14 new Academy Research Fellows in biosciences and environmental research

14 Apr 2010

At its meeting on 13 April 2010, the Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences and Environment selected 14 new Academy Research Fellows, who will start their term in August 2010. The Research Council allocated a total of some 5.5 million euros for research posts as Academy Research Fellow.

The Research Council received a total of 117 applications in the call that closed on 30 October 2009. Of the applicants, 63 were women and 54 men, and their average age was 41 years.

The term of Academy Research Fellows is five years. The funding covers the researcher’s salary and those selected for a research post as Academy Research Fellow may also apply for funding for their research costs from the Academy. Decisions on this funding will be made in June.

The new Academy Research Fellows will research, for instance, the following themes:

Anton Zavialov studies the assembly, structure, function and biomedical applications of surface virulence organelles in Gram-negative (GN) pathogens. In Europe, healthcare-associated inflections caused by GN bacteria account for some two million cases and 175,000 deaths annually. Each year diarrhoeal diseases claim the lives of some 2.2 million people in developing countries, the majority of whom are small children. Zavialov has gained his doctoral degree in Moscow and holds an associate professorship at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, where he works as a team leader. Zavialov will transfer to work in the research post as Academy Research Fellow at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Turku.

Miina Rautiainen studies physically-based remote-sensing applications for forest ecosystems. Assessment of many fundamental ecological problems and changes at a global scale is possible only through satellite remote sensing. Remote-sensing data is provided by the most recent satellite and airborne sensors. The PRESTO research project will link the boreal forest ecosystem structure with its spectral-angular properties by using physical-based remote-sensing models, ground reference data and optical satellite images. Rautiainen is working at the Department of Forest Science of the University of Helsinki. In 2007–2009, she worked as an Academy Postdoctoral Researcher at the Universities of Helsinki and Tartu.

The aim of Anna-Liisa Laine’s project is to understand how the host dynamics between different parasite strains is driving parasite evolution of epidemiology. In agriculture, 30–40% of the yield of crops is lost annually to plant pathogens despite the expensive protection measures used against pathogens. For this reason, it is of utmost importance to understand how parasites evolve to harm their hosts, and to learn to predict where they will occur, that is, their epidemiology. Laine works as a university lecturer at the Department of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Helsinki. She has active collaboration contacts with researchers both in the US and Australia.

Vesa Hytönen works to develop computational modelling in order to shed light on the importance of mechanical force and protein unfolding as regulators of the cell adhesion process. Hytönen’s project focuses on the role of mechanical force in cellular adhesion. The research will offer novel possibilities for applications in cancer treatment and stem cell research. Hytönen is working at the Institute of Medical Technology of the University of Tampere. His three-year term as an Academy Postdoctoral Researcher will end on 31 July 2010.
More information:

Senior Science Adviser Tiina Petänen, Academy of Finland, tel. +358(0)9 7748 8263, tiina.petanen(at)

Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Manager Riitta Tirronen
+358 (0)9 7748 8369
+358 (0)40 828 1724

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