Academy of Finland awards two young researchers: Recognition Award goes to Teivo Teivainen, Incentive Award to Jyri-Pekka Mikkola

24 November 2006

On Tuesday 24 November 2006, the Academy of Finland awarded two young researchers. The Recognition Award was presented to Academy Research Fellow, Professor Teivo Teivainen from the University of Helsinki. The Academy Recognition Award is bestowed on a researcher who has contributed significantly to increasing knowledge and awareness about research and the researcher's work, to inspiring public interest in science and research and who has taken part in the public debate. The recipient of the Incentive Award was Academy Research Fellow, Docent Jyri-Pekka Mikkola from Åbo Akademi University. The Incentive Award is granted to a researcher who has shown exceptional creativity, courage or independent thinking in his or her research. The prize can be awarded for a bold or unique research idea, the unbiased crossing of scientific boundaries or the ability to take risks in research.

The prizes are awarded to Academy Research Fellows or Postdoctoral Researchers working on Academy funding. The final decisions are made by the Academy of Finland Board based on proposals submitted by the Research Councils. The prize trophy is a miniature sculpture "Path" by artist Mika Natri. The Awards were given out at the Academy of Finland's Science Gala in Helsinki. This is the fourth time the Awards have been presented. 

Teivo Teivainen is a participating researcher
This year the Recognition Award went to Academy Research Fellow Teivo Teivainen, who is constructing a theory on the democratisation of the international system. A key focus of his research is the political and social premises of global democracy and international justice. Teivainen works at the Renvall Institute of the University of Helsinki and at the National University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru. He has carried out several case studies in particular in Latin America. "At present I'm focusing especially on transnational civic movements and organisations, on how they work, how protest leads to a search for alternatives, and how this is organised," Teivainen says.

Teivainen has an interesting approach to studying civic organisations: he participates in their activities first-hand. The World Social Forum (WSF) plays a significant role in his research, Teivainen being one of the founding members of the WSF International Council. In his capacity as a researcher he also engages in critical analysis of the forum: "Personal involvement provides perspectives, for example, on how democracy can be applied to world politics, international relations and global institutions – or on what politics actually entails and to what extent civic organisations are political in nature."

Apart from his scientific activities Teivainen is also known as an active and competent debater as well as a productive author. He has also held a number of expert positions, for example as an adviser on human rights issues in South Africa and as an external reviewer for a human rights project in Colombia. Teivainen defended his doctoral thesis in 2000 and has been a researcher or visiting professor at several universities worldwide. He was appointed Professor of World Politics at the Department of Political Science of the University of Helsinki as of August 2006.

Jyri-Pekka Mikkola blazing new trails for ionic fluids
The Incentive Award was presented to Academy Research Fellow Jyri-Pekka Mikkola. The award statement emphasises Mikkola's progressive and innovative style as well as his preparedness to take risks. A versatile catalysis researcher working at the Åbo Akademi University Laboratory of Industrial Chemistry, Mikkola is especially interested in researching process development, a research field located between basic chemistry and industry. He has applied his expertise to ionic fluids, a new field of chemistry in Finland. Spearheading the field, Mikkola estimates that ionic fluids will in the future affect most processes in the chemical industry, and also in the energy industry.

As far as their composition is concerned, Mikkola describes ionic fluids as salt-like substances that have many unique features. As the name would suggest, ionic fluids are liquid over a wide temperature range. They do not vaporise and they have excellent solvency characteristics. Another typical aspect is that many chemical reactions occur faster in ionic fluids than in traditional solvents.

Some hundreds of ionic compounds have been made in the world, of which only a few are used industrially. Ever more applications are discovered for ionic fluids. They can, for example, be used in ore separation, medicine production, heat transfer, carbon dioxide recovery, production of more environmentally-friendly and affordable solar cells, as well as in fuel cells. The latest trend is to produce ionic fluids from biomaterial or natural compounds.

More information:

- Vice President (Administration) Juha Sarkio, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 9 7748 8230,
- Academy Research Fellow Teivo Teivainen, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 50 350 5120 (in Peru as from 29 October, tel. +51 1 243 2199),
- Academy Research Fellow Jyri-Pekka Mikkola, Åbo Akademi University, tel. +358 41 533 5765,
- Images on the prize recipients from Niko Rinta tel. +358 9 7748 8405 or
- Presentation videos on the prize recipients.

Academy of Finland Communications
Outi Jalonen
tel. +358 9 7748 8214


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