that it is possible to reach

co-founder Steve Wozniak

this goal without increasing student intake,

pointed out that it is difficult to

as there is plenty of improvement to be made

guess what kind of education

with regard to completion rates.

is relevant to the inventors of

tomorrow’s coolest gadgets. The required skills change rapidly, not only in technology and engineering, but also in other fields of education. Things will keep moving forwards, and universities must – to the best of their ability – anticipate the direction of this movement. In Finland, the Ministry of Education


and Culture has recognised the challenges

We need to create attractive study programmes to recruit students from abroad.”


that rapid changes in our operating environ-


higher education and research last year. The


objective of the vision for 2030 is to develop

versity studies at a considerably older age

the Finnish research and innovation system

than their peers in other Western European


in a manner than responds to the challenges

countries. Finland’s current student admis-

SARI ESKELINEN TEL. +358 50 361 9280

posed by digitalisation, open science and new

sions reform will place increasing emphasis

ways of working. The vision defines Finnish

on the matriculation examination, but it does

higher education institutions as strong and

not exclude alternative paths to university

internationally attractive competence clusters.

education, either. Our student recruitment


ment are causing. In response, the ministry launched a process to create a vision for

Diminishing age groups and the need

Finnish students tend to start their uni-

can’t be limited to Finland. Instead, we need to

to increase the proportion of people with a

create attractive study programmes to recruit

tertiary degree constitute a great challenge for

students from abroad. Hopefully, many of

our entire education system. In the ministry’s

these students will choose to stay in Finland,

vision, the proportion of young adults who

at the service of Finnish society.

complete tertiary education will increase from

As educational needs change, we need to

40% to 50% by 2030. In the OECD rankings,

internalise the idea of lifelong learning, which

Finland has fallen behind some key European

is increasingly supported by digitalisation

countries in terms of the relative proportion

and open science. Alongside degree-awarding education, we need to make compact study modules available that enable professional development in a variety of fields.


In order for university education to meet


future needs, increasingly close interaction with


the public sector, business and industry, and the


third sector is needed. Likewise, it is important


to engage in increasingly close collaboration with different education organisations, and this is something we already do better than many other counties. Meeting society’s future educational needs calls for the creation of strong national and international networks. HARRI SIISKONEN ACADEMIC RECTOR







Alina Solomon











Angela Buchholz

Toshiya Nakaguchi

Anniina Kämäräinen

The Finnish school system – a success story.........................................12 Fatty liver gives no warning signs...........................................................16 Mobile games for pelvic floor muscles...................................................18 Researchers set eyes on bio-based chemicals and biochar...............19 Students man the barricades....................................................................20 You sound like you – or do you?...............................................................23 Strawberry diseases can be tested from plants and soil.....................24 Does your mindset put your brain at risk?............................................26 Preventing educational exclusion............................................................28 Dispelix makes smart glasses available to all......................................31

Hitch-hiking on social media....................................................................32 “CERN is heaven for researchers”...........................................................34 Biobank business still finding its form...................................................35 Linguists understand society....................................................................36 Action-oriented research in environmental conflicts..........................37 Heavy labour market pull..........................................................................40 Italian volleyball inspiration in Joensuu................................................42 Promoting integration................................................................................43 Researchers summarise their expertise in 100 seconds.....................44



UEF// IN BRIEF A vicious circle of pain and itch Mast cells are best known for their role in allergic reactions, but recent research shows they also contribute to itching and pain in many other conditions via neuroimmune interactions. Inhibiting their activity may offer new treatment strategies for these distressing symptoms. OMNIPRESENT IN the body, mast cells are central regulators of the immune system. However, they can also turn against our well-being, and not just in the form of allergies and anaphylactic reactions. In an invited review published in Immunological Reviews, Professor Ilkka Harvima of the University of Eastern Finland and Professor Kalpna Gupta of the University of Minnesota explain how the interactions of mast cells with the neural system contribute to a variety of pathological conditions. These include itch symptoms common in psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Mast cells also contribute to pain in conditions such as mastocytosis, sickle cell disease and cancer. Mast cells can release substances and mediators like histamine, tryptase and substance P, known for their ability to produce itching and pain. The resulting feedback from neural nociceptors may cause a vicious circle of mast cell activation and peripheral nerve sensitisation, leading to neurogenic inflammation and itching or pain, and possibly even promoting a transition from acute to chronic symptoms. Similarly, mast cells can amplify neuroinflammation in the brain. Thus, researchers have started to seek new treatments based on mast cell inhibition. For example, in atopic dermatitis, the combined antagonism of histamine receptors H1 and H4 on sensory nerves has shown promising signs in the relief of itching and inflammation. Other, non-histaminergic targets for anti-itch treatments could be the cytokine IL-31, the nerve growth factor NGF, and the PAR-2 receptor. In the treatment of chronic pain, the use of opioids has been shown to activate mast cells, which may even worsen the symptoms. According to the review, this could possibly be avoided and opioid dosage could be reduced by administering mast cell stabilising agents together with opioids.


SILICON SOLVES PROBLEMS FOR NEXT-GENERATION BATTERY TECHNOLOGY By replacing graphite anodes with silicon, it is possible to quadruple anode capacity in Liion batteries, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

millilitres of camelina oil a day taken for a period of 12 weeks reduced overall and LDL cholesterol levels in people with impaired glucose metabolism. The study was published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

SAUNA REDUCES BLOOD PRESSURE, INCREASES VASCULAR COMPLIANCE In a population-based study, UEF researchers have shown that taking a sauna is associated with a variety of health benefits. A new experimental study revealed the physiological mechanisms through which the heat exposure from a sauna may influence a person’s health. Tests involving 100 subjects showed that taking a sauna for 30 minutes reduces blood pressure and increases vascular compliance, while also increasing heart rate in a similar way to medium-intensity exercise.

UEF wins “Oscar of Education” for best use of ICT and e-Learning Lecturer Sanna Metsälä and IT Designer Aleksi Komu from UEF’s Savonlinna Teacher Training School were announced as the winners of the “Best use of ICT/e-Learning in the Classroom” category at the 2018 GESS Education Awards. THE WORK carried out at Savonlinna Teach-

“Finland and the Finnish curriculum are

er Training School is globally unique, and

held in high regard globally. The organisers

the school’s way of digitalising learning is

of GESS want to collaborate with us to make

something others are only starting to strive

Finland even more prominent at next year’s


event,” Metsälä says. “Our work is built around 21st century

GESS is an international education

skills. Pupils’ personal devices have enabled

exhibition that brings together educational

a change in the school culture, as well as

professionals from more than 90 countries

a systematic development of pedagogy,”

every year. The event was held at the Dubai

Metsälä says.

World Trade Centre in the United Arab

Currently, the school is testing and

Emirates on 27 February – 1 March 2018.

developing the use of artificial intelligence

The GESS Awards, sometimes also known as

and mixed reality in learning and teaching.

the “Oscars of Education”, were announced

Metsälä and Komu were pleased with

at a gala during the conference. The GESS

Finland’s prominence at the GESS confer-

Awards were presented to the best educa-


tional actors in different categories.

According to Aleksi Komu and Sanna Metsälä, the atmosphere in Dubai was great and Finland was prominent at the conference.

OPIOID USE DOES NOT INCREASE ALZHEIMER’S RISK Opioids are not associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, even with long-term use. Opioids are powerful pain relieving drugs that act on the nervous system. A previous study from the US has linked them to dementia risk, but a new Finnish study, which is the most extensive research into the topic so far, does not confirm the risk. The nationwide register-based MEDALZ study included 70,718 people with Alzheimer’s and 282,862 controls. However, opioids do have adverse effects like drowsiness and reduced alertness. Their use may lead to addiction or tolerance and should thus be restricted to severe pain.

INFACT DEVELOPS SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE MINERAL EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES INFACT – or the Innovative, NonInvasive and Fully Acceptable Exploration Technologies project – develops mineral exploration technologies that are increasingly non-invasive, socially acceptable and technologically advanced. Funded by the EU, the project has 17 partners in seven different countries. Finland is represented in the project by the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Oulu and the Finnish Environment Institute. The University of Eastern Finland focuses on issues relating to the social acceptability of mineral exploration.





Competition reduces the quality of physiotherapy for disabled individuals organised and financed by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Piia Pekola’s doctoral dissertation shows. The dissertation is the first in Finland to analyse the effect of competition on quality in health care services.

Men with the highest serum linoleic acid levels had a 43% smaller risk of premature death in a 22-year follow-up than those with the lowest levels, according to results from the KIHD study. Linoleic acid is the most common polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. The serum linoleic acid level is determined by a person’s diet, and the main sources of linoleic acid are vegetable oils, plant-based spreads, nuts and seeds.


The ILMARI Laboratory has an excellent infrastructure for studying emissions and their adverse health effects.

International measurement campaign studies emissions in Kuopio WORKING IN the ILMARI Laboratory

analysed by novel toxicological direct

at the University of Eastern Finland,

exposure methods.

some 30 researchers from different

The one-month emissions meas-

German and Finnish research groups

urement campaign constitutes part of a

analysed the role and harmfulness of

joint project by an extensive research

different combustion-based emission

consortium. The University of Eastern

sources on air quality. The objective

Finland has been a member of the

of February’s measurement campaign

Helmholtz Virtual Institute of Complex

was to study how the chemical compo-

Molecular Systems in Environmental

sition of fine particles in combustion

Health, HICE, since 2012. The institute

gas emissions and their changes in

studies the properties of human-in-

fresh air are linked to adverse health

duced emissions and their effects on the


climate and human health.

The campaign focused on emissions

HICE is coordinated and funded by

from wood combustion, diesel motors

the German Research Centre for Envi-

and the combustion of brown coal,

ronmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum

which is typical in Central Europe. The

München, which focuses on studying the

ageing of emissions in fresh air was

adverse effects of household combus-

simulated in a 29-cubic-metre ageing

tion and traffic emissions in particular.

chamber and by using a new device

Furthermore, research addressing the

that mimics fresh air photochemical

effects of changes in emissions consti-

changes at an accelerated pace. The

tutes part of the Eurochamp project of

adverse health effects of emissions were

the EU’s Horizon programme.


Market-based capitalism has entered the domain of art. The authors of the new Art and the Challenge of Markets book look at what the marketisation of art means in different parts of the world, while focusing on Europe, North America and Asia in particular. Published by MacMillan and comprising nearly 700 pages and two volumes, the book is edited by Senior Lecturer Victoria D. Alexander from the University of London together with Lecturer Samuli Hägg, Senior Lecturer Simo Häyrynen and Professor Erkki Sevänen from the University of Eastern Finland. The book also features an article by Researcher Juhana Venäläinen from the University of Eastern Finland. In addition to Alexander, the most well-known international contributors to the book include Vera L. Zolberg from the US, and Antoine Hennion and Alain Quemin from France.

MOBILEEDU ENHANCES LEARNING OUTCOMES Using the MobileEdu mobile learning application enhanced Nigerian higher education students’ learning outcomes, shows Solomon Sunday Oyelere in his doctoral dissertation. In addition, the app had a positive influence on students’ pedagogical experiences and attitudes towards studying computer science. According to the study, the app also supports computer science education through games in infrastructure-constrained societies. Oyelere developed MobileEdu to support computer science education in Nigeria.


of surveyed Finnish and Polish health care professionals think the presence of family members during cardiopulmonary resuscitations should not be a standard option in hospitals. Patients’ relatives tend to think the opposite, suggests Natalia Sak-Dankosky’s doctoral thesis.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) has been linked with high oxidative stress. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that in MDD, the bioavailability of arginine is reduced, which may impair nitric oxide synthesis and thus increase oxidative stress.

Project promoting ICT skills among older people secures significant funding THE ACADEMY of Finland granted 250,000

vative opportunities for learning ICT skills.

euros of funding to Professor of Special

The project will also design a counselling

Education Eija Kärnä for the ACCESS

concept, and make information about fixed

– Supporting digital literacy and appro-

and mobile technological solutions that are

priation of ICT by older people project

suitable for older people available.

from the H2020 More Years Better Life –

The international consortium is coordi-

Ageing and Place in a Digitising World call.

nated by the University of Siegen in Germa-

The multidisciplinary project will focus

ny, and the partners include the University

on finding ways to support the learning

of Eastern Finland, TU Dortmund Univer-

of ICT skills among older people with

sity, the University of Vienna, the National

weak technological skills. The project will

Institute on Health and Ageing in Italy, and

approach the topic from the viewpoints of

the German Institute for Japanese Studies in

special education, gerontology, sociology

Japan. The three-year project will run from

and information technology.

2018–21. In addition to Professor Eija Kärnä,

The project will study different contexts and ways of learning, and chart inno-

Kaisa Pihlainen, PhD (Education), will work on the Finnish sub-project.

NEW COLLABORATIVE PRACTICES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DECISION-MAKING Led by the University of Eastern Finland, a new multidisciplinary research project seeks to introduce new, collaborative governance practices in Finnish environmental management and policy processes. The Collaborative remedies for fragmented societies — Facilitating the collaborative turn in environmental decision-making project, or CORE for short, studies and develops models to facilitate collaboration between the authorities, citizens, companies and researchers in finding solutions to complex societal problems, such as environmental issues.

CULTIVATION OF ARCTIC BRAMBLE MOVES TO PLANT TOWERS AND PLANT FACTORIES UEF researchers have succeeded in cultivating Arctic bramble in plant towers. Compared to bed cultivation, the number of seedlings can be as much as ten times greater. Plant towers also keep weed growth under control, and they are very effective in terms of cultivation area use. The next step is to test and develop berry cultivation under LED illumination.






When on medication, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using herbal products. Many plant-based isoquinoline alkaloids inhibit drugmetabolising CYP enzymes – fatally, at worst. Kaisa Salminen studied the interactions in her doctoral thesis.

Timo Kallinen has been appointed as Professor of Comparative Religion, with a particular focus on research addressing cultural encounters and societal change. The need for information and research relating to comparative religion has grown in tandem with our society becoming increasingly multicultural.

Everyday encounters on the Finnish-Russian border shape young people’s worldviews People living in the border area have less stereotypical ideas of their neighbouring country and culture. FINNISH AND RUSSIAN children and

and culture, and everyone also has their

“The attitudes of Finnish young

young people have differing percep-

own, individual way of viewing the world

people towards Russia were relatively

tions of the border area, an international

around them. Generally speaking, it can

negative. They compared Finland and

study shows. Russian children and young

be assumed that people living in the

Russia, and for example viewed Finland

people see more similarities between the

border area have less stereotypical ideas

as clean and Russia as unclean. Smaller

Finnish and Russian sides of the border

of the neighbouring country and culture,

children tended to make fewer of these

area, whereas their Finnish peers view

thanks to their everyday experiences,”


the Russian side as more urban and less

Researcher Virpi Kaisto says.

attractive than the Finnish side.

She and Researcher Olga Bredniko-

Furthermore, the attitudes of Finnish boys towards Russia were more negative

va analysed perceptions of the Finn-

and sharp than those of Finnish girls,

analysed perceptions of the border area

ish-Russian border area among nearly

whose mental maps were more dia-

among pupils aged 10–11 and 14–15 in

260 children and young people. Images


Lappeenranta, Finland, and Vyborg,

relating to nature connect Finnish and

By using mental maps, the study

Mental maps are a way of analysing

Russian young people’s perceptions of the

how people view the world. They are

border area, while Russian young people

widely used in research addressing cities,

dren’s and young people’s perceptions

emphasised tourism and commerce in

but until now have not been used in re-

of the border area are shaped by society

their images of the Finnish side.

search addressing border areas.

Russia. “The mental maps show that chil-



global challenges are identified in UEF’s updated strategy. UEF seeks to find solutions for Ageing, lifestyles and health; Learning in a digitised society; Cultural encounters, mobilities and borders; and Environmental change and sufficiency of natural resources.

BETA BLOCKERS – LIMITED ADDED BENEFIT TO HEART ATTACK SURVIVORS? Heart attack survivors who did not take their beta blockers but took their ACE inhibitors and statins as prescribed did not have a higher death risk than those who took all three drugs, according to a 1.5-year followup study. The results were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

National culture influences perceived trustworthiness in e-commerce Culture and trust can provide insight into why online shopping is more popular in some countries than others. TRUST AND trustworthiness play significant roles when consumers shop online. According to a new study, national culture affects both consumers’ disposition to trust and their perceived trustworthiness of an online store. The study was published in the International Journal of Information Management.

CLIMATE WARMING AND PERMAFROST THAW INCREASE ARCTIC GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS Climate warming and permafrost thaw increase the release of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from sub-Arctic tundra soils, according to a doctoral dissertation by Carolina Voigt.

DEVELOPMENT OF FINLAND’S NATURE TOURISM NEEDS A SHARED VISION Foreign tourists are becoming increasingly interested in Finnish nature. However, an insufficient knowledge base constitutes an obstacle to the development of tourism and recreational services, as well as to the creation of a shared vision for them, a new study finds. Carried out in collaboration between the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the University of Eastern Finland and the Finnish Environment Institute, the study recommends cross-sectoral implementation of best practices, as well as the development of statistics and monitoring.

The study looked at consumer trust in online bookstores in Finland and China using Hofstede’s theory of national culture. To some degree, all cultural dimensions are associated with the contextually perceived trustworthiness of an online store, whereas dimensions related to collectivism versus individualism and long-term orientation seem to affect consumers’ disposition to trust. “For example, uncertainty avoidance is associated with the perceived trustworthiness of an online store. This is understandable, as consumers associate online shopping with risks re-

SMART SURFACE MATERIALS BY NOVEL METHODS Micro- and nano-scale structures inspired by nature can be used to produce smart materials for the needs of everyday life. In her doctoral dissertation, Lena Ammosova developed new fabrication methods for the production of functional polymer surfaces. These methods can be used to create self-cleaning materials, waterrepellent textiles and flexible electronics.

lated to payment and product delivery,” Researcher Heli Hallikainen says. The study involved nearly 620 online bookstore customers from Finland and China. Earlier studies have shown that these two countries represent opposite poles in terms of trust culture. “We live in a global world, and cultural factors need to be taken into consideration in e-commerce. Culture and trust can provide insight into why online shopping is more popular in some countries than others,” Hallikainen says.

WILLOWS AND ASPEN ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE Slow- and fast-growing Salicaceae species adapt to climate change, according to Katri Nissinen’s doctoral dissertation. The study analysed the phenolic chemistry and growth of creeping willow, dark-leaved willow and aspen in relation to warming, CO2 and UV radiation.





A new study finds that particularly shallow lakes will emit significantly greater amounts of methane due to increasing eutrophication and climate warming, mostly in the form of bubbles. Published in Nature Climate Change, the study was carried out at Aarhus University, Denmark. Academy Research Fellow Jari Syväranta from UEF participated in the study.

In Finland, roughly one in five girls and boys follow a special diet for either therapeutic or lifestyle reasons, Researcher Heli Parviainen says. Girls tend to follow a special diet more often than boys.

Endowed professorship in spectral imaging continues THE JUHO AND LEMPI PITKÄNEN Founda-

cence microscopy from pathological samples.

tion has granted an additional 100,000 euros

Spectral imaging allows a pathologist to

for the development of biological and bio-

see changes in a sample that could not be

medical spectral imaging at the University of

discovered in any other way.

Eastern Finland. This brings the foundation’s

“The most interesting thing about

total endowment to 400,000 euros, and the

spectral imaging projects is that we get to

endowed professorship in spectral imaging

manufacture new tools that will eventually

continues. So far, the endowment has been

benefit patients,” says Professor and Chief

used to acquire and manufacture unique,

Physician Juha E. Jääskeläinen from the

state-of-the-art equipment for spectral

University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio


University Hospital.

“The applications of spectral imaging

“The Biobank of Eastern Finland con-

are virtually endless; spectral images can

tains an extensive set of samples, and they

be taken of all organic materials that have

could be utilised here, too.”

a surface. We’ve already done imaging in

“Spectral imaging can significantly

the fields of environmental and biological

improve the quality of medical examination.

sciences, as well as in dentistry,” Professor of

It allows for quantitative and chemical data

Biological and Biomedical Imagining Mark-

to supplement a physician’s own, some-

ku Keinänen says.

times subjective, evaluations,” says Dean of

One of the more recent openings in research is multispectral imaging autofluores-

the Faculty of Science and Forestry Jukka Jurvelin.

Professor of Biological and Biomedical Imagining Markku Keinänen.

DOES LIGHT AFFECT LEARNING? UEF’s School of Computing and physics researchers are collaborating with Joensuu Teacher Training School to investigate the possible effects of light on learning. In the project, a group of 13-year-old pupils will study in facilities with computercontrolled LED lighting, and a control group in facilities with normal indoor lighting. Both groups will complete the same set of tests to see if there are differences in their performance and learning outcomes. Findings from the project will become available in 2018.

YOUNG PEOPLE SOLVE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES Young people living in Eastern Finland are looking for ways to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The action research constitutes part of the ALL-YOUTH project funded by the Strategic Research Council, seeking to facilitate the participation of young people aged between 16 and 25 in their own communities and Finnish society as a whole.

Follow science news ranging from health to business and chat with us on Twitter! @UniEastFinland #uef


A smart way to stop a silent killer What if you could prevent a stroke with your mobile phone? One in four strokes are caused by atrial fibrillation, a common and often symptomless form of cardiac arrhythmia. A new research-based company, Heart2Save, offers a mobile ECG solution enabling anyone to detect arrhythmias with their smartphone. BASED ON scientific research, the analytics software can diagnose heart arrhythmia reliably, and it can also be used on a simple handheld ECG device connected to a mobile phone via Bluetooth. “Simply press the ECG device against your chest, and it will tell you if your cardiac rhythm is normal or not,” says Helena Jäntti, PhD, a specialist in emergency medicine, who founded Heart2Save together with UEF medical physics researchers with sound expertise in signal analysis. Atrial fibrillation prevents proper blood flow in the heart, which may lead to the formation of blood clots. They, in turn, can travel to the brain and cause stroke by blocking brain arteries. However, atrial fibrillation often gives no symptoms, so it may go unnoticed until it causes a stroke. It has been estimated that two-thirds of such strokes could be prevented if atrial fibrillation was diagnosed in time and anticoagulation therapy was initiated accordingly. “Few of us have an opportunity to go to a hospital for repeated ECG screening, but a simple handheld ECG device could easily be used for heart monitoring by professionals and those at risk. This way, more people would get treatment early enough.” One in five women and one in six men are likely to have a stroke before the age of 75, so prevention is a huge concern. The company also envisages a complete service where a smart watch alerts the user of pulse irregularities and the mobile ECG device diagnoses arrhythmia and transmits the results to the doctor. The complete analytics service will be on the market at the end of this year, when medical regulatory approvals have been completed.


The Finnish school system

– a success story Finland consistently ranks at the very top of the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA. This small country is well known for its high level of education among the population, as well as for its education system that is characterised by equality. What are the factors that have contributed to Finland’s rise to the top of the list of the world’s leading education countries? According to Professor of Education and Research Director Janne Pietarinen, the success can’t be explained by a single factor alone; instead, it is all rooted in a society that values education and is a result of decades of hard work. TEXT NINA VENHE PHOTO VARPU HEISKANEN

Marianne Ahderinne is learning the secrets of the teaching profession at Joensuu Teacher Training School.


Society with a positive attitude towards education THE FINNISH comprehensive school system

“The school system can do its bit in pre-

has been characterised by equality for sev-

venting inequality, but the responsibility for

eral decades. Schools are highly homogene-

well-being and welfare needs to be assumed

ous, guaranteeing that children will receive

more broadly.”

an equally good education, regardless of where they go to school. “We see education as part of a child’s

Pietarinen points out that society’s support is crucial for the development of schools and for related research.

upbringing, and parents tend to have a high

“Our success story is rooted in the fact

regard for schools and for teachers,” Pietar-

that Finnish society has always had an en-

inen says.

couraging attitude towards education.”

The Finnish comprehensive school system also evens out families’ socio-economic differences, making sure that children will have an opportunity to engage in further study irrespective of their parents’ level of education or income. Although a growing inequality between families is a cause of increasing concern in Finland, the education system has been able to maintain its role.

We see education as part of a child’s upbringing.”


Master’s level teacher education THANKS TO the positive societal attitude towards educa-

According to Pietarinen, Finnish teachers are increas-

tion, the teaching profession is a sought-after career in

ingly skilled at planning and implementing study modules

Finland. Compared to many other countries, the profession

in a learner-centred manner.

is held in high regard in Finland. Only one in ten appli-

“Being a teacher also involves in-depth professional re-

cants gets admitted to class teacher education at Finnish

flection. Teachers need to be aware of the foundations of their


teaching and to constantly evaluate them – and they need to

“This means that those admitted are a well-selected, skilled and motivated group,” Pietarinen says.

think about pedagogical solutions that promote learning.” Student teachers practice in the university’s own teacher

Continuing to the Master’s level, Finnish teacher

training schools, where their professional development

education is strongly characterised by a research-based

is supported by guidance and peer learning. The teacher

approach, and teachers rely on research in the develop-

training schools constitute a diverse learning environment

ment of their activities after leaving university.

comprising primary school, lower secondary school and up-

“In Finland, schools are not compared against one another; instead, the activities and development of schools

per secondary school. Teaching practice and final theses are also completed in other schools in the region.

are addressed through research.” In fact, more and more research is being put into practice in schools. However, there is still room for improvement when it comes to the impact of research. “Our teachers are very autonomous. Their activities are governed by the national curriculum, but within that curriculum, they can freely experiment with new things and do what they think is best for their school.”

The teaching profession is held in high regard in Finland.”

Let the children play! OVER THE last three years, I have

Finnish teacher trainees are selected,

watched Finnish teachers in action, up

in part, on the basis of their ability to an-

close and personal.

alyse research, collaborate in groups and

I’m a father of a child who has been

connect personally with children.

attending the UEF teacher training school, I have embedded myself in the

MORE THAN any other country, Finland

school, and I have lectured to graduate

treats teaching as a Master’s degree pro-

student teacher-trainees and humanities

fession, driven by research and develop-

students from Finland and around the

ment, one that requires extended “clinical”


training in real classrooms with real chil-

I have concluded that while this is not a perfect education system, and there are plenty of problems to deal with, it is still an inspiration to the world. And I have discovered the simple

dren, with that training overseen by highly experienced master teacher-trainers. Everybody loves children, but I think Finland loves childhood a great deal, and

WILLIAM DOYLE Fulbright Scholar, Media and Education Rockefeller Foundation Resident Fellow, 2017 Scholar in Residence, University of Eastern Finland

Finnish teachers understand that children

secret of Finnish teacher training: Finland

don’t need atmospheres of stress, fear,

trains and respects its teachers better

overwork and physical confinement in

than any other nation in the world.

order to learn. Children need love, sup-

from Finnish teachers and teacher train-

port, encouragement, breaks and plenty of

ees. This insight can be Finland’s greatest

fresh air and play to thrive at school.

gift to the world.

