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University of Helsinki Annual Report 2004



Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry

The Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry admitted the same number of students as in 2004, that is 350. The numbers of Master’s and Doctoral degrees awarded were 194 and 28, respectively. These numbers are on par with those of the previous year.

The English-language Master’s degree programme in Forestry, the first of its kind in the University of Helsinki, was finalised and the first students will start their studies in it in autumn 2006. Similar programmes will be prepared also for food technology and agrotechnology.

One of the most significant achievements in research was the mapping of the gerbera genome. A research group from the Department of Applied Biology published a comprehensive analysis of the genetic makeup of gerbera in the Genome Research journal. For example, a gene, the metabolism products of which can be widely used in plant preservation, was found in gerbera.

The Faculty staff received several national and international awards. Professor Olavi Luukkanen received a medal of honour from the President of Sudan for his work in development co-operation on forestry. The 4th Plant Genomics European Meeting presented Roosa Laitinen, of the gerbera research group, the Most Talented Young Researcher award, and the University awarded Ilona Oksanen a prize for a high-standard doctoral dissertation, which dealt with poisonous blue-green algae.

Professor Jari Valkonen was appointed Academy Professor for a five-year term beginning in autumn 2006. Valkonen’s research group has successfully studied the potato mop-top virus and virus resistance through genomics. A teaching project in the field of plant pathology, led by Valkonen, has also enhanced the Nordic NOVA network university co-operation.

The Faculty implemented a large-scale main subject reform as a part of the Bologna process. The 38 majors were turned into 18 more wide-ranging ones. This improved co-operation between different subjects and clarified student recruitment and stakeholder communication.

Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (Vitri) celebrated its 25th anniversary. Vitri studies the conservation of biodiversity in tropical and subtropical forests in developing countries, the communal management of forests and trees, and the ecology of natural forest rehabilitation.

Jukka Kola

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Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry