New Academy Research Fellows and Postdoctoral Researchers in natural sciences and engineering – focus on international engagement and multidisciplinarity

(9th May 2010)

At its meeting on 9 May 2011, the Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering selected 19 new Academy Research Fellows and 49 Postdoctoral Researchers. The appointees will start their term in September 2011. The Research Council allocated a total of some EUR 7.4 million for the salaries of the new Academy Research Fellows and some EUR 13.7 million for the salaries of the new Postdoctoral Researchers.

The Research Council received a total of 141 applications for research posts as Academy Research Fellow by the October call deadline. The researchers selected as Academy Research Fellows have completed their doctorate no more than 3–9 years ago. The Academy Research Fellow term is five years and after their term, the researchers are normally employed in demanding tasks at universities and research institutes but also outside the university sector. In June, the Research Council will decide on separate research grants for the new Academy Research Fellows’ research costs. 

The Research Council received in all 237 applications for research posts as Postdoctoral Researcher. A three-year term as Postdoctoral Researcher can be granted to researchers who have gained their doctorate no more than four years ago. Besides salary funding, Postdoctoral Researchers are also granted funding for other purposes, such as international cooperation and mobility. Postdoctoral Researcher funding is designed to advance the professional competence and independence of promising researchers after they have obtained their doctorate.

Active international engagement and multidisciplinary approaches

Of those who received Postdoctoral Researcher funding, close on 70 per cent intend to work abroad for more than three months during their term. The majority of the new Academy Research Fellows also included an international mobility plan in their applications. One in five of the new Postdoctoral Researchers and Academy Research Fellows have a foreign background. More than one in four of the 19 Academy Research Fellows are women, whereas women account for slightly less than one-third of the new Postdoctoral Researchers. A particularly popular research field among the applicants was multidisciplinary materials science, which attracted a great number of applications in both calls. The grand challenges, such as global change and energy research, also attracted many applications. The majority of the funded research projects carry out multidisciplinary collaboration between research teams. The average age of the new Academy Research Fellows is 35 years and that of the new Postdoctoral Researchers 32 years.

The new Postdoctoral Researchers are researching e.g. the following topics:

Sören Ehlers, DTechSc, (Aalto University) will develop simulation methods for steel fractures. The methods will provide valuable applications in seafaring in cases of post-accidental strength assessment of accidentally loaded large complex structures. The current simulation methods are not reliable, even though the International Maritime Organization (IMO) tries to enforce the assessment of the post-accidental strength of ship structures.

Tiina Sikanen, PhD, (University of Helsinki) is researching thus far sparsely studied but potentially hazardous interactions of household and environmental chemicals and clinically relevant drugs by introducing the rapid and inexpensive printing technology to the construction of simple and minimally instrumented microfluidic assays on porous, paper-like substrates. This multidisciplinary research combining among others technology and pharmacy will be carried out in close cooperation between the University of Helsinki and Aalto University School of Technology.

Funding was granted to the new Academy Research Fellows for e.g. the following topics:

Hannele Korhonen, PhD, (Finnish Meteorological Institute, Kuopio Unit) investigates the effects of atmospheric aerosol particles from human activities on global warming particularly in the marine boundary layer. The research will provide the first comprehensive assessment of the cooling effect on the climate by natural aerosol sources and processes and thereby allow more certain predictions of future climate change.                                                                  

Guoying Zhao, PhD, (University of Oulu) is exploring human communicative behaviour (HCB) by means of computer vision methods. The research on human communicative behaviour will focus on analysing social emotions from facial expressions and body motions and recognising communicative actions. Dr Zhao has earlier worked as an Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher.

The printing of functional materials and devises on paper substrates has emerged alongside the traditional paper applications within the past few years. Jarkko Saarinen, PhD, (Åbo Akademi University) focuses on investigating possibilities of printed photonic devices on natural fibre-based substrates and on developing completely new paper applications. The research is expected to have importance both in academia and society with new paper applications, such as electronic displays.

More information: 

  • Decisions on Academy Research Fellows
  • Decisions on Postdoctoral Researchers
  • Postdoctoral Researchers: Science Adviser Maaria Lehtinen, tel. +358 40 147 1802, maaria.lehtinen(at), Science Adviser Johanna Törnroos, tel. +358 40 147 1807, johanna.tornroos(at), and Science Adviser Jenni Virtanen, tel. +358 40 159 1394
  • Academy Research Fellows: Science Adviser Jan Bäckman, tel. +358 40 147 1766, jan.backman(at)

Academy of Finland Communications
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