These two factors in powerful combination – training and respect – have created a childhood education system

Finland’s great gift to me, as a father

Thanks to Finland, I have an educa-

recently ranked number 1 in the world

and as a student of education, is the

tion book coming out next year on that

by both UNICEF and the World Econom-

insight that “the work of a child is to play”.

subject, co-authored with Finnish educa-

ic Forum.

I have heard that phrase again and again

tion leader Pasi Sahlberg.


An equal school OWING TO its reliance on research, the Finnish school sys-

Teachers’ appreciative attitudes towards their pupils

tem has taken a more sustainable approach to development.

also seems to promote interaction and a feeling of belonging

“Teachers are increasingly aware of new school-related research findings. In other words, research-based information is available to them when considering how to develop their school activities.” Nowadays, school leadership is also seen as a develop-

among pupils which, in turn, has been observed to create a good school climate for meaningful learning. “Recent research shows that the warmness of Finnish teachers is one of the key factors behind the country’s success in PISA. A professional teacher will have good

ment task involving collaborative decision-making rather

interaction skills and be open to developing those skills in a

than top-down management led by the school principal.

goal-oriented manner.”

“Teachers know their pupils and their families well. Finland is moving in the direction of increasingly tailored and

The warmer the teacher’s attitude, the better the motivation and well-being of his or her pupils.

interactive teaching, and pupils are encouraged to assess and assume responsibility for their own learning.” Teachers comprehensively monitor the well-being of their pupils and, according to Pietarinen, they are getting better and better at identifying educational areas where their pupils need support. The objective is also to link learning to the everyday lives of young people. “Research shows that Finnish pupils view their teachers positively, and the interaction relationship is close and warm.”

Teachers know their pupils and their families well.”

TAKING FINLAND’S BEST PRACTICES TO SAUDI ARABIA In autumn 2017, a group of Saudi Arabian teachers completed a six-month professional development training programme in Finland, learning about the Finnish education system.

Both Alazwari and Alrowaished were impressed by the school’s student-centred approach, which for them is a new way of looking at learning and teaching. “We were surprised to see how student-centred teaching in Finnish schools is. Teachers truly trust their pupils and their abilities. In Saudi Arabia, everything starts from an analysis of teaching, not from pupils’ learning experiences,”

THE TRAINING constituted part of the University of Eastern Finland’s transnational and international education implemented through Finland University. “Finnish schools seemed completely different to ours,

Alazwari said. Alrowaished was also impressed by pupils’ agency in their own learning. “When pupils are given responsibility for their learn-

and that’s why I wanted to see them for myself,” Abdullah

ing, they find ways of learning that suit them best, and also

Alrowaished said, summing up his reasons for coming to

achieve better learning outcomes.”


According to Alazwari and Alrowaished, their visit to Fin-

Dina Alazwari, a teacher of English, concurs.

land was a rewarding one. They hope that the training funded

“My reason for coming here is that I wanted to see some-

by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education will initiate

thing new and different. I wanted to keep an open mind and

change in their home country. The idea is to implement best

find new ways of doing things back home.”

practices from Finland in Saudi Arabia, and to develop the

The Saudi Arabian teachers were trained by Finnish mentor lecturers who introduced them to the everyday life

country’s education system. “It was important to come here and see everything for

of Joensuu Teacher Training School, and taught them new

ourselves. It’s not enough to hear people talking about the

teaching methods. With the help of academic tutors from the

Finnish education system, because everything is so differ-

Philosophical Faculty, the teachers also studied the theory

ent to back home. However, we hope we can plant seeds of

behind the practices they saw being used.

change in Saudi Arabia.”


Fatty liver gives no warning signs Most of us know that excessive alcohol use is bad for the liver. However, it is much less common knowledge that you can get liver disease even if you don’t consume alcohol at all. TEXT ULLA KALTIALA PHOTO RAIJA TÖRRÖNEN

Ville Männistö and colleagues study the genetics, epigenetics and pathogenesis of nonalcoholíc fatty liver disease in a unique dataset of more than 400 bariatric surgery patients.


AS MUCH AS 30 PER CENT of the West-

Männistö works with Professor Jussi

Even moderate alcohol use is not rec-

ern population are estimated to be af-

Pihlajamäki to investigate how the in-

ommended for people with NAFLD. Some

fected by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

teractions between genetic and lifestyle

drugs can also cause more damage to the

(NAFLD), usually linked to obesity.

factors affect obesity-related diseases like

liver. However, cholesterol-lowering drugs,

NAFLD and type 2 diabetes. Their unique

or statins, don’t seem to be among them,

In NAFLD, extra fat starts accumulating

dataset comprises liver and fat tissue

according to the results from a multi-cen-

in liver cells. Fatty liver is usually symp-

biopsies and clinical data from more

tre study, including Kuopio. Statins have

tomless and may remain harmless, but it

than 400 patients that have undergone

been underused for patients with NAFLD

can also progress to NASH, non-alcoholic

bariatric surgery for weight loss at Kuopio

because their use tends to elevate liver

steatohepatitis, where fat accumulation is

University Hospital’s Clinical Nutrition

values, but the study showed that statins,

accompanied by liver inflammation, cell

and Obesity Centre.

in fact, may prevent progression to NASH.

A healthy liver contains little or no fat.

damage and fibrosis – scarring of the liver

“These patients are massively obese

tissue. The final stage is cirrhosis, a poten-

at the starting point and almost all of


tially life-threatening condition where the

them have NALFD,” Männistö says.

is a PNPLA3 gene variant carried by 40

liver functions are irreversibly compro-

“One focus of our research is how

mised. In addition, fatty liver increases

changes in fatty acid metabolism contrib-

per cent of the population in Western countries. Homozygous carriers, who have

the risk of liver cancer.

ute to the progression of the disease.”

inherited the risk gene from both parents, make up just five per cent of the popula-

“In three out of four cases, cirrhosis is only found at an advanced state. It is

OBESITY INCREASES the risk of both car-

tion, but they have 70 per cent more fat in

really important to diagnose NAFLD early

diovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.

their liver than non-carriers.

on and to identify those in whom the

These diseases are linked to NAFLD, too.

disease is likely to progress,” says Ville

The liver plays an important role in reg-

Children (PANIC) study at UEF showed

Männistö, medical doctor and postdoc

ulating blood sugar and blood lipids, and

that, combined with being overweight, the

researcher focusing on the pathogenesis

the accumulation of fat in the liver can

PNPLA3 gene variant is already linked to

of the disease.

disturb these functions. Many risk genes

altered liver metabolism in children.

“Weight loss reduces liver fat effectively, and damage to liver tissue can even be reversed in the early stages. Drugs for

The Physical Activity and Nutrition in

for NAFLD also increase type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk. Whether or not genetic risk manifests

An example of the genetic complexity behind NAFLD is a TM6SF2 gene variant. It causes fat accumulation in the liver and

NASH are also being tested in numerous

itself may depend on epigenetic mecha-

may promote progression to NASH while


nisms that regulate gene activity. They in

decreasing blood lipid levels. Thus, ideal

turn are affected by environmental factors

blood lipid levels may conceal the risk of

reliable way of predicting who will get

like diet and lifestyle. For example, the

fatty liver and NASH, which was observed

NASH and who won’t, and the diagnosis

research group recently found that insuffi-

in the PANIC study as well.

requires a liver biopsy, which can’t be

cient folate intake was associated with epi-

taken from all fatty liver patients.”

genetic changes in diabetes-related genes

linked to more severe liver disease, but it

“However, at the moment there is no

“Other gene variants have also been

in the liver. They have also shown that the

remains to be seen how genetic informa-


diabetes drug metformin exerts its action

tion will affect treatment choices in the

to begin with. It doesn’t always show

via epigenetic mechanisms in the liver.


in liver function tests or ultrasounds.

“Healthy dietary guidelines also

“At present, more awareness is

“Magnetic resonance elastography shows

apply in the prevention and treatment

needed of NAFLD and the risks it entails.

promise in detecting both fat accumu-

of NAFLD. Saturated fats and fructose

Diagnostics and follow-ups are just as

lation and scarring, but it’s not widely

from soft drinks are specifically known to

important in NAFLD as in other obesi-

available yet.”

increase the risk.”

ty-related diseases.”

Weight loss reduces liver fat effectively, and damage to liver tissue can even be reversed in the early stages.”


Mobile games for pelvic floor muscles Could games help with getting urinary incontinence under control? TEXT ULLA KALTIALA PHOTO BITTIUM

ONE IN FIVE working-age women suffer

pelvic floor exercising fun by integrating

from stress urinary incontinence, and the

mobile games that can be played using

problem tends to worsen with age.

one’s pelvic floor muscles.

“Pelvic floor exercises are the most

The system comes with a vaginal

important treatment. However, patients are

sensor that is wirelessly connected to a

often uncertain about whether they are

game app available for mobile phones

exercising correctly and enough. Finding

and tablets. Depending on the game, the

motivation for long-term exercise also

user can control the altitude of a plane,

constitutes a challenge,” says Olavi Airak-

move pieces of rock from one place

sinen, UEF Docent of Physical Medicine

to another, or do skateboard tricks by

and Rehabilitation and KUH Head of the

contracting and releasing pelvic floor

Department of PRM and Clinical Director


of Rehabilitation Services .

These games aim to be addictive – and for good reason.”

“Individual goals are set for exercising, and the patient can monitor the

COORDINATED BY the Polytechnic Uni-

ipated in the development of a home-

achievement of these goals while playing

versity of Catalonia, UPC, the multi-cen-

use biofeedback device, which has been

the game,” Airaksinen says.

tre trial involves a total of 300 women

To support exercising, he has partic-

designed in collaboration between Kuopio

These games aim to be addictive –

from Kuopio, Barcelona and Amsterdam.

University Hospital, the University of

and for good reason – as it takes 15 to 20

This is the largest treatment trial so far to

Eastern Finland, and the Kuopio-based

minutes of daily exercise to see results.

reduce urinary incontinence. The project

health technology company Mega

The device also sends the measurement

also includes research and corporate

Elektroniikka, now known as Bittium

data to an online platform through which

partners from Switzerland and Romania.

Biosignals. This has led to the develop-

a physical therapist can monitor the ex-

An objective of the project is to make the

ment of mobile rehabilitation in which ex-

ercise and its progress during a 14-week

treatment system available to consumers.

ercise data is transmitted to the patient’s

period. The physical therapist also calls

treatment facility. This could help reduce

the participants on a weekly basis and

to maintain good pelvic floor muscle

the number of treatment visits, which are

gives advice as needed. The results and

strength, it is important to continue exer-

time and money consuming.

cost-effectiveness of the mobile treatment

cising even after getting urinary inconti-

are compared to traditional treatment

nence under control.


completed under the guidance of a physi-

by the EU, the WOMEN UP project makes

cal therapist.

Airaksinen emphasises that in order

“After learning the correct technique, exercising is easy.”

Researchers set eyes on bio-based chemicals and biochar The bioeconomy will be our future way of living and doing things. In the bioeconomy, biochar and bio-based chemicals produced from renewable natural resources play an important role. TEXT MARIANNE MUSTONEN PHOTO TUIJA HYTTINEN

BIOMASS PROCESSING has been studied at the Kuopio Cam-

“Pyrolysis can also be used to produce bioactive compounds

pus of the University of Eastern Finland for over 15 years. The

with antimicrobial properties for the needs of pharmacology and

focus in Kuopio is on process- and molecular-level applications,

toxicology,” says Professor Jouko Vepsäläinen from the School of

differing from traditional research addressing the forest-based


bioeconomy. “Current topics of interest include the forest industry’s

IN FINLAND, the University of Eastern Finland focuses on slow

by-product and side-streams, which previously have mostly

pyrolysis, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland on fast

been used in the production of energy. Nowadays, biorefining is

pyrolysis. The Kuopio Campus is also home to expertise related

meticulously tailored, automated and controlled,” says Professor

to fast pyrolysis liquids. A key focus of development has been to

of Biomaterials Technology Reijo Lappalainen.

create analytics for liquids, gases and solid carbon fraction.

At UEF, much of the methodological expertise and process-

“The latest gas chromatography-mass spectrometry allows us

ing equipment related to biorefining is housed in the SIB Labs

to determine very small concentrations, even from complex com-

infrastructure unit.

pounds. We are able to bring out hundreds of compounds, which

“These methods are already being used in several research projects, and we collaborate with the university’s academic de-

can be identified and classified into groups,” Project Researcher Teemu Vilppo explains.

partments to find new applications,” says Docent Arto Koistinen, Director of SIB Labs.

DOCENT Olavi Raatikainen and Senior Lecturer Jenni Korhonen from the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition

THANKS TO the unit’s continuous investments in development,

have participated in the biorefining projects by analysing the

various chemical compounds and fine chemicals can now be

biological activity of thermally produced liquids.

isolated from biomass. Biochar, on the other hand, can be refined

“The objective of legislation related to food and agricultural

into products for various purification processes and soil enrich-

products as well as pharmaceutical substances is to ensure con-

ment. Biochar and biomass-based refined chemical raw materials

sumer health and safety. This is why new bio-based compounds

can turn into new commercial applications and new flows of

need to undergo strict scrutiny and why research is needed,”

income for companies.

