UEF presented awards to promising young researchers

The University of Eastern Finland presented the Young Researcher Award 2012 to Kati Parppei, PhD, Petr Obraztsov, PhD, Tiina Jokela, PhD, and Riitta Kärkkäinen, PhD (Psych.). Rector Perttu Vartiainen and Academic Rector Kalervo Väänänen selected a promising young researcher from each UEF faculty on the basis of professors’ nominations. The Young Researcher Award is a way for the university to acknowledge the achievements of promising young researchers who have earned their PhD and who are moving forward in their research career. The recipients of the Young Researcher Award were announced during the university’s anniversary celebration held on 21 March.

The historical image of the Monastery of Valaam was formed in the 19th century

The Young Researcher Award of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies was presented to Kati Parppei, PhD, whose doctoral dissertation relating to the Monastery of Valaam attracted a lot of attention. In her doctoral dissertation in the field of general history, she argues that the fascinating image of the Monastery of Valaam as the “Northern Athos” was produced in the 19th century to meet the needs of the monastery as well as power circles. She sketched the formation of the historiographical image of Valaam by tracing the roots and development of popular perceptions concerning the monastery’s early history.

Her doctoral dissertation has also been published as a version for world-wide distribution by Brill publishing house. Dr Parppei’s academic career is characterised by success in several research groups. She was recently awarded a grant to continue her research addressing the historical significance of borders in Russian historiography at the University of Cambridge, the UK.

Current research addressing graphene

The Young Researcher Award of the Faculty of Science and Forestry was presented to Petr Obraztsov, PhD, whose doctoral dissertation focused on graphene, a topic of much interest in today’s physics. Dr Obraztsov’s doctoral dissertation is devoted to experimental investigation of the properties of graphene based materials under intensive laser irradiation. The results demonstrate the possibility to use novel materials based on graphene in lasers to generate ultra-short, femtosecond pulses. These kinds of ultra-short pulse lasers can be used in optical communication, medicine and material processing.

Dr Obraztsov has played a central role in the establishment of the femtosecond laser laboratory at the UEF Department of Physics and Mathematics. Furthermore, his role in the strengthening of research cooperation between the UEF and the General Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences has been significant. He has also obtained research funding from the Academy of Finland.

New insight into the regulation of hyaluronan synthesis

The Young Researcher Award of the Faculty of Health Sciences was presented to Tiina Jokela, PhD, whose doctoral dissertation in the field of cell biology brought new insight into the regulation of hyaluronan synthesis. Hyaluronan is naturally present in many tissues of the body and its use in skin care products is also wide-spread. However, hyaluronan is also associated with inflammation and cancer progression.In her doctoral dissertation, Dr Jokela studied the regulation of hyaluronan synthesis in skin cells and she discovered a new inhibitor of the hyaluronan synthesis, mannose. Abnormal hyaluronan metabolism has been associated with many inflammations and cancers, and mannose or similar effectors may provide novel ways for treating these diseases.

Dr Jokela has received several national and international awards for her presentations. She is regarded as a skilled and efficient researcher, and she is planning on continuing her career by doing a postdoc period abroad.

Support for children’s academic self-concept

The Young Researcher Award of the Philosophical Faculty was presented to Riitta Kärkkäinen, PhD (Psych.), whose doctoral dissertation addressed children’s competence evaluations with a special focus on whether competences are considered permanent or malleable. The unique material involves competence assessments carried out by children themselves, their teachers and parents, and the results show that children were more confident about their competences than their parents and teachers.

Furthermore, the expectations of third-graders were more positive than those of sixth-graders. The results of the study can be used in the development of assessment and teaching methods that support children’s academic self-concept.

Dr Kärkkäinen is considered to be a creative and thorough researcher. She completed her doctoral dissertation in an Academy of Finland project and the dissertation attracted a lot of attention also outside Finland. After returning from a maternity leave, Dr Kärkkäinen will continue her research with a grant awarded by Finnish foundations.

For further information, please contact:

Rector Perttu Vartiainen, +358 50 301 1530

Academic Rector Kalervo Väänänen, tel. +358 40 701 1301


Publishing year: 2012

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