There are 11 HELSUS professors. In addition to the Institute they are affiliated to the founding Faculties of HELSUS. One professorship is a joint position on Sustainable food systems together with the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
Sanna Ala-Mantila is an Assistant Professor of sustainable urban systems at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences. Ala-Mantila’s research aims to understand how we can build and transform our cities and other urban systems into sustainable ones. She focuses on the ecological and social aspects of sustainability, and their possible inter-relations.
Sanna Ala-Mantila’s expertise is with quantitative data analysis methods and GIS-data. She wants to find out how cities can systematically utilize all available data sources when dealing with local and global sustainability challenges. Different city-level sustainability actions need to be rigorously analyzed and the most effective ones identified, finally making sure positive developments continue – a critical path that most of the current real-world sustainability projects tend to ignore.
Sanna Ala-Mantila wants to make a difference in helping cities to flourish not only in terms of productivity, but also in terms of reduced environmental pressures and increased quality of life. Reaching sustainability in cities is a complex goal, and sometimes different metrics of sustainability contradict each other. It is essential to be able to quantify and measure our sustainability-related actions and targets to understand their full extent.
In HELSUS, Sanna Ala-Mantila’s goal is to map and use interesting data sources from within various collaborating areas and learn from other researchers and their approaches. She has worked with similar issues also at city administration and ministry level. This practical understanding of actual decision-making processes and their peculiarities is one of the useful assets she brings to HELSUS. Sanna Ala-Mantila also wants to contribute to teaching sustainability by bringing students together with city actors to solve sustainability problems.
Jussi Eronen is an Associate Professor of Long-Term Sustainability Science. He has been trained as a palaeobiologist and palaeoclimatologist, but nowadays he is working on climate and biological systems spanning from the present to the future and all the way to the deep past. He is drawn towards complex system theories and networks and is also interested in socio-ecological systems that humans form together with the surrounding world. He is a founding member of BIOS, and in the core team of the Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity's Life Support Systems in the 21st Century. He is also Chair of the iCCB, integrative Climate Change Biology, together with Jason Head), part of the ETE programme, and an Associate Coordinator for the NOW database.
His research has addressed questions of how climate and ecosystems interact. He aims his research so that the results of his work are relevant for the ongoing discussion about the development of and changes in environments and ecosystems, and to the priorities of society. His research has concentrated on large-scale analysis including theoretical and computational work that can be easily applied to different areas and scales.
In HELSUS his primary goal is to develop the socio-ecological systems framework for understanding how ecology and climate change in tandem with culture and societal well-being. Preventing environmental crises from deepening will require changes in cultural and societal values, but there has been little preparation towards this. We need to understand the long roots of human-environmental systems to appreciate the complexities involved in this kind of change. Even though society is built upon natural resources that are now under threat, environmental questions are still subordinate to short-term economic considerations. Preparing for change first requires understanding its scope, then developing strategies to sustain equitable and resilient social-ecological systems. Jussi Eronen's viewpoints and past activities have been mostly global in scope. At present, he is developing new lines of research in arctic, sub-arctic and boreal ecosystems, both in time and space, although many questions remain global in scope.
Leena Järvi is an Associate professor in Applied urban meteorology at the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR) / Physics and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science. Her research focuses on urban meteorology and climate and their interaction with local air quality. She leads an urban meteorology research group which uses novel atmospheric observations and modelling to study the interaction between urban surface and the atmosphere such as greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and how they are modified by land use changes and human activities and how urban structures modify wind flow and turbulence in urban areas. Leena Järvi is PI of the ICOS (Integrated Carbon and Observation System Infrastructure) associated ecosystem station in Helsinki and board member of the International Association for Urban Climate.
Leena Järvi's aim is to be able to reduce the uncertainties related to urban meteorological, climate and air quality modelling by providing better understanding and parameters of the affecting processes. These have a great effect on people living in urban areas. One goal is also to provide recommendations on how urban areas should be planned so that they would also be climate resilient and clean for people to live in.
In HELSUS her goal is to integrate urban meteorological research with other urban research fields as urban studies are always multidisciplinary and in order to answer the challenge of the ongoing urbanisation we need to understand the urban ecosystem as a whole. She also wants to develop the urban climate teaching at the University of Helsinki so that future generations can have a wider picture of the urban processes.