Raatikainen says.

Right now, researchers are particularly interested in the pro-

“However, it is vital for research to have industrial applica-

duction of biochar. Globally, the scientific community has also set

tions. Research findings need to be commercialised, thus creating

its eyes on composites and biopolymers.

benefits for the domestic economy, too,” Lappalainen concludes.


Collective student identity is perhaps the most common cause of student unrest.� 20 UEF BULLETIN 2018

Students man the barricades A new book sheds light on the history of student protests in Europe. This year marks the 50th anniversary since European university students took to the streets to demand the democratisation of university administration, among other things. Starting in Paris, the student movement also showed its strength behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe. The waves of protest were felt in Finland, too, when students occupied the Old Student House in Helsinki. TEXT SARI ESKELINEN PHOTOS LEHTIKUVA AND VARPU HEISKANEN


FROM BELGIUM TO A SMALL RURAL VILLAGE IN EASTERN FINLAND Born in Belgium, Pieter Dhondt works as Senior Lecturer at the Department of Geographical and Historical Studies at the University of Eastern Finland. Specialising in university history, Dhondt came to Finland in 2005 to work as a postdoc researcher at the University of Helsinki. His research focuses on the intercultural transfer of university ideas within Europe in the 19th century, the history of academic mobility and developments in medical education, among other topics. Since 2010, Dhondt has been working at the University of Eastern Finland, and he and his family live in a rural part of Eastern Finland. “For a time, we lived in Belgium, but we wanted to return to Finland,” Dhondt says in fluent Finnish. Learning the Finnish language has helped him to integrate into the local village community.

The relationship between the university and the surrounding society is a theme Dhondt also focuses on in his new research project.

The students moved to another city and started up their own university there, by way of protest.”

“There was some collaboration between universities and state administration as early as in the Middle Ages, but nowadays collaboration is almost a given fact.”

THE GERMAN STUDENT MOVEMENT is a good example of the student protests introduced in the book. The authors have

“THE OCCUPATION of the Old Student House was an extraor-

hand-picked some interesting examples of student unrest from

dinary incident in the 1968 student unrest. During the course of

different centuries.

events, Finland’s then President Urho Kekkonen sided with the students. Moreover, the occupation of the Old Student House indeed started as a protest against the university’s administration, but developed into a symptom of the internal division of the student movement,” researcher Pieter Dhondt says. Together with Elizabethanne Boran, he is the co-editor of the Routledge book Student Revolt, City, and Society in Europe,

In Italy, for example, students at the University of Padua demanded Italian involvement in the First World War. “They looked at the war from a global perspective and felt that Italians should bear their responsibility in the war.” Furthermore, not all student protests have been initiated by students: professors have also played their part in encouraging student unrest.

focusing on the European history of student protests from medieval times to the present. The book points out that although every

WHAT IGNITES THE SPARK in student protests? One of the ques-

new generation of students thinks that they are the first ones to

tions on the researchers’ minds has been whether student protests

man the barricades, Europe in fact has a long history of student

are caused by adolescent rebellion or collective student identity.


The numerous examples found in the book show traces of both.

“One can certainly go further back than the emergence of the classical student movement at the beginning of the 19th century to find examples of collective action by students to influence society.”

“However, collective student identity is perhaps the most common cause of student unrest.” The authors also encourage students to point out injustices in the future and to man the barricades when needed. Although today’s students are sometimes accused of inadequate societal engagement,

NOT ALL STUDENT PROTESTS have been about overturning the status quo, though. In Germany, for example, students protested

the 2010s feature numerous examples of student protest. In Finland, students have organised demonstrations and oc-

against the liberal ideas introduced by the French Revolution.

cupied university buildings to oppose the country’s new univer-

According to Dhondt, the German student movement also consti-

sity legislation and cuts in student financial aid. Students at the

tutes a turning point that is indicative of a change in the relation-

University of Amsterdam, in their turn, occupied two university

ship between the university and the surrounding society.

buildings in 2015 in protest of cuts in funding for education. In

“It’s a nice example of the transition from traditional ’town and gown’ conflicts to closer relationships between the university, especially its administration, and the city or state administration.” Previously, the academic community could choose to relocate in the event of a conflict with the local administration. “In this case however, not the university as a whole, but only the students moved to another city and started up their own university there, by way of protest.”


the same year, students in the UK protested against the neo-liberalisation of the country’s education system. “In other words, today’s students are more than ready the man the barricades,” Dhondt says. He says that public sentiment towards student protests is usually more positive than towards other protests. This is partly due to students being part of society’s elite. “There is something of a paradox there.”

You sound like you – or do you? Speech is as good an identification method as a fingerprint. Nowadays, speaker recognition technology is widely used, and it has also caught the eye of con artists. TEXT MARIANNE MUSTONEN ILLUSTRATION TUIJA HYTTINEN



nen from the School of Computing has

ticipated in the recently concluded

been studying voice biometrics for more

H2020-funded OCTAVE project, which

than 15 years.

studied biometric attacks and spoofing

“Speech processing is a never-ending

attacks. The latter are familiar from Holly-

topic of research. Speech has been studied

wood films, where pre-recorded speech is

since the 1950s, and researchers have

used to trick speaker recognition systems.

focused not only on what is being said,

“The OCTAVE project made signif-

but also on who says it, in what language, where, in what kind of an environment and under which emotion,” Kinnunen explains. Moreover, the speaker’s native language, accent, dialect, gender, style, melody,

icant advances in the field’s research.

Being able to recognise the speaker on different devices is a classic problem.

Being able to recognise the speaker on

TOMI KINNUNEN Associate Professor

of these make the speaker seem like a

rhyme and word choices constitute part of what makes his or her speech individual. The shape of a person’s vocal cords

different devices is a classic problem.” A microphone, phone voice compression, data transfer and acoustics – all different person. “However, speaker recognition tech-

and the dimensions of his or her lips and

culate parameters to identify the speaker.”

nology is starting to be accurate enough

tongue affect the tone colour, which is the

It is Kinnunen’s goal and that of many

for its introduction to new applications,

most abundant source of information.

other researchers to improve the stand-

such as electronic signatures requiring

ards of speaker recognition. International

strong authentication, or teleconference


data for speaker recognition development

speaker verification.”

acoustic signals are divided into several

is freely available, and research groups all

short segments. For example, a sound

over the world are analysing it by using

tigation, however, technology can never

sample lasting for one second can be

their own methods.

fully replace humans, but instead serves

divided into 100 segments, each providing 50 different numerical values.

“All findings will eventually be

In some fields such as criminal inves-

as a tool supporting decision-making.

combined and that’s when we’ll see how

“Automated speaker recognition is never

“The sample is like a puzzle with 100

many different approaches can be taken

100% accurate, but merely gives the prob-

pieces. You can’t tell the individual pieces

to the same data. This is open science at

ability of the speaker being who he or she

apart by ear; instead, a computer will cal-

its best.”

is supposed to be.”


Strawberry diseases can be tested from plants and soil In strawberry cultivation, crop damage can be caused by plant diseases, such as crown rot and red stele. Nowadays, however, plants can be tested for diseases at the time of purchase, and it is also possible to detect diseases in a soil sample taken from the farm. The development and selection of new disease-resistant varieties also increases the yield. TEXT MARIANNE MUSTONEN PHOTOS HARRI KOKKO AND RAIJA TÖRRÖNEN

“OVER THE last few years, strawberry plant deliver-

Red stele pathogen can’t be removed from the

ies have had a number of poor plants in them, and

soil, either, and no biocides against these diseases

strawberry farmers haven’t been able to identify the

exist. This is why it is important to study and develop

disease. Yields have been poor and there have also

increasingly disease-resistant varieties of strawberry.

been incidents of total crop failure,” says Researcher

“We study the resistance of different varieties by

Harri Kokko from the Department of Environmental

pot experiments and by inoculating detached leaflets

and Biological Sciences.

in the laboratory. In pot experiments, we expose

“In the worst case scenario, farmers can lose half of their plants right at the beginning, with the rest dying in a couple of years’ time.” Strawberry plants are commonly imported into Finland from the Netherlands and Poland, among other places, and 15–20 million plants are planted every year. Red stele has been discovered in plants,

strawberry varieties to pathogenic spores and study their symptoms,” Researcher Anna Toljamo explains. “We produce clean runner material for our experiments, as infected material naturally can’t be used.” Although plant diseases are widespread, the researchers are confident that a solution will be found. “Varieties that are resistant to red stele have al-

and many farms have also been struggling with

ready been developed, but these haven’t been studied

crown rot. Furthermore, last summer’s cold and

with races of red stele that are prevalent in Finland.”

damp weather worsened the disease situation.

“Moreover, full resistance to crown rot hasn’t been achieved yet,” Researcher Mustafa Munawar says.

BY TESTING PLANTS FOR DISEASES in their country of origin, it could be ensured that only healthy

IT IS IMPORTANT for the researchers to be able to

plant material ends up on farms.

help farmers in their work. Curiosity drives them

“Our research has been ongoing for a year now. We are testing plants for diseases and helping farmers identify them. We’ve got some guidance for this work from the US, and we’re the only ones doing this in Finland.” A novel testing method makes it possible to

to uncover the genetic mechanisms behind plant diseases. “Plant diseases are a major problem, and we need to get them under control,” Toljamo says. “Strawberry farmers need expert help, but this is not something we make commercially available

identify diseases without having to isolate the plant’s

through the university. Luckily, farmers can make

DNA. The testing device is small and portable, and

use of our research findings,” says Munawar, who is

it can be used out in the field. Furthermore, the test

mainly interested in innovative molecular biology

results are ready within the hour.


There are still some reservations among farmers

“It’s great that nowadays we can do research all

about the new testing method, because there are so

year round, thanks to our LED-illuminated rooms

many different diseases. Moreover, it is possible farm-

and growth chambers. We are able to work on a

ers haven’t fully grasped the competitive advantage

continuous basis instead of having to wait for the

they could gain by testing their plants beforehand yet.

growing season,” Kokko says.

“We are also developing a method that enables the identification of hidden pathogens in the soil,” Kokko says.

OOSPORES OF RED STELE survive in soil for 15–20 years and, in the event of heavy rain and flooding, they travel in the soil and spread disease. Planting strawberry plants is expensive, and this is why it makes sense to test the soil in advance.


Plant diseases are a major problem, and we need to get them under control.”


Mustafa Munawar plans to complete a PhD and continue his research career.

Project Researcher Mustafa Munawar’s journey to becoming a researcher at UEF has been eventful. Born in Rabwah, Pakistan, he spent seven years of his childhood in Kinshasa, DR Congo, with his family. Munawar obtained his Bachelor’s degree in laboratory medicine from one of the best universities in Pakistan, and worked in another Pakistani university for around one year. “I decided to study abroad to improve my professional skills and to get a chance to do real research. I applied to different universities across Europe and was lucky to be admitted to one in Finland. In 2012, I came to Tampere University of Technology. After my Master’s degree, I realised that I should learn the Finnish language to advance in my career.” After one year of language studies, Munawar started in his current position at UEF. His work deals with recombinase polymerase amplification, which is the latest method in isothermal DNA amplification and diagnostics. The technology enables the amplification of DNA without its extraction. “The day I came to Kuopio for my interview at UEF, I was surprised by the small city centre and the low level of traffic. Later, after moving to Kuopio, I visited Puijo Tower and immediately fell in love with the view. The dense tree cover of the islands in Lake Saimaa looked like heaven to me. Moreover, the magic of the aurora borealis has made an unforgettable impression,” Munawar says. In the future, Munawar wants to complete a PhD in biology at UEF, and to continue his research career. He wants to stay in Finland, and has already applied for Finnish citizenship. “I love both Pakistan and Finland, and I want to improve bilateral research collaboration between these countries,” he says.


Does your mindset put your brain at risk? The mind matters in dementia prevention, according to Academy Research Fellow Alina Solomon. TEXT ULLA KALTIALA ILLUSTRATION RAIJA TÖRRÖNEN

ALINA SOLOMON, a medical doctor and Adjunct Professor dividing her working time between the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Helsinki, and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, studies the ageing brain, with a special focus on dementia prevention. When you take good care of your health in general, you also protect your brain. Some choices should be easy: eat healthy food, exercise, don’t smoke, use alcohol in moderation, if at all, and take your prescribed medicines to keep cardiovascular risk factors under control. But it may require more self-awareness to ward off dementia by keeping your mind active in a good way and by paying attention to how your mindset affects your lifestyle habits. How to cope with stress is a good example. “Stress can be a positive force that helps you to stay motivated and get things done. But you have to be aware of your personal limits. Too much stress and too little recovery is a risk,” Solomon says.

IN THE FINNISH CAIDE STUDY, people who reported higher work-related stress at midlife were more likely to have dementia 21 years later. In MRI measurements of the brain, high work-related stress was linked to grey-matter volume atrophy within the same follow-up period. In other words, stress build-up at work could literally shrink your brain in the long run. The study was the first to focus specifically on work-related stress and long-term dementia risk. Work-related stress was measured using two scaled questions: ‘How often do you struggle to cope with the amount of work?’ and ‘How often are you bothered by constant hurry at work?’ Interestingly, it was the time pressure and not work demands as such that seemed to increase dementia risk. Other studies have found that higher work demands may even have a protective effect. “It probably makes a difference if your work is intellectually stimulating,” Solomon says. The researchers also noticed that the link between work stress and dementia or brain atrophy was only limited to the first follow-up. In a 30-year follow-up, the statistical association could not be found anymore. “This may mean there’s a critical time window when work-related stress can be especially harmful.” “This finding is something to consider when the retirement age is being raised and people are exposed to work-related stress for longer than before. Well-being at work becomes all the more important,” Solomon points out.


