Professors and projects selected by the Academy of Finland to the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme (FiDiPro)


FiDiPro Professor: Professor Tadeusz Iwaniec, Syracuse University, USA
Prof. Tadeusz Iwaniec is a world-class mathematician and a driving force behind major recent developments in geometric analysis and non-linear elliptic partial differential equations with their many applications.

Research project: The research project focuses on mathematical analysis and its applications in mathematical physics and biology. Prof. Iwaniec’s work can be applied in mathematical models in material science, impedance tomography and mathematical theory of statistical physics, for instance. All these will also be topics of the FiDiPro research project.

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Academy Professor Kari Astala, Finnish Centre of Excellence in Analysis and Dynamics Research, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 9 191 51453, kari.astala(at)

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen, University of Potsdam, Germany
Prof. Couper-Kuhlen is an internationally highly accomplished researcher and a leading figure in interactional linguistics and the study of prosody, whose work is foundational to the study of clause combining in interaction.

Research project: The FiDiPro research project combines the research traditions of interactional linguistics, functional-typological linguistics and cognitive linguistics. The project focuses on the syntax and pragmatics of clause combining in written and spoken language. The goal is to better understand the linkages between the form of the clause and the actions that it performs in the situation of language use in both conversation and written text.

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Professor Ritva Laury, University of Helsinki, tel. + 358 9 191 22374, ritva.laury(at)

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Scott F. Gilbert, Swarthmore College, USA
Prof. Gilbert was one of the first scientists to point out how the advances in developmental genetics enable the linking of evolution and development, an emerging field that is now known as evolutionary developmental biology. He is now one of the leading authorities in bioethics and practices related to the use of experimental animals, stem cells and cloning.

Research project: The current research of Prof. Gilbert focuses on the development and evolution of turtles, and his research is helping to make turtles one of the new key models in evolutionary developmental biology. The FiDiPro research project will explore the extent to which turtle shells share developmental genetic programmes associated with other vertebrate structures and test whether the diversity of the turtle shell may stem from similar developmental mechanisms as the diversity of organs such as hairs, scales and teeth. Concomitantly, the research should help to uncover why specific molecular pathways appear to be involved in diseases and regeneration related to bones and epithelial organs.

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Professor Mart Saarma, Institute of Biotechnology/Biomedicum Helsinki, University of Helsinki, tel. + 358 9 191 59360, mart.saarma (at)

FiDiPro Professor: Professor B. Matija Peterlin, University of California, USA
Prof. Peterlin is an outstanding scientist and has wide experience in researching immunodeficiencies and autoimmune diseases, such as BLS and AIDS. Prof. Peterlin is recognised as a world leader in his field.

Research project: The FiDiPro project is concerned to research the function of the gene product called AIRE. The AIRE (autoimmune regulator) protein controls the expression of hundreds of genes, representing a substantial subset of tissue-specific antigens that are presented to developing T cells in the thymus. However, the molecular mechanisms by which AIRE mediates its functions are still largely obscure. A special focus of the research is on mutations in AIRE, found in APECED patients, which is a congenial immunodeficiency that is rather common in Finland.

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Professor Kalle Saksela, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 9 191 26770, kalle.saksela(at)

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Kaiyun Wang, East China Normal University (Shanghai), China
Prof. Wang is a merited scientist in eco-physiology and well versed particularly in the analysis of the carbon balance of mire ecosystems.

Research project: The goal of the research project is to understand the response difference of C sink/source of the boreal forest and mire ecosystems to climate factors and managements strategies as well as to optimise the production of biofuels and timber in cost-efficient ways in order to provide effective management policies for the forest and mire ecosystems for multi-objective use, particularly in enhancing biofuel production and mitigating atmospheric CO2. Another goal is to identify environmental and socio-economic impacts of production of biofuels from forests and mires. The project is a joint effort of the Universities of Joensuu and Kuopio.

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Professor Seppo Kellomäki, University of Joensuu, tel. +358 13 251 3630, seppo.kellomaki(at)
Professor Pertti Martikainen, University of Kuopio, tel. +358 17 163 586, pertti.martikainen(at)

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Stephan Fritzsche, Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI), Germany
Prof. Fritzsche is an internationally leading expert in the field of atomic and molecular structure theory, and especially, for modelling inner-shell phenomena.

Research project: The FiDiPro project belongs to an international, rapidly developing field of synchrotron radiation and free-electron laser excited atomic, molecular and cluster physics. The research is concerned to develop, for instance, new theoretical tools for describing and analysing resonant electron emission. The research is closely linked to the development of new spectroscopic instruments and technologies.

