Research Council for Culture and Society funds 31 new Postdoctoral Researchers

7 May 2020

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Culture and Society has granted funding for 31 new posts as Postdoctoral Researcher. The Research Council considers it important to fund scientifically talented and independent early-career researchers in the Council’s fields.

In making its funding decisions, the Research Council emphasised the importance of the high scientific quality of the application, the qualifications of the applicant, the academic and societal impact, and the renewal of science.

The Research Council’s funding for new Postdoctoral Researchers totals around 7.4 million euros. The funding period is three years and the success rate was 13 per cent. Around 61 per cent of the funded Postdoctoral Researchers are women. In all 62 per cent of the applicants were women.

Sami Pihlström, the Chair of the Research Council, commented that the competition was fierce yet again: “The funding is used to highlight top researchers of the younger generation and to support them in gaining competence as independent scientists. We put emphasis on the quality and impact of the proposed projects and their potential for scientific renewal, paying attention also to the wide range of disciplines the Research Council represents.”

In line with the Academy of Finland’s general funding policies, Postdoctoral Researchers are required to be closely connected to the Finnish scientific community so that the funding benefits Finnish research and society. The funding is intended for the Postdoctoral Researcher’s salary, personal research costs as well as international and national mobility.

Examples of funded Postdoctoral Researchers:

Jarno Hietalahti from the University of Jyväskylä studies the relationship between humour and (im)perfection by exploring both the possibilities and limitations of humour. The project asks whether an omnipotent being can have a sense of humour and whether there is room for humour in a perfect world. Hietalahti will also analyse whether we can laugh in the face of apocalypse and whether an artificial intelligence could possess a sense of humour. Human laughter frequently reflects discriminatory stereotypes, but humour can also express sympathy or solidarity. The project aims to illustrate how and why humour is a central human characteristic, and how laughter reflects the contemporary conditions and contexts of humanity. 

Lilli Kimppa from the University of Helsinki aims to examine how different kinds of auditory stimuli are learnt through repetition in dyslexia and in children with a familial risk of the disorder. Dyslexia is a common learning disability of reading and spelling, characterised by impaired auditory and especially phonological processing. However, it is not clear why dyslexia impairs auditory learning. Kimppa will study the function of neural learning mechanisms by recording dynamic changes in the neural responses to repeated stimuli of varying complexity using magnetoencephalography (MEG). Additionally, she will utilise diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to investigate which white matter fibre tracts are related to these learning mechanisms. The hypothesis is that in dyslexia the response changes to repetition of familiar and novel sounds are smaller than typically. This would indicate inefficient automatic learning and contribute to hampered reading acquisition.

Antti Lindfors from the University of Helsinki studies biohacking as a discipline of self-enhancement and a rising health and wellbeing trend of the 2010s. Lindfors combines folkloristics, linguistic and semiotic anthropology and somaesthetics, which examines the living body as a site of creative self-fashioning. The project focuses in particular on the neuroscientific causal relationships and applications of biohacking and biohackers as intermediaries and popularisers of scientific knowledge. Lindfors builds on an analysis of media materials, popular literature, interviews, questionnaires and ethnographic fieldwork. The research authorises official health-related knowledge as well as the self and health concepts in biohacking.

Jenny Paananen from the University of Turku studies the interaction between healthcare practitioners and family members of people with dementia. The subject is topical due to the ongoing crisis in elderly care in Finland and because the interactional role of family members in dementia care has previously received little attention. Paananen will analyse video-recorded data of authentic interaction in dementia units, survey data on the experienced quality of interaction, and focus group interviews to uncover institutional conceptions of family interaction. The study aims to provide information on the dynamics and challenges of family interaction in the treatment of memory disorders and promote the practical application of the results. It will produce educational materials for healthcare practitioners and the Alzheimer Society of Finland.

Inquiries and more information

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