Michiru Nagatsu is the Associate Professor of Inter- and Transdisciplinary Methodologies in Sustainability Science at HELSUS and Practical Philosophy, Faculty of Social Sciences.
His research area is the philosophy of science. He conducts interviews and survey-experiments to study the methodology of interdisciplinary research, in particular, sustainability-related sciences such as ecology, economics and behavioural sciences. More specifically he studies (1) how natural and social scientists manage to integrate their expertise in interdisciplinary projects, for example in building models for the management of natural resources, and (2) how to design effective frameworks for interdisciplinary collaboration, based on (1). He also studies pro-social behaviour and how to “nudge” people into adopting more sustainable lifestyle drawing on behavioural economics. Currently, Michiru Nagatsu is an Academy of Finland Research Fellow and works on the project: “Model-building across disciplinary boundaries: Economics, Ecology, and Psychology” (2016–2021). He is also an associate member of SPIN Unit, an international network for urban studies.
Michiru Nagatsu wants to make the world a more sustainable place by making a difference in the design of interdisciplinary research. There have been lots of calls for interdisciplinary sustainability studies while less attention has been paid to actual methodological challenges in combining expertise from different disciplines with various research methods and traditions. Based on empirical studies he would like to identify real challenges and keys to successful interdisciplinary sustainability sciences.
In HELSUS his goal is to facilitate interdisciplinary projects drawing on my expertise in the methodology and philosophy of science. He also wants to use his skills in connecting people to make HELSUS a vibrant research institute where people meet and come up with innovative ideas.
Franklin Obeng-Odoom is with Development Studies at the University of Helsinki, where he is Associate Professor of Sustainability Science. A Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science Professor, he leads the Global South theme. Previously, he taught at various universities in Australia, including the University of Technology Sydney where he was Director of Higher Degree Research Programmes.
Franklin's research interests are centred on the political economy of development, cities, and natural resources. His doctoral work in political economy was supervised by Frank Stilwell: a well-known public intellectual and, notably, the doyen of political economy in Australia. He studied Georgist philosophy and political economy at the Henry George School of Social Science in Chicago, USA, and worked on the institutional economics of Richard Theodore Ely and Gunnar Myrdal at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in Geneva, Switzerland.
Obeng-Odoom has made various contributions to political economy. He is the author of five books, including Oiling the Urban Economy; The Myth of Privatizing Nature; Property, Institutions, and Social Stratification; and Reconstructing Urban Economics, which is listed in the top five entries for the Egon-Matzner-Award for Socio-Economics in 2017. He guest-edited the special issue of the Journal of Australian Political Economy on 'Global Economic Inequalities and Development', a controversial analysis of which forced the International Monetary Fund to issue an official statement in defence of its policies. Obeng-Odoom is Associate Editor of the Forum for Social Economics, Editor of African Review of Economics and Finance, and Series Editor of Edinburgh Studies in Urban Political Economy.
Obeng-Odoom's research has generated modest, but meaningful, academic interest. His work is widely used for instruction at universities such as Harvard, Cambridge, and the London School of Economics. The recipient of a number of reputable research awards, Obeng-Odoom was named a Dan David Prize Scholar in 2010, a World Social Science Fellow in 2013 and, in 2015, was elected to the Fellowship of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, becoming the youngest Fellow of the oldest learned society in postcolonial Africa. Dr. Franklin Obeng-Odoom received the Patrick J. Welch Award from the Association for Social Economics in 2016 and the 2017 Kapp Prize for research that exemplifies the work of K.W. Kapp and best demonstrates the theoretical perspectives of the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy.
Christopher Raymond is a Professor in Sustainability Transformations and Ecosystem Services at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science. His research examines the multiple ways in which people value nature, and informs inclusive approaches to the management of protected areas and urban green areas. He leads the Social Values and Sustainability Transformations research group that develops inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches for eliciting social values for ecosystems and their services, and for promoting transformations toward sustainability. He coordinates the ENVISION project (funded by BiodivERsA), which aims to develop new participatory techniques for balancing diverse industry and community visions for protected area management. He also coordinates the VIVA-Plan project, which aims to develop a sustainable spatial planning framework for revitalising in-between spaces in urban areas for social inclusion