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Professor Helena Aksela, University of Oulu, tel. + 359 8 553 1319, helena.aksela(at)   

FiDiPro Professor: Professor David Thomas, University of Wales-Bangor, UK
Prof. David Thomas is an internationally highly merited researcher in land-ocean interaction and has wide expertise in sea ice studies of key importance to Finland as well. His research activities focus on the ecology and biogeochemical processes of coastal waters, freshwater inputs and sea ice. Thomas has also led many biogeochemical studies in the Antarctic and Arctic.

Research project: The major aims of the project are to establish a biogeochemical study of the Baltic from catchments to the open sea to investigate how inorganic and organic matter is released from terrestrial systems, transformed as it passes through freshwaters before being released to coastal waters. The project is concerned to investigate the effects of this matter on biological activity, composition of the food web and biomass of the standing stocks in the sea.

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Leading Research Scientist Riitta Autio, Finnish Institute of Marine Research, tel. +358 9 61394 561, riitta.autio(at)

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Matti Hämäläinen, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, USA
Prof. Matti Hämäläinen is one of the pioneer developers of magnetoencephalography. His findings include the introduction of the minimum-norm estimate, a novel and since then in the whole neuromagnetism community widely used way to avoid numerical instability in the solution of the MEG/EEG forward problem with the boundary-element method. Together with his colleagues he has introduced the first whole-head neuromagnetometer.

Research project: The rapidly developing field of human brain imaging is providing important new information about the brain basis of sensory and cognitive functions as well as of their disorders. The FiDiPro research project will combine information obtained by magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEC) that both provide millisecond time resolution with the millimetre-scale spatial resolution of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The research will provide better tools to help analyse the rapidly varying co-activation of different brain areas both in healthy and diseased brains.

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Professor Riitta Hari, Helsinki University of Technology, tel. +358 9 451 2959, hari(at)

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Erik Aurell, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
Prof. Aurell’s research interests concern the relationship between physical, computational and biological systems, especially systems biology and distributed communication systems.

Research project: The advanced concepts and techniques developed in the field of statistical physics have in recent years been turned into powerful tools for the modelling and analysis of large, distributed systems also outside of the traditional domains of physics, for example in the study of information and communication networks and the models of systems biology. The research project brings together top researchers and research units to advance this fertile and highly active area spanning computer science, physics and computational aspects of biology.  

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Professor Pekka Orponen, Helsinki University of Technology, tel. +358 9 451 5246, pekka.orponen(at)

FiDiPro Professor: Prof. Günter Steinmeyer, Max-Born-Institut für Nichtlineare Optik und Kurzzeitspektroskopie, Germany
Professor Günter Steinmeyer is a top-class researcher with recognised expertise in extreme nonlinear optical phenomena and ultrafast laser sources. In particular, his work at MBI has lead to the demonstration of the shortest pulses ever generated with chirped mirrors (3.8 femtosecond) and has given rise to several novel design concepts for these chirped mirrors. 

Research project: In the research project a new avenue for the generation of phase-stable and intense femtosecond pulses is proposed , consisting of a phase-stabilized 100 kHz laser system with subsequent compression stage. This source consists of a short-pulse oscillator that delivers 2.5-cycle pulses with nJ energies and an amplifier stage that allows to reach several microjoules of energy with similar pulse duration after compression. Both sources can be directly applied for experiments on nonlinear propagation in different types of fibers and photonic crystal structures.

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Professor Markus Pessa, Tampere University of Technology , markus.pessa (at)

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Dan Hultmark, Umeå Centre for Molecular Pathogenesis, Sweden
Prof. Hultmark is a world leader in the field of Drosophila immunity and a top expert in fly genetics. Recently, Hultmark has in his studies focused on the cell-based immune response and described signalling pathways that activate hemocytes.

Research project: Infectious diseases are still the leading cause of death among young children worldwide, and the malfunctioning immune system can cause severe damage to the target tissue. Therefore it is necessary to develop new innovative ways to study immune response. The specific aim of the FiDiPro research project is to identify new genes involved in innate immune signalling. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is used as an efficient system to identify novel genes involved in immune response.  

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Professor Olli Silvennoinen, Institute of Medical Technology, University of Tampere, tel. +358 3 215 7845, olli.silvennoinen(at)

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Peter Kivisto, Augustana College, USA
Prof. Kivisto is a theorist and historical sociologist. A particular focus of his research has been on multiculturalism and, in recent years, also on dual citizenship. In his studies, he seeks to draft a theory of multicultural incorporation that is founded on a substantial empirical base derived from a comparative examination of a number of liberal democratic societies in s historical perspective. 

Research project: The FiDiPro research project will call for further theoretical refinement, linking the significance of transnationalism and citizenship to multiculturalism. The project is primarily sociological, focusing on developments in advanced industrialised nations during the past 25 years. It is framed historically, compared and contrasted with the major migration waves of the later 19th and early 20th centuries.

Finnish contact person and host organisation: Professor Auvo Kostiainen, University of Turku, tel. + 358 2 333 5235, auvo.kostiainen(at)


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