Professor Christina Salmivalli of the University of Turku is the winner of the Finnish Science Award 2017. The award is granted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. It was presented by Minister of Education Sanni Grahn-Laasonen during the Science Forum in Turku on Tuesday 6 June.
The Finnish Science Award is granted every second year to a Finland-based researcher or research group in recognition of significant scientific achievement. This year’s award is 100,000 euros. The Finnish Science Award was established in 1987, and this was the eleventh time the award ceremony was held during the Science Forum.
Grounds for the award:
Professor Christina Salmivalli (b. 1967) obtained a doctoral degree in psychology from the University of Turku in 1998. In 2001 she was appointed Adjunct Professor of Developmental and Social Psychology at the University of Turku. Salmivalli has worked as Junior Researcher funded by the Academy of Finland in 1999–2002, as Senior Assistant in Psychology at the University of Turku in 2002–2006, and as Academy Research Fellow in 2010–2011. She was appointed Professor of Psychology at the University of Turku in 2004. She was Professor II of Psychology at the University of Stavanger in 2006–2009 and 2009–2012. In 2011–2013 she was Associate Professor at the University of Edith Cowan in Western Australia.
Professor Salmivalli’s most central research topics in the field of pedagogical and developmental psychology include the (negative) dynamics of young people’s development, school bullying in particular, and factors explaining them.
School bullying is a topical issue in Finland year after year: bullying affects greatly the wellbeing of children and young people, their risk of social exclusion and their school days and learning results. The traditional view is that bullying is perpetrated by students against other students or by teachers against students. However, the increased use of videos and social media has created new and sometimes more difficult forms of bullying.
Antibullying efforts need research-based, effective and efficient methods. Christina Salmivalli has developed several antibullying interventions that take into account different kinds of mechanisms leading to bullying and ways to prevent them or intervene in them (incl. bystanders, perpetrators, victims and victimisation). Professor Salmivalli’s research is based on extensive and versatile data, including surveys, interviews and statistical analyses. The schools taking part in the KiVa antibullying programme will produce even more research data. Salmivalli’s work represents high-quality research that has social impact.
Professor Salmivalli has vast international networks and is a well-respected researcher in her field. She is one of the leading experts in her field. The impact and social significance of Professor Salmivalli’s intervention research are extremely important in the constantly changing world where immigration and needs for integration, especially, challenge the ways schools in Finland and elsewhere operate at the moment.
Salmivalli harnessed her research results into the school-based KiVa antibullying programme that aims to help children experiencing bullying at school. The KiVa programme is applicable even outside Finland, and it is already in use in several other countries, such as Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.
Salmivalli is widely published. She has published 108 peer-reviewed scientific articles and several hundreds of publications in Finnish (incl. three university textbooks), among other publications. Her research has gained a lot of international attention: according to Google Scholar her research has been cited nearly 14,777 times, which is a high number in her field. Her h-index is also high (Web of Science 36, Publish or Perish 54).
Salmivalli has led a number of research projects in Finland and abroad, including several projects funded by the Academy of Finland. Currently she is leading a joint project of the Academy of Finland and CONICYT, a Chilean government agency (2016–2018). Her KiVa antibullying project was also funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture in 2006–2011. Currently the Ministry is funding the Opintokamut project which, under Salmivalli’s lead, aims to promote students’ wellbeing in upper secondary education in 2014–2018.
Salmivalli was granted the Government Award for Public Information in 2004. She received the Humanist of the Year Award from the University of Turku in 2008 and the Psychologist of the Year Award in 2009. Her most important international recognitions are the European Award for Crime Prevention 2009, the Child Act of the Year 2010 and the Peace Education Award 2011.