Academy Research Fellows selected in biosciences, health and environmental research: very high standard of applications in 2021 call

28 Apr 2022

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment today decided to fund 22 new posts as Academy Research Fellow. The total funding comes to nearly 10 million euros.

The Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment made the Academy Research Fellow decisions emphasising the high scientific quality of the projects, a focus on international cooperation and the applicants’ rising career trajectories.

This year, the Research Council’s total funding for Academy Research Fellows comes to nearly 10 million euros. The Research Council received 176 applications, and the success rate was around 13%. Women accounted for 32% of the grantees and 49% of the applicants.

The applications were of a high quality, as illustrated by the fact that about one-third of all applications received rating 5 or 6. Professor Jussi Kukkonen, Chair of the Research Council, said: “Unfortunately, many excellent applications could not be funded.”

The aim of the five-year Academy Research Fellow funding is to provide promising researchers with wide and versatile opportunities for independent research, to support them in establishing their own research team and to enable them to advance research in their field. Academy Research Fellows are expected to have good national and international networks.

With the funding, the Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment also wants to encourage researchers to engage in broader and more diverse international cooperation.

Jussi Kukkonen said: “The Research Council was pleased to note that the applicants were engaged in increasing international cooperation, either in terms of mobility or in making new contacts. In fact, there was mobility in both directions, as researchers who have already been abroad for several years are now on their way back to Finland.”

The granted funding covers the Academy Research Fellow’s own salary. However, the funded researchers will also be invited to submit a separate application for funding to cover their research costs.

The Research Council funded several scientifically excellent researchers. Here are a few examples:

Elias Hurmekoski (University of Helsinki). Hurmekoski will investigate the scale and timing of net greenhouse gas emissions in the event of an expanding bioeconomy. In his research project, Hurmekoski will also seek forest-based mitigation measures that could provide climate benefits both in the short and the long term. The project is aimed at providing more realistic estimates of the forest sector’s contribution to the Paris Agreement by considering market dynamics and alternative carbon neutrality pathways. The methodology combines lifecycle assessment, econometric analysis, simulation modelling and future-oriented market research, including participative approaches.

Suvi Santala (Tampere University). Suvi Santala received funding to produce new information and strategies for biobased production of chemicals from lignin and carbon dioxide with breakthrough technologies. Lignin is a plant-derived polymer that constitutes 20–30% of the weight of wood. The use of lignin and carbon dioxide as renewable raw materials still presents major challenges, even though microbe-based platforms to utilise these materials are emerging. Santala’s project will address the challenges by exploiting bacterial metabolism in an innovative way, enhancing the efficiency of upgrading both carbon dioxide and lignin.

Sanna Vuoristo (University of Helsinki). Sanna Vuoristo’s research project will help improve outcomes of infertility treatments and understand the reasons behind developmental defects. Every fifth couple in fertile age suffers from involuntary infertility, and the number is increasing worldwide. Today, only about 50% of all human embryos produced in infertility clinics develop well enough to be transferred to the uterus to initiate pregnancy, while the remaining embryos stop or show developmental defects. Vuoristo’s project will combine data generated by bioinformatics, experimental embryology and human pluripotent stem cell models to better understand the development of human embryos and challenges related to human reproduction.

Inquiries and more information

Our email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname(at) 

Academy of Finland Communications
Pekka Rautio, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 040

Do you have questions or feedback for us?