It was the time pressure and not work demands as such that seemed to increase dementia risk.

Stress build-up at work could literally shrink your brain in the long run.

Naturally, stress is not limited to work and middle age. It may also affect the diagnostics, prognosis and treatment of memory clinic patients. “In fact, decreasing stress tolerance can be an early symptom of dementia.”

IN AN ONGOING STUDY at the Memory Clinic at Karolinska University Hospital, Solomon and her colleagues are investigating the associations between patients’ self-reported stress levels, stress biomarkers such as salivary cortisol, cognitive and daily functioning, and the impact on cognitive decline and dementia. Results may be of use in addressing stress-related factors properly in the care of ageing patients. Like stress, sleep disturbances often haunt the busy working person. In old age, one in two has sleep problems. According to a recent multi-centre study, they too may increase the risk of cognitive decline. More specifically, midlife nightmares, but not insomnia, were linked to poorer late-life cognition after accounting for lifestyle habits. In the ageing population, people with sleep disturbances, such as waking up in the middle of the night or too early in the morning and having trouble falling back asleep, had poorer cognition in a follow-up after a few years. Personality traits seem to affect dementia risk, too. “We found that people with the highest level of cynical distrust in late life had a higher risk of dementia. That is something we will study more in the future and may take into account in lifestyle interventions as well.” “A good question is how personality changes with age. You may not be able to avoid cynicism, but you can pay attention to how it affects your lifestyle habits.”

BORN IN ROMANIA, Solomon first went to Karolinska Institutet to do research, but was soon lured by Professor Miia Kivipelto to do her PhD work on cholesterol and late life condition in Kuopio. She became one of founding members of the Nordic Brain Network, a collaborative research forum led by Kivipelto and involving the three centres she now works in.  “The network makes it possible to be involved in a variety of multidisciplinary research projects focusing on dementia prevention. Starting from observational studies, we have moved on to interventions and developed tools to support diagnostics and risk prediction.” An important milestone was the FINGER trial, which showed that cognitive decline can be prevented with a comprehensive lifestyle intervention – even in carriers of the APOE4 gene, a common risk factor of Alzheimer’s disease. Intervention trials based on the FINGER model are now being launched in the USA, Singapore and China, in continuous collaboration with researchers from the original trial within the worldwide FINGERS network.

“A good question is how personality changes with age.” ALINA SOLOMON Academy Research Fellow



Preventing educational exclusion Researchers are keen to identify things that support Finnish adolescents and make them happy. TEXT NINA VENHE PHOTOS WESTEND61/LEHTIKUVA AND VARPU HEISKANEN

THE WELL-BEING of students in Finnish

al exclusion is in fact never a problem

vocational education institutions contin-

of the individual alone. Many things

students end up getting stuck, not being

ues to decline. Comprehensive support is

contribute to the phenomenon,” Lappa-

able to move forward or find their place in

unavailable from a single point of contact,

lainen says.

society,” Lappalainen says.

and information is not shared between

Furthermore, the majority of ado-

“Similarly, some very successful

The project now seeks to identify

the authorities. In the worst case scenario,

lescents continue to do really well, and

the factors that contribute to a positive

this results in students having to turn

Hakkarainen points out that a large


to dozens of different instances in their

proportion of those at risk of educational

search for support.

exclusion end up tackling their problems

“This, of course, is an extreme exam-


ple. However, it is these kinds of observa-

“There are common factors, we are certain of it.” The study will be carried out as a survey spanning at least three years among

tions that inspired us to launch our Head-


adolescents living in Joensuu. In the first

ing for Degree project,” says Postdoctoral

and Lappalainen has shown that many

phase of the study last spring, approxi-

Researcher Airi Hakkarainen, the leader

adolescents who don’t manage to face

mately 400 ninth-graders gave their con-

of the project.

their problems so well and who have risk

sent for researchers to monitor and follow

factors will attain their qualifications,

up on their educational paths.

According to her colleague, Senior Researcher Kristiina Lappalainen,

despite various challenges.

Particular attention will be paid to

the project aims to identify students’

adolescents who, based on assessments,

strengths, seeking to contribute to the

belong to a risk group.

meaningfulness of their studies and,

“People with risk factors may have

consequently, the attainment of qualifi-

mathematical difficulties, weak learn-

cations. In other words, the objective is to

ing-to-learn skills, or socio-emotional

find measures for preventing educational

problems,” Hakkarainen sums up. Her earlier research has shown that

exclusion among adolescents, which is a ticking time bomb in Finnish society. “In the public debate, educational exclusion has unfortunately been labelled as a problem of the individual. Our project seeks to highlight the fact that education-

Educational exclusion is never a problem of the individual alone.

mathematical difficulties and socio-emotional problems are the most important risk factors for dropping out of school. “However, more research evidence relating to this link is needed. We are


Kristiina Lappalainen and Airi Hakkarainen seek to find ways to prevent educational exlcusion.

I’ve witnessed such great success stories that I’m inclined to think the opposite.” also studying the association of educa-

The survey also charts young people’s

in students dropping out and other prob-

tional support with students’ perceptions

perceptions of different instances, hous-

of their strengths and student engage-

ing, adults and education, but the main


emphasis is on their strengths. “We are collaborating with local upper

proposed as a measure to prevent educa-

THE SURVEY will be carried out among

secondary education institutions, vocation-

tional exclusion. According to Hakkarain-

adolescents annually, charting experienc-

al education institutions, Ohjaamo centres

en, however, one year will not change the

es of self-efficacy, personal strengths and

– which are one-stop guidance shops for

situation for better or worse.

resources within the environment during

young people – and with the open voca-

their upper secondary or vocational

tional institute,” Lappalainen says.

education. “For this, we are using the Positive

According to her, both the researchers are very excited about the study, as the

lems,” Lappalainen says. In the public debate, extending compulsory education by one year has been

“Young people will only find their place and purpose through individual encounters and support. An extra year of school is not a solution to the problem.”

Youth Development measure, which

findings will be extremely relevant, pro-

has been introduced in the US. We will

viding valuable information for the City of

study doesn’t presuppose that educational

validate this measure among Finnish

Joensuu and Finnish society as a whole.

exclusion is something certain types of

adolescents, providing them with an op-

Both researchers emphasise that their

people will be automatically destined for.

portunity to reflect on their lives, choices


Lappalainen has been studying young

and strengths.”

of special education, they admit that the

people who are at risk of educational

significance of support is something they

exclusion for several years.

“It will be interesting to see whether the factors supporting our youth are the

think about constantly.

“I’ve witnessed such great success

same, regardless of where they are study-

“The truth is that in primary educa-

stories that I’m inclined to think the op-

ing – in other words, whether experiences

tion, support is provided in a systematic

posite. By identifying the crucial factors,

of success are created by the same factors

and planned manner to those who need it.

we’ll be able to support the individual

for students in upper secondary and voca-

In lower secondary education, unfortu-

positive development of our young people

tional education,” Hakkarainen explains.

nately, this is no longer the case, resulting

in the right way.”


Dispelix makes smart glasses available to all Founded a couple of years ago, Dispelix manufactures consumer-grade smart glasses that look and feel exactly like normal eyewear. The spin-off company is experiencing heavy growth, with several University of Eastern Finland alumni on the staff. TEXT MARIANNE MUSTONEN PHOTO VARPU HEISKANEN

“THANKS TO advances in the field’s product development, Dispelix

“There are several ways of manufacturing things. I’m interested

emerged as a spin-off from VTT Technical Research Centre of

in how to produce thousands or even millions of devices, and not

Finland, and they needed a little boost. We founded the company in

just focus on prototypes with fancy and expensive design.”

2015 following a New business from research ideas project funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, Tekes. Some of the


world’s largest companies became interested in our product, so

time to waste, as big players are already joining in the competition.

we really got a running start there,” says Professor Jyrki Saarinen from the Department of Physics and Mathematics.

“We are looking to introduce our product to the consumer market in a couple of years’ time. The Microsoft HoloLens now

“Last year, our company was listed among the 50 most promis-

costs some 3,000–3,500 euros, but the price of our product will only

ing start-ups in the world, and so far we’re the only

be a fraction of that. We tailor our smart glasses to

Finnish company on that list.”

customer needs. First we make a master and then a

Dispelix currently employs several Universi-

mould to make copies. The material of the product

ty of Eastern Finland alumni, most of them at the company’s office in Espoo. The company was also quick to open another office on Joensuu Science Park, currently employing a total of 15 people. “I obtained my PhD in nanofabrication from the University of Eastern Finland, and then moved

can be glass or plastic, for example,” they say.

This technology will change the world.”

“However, this is more than just a new product; this is an entirely new technology.” For Dispelix, the opportunity to rent the university’s devices is crucial, as the company doesn’t have to purchase any pieces of equipment on its

to the Microsoft HoloLens team working in Espoo. I participated

own. Moreover, product development no longer requires massive

in the design of the first published release, and now I’m back in

mainframe computers, as everything can be done on a laptop.

Joensuu again,” says Petri Stenberg, Site Manager of the Dispelix Joensuu office. “We seek to make thin, light, ergonomic and affordable products available to consumers,” Stenberg and Saarinen say. “This can be done with today’s technology, but it’s not easy. Currently, we can do things at a single-atom precision,” Stenberg explains. “Mass production constitutes the biggest challenge for display technology,” says Saarinen, who has also gained experience in the display technology business thorough his other company, Heptagon.

Saarinen sees smart glasses as a clear continuum of smartphones. “This is why all the world’s major electronics manufacturers are investing in this technology. Smart glasses are expected to become the next norm, just like mobile phones used to be,” he says. Smart glasses will also revolutionise work. For example, they will make it possible for less educated people to do demanding maintenance work. “As always, it is difficult to predict consumer behaviour. In any case, we are dealing with a technology that will change the world.”

Petri Stenberg and smart glasses.


Hitch-hiking on social media Ridesharing groups on social media are an example of the sharing economy. However, the downsides of the sharing economy warrant more attention, says researcher Juhana Venäläinen. TEXT SARI ESKELINEN ILLUSTRATION RAIJA TÖRRÖNEN PHOTO VARPU HEISKANEN


“What kinds of services can be produced by

In areas affected by downsized public trans-

communities, and to what extent? That’s a ques-

portation, a message to a ridesharing group can

tion we need to ask. Ridesharing is not a public

secure a ride from one’s home to the desired

service, nor can it become one. People need to

destination at the price of split fuel costs. Easy

have real possibilities to live outside metropoli-

and convenient!

tan areas,” Venäläinen says.

Traditional hitch-hiking is increasingly being

In addition to the sharing economy,

replaced by ridesharing groups on social media.

ridesharing could also be described as a form

Finnish ridesharing groups have nearly 250,000

of the solidarity economy. According to Venäläi-

members in them, with big cities and university

nen, various social and cultural trends inspire

towns boasting the largest numbers of groups.

sharing among people. For instance, many are

“To some extent, ridesharing groups focus on

concerned about the environment, trying to

routes in eastern and northern parts of Finland,

find increasingly effective solutions and cutting

where public transportation is limited,” says Juha-

down on consumption.

na Venäläinen, who studies ridesharing groups.

“Cars parked on roadsides inspired the founder of Blablacar to create a ridesharing service.”

RIDESHARING, if anything, is a good example

Ridesharing is also strongly motivated by

of the sharing economy. According to Venäläin-

the desire to cut down on fuel costs. Other forms

en, the discussion around the sharing economy

of the sharing economy can also help earn some

is linked to a wider discourse on the role and

extra money.

future of the welfare state. There is a global ten-

“This, in turn, is linked to the wider issue

dency to move in the direction of a new model

of how work is changing. It’s worth considering

where people take greater responsibility for the

whether the accepted reality in the future is

production of services.

that our livelihood comes from several smaller sources of income, such as renting out a room or driving a ‘peer-to-peer taxi’.”

NEW DIGITAL TOOLS also motivate the creation of economic communities, as they facilitate collaboration between people who do not necessarily even know one another. According to Venäläinen, the role of sharing platforms warrants increasing attention. He feels that marketisation, for example, is not discussed as much as it should be.

“Does the sharing economy really democratise economic structures, or does it consolidate economic power via digital tools? That’s a good question.” JUHANA VENÄLÄINEN Researcher


“The excitement around the sharing economy is sometimes naive and lacks critical assessment. Does the sharing economy really democratise economic structures or does it consolidate economic power via digital platforms? That’s also a good question.” The sharing economy’s various side-effects also raise concern. A concrete example can be

found in the Airbnb community, where

is something that supplements available

DESPITE CRITICISM, the sharing econo-

people specifically purchase apartments to


my is associated with plenty of goodwill

make them available for rent to those who can pay for the service. “Sharewashing is something that

“However, alternative forms of econ-

and not-for-profit mentality. In Finnish

omy can be seen as possible versions of

ridesharing groups, the sharing of a good

the world we will be inhabiting in the

feeling is emphasised.

comes up in connection with the sharing

future. For instance, what would the social

economy. If you make something avail-

consequences of the sharing economy’s

economy is whether economic activities

able at market rate and call it sharing,

expansion be?” Venäläinen asks.

are based on private gain, or whether they

there really isn’t much difference

From a legal viewpoint, the sharing

“An interesting aspect of the sharing

could be built with more regard to values.

between what you are doing and what

economy is a grey area that is often chal-

If economic activities are looked at from a

constitutes market-driven activity,”

lenged by its operators –the difficulties of

narrow perspective, what really motivates

Venäläinen says, making a critical ob-

Uber in Finland being a recent example.

people is overlooked.”


“The idea of testing boundaries is

“When ridesharing, you can share ex-

ingrained in the sharing economy. Nation

periences with an interesting person and

CRITICAL QUESTIONS should be posed.

states will have to adapt to major econom-

this exchange can turn out to be meaning-

For the time being, the sharing economy

ic developments in the future.”

ful for the rest of your life.”

Ridesharing groups on social media make it easy to meet new people.

“CERN is heaven for researchers” Collaboration between researchers from the Department of Applied Physics and the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN, dates back several years. TEXT MARIANNE MUSTONEN PHOTO RAIJA TÖRRÖNEN


is filled with artificial air made of liquid

EVEN THOUGH researchers work during

urements constitute part of the large,

nitrogen and oxygen,” Nieminen explains.

a measurement campaign in three shifts around the clock, that is often not enough:

international CLOUD project involving

TINY AMOUNTS of other gases, such

measurements have to be made over the

as sulphur dioxide produced by human

course of several years in order to obtain

have access to a large steel chamber,

activity or monoterpenes, volatile organic

sufficient data.

where we study aerosol formation under

compounds produced by plants, are

various atmospheric conditions in dif-

introduced in the chamber. These gases

measurement campaign was the 12th

ferent ways. One of the objectives of our

interact with one another, creating new

consecutive one. The University of Eastern

measurements is to create increasingly

compounds and, eventually, aerosols.

Finland has been involved ever since the

research groups from all over the world. “At CERN, we aerosol researchers

realistic climate models,” Postdoctoral Researcher Tuomo Nieminen says. Last autumn, researchers from the University of Eastern Finland spent a couple of months at CERN, and they even

“The amounts are really small, one

“In the CLOUD project, last year’s

start of the project in 2009,” Nieminen says.

billionth to one trillionth of all air mol-

“The next measurements will be

ecules, but our mass spectrometer can

conducted next autumn. Before that, we

detect that one-in-a-trillion molecule.”

of course need to define what we want

“At the moment, for example, we are

to investigate. The measurement data

took two pieces of their own measurement

studying how aerosols from forests and

generated in the project is made openly

equipment with them. One of the devices

marine aerosols differ from one another,”

accessible to all research groups. We work

was used to measure particle hygroscopic-

Postdoctoral Researcher Angela Buch-

together to plan new campaigns and dis-

ity, that is, how much water can become

holz says.

cuss our findings, and we also co-author publications.”

condensed in particles under certain

“CERN is heaven for researchers –

conditions. This provides insight into their chemical composition. A mass spec-

science is everywhere around you. One

trometer, on the other hand, was used to

can really focus on scientific research

accurately measure the mass of very small

there. The scientific community at CERN

charged clusters of molecules, providing

is also very laid-back and inclusive,”

information on their atomic composition. “The thermally insulated steel chamber has 26 cubic metres of space, and we can make precise adjustments to the temperature, relative humidity and gas mixtures. The inside of the chamber

Our mass spectrometer can detect that one-in-atrillion molecule.””

Buchholz adds. “The CLOUD project, on the other hand, is a good platform for networking. This allows us to gain international visibility and to significantly strengthen our research.”

Researcher Tuomo Nieminen working in the lab.


Biobank business still finding its form The commercial use of biobank data calls for flexible organisational and business models, says Professor of Innovation Management Hanna Lehtimäki. TEXT RISTO LÖF PHOTOS BIOBANK OF EASTERN FINLAND AND TUIJA HYTTINEN


AN IMPORTANT STEP in the commercial use of biobank

eyes set on the vast amounts of data available in Finnish

data is, according to Lehtimäki, the creation of strategic

biobanks, which, in turn, seek collaboration partners and

partnerships between biobanks and companies.

customers to further develop their activities. “Biobanks and companies have a common goal to pro-

“A strategic partnership equals long-term collaboration. If contracts are made for the short term only, biobanks

mote the development of health care and human well-being.

are just suppliers of specific data for companies, and they

Finnish biobanks are unique in that they collect a diverse

remain excluded from development activities. In long-term

set of data about patients, and this is exactly what big phar-

collaboration, expertise is accumulated not just by large

maceutical companies need for their drug development,”

companies, but also by biobanks.”

Professor of Innovation Management Hanna Lehtimäki says. Lehtimäki is a member of a UEF research group analys-

However, biobanks need to develop their business models to ensure smooth collaboration with companies. “Currently, biobanks have large institutional owners,

ing the commercial potential of Auria Biobank in an article

which tends to slow down decision-making. Taking it slow

that won a Case Centre Award last year.

has its advantages, but when collaborating with companies, determined and faster decision-making is expected,” Leh-

ESTABLISHED IN TURKU IN 2012, Auria is the first clinical

timäki says.

biobank in Finland, and a pioneer in the commercial use of biobank data. More than one-third of Auria’s research projects are linked to private sector operators, and up to 50% of the biobank’s annual expenditure is expected to be generated from collaboration with companies. “Commercial collaboration is a way to translate biobank data into activity that has social relevance. It brings dynamism to development and creates new, innovative business activities.” Lehtimäki acknowledges that personalised medicine, which is associated with biobanks, is strongly linked to the economy of expectations. “This is partly rhetoric used to create business potential and willingness to invest. There is a lot of potential, that’s for sure, but I believe that the transition towards personalised medicine will be a gradual one.”

“Commercial collaboration is a way to translate biobank data into activity that has social relevance.” HANNA LEHTIMÄKI Professor


According to Mikko Laitinen, linguistic data can provide a better understanding of humans and society.

Linguists understand society Thanks to digitalisation, new windows of opportunity have opened up for language scholars and students in languages and linguistics. New types of research materials and new processing skills are changing the ways we think about language studies. TEXT NINA VENHE PHOTO VARPU HEISKANEN

“UNIVERSITIES ARE currently investing

“When we operate online, we

and society. For example, we can analyse

in the digital humanities. I believe that

constantly leave linguistic footprints.

consumer behaviour, political aspirations,

students who understand linguistics and

These serve as a never-ending source of

or detect hate speech.”

have programming skills will have no

research material for linguists, and these

trouble finding a job in the future,” says

linguistic footprints can be utilised in


Professor of English Mikko Laitinen.

many ways outside academia,” Laitinen

is currently involved in a collaborative


project that studies linguistic data from

According to Laitinen, the core of the humanities will remain unchanged, but

“For example, two of the world’s

Twitter alongside more traditional mate-

technological advances will also turn the

most valuable companies, Facebook and

rials. In this project, researchers analyse

humanities into something digital. In the

Google, do not own anything concrete in

differences between materials that are

past, research materials were static, and

the traditional sense of things. They have

static and corpora that are updated in real

researchers spent years collecting and

merely taken into use and harnessed lin-


analysing them. Nowadays, electronic

guistic data produced by us humans.”

corpora are constantly being updated in real time. “This is collaboration between many

By mining digital masses of data, it may be possible to predict future trends. “Special skills are needed to analyse

“In my experience, the curriculum for language and culture students should include the basics of programming. This might also inspire a completely new

different fields. A linguist determines what

linguistic data. This data provides us

group of students to take up linguistics

is studied, a programmer analyses the data,

with a better understanding of humans

and language studies.”

and a visualiser can pinch in by making a visual presentation of the findings. Naturally, the more one can do on his or her own, the better the employment prospects.”

LANGUAGE IS A FOUNDATION for many things. This is something scholars of the humanities have always known, but researchers of other fields, too, are now starting to realise this.


When we operate online, we constantly leave linguistic footprints. These serve as a never-ending source of research material for linguists.”

Action-oriented research in environmental conflicts The Research Group of Responsive Natural Resources Governance has a lot to give when it comes to understanding prolonged environmental conflicts. Training is now used to put research findings into practice. TEXT SARI ESKELINEN PHOTOS IRMELI MUSTALAHTI, VIOLETA GUTIÉRREZ ZAMORA AND VARPU HEISKANEN

ENVIRONMENTAL CONFLICTS can easily escalate into

“The issues related to the governance of forests and

violence. “As researchers, it is our ethical duty to share our

land in San Pedro El Alto are very complicated, and this is

skills in order to support the communities’ ways of collabora-

partially influenced by the overlapping normative systems

tion and conflict mitigation,” Researcher Violeta Gutiérrez

that control indigenous peoples’ collective ownership of the

Zamora says.


Born in Mexico, Gutiérrez Zamora has been conducting field research in San Pedro El Alto, and she returned to Fin-

SAN PEDRO EL ALTO is just one example of the various envi-

land in early 2018. Located in south-west Mexico, San Pedro

ronmental conflicts taking place around the world.

El Alto is home to massive natural resources. Unfortunately,

“The conflict in San Pedro El Alto is multilayered and

however, the problems relating to the governance of natural

multifaceted, dating back hundreds of years,” says Professor

resources and to the use of those resources are also massive.

of Social Scientific Bioeconomy Research Irmeli Mustalahti.

The parties to the environmental conflict there include the

Mustalahti and Gutiérrez Zamora visited San Pedro El

local community and the neighbouring communities, as well

Alto for the first time in 2015. The village is one of the sites

as the regional and central government.

of research studied by UEF’s Research Group of Responsive


Located in south-west Mexico, San Pedro El Alto is home to massive natural resources, and environmental conflicts date back hundreds of years.

UNAM, as well as several other experts

munity, some from central government,

and scholars of natural resources gov-

and some from the research project.

ernance from Finland and other Nordic Natural Resources Governance in a pro-

countries. The same course will be organ-


ised again in August 2018.

conflict resolution are closely linked with

ject funded by the Academy of Finland.

the activities of the Research Group of Re-

IN THE CASE of many environmental

sponsive Natural Resources Governance at

Alto in 2015 to do field research, the local

conflicts, there is very little negotiation

the University of Eastern Finland. The case

community had recently had a serious

to be done, and conflict resolution mainly

study in Mexico constitutes part of a larger

conflict with the neighbouring commu-

comes down to establishing collaboration

research group analysing change in envi-

nities, and they asked for our support in

between the parties.

ronmental governance actors’ participation

“When we arrived in San Pedro El

resolving the situation,” Gutiérrez Zamora says.

“Environmental conflicts often date

in the various processes and instruments,

back several generations, and in many

as well as the conflicts of the processes in

cases the opposite party is not a concrete

which decisions regarding the forest and

shops were held. The participants were

person or organisation that could be

land resources are made. Furthermore,

members of the communities, represent-

brought to the negotiating table.”

justice and rights to resources are also

As a result, two participatory work-

atives of the Forest National Commission

This is why in Mexico, too, collabora-

important concepts of inquiry. The research

(CONAFOR), and forestry students doing

tion has been framed and built little by

group led by Professor Irmeli Musta-

their internship in San Pedro.

little between the parties, and the results

lahti focuses on a number of case study

are promising. However, time will tell how

countries, including Finland, Russia, Laos,

things turn out.

Nepal, Mozambique, Tanzania and Mexico.

“In our second workshop, the participants were mostly from the community of San Pedro, because the issues they want-

“In San Pedro El Alto, the participa-

Gutiérrez Zamora is writing her PhD

ed to go deeper into were more sensitive.

tory and facilitated workshops haven’t

for the research group. Her research fo-

In both the workshops, we approached

been used as a tool for conflict resolution

cuses on developing methods for conflict

conflict resolution through collaborative

before, so people were eager to expand

resolution and participation in situations

forest management and development,”

collaboration within their own community

that have escalated into violence and in

Gutiérrez Zamora explains.

and to the neighbouring communities,

which conflict resolution is difficult to

too. Women from a regional collabora-

reach due to a strong sense of injustice.

The conflict in San Pedro El Alto was presented as a case study during a course

tive project of pine needle handicrafts

in environmental governance and conflict

in particular expressed their interest in

practice in various training courses and

Her research findings will be put into

resolution held in Joensuu in 2016. Among

receiving this kind of training,” Gutiérrez


the course teachers were two Mexicans,

Zamora says.

“The objective is for our research to

Professor Mara Hernández from CIDE

Some of the funding for the work-

support the lives of people to whom this

and Lecturer Diego García Osorio from

shops in Mexico came from the local com-

kind of training is not easily accessible.”



“As researchers, it is our ethical duty to share our skills in order to support the communities’ ways of collaboration and conflict mitigation.” VIOLETA GUTIÉRREZ ZAMORA PhD Student

“The conflict in San Pedro El Alto is multilayered and multifaceted, dating back hundreds of years.” IRMELI MUSTALAHTI Professor of Social Scientific Bioeconomy Research

In August 2018, the Joensuu Campus of the University of Eastern Finland will host a course in environmental conflict resolution for doctoral and Master’s level students. The course is already the third of its kind. Organised since 2016, the courses are funded by the Nordic Forestry, Veterinary and Agricultural University Network (NOVA), and they attract participants from various countries every year. “The courses focus on collaborative approaches in conflict resolution. These methods can be used both in research and in practical conflict resolution situations,” Irmeli Mustalahti says. Funding for the courses has been secured until 2019, and they are closely linked with research carried out at the University of Eastern Finland. This year, the University of Eastern Finland will also launch two extensive projects funded by the Strategic Research Council, and the methods developed in these projects will be tested on the NOVA course. “The two projects, ALL YOUTH and CORE, seek to develop collaborative conflict resolution methods for the natural resources governance.” Professor Irmeli Mustalahti leads the working group of the ALLYOUTH project seeking to involve young people in the bioeconomy and sustainable well-being. The CORE project, on the other hand, is tasked with the development of participatory methods in environmental governance, and is led by Professor of Environmental Policy Lasse Peltonen. Both projects are linked to the Nordic and global network studying and teaching collaborative conflict resolution methods. “This is a novel way for us to integrate our strategic research projects, ALL-YOUTH and CORE, into the work of international research networks. We can make our expertise available to our international partners, and vice versa. This creates unique opportunities for the further development of natural resources governance and collaborative conflict resolution methods,” Mustalahti says.


International networks and close ties with local companies are among the strengths of Marina Kovalchuk and Mika Gabrielsson’s IBS programme, which was launched in 2014.

Heavy labour market pull The Master’s Degree Programme in International Business and Sales Management, IBS, pays particular attention to students’ working life skills. TEXT SARI ESKELINEN PHOTO RAIJA TÖRRÖNEN


STUDENT AMBASSADOR FOR INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS AND SALES MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME The Master’s Degree Programme in International Business and Sales Management is UEF’s first Master’s degree programme taught in English to have its own Student Ambassador. The newly appointed Student Ambassador, Tiia Heikkinen, is tasked with promoting the programme and reaching out to prospective students on various social media platforms. Heikkinen’s appointment as will continue until May 2018, and the programme is in good hands: “I did an internship in Hong Kong, where I worked for a Finnish company running online stores. I spent six months managing and updating the company’s various social media channels as my day-today job. After that, I wrote my Bachelor’s thesis on how to plan and

implement a successful marketing campaign on Facebook,” Heikkinen says. According to Professor of International Business Mika Gabrielsson, the director of the programme, their current and prospective students are active on social media, and that’s why the programme decided to invest in a Student Ambassador of its own. “Having our own Student Ambassador is the best way to convey what it’s really like to study on our programme. We believe that this is the most effective way to keep our stakeholders informed of the high level of our visiting scholars and own lecturers, as well as of the positive effects our collaboration with companies has on learning,” Gabrielsson says.


“Our curriculum includes a great

offer from a local company right when

amount of interaction between students

this intercultural competence in their

you are graduating? Ever since its launch,

and companies. The objective is for our

exports and international sales.”

the IBS programme has systematically

students to get a job offer from a local

developed working life connections, and

company by the time they graduate.


graduates of the programme tend to have

Moreover, company projects constitute an

national learning environment together

no trouble finding employment.

opportunity to share expertise between

with close links to local companies open

students, lecturers and visiting profes-

up new horizons and expand students’

sors,” Gabrielsson explains.

conceptions of themselves as profession-

“We also want to make an international and well-educated pool of graduates

crucial importance for companies to seize

available to our local companies,” the

This type of collaboration has

programme’s director Professor Mika

received a warm welcome from local

Gabrielsson says.

companies. Solutions created by students

to meet new people. They also provide in-

Companies operating in eastern

als of international business. “Networking events are a great way

have been implemented in practice, and

sight into how people from different cul-

Finland also greatly benefit from the

companies have also been interested in

tural backgrounds communicate with one

expertise and international connections of

hiring the programme’s graduates to a

another, how they present themselves,

the university’s staff.

commendable degree.

and how open to collaboration they are.”

“For students, university-business

“Of course, the Helsinki metropolitan

For companies, this is a new way

collaboration is a unique opportunity to

area and multinational companies have

to benefit from international business

learn real-life problem-solving skills.”

something of a head start in the race.”

expertise. Kovalchuk says that fear of the

Marina Kovalchuk, a 2016 graduate of the programme, concurs.

According to Gabrielsson, it is impor-

unknown and insecurity often prevent

tant for as many graduates as possible to

companies from seeing the possibilities of

“During our studies, we had great

find employment in eastern Finland, as


networking events with local companies,

local companies often lack staff who are

and these companies also launched many

skilled in international business.

projects in which students were invited to

“Our graduates hail from up to 18

“Companies should work on their globalisation skills and, for example, build multicultural teams. Through the uni-

participate. For me, this was an oppor-

different countries and they have com-

versity, companies have access to alumni

tunity to establish links with many Kuo-

pleted training in international sales that

who might be interested in joining these

pio-based companies, and this has been

is unique, even by global standards. It is of


very helpful for my PhD studies.”

Kovalchuk’s choice after graduation

Kovalchuk is currently writing her

was to pursue a research career. The net-

doctoral dissertation on industrial brand-

works created during her studies are now

ing, and her case studies focus on Finnish

serving her research in a range of ways.

companies that operate globally.

She also seeks to actively incorporate best

THE PROGRAMME’S development of working life connections focuses on recruitment and the sharing of expertise in particular, and both of these themes have obtained funding from the European Union.

The objective is for our students to get a job offer from a local company by the time they graduate.”

practices in her teaching. “Networking is the best single thing we can do. It is important for students to have face-to-face meetings with representatives of different companies and organisations, instead of just looking up information about local companies on the internet.”


Playing volleyball for Karelian Hurmos, Isabel Albinelli has improved her technique while in Finland. After her year as an exchange student, she would like to return to Finland at some point. “Perhaps I could do my doctoral studies in Finland.”

Italian volleyball inspiration in Joensuu The Finnish education system makes it possible to combine elite sports and studying – even for exchange students. TEXT SARI ESKELINEN PHOTO VARPU HEISKANEN

FINLAND is definitely the place to be if you

Albinelli had heard many good things

student will include social sciences, busi-

want to combine studying and doing elite

about the Finnish education system. She

ness studies and law.

sports, says Isabel Albinelli, a student and

is also a nature enthusiast, and the idea of

volleyball player from Italy. This season,

Finnish nature inspired her.

she will be playing in the ranks of Kare-

“The Finnish education system is

“I was positively surprised to discover that I can also take courses outside my own department.”

lian Hurmos, a Joensuu-based women’s

better than the Italian one, there’s no

volleyball team competing in the nation’s

question about it. In Finland, courses


first minor league. She came to Joensuu to

are interactive, whereas Italian teachers

training, away games and studying has

spend a year as an exchange student at the

don’t really ask for students’ opinions. In

been challenging at times, but luckily Al-

University of Eastern Finland.

Italy, we memorise a lot, while the Finnish

binelli’s team has shown great flexibility.

approach is more focused on assignments

As a result, she has had time to go hiking

didn’t know if would be able to continue

and essays, and students also have more

in several Finnish national parks, and she

playing in Finland. It was a surprise to find

time to prepare for exams.”

has also visited Finnish Lapland and St

“When I left for my year abroad, I

a suitable team in Joensuu,” says Albinelli,

Albinelli is also impressed by the

who is known for her strong performance

broad and multidisciplinary range of mi-

“In Levi, Lapland, our cottage was

as an opposite hitter.

nor subjects available at the University of

literally in the middle of nowhere. We got

Eastern Finland. Her year as an exchange

to do cross-country and downhill skiing,

Coming from Italy’s tough Serie B, she

Petersburg in Russia.

is fond of the Finnish volleyball culture

and we climbed to the top of a fell. We

where coaches encourage and support

even saw the Northern Lights, which was

their players.

simply fantastic.”

“In Italy, volleyball is very competitive

Although used to the bright and light

and coaches are known for their strictness. I used to think that volleyball elsewhere was not as good as in Italy, but I’ve learned many new things to improve my technique here in Finland.”

STUDYING POLITICAL science in Universitá Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan,


days of Southern Europe, coping with Fin-

Finland is definitely the place to be if you want to combine studying and doing elite sports.”

land’s dark autumn and early winter has been easier than expected for Albinelli. “The darkness wasn’t as complete as I imagined. My mood is also strongly affected by the weather, but since I have found that I can survive in Finland, I know I’ll survive anywhere.”

Promoting integration Reception centre residents often live a very constrained life. They may have to wait for their asylum decision for longer than a year, and ways to pass the time are welcome. TEXT NINA VENHE PHOTO VARPU HEISKANEN

SOME RESIDENTS ARE traumatised, and poor skills in the local language often rule out studying, vocational training or work. However, there is a need for something meaningful to do. According to Professor Jyri Manninen, the leader of the Malavika Jaikumar participated in the collection of new ideas from reception centre residents.

Learning Spaces project at the School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, his project seeks to develop services that promote learning and integration and make them available to reception centre residents. “The project collaborates with liberal adult education organisations, such as community colleges. The objective is to develop innovative and novel learning opportunities for a new target group.” Student Malavika Jaikumar has been involved in the project since the beginning, and she says that there were some initial challenges not only due to language difficulties, but also because of motivational problems and different ways of learning. “Our first idea was just to show up at reception centres, present the training and activity opportunities available, and let residents choose what they wanted to do. However, we quickly learned that it would have to be the other way around.” Their efforts got wind in their sails when reception centre residents were given the opportunity to talk about what they would like to study and learn while in Finland. “We started getting very practical ideas. All in all, we got 55 suggestions ranging from learning different sports and designing mobile apps and websites to playing music and singing. Closer interaction with Finns was also among reception centre residents’ wishes.” The project has now begun preparations to launch a multicultural music and singing course, and ways to realise other learning aspirations are also being charted.

LAST AUTUMN, a group of six international students started working in the project, all hailing from different countries. “Being foreign nationals and spending more than six months in Finland, we are ‘immigrants’ of a kind ourselves too. It is therefore easier for us to understand the sentiments of those living in reception centres. What is matter of fact for natives could be a matter of perplexity for people coming from elsewhere.” Service learning is a key component of the project, meaning that students rely on theory while doing concrete and beneficial things for the surrounding society. “We are also sending a message of lifelong learning: it’s never too late to learn new things. Learning new things also promotes integration into society.”

It’s never too late to learn new things.” UEF BULLETIN 2018 43

Researchers summarise their expertise in 100 seconds

Alternative career paths are something many doctoral graduates are increasingly having to think about.” 44 UEF BULLETIN 2018

Doctoral graduates not only have solid expertise in their research topic, but they also possess other skills that are highly beneficial in working life. TEXT ULLA KALTIALA PHOTO VARPU HEISKANEN

“DOCTORAL STUDIES have equipped me

“We also want to broaden employers’

with the skills needed to adapt to change,

perceptions of doctoral graduates and

adopt new methods, and work in different

their skills.”

teams and cultures,” says Early Stage

“Cuts in the budgets of universities

Researcher Olalla Díaz-Yáñez from the

and research institutes together with in-

University of Eastern Finland School

creasingly tough competition for research

of Forest Sciences, where she is writing

funding have reduced people’s opportuni-

her PhD on the development of forestry

ties to pursue a research career. Alter-

sector risk management.

native career paths are something many

A joint initiative of five Finnish

doctoral graduates are increasingly having

universities, the TOHTOS – Developing

to think about,” Senior Lecturer Merja

the Working Life Relevance of Doctoral

Lyytikäinen says.

Training – project, wanted to showcase the skills of doctoral students by inviting 100


students to present their expertise in vide-

are among the topics that the TOHTOS

os lasting 100 seconds. The objective of the

project has offered courses and webinars

videos and the entire project is to facilitate

on. One of the viewpoints is networking

the employment of doctoral graduates in

and how to create yourself a specialist

positions outside academia.

brand online and on social media.

The collection of videos includes 22

“The webinars offered on this topic

doctoral students from the University of

have been very interesting. Making one’s

Eastern Finland, among them Díaz-Yáñez

own expertise visible is a continuous

and university teacher Anniina Kämäräi-

process of learning and trying out new

nen. They both say that making a video

things,” Díaz-Yáñez says.

gave them a good reason to think about and list their skills and strengths in detail.

She runs her own website and is active in different social media channels, including Twitter.

“I’M INTERESTED in a research career,

“This has led to interesting discussions

but I could also utilise my expertise in

with people from outside my own field.”

data science in the private sector. Potential employers are not likely to be inter-


ested in me based on my degree alone;

TOHTOS project were obtained from a

instead, I need to tell them what else I

survey focusing on doctoral graduates’

have to offer,” Díaz-Yáñez says.

ideas of important working life skills. As

According to Kämäräinen, it is quite

ule on working life skills will be designed

be somewhere outside academia. She is

for Finnish universities, and courses from

writing her doctoral dissertation in the

the module can be included in doctoral

field of special education.


“I use discourse analysis as my research

“We know that employers are interest-

method, and it is also useful in other con-

ed in the expertise of doctoral graduates.

texts than research, such as in different

The university could facilitate these links

development projects.”

through mentoring, for example, or by

In her video, Kämäräinen also lists

asking companies for real-life issues that

the meta-skills she has learned as a

researchers could solve during summer

researcher, such as project management,

school. Networking with companies could

time management, funding acquisition,

also be a course assignment,” Lyytikäinen

creative problem-solving, tolerance of

and Väänänen say.

insecurity and interaction skills. Both Anniina Kämäräinen and Olalla Díaz-Yáñez say making a video gave them a reason to stop and think about their professional strengths.

an outcome of the project, a training mod-

likely that her career after graduation will

The TOHTOS project is coordinated

According to Coordinator Kristii-

by the University of Tampere, and the

na Väänänen, who is in charge of the

partners are the University of Eastern

TOHTOS project’s communications, this

Finland, the University of Turku, the

kind of reflection is exactly what the video

University of Vaasa and the University of

project wanted to achieve.



UEF// CAMPUSES EPIC CHALLENGE SEEKS WAYS TO SUSTAIN HUMAN LIFE ON MARS The University of Eastern Finland has participated in NASA’s Epic Challenge programme for three years already. Working together with experts from the Joensuu region and NASA, students seek ways to tackle the challenge of sustaining human life on Mars. Astronaut Charles Camarda visited Joensuu to lecture in the Epic Challenge kick-off week in March.

Skiing for 12 hours straight FINNS ARE known for their love of crazy sports,

slowest lap, the best cheer and the greatest

and forestry students are no exception. Organ-

costume,” says Ida-Sofia Laine, Coordinator of

ised for the eleventh time this year, the Räkä

International Affairs from the Joensuu Forestry

poskella (literally “snot on face”) skiing com-

Students’ Association.

petition in Joensuu kept the ski tracks behind

The competition is open to everyone. In

the campus busy. The competition has only one

addition to students, a team of forest sciences

rule: each team needs to have at least one ski

professors has a long history of entering the

on the track at all times throughout the 12-hour

competition. This year, all participants were

competition, but otherwise the only limits are

from Finland, but the competition has also

set by competitors’ imaginations.

witnessed international teams, including a team

“The competition is more about fun than serious sports. We have a range of prizes avail-

from Estonia last year. “Good skiing is followed by a good après-

able: the person skiing the fastest lap and the

ski, and we are holding our awards ceremony

team clocking the most kilometres of course

at a local restaurant later in the evening,” Laine

win a prize, but we also have a prize for the


SHARING BEST PRACTICES AT BEST+ Last November, UEF’s Joensuu Campus played host to a Blended Erasmus+ Staff Training programme, BEST+. Some thirty higher education professionals from all over Europe took part in the training, both online and on-site, seeking to find ways to enhance the international attractiveness of universities. The social programme, on the other hand, took the participants to the breathtaking views of Koli National Park, as well as to a Finnish sauna. “UEF is a young, innovative and international university, thus the perfect place to host such training,” said Project Coordinator Stefan Jahnke from European University Foundation, one of the organisers.

MORE INFORMATION ON BEST+: This year, some 280 people participated in the competition, skiing a total of 2,833 kilometres.


YEAR OF MATHEMATICAL BIOLOGY KICKS OFF IN JOENSUU The Finnish Mathematical Days is an exhibition of Finnish mathematics research and education. This year, the conference was held in Joensuu, attracting 170 scholars of mathematics from all over the world. The conference also opened the 2018 Year of Mathematical Biology of the European Mathematical Society, EMS. Mathematical biology, also known as biomathematics, seeks to model biological processes using mathematical methods.

Aino and Enni Parviainen used bare hands and gloves to press their handprints in agar. Riikka Lampinen gave advice.

Children complete Researcher Passes MANY UNITS OF THE UNIVERSITY par-

Einstein with his untamed hair, but it turned

ticipated in the Bring your Child to Work

out that the institute’s professors were

Day last November. The idea of the day was

completely normal-looking women and men

for children to see where the adults dear to

of many different ages. The children also got

them work, and what working is really like.

a taste of real research by completing their

At the A.I. Virtanen Institute for Mo-

Researcher Passes. The task list included

lecular Sciences, children and Coordinator

DNA isolation, cultivation of bacteria, mak-

Joanna Huttunen wondered what profes-

ing a solution of sugar, using a pipette and a

sors looked like. The initial idea resembled

microscope, and carrying out 3D analysis.

NOMPEL PROGRAMME SECURES FUNDING FROM THE NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERS The Nordic Master Programme in Environmental Law, NOMPEL, offered by the University of Eastern Finland, Uppsala University and UiT – the Arctic University of Norway, is the first joint Nordic programme in law to secure 200,000 euros of Nordic Master

funding from the Nordic Council of Ministers. Starting in 2019, the programme is coordinated by Uppsala University, and the Center for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law, CCEEL, is responsible for its delivery at the University of Eastern Finland.


Professor Arto Urtti has secured 1.5 million euros of funding for ophthalmic drug research to be carried out in Saint Petersburg State University in Russia. The three-year project seeks to enhance retinal drug delivery by integrating synthetic and biological materials into cells. The project in Saint Petersburg State University is a new and important opening. Previously, Urtti’s research group has hosted visiting researchers from St. Petersburg. “The retina is a challenging and important target because retinal diseases are becoming increasingly common, and we need good drugs to treat these diseases. Ineffective drug delivery poses limitations on drug development.”

BUSINESS SCHOOL JOINS AACBS The University of Eastern Finland Business School has joined AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the world’s leading network of business schools seeking to strengthen the quality of education and research in business studies. AACSB offers an accreditation, which is a way of ensuring and further developing the quality of education. The achievement of this accreditation constitutes a future goal for the Business School.


SCIENCE CAFÉS CELEBRATING FINLAND’S CENTENARY 2017 was a big year for Finland, as the country celebrated 100 years of independence. UEF marked the occasion by organising a range of public events under the auspices of the Finland 100 programme. In addition to Studia Generalia lectures and other events held in Finnish, the university also organised, for the first time, two science cafés in English. Known as Café Smart, the science cafés took place in Joensuu and Kuopio, focusing on new prospects of technology and analytics in improving people’s health, as well as the local consequences of globalisation.


– that’s how the University of Eastern Finland fared in the international IU GreenMetric sustainable development rankings. All in all, 619 universities from all over the world took part in the ranking. Last time, the University of Eastern Finland was ranked 114th. The UI GreenMetric Rankings compare universities on the basis of how well they take environmental responsibility and sustainable development into consideration in their activities.

The tongue tells it all In traditional Japanese medicine, Kampo, or tongue diagnosis, is crucial to determining a person’s health. Thanks to modern fluorescence and spectral imaging technologies, consumers will soon have access to a tongue diagnosis device they can use in the comfort of their own home. “IN MANY diseases, changes in the colour and coating of the tongue take place very early on, providing valuable clues to what’s going on in one’s body. My goal is to develop a tongue diagnosis device people can use as part of their normal health routines,” says Professor Toshiya Nakaguchi from the Center for Frontier Medical Engineering at Chiba University, Japan. Currently, a fluorescence camera and a spectral camera are needed to accurately capture the tone, coating, colour, shape and glossiness of the tongue. In the future, however, the idea is to incorporate everything in one device. “The goal is to have this available within the year. I’m collaborating with Japanese companies, and they are eagerly awaiting results,” Nakaguchi says. Nakaguchi is a veteran when it comes to visiting Joensuu. This time he is teaching an intensive course aimed at students on the Erasmus+ COSI Colour in Science and Industry Joint Master’s degree programme. “This is my third time here. Working with Professor Markku Hauta-Kasari here at UEF is great, and the spectral instruments and cameras in the laboratories are very good. Yesterday, we visited the UEF Institute of Dentistry in Kuopio and were able to collect more than 40 new spectral images of patients’ tongues. We are creating a database of these images.” “Professor Hideaki Haneishi at Chiba University secured Core-to-Core programme funding from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, JSPS, and within this framework, our collaboration with UEF will continue at least until 2022,” Hauta-Kasari explains.


Professor Nakaguchi seeks to develop a tongue diagnosis device for everyday use.

INTERNATIONAL COURSE TOWARDS LOW CARBON SOCIETY Together with their colleagues and peers from the University of Eastern Finland, students and teachers from the Catalan University of Girona and the Polish Adam Mickiewicz University learned about measures taken towards a low carbon society in Joensuu and North Karelia. Held in February, the two-week course constituted part of the Towards Low Carbon Society project funded by the Erasmus+ programme.

Award-winning Master’s thesis helps detect fake diesel Boniphace Kanyathare, MSc, graduated from UEF’s Master’s Degree Programme in Photonics with an outstanding Master’s thesis. In fact, his thesis was so good that it won the Finnish Association for Mathematics and Natural Sciences’ Best Thesis in Science Award.


MIXING KEROSENE with diesel and selling it off as the real thing constitutes a real problem in many parts of the developing world. Kerosene is often less heavily taxed than diesel, making it a lucrative target for making illegitimate profit. “The adverse effects of kerosene

proved for real field work. To perfect the sensor and make it available to the public, further collaboration with the industry is still needed.” Besides writing his Master’s thesis to an award-winning level, Kanyathare also finished the project six months ahead of

scams include engine failures, loss of rev-

the schedule, thanks to his determined

enue by the authorities and, worst of all,

attitude and support from Professor Kai

environmental pollution. In recent years, this has been a hot issue in my home country, Tanzania, and this motivated me to focus my energy on finding a solution. Ever since my childhood, it has been my heart’s desire to have a positive impact on the society I come from,” Boniphace

"Ever since my childhood, it has been my heart’s desire to have a positive impact on the society I come from." BONIPHACE KANYATHARE Master of Science

Kanyathare says.

Peiponen. “I remember having a conversation with Professor Peiponen about this idea during my first term at UEF. He later accepted, coached, guided and supervised me to the very end of my project. The support I got was overwhelming: the professors and other academic staff at

Measurements are needed to detect

UEF are great people – they come down

diesel mixed with kerosene. Kanyathare’s

to our level and relate to us like friends.

Master’s thesis showed that a handheld

ments before. For many developing coun-

This creates a special environment for

refractometer, which is readily available

tries, it is an option worth considering,”

serious students to thrive in,” Kanyathare

on the market and is normally used for

Kanyathare explains.


glucose measurements, can be used to

He has also developed another meas-

Kanyathare is currently working

differentiate between fake and authentic

urement device, and the initial laboratory

on his PhD at Suranaree University of


tests are promising.

Technology-Sut in Thailand and he plans

“The Abbe handheld refractometer

“However, further modification and

has never been used for fuel measure-

tests are necessary before it can be ap-

to return to return to Finland, possibly for postdoctoral research.



Waiting for a third culture


en years ago, I published

media seldom ask what the humanities

a column in which I wor-

have to offer, although the answer is very

ried about the existence

simple: understanding.

of the humanities in the

Now, as truly massive global chal-

midst of a big academic

lenges have surprised humankind, it is

hullabaloo. The point was

self-evident that the world needs under-

to defend traditional humanistic research

standing more than ever before, as global

against the then utilitarian trends of the

warming, new migrations of people, over-

turbocharged society. The task seemed

population, increasing inequality, etc., are

impossible then, and remains difficult to

causing anxiety and confusion. Of course,

this day. It is tricky because the differenti-

humanities can’t solve these massive

ation between the humanities and natural

problems alone, but they can collaborate

sciences, basic and applied sciences,

with other disciplines.

cultural studies and social sciences, is still

Soon after the Second World War, the

so rigorous. When you glance around the

British scientist and humanist (or hu-

academic field, you can observe border-

manscientist) C. P. Snow bravely got stuck

lines, mental walls, barriers to inspiration

into the problem of divided knowledge

and collaboration.

in his Rede Lecture “The Two Cultures”

The world is going through a period of

(1959). His main idea was that the biggest

The world needs understanding more than ever before.”

simplified utilitarianism and, consequently,

barrier to solving the major problems of

the traditional humanities, their values and

humankind is that “the intellectual life of

goals are not in great demand. The media

the whole of Western society is increas-

constantly points out humanists’ problems

ingly being split into two polar groups”:

in finding employment, along with the

scientists on one hand, and literary schol-

decreasing numbers of students choosing

ars, humanists, on the other. According

the humanities. It is often pictured as a fu-

to Snow and many scholars after him,

WHO Risto Turunen, PhD, is Professor of Literature specialising in Finnish literature.

tile discipline. However, the public debate

the way out of this annoying contradic-

rarely brings up issues that are meaningful

tion is the possibility of a third culture:

WHAT Professor Turunen is the Head of the

in these disciplines from the point of view

collaboration over the barriers of different

of societies and human existence. The



School of Humanities.

WHERE Professor Turunen works on the Joensuu Campus.


8TH KUOPIO ALZHEIMER SYMPOSIUM ON 6–8 JUNE The 8th Kuopio Alzheimer Symposium will be held

theme of the international symposium taking place

in Kuopio on 6-8 June 2018. The programme of the

on 7-8 June will be From translational research to bi-

first day – Memory Day – will be in Finnish, targeted

omarkers, treatment and prevention strategies. Follow

at researchers and health care professionals work-

the symposium on Facebook at Kuopio Alzheimer

ing with patients having cognitive problems. The

Symposium and on Twitter @KuopioAD.



The fourth Karelia Symposium has the theme Building with Wood: faster, higher, lighter. The topics of the keynote lectures will cover the environmental impacts of urban construction, challenges and

Scholars interested in Nordic networking and

opportunities of wood as a construction material,

cooperation gather together to discuss the question

and utilisation of innovative hybrid structures and

of what could be done in order for Polar Silk Road

digitalisation in light-weight building construction.

investments to use the experience of the Silk Road

The symposium will take place in Kuopio on 26

Economic Belt and provide a better scenario for the

April 2018.

Nordic countries; one of security and prosperity. The seminar will be held on Joensuu on 23–24 May.



UEF Bulletin 2018  
UEF Bulletin 2018