Chemists at the top international level

A jury assigned by the Academy of Finland has evaluated the level of Finnish chemical research. The Department of Chemistry of the University of Helsinki performed excellently in the evaluation.

Chemists at the top international level

The panelists commend Finnish chemical research in their report. It is generally of a high quality, and some units are at the top international level. The chemical sector also caters well to the needs of industry.

– Since the chemical industry is the second most important industry in Finland, it is important that basic research and education, resulting in new innovation, are carefully assessed, says Markku Räsänen, Head of the Department of Chemistry.

Material research conducted at the University of Helsinki received particular praise. It is carried out by several chemical research teams and laboratories.

– In recent years, we have invested in updating and improving the equipment in particular. That shows now in our great results, says Räsänen.

The jury considered the research infrastructure in the sector to be very good. However, it demanded a joint national strategy for maintaining the infrastructure.

– New moves must be made because the interfaces of science change on a continuous basis, says Räsänen.

– Most of our laboratories obtain funding from international sources. For example, the thin film research team led by Professor Markku Leskelä and Professor Mikko Ritala was graded as "outstanding". The team does basic research, but cooperates closely with industry. It goes without saying that their work is at the top international level.

The jury emphasises the significance of basic chemical research, its long-term planning, and taking care of financing. The carefully prepared report issues recommendations for improving the departments' internal operations and international activities. For example, attention should be paid to excessively small units in Finland and to increasing the amount of international cooperation.

The research teams at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Helsinki work at different laboratories focusing on analytical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry as well as radiochemistry and polymer chemistry. The laboratory providing chemistry instruction in Swedish focuses on computational and theoretical chemistry. The Unit of Chemistry Teacher Education and the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (VERIFIN) also operate at the Department of Chemistry.

The evaluation covered 41 national chemistry units during 2005–2009. The UN and UNESCO have designated 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry.

Chemistry Research in Finland 2005-2009. Evaluation
Report » »

International Year of Chemistry 2011 » »

Text: Minna Meriläinen-Tenhu
Photo: Veli-Matti Vesterinen
Translation: AAC Global

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