SMART SCIENCE BY SMART PEOPLE University of Eastern Finland 2018
FINNISH EDUCATION – A GLOBAL SUCCESS STORY Equal society, equal opportunities
16 FATTY LIVER GIVES 24 TESTING STRAWBERRIES 37 SOLUTIONS TO ENVIRONNO WARNING
Weight loss reduces liver fat effectively
Gaining competitive advantage
Collaboration is key in conflict resolution
Universities and society’s changing educational needs
JOENSUU P.O. BOX 111, 80101 JOENSUU KUOPIO P.O. BOX 1627, 70211 KUOPIO SAVONLINNA P.O. BOX 86, 57101 SAVONLINNA
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.”
UNIVERSITY OF EASTERN FINLAND P.O. BOX 1627, 70211 KUOPIO TEL. +358 294 45 1111 WWW.UEF.FI/EN
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
EDITORS ULLA KALTIALA RISTO LÖF MARIANNE MUSTONEN NINA VENHE MAJ VUORRE PHOTOGRAPHERS VARPU HEISKANEN TUIJA HYTTINEN RAIJA TÖRRÖNEN TRANSLATION MAJ VUORRE LANGUAGE REVISION SEMANTIX FINLAND OY
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
DISTRIBUTION 4,000 ISSN-L 1799-0165 ISSN 1799-0165 COVER PAGE PHOTO: VARPU HEISKANEN
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
2 UEF BULLETIN 2018
A VICIOUS CIRCLE OF PAIN AND ITCH
FOCUSING ON DEMENTIA PREVENTION
FINNS SEE EDUCATION AS PART OF A CHILD’S UPBRINGING
LONG HISTORY OF STUDENT PROTESTS
THE TONGUE TELLS IT ALL
EXPERTISE IN 100 SECONDS
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 BULLETIN 2018
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.
4 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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
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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018
COMPETITION REDUCES PHYSIOTHERAPY QUALITY
HIGH OMEGA-6 LEVELS CAN PROTECT AGAINST PREMATURE DEATH
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.
NEW BOOK FOCUSES ON MARKETISATION OF ART
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,
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.
6 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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.
ARGININE BIOAVAILABILITY IS REDUCED IN DEPRESSION
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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018
HERBAL PRODUCTS MAY INTERFERE WITH YOUR MEDICATION
NEW PROFESSORSHIP TO UNDERSTAND RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY
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-
8 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018
EUTROPHICATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE INCREASE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS FROM LAKES
MANY YOUNG FINNS FOLLOW A SPECIAL DIET
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
“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
10 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018 11
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.
12 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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
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-
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.”
UEF BULLETIN 2018 13
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-
I have heard that phrase again and again
tion leader Pasi Sahlberg.
14 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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.
“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.”
UEF BULLETIN 2018 15
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.
16 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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
THE MOST COMMON NAFLD risk gene
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-
FATTY LIVER OFTEN GOES undiagnosed
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-
increase the risk.”
Weight loss reduces liver fat effectively, and damage to liver tissue can even be reversed in the early stages.”
UEF BULLETIN 2018 17
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.
LAUNCHED LAST AUTUMN and funded
completed under the guidance of a physi-
by the EU, the WOMEN UP project makes
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-
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.
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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018 19
Collective student identity is perhaps the most common cause of student unrest.â€? 20 UEF BULLETIN 2018
Students man the barricades A new book sheds light on the history ofÂ 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
UEF BULLETIN 2018 21
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
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.”
22 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Tomi Kinnu-
KINNUNEN’S RESEARCH group par-
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
IN SPEAKER RECOGNITION, recorded
data for speaker recognition development
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-
is supposed to be.”
UEF BULLETIN 2018 23
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.
24 UEF BULLETIN 2018
Plant diseases are a major problem, and we need to get them under control.”
“THE DENSE TREE COVER OF ISLANDS ON LAKE SAIMAA LOOKED LIKE HEAVEN TO ME”
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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018 25
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.
26 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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
UEF BULLETIN 2018 27
28 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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,
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-
EARLIER RESEARCH by Hakkarainen
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
UEF BULLETIN 2018 29
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
AS BOTH RESEARCHERS are scholars
Lappalainen has been studying young
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.”
30 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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
THE SECTOR IS CURRENTLY GROWING RAPIDLY, so there is no
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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018 31
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
FINLAND IS A COUNTRY OF LONG DISTANCES.
“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-
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
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
32 UEF BULLETIN 2018
“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
THE RESEARCHERS’ AEROSOL meas-
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
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
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.
34 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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
GLOBAL PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES have their
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
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
UEF BULLETIN 2018 35
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
THE UNIVERSITY OF EASTERN FINLAND
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.
36 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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
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
UEF BULLETIN 2018 37
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-
COURSES ADDRESSING environmental
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,
“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.”
38 UEF BULLETIN 2018
INTERNATIONAL APPROACH TO EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
“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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018 39
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
40 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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.
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT a job
“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.
ACCORDING TO KOVALCHUK, an inter-
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
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.
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.”
UEF BULLETIN 2018 41
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
PIECING TOGETHER THE PUZZLE of
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
“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,
42 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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
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
Training – project, wanted to showcase the skills of doctoral students by inviting 100
WORKING LIFE SKILLS AND BRANDING
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-
IDEAS FOR TRAINING TOPICS in the
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
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 BULLETIN 2018 45
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-
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+: blendedmobility.eu This year, some 280 people participated in the competition, skiing a total of 2,833 kilometres.
46 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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.
FINNISH-RUSSIAN COLLABORATION IN OPHTHALMIC DRUG RESEARCH
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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018 47
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.
48 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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.
PHOTO LEONARD SHAYO
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
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
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.
UEF BULLETIN 2018 49
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
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
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
50 UEF BULLETIN 2018
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.
4TH KARELIA SYMPOSIUM ON 26 APR
WHERE THE SILK ROAD ECONOMIC BELT MEETS THE POLAR SILK ROAD SEMINAR ON 23–24 MAY
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
Nordic countries; one of security and prosperity. The seminar will be held on Joensuu on 23–24 May.
FIND MORE EVENTS AND NEWS AT www.uef.fi/en/news-and-events
UEF BULLETIN 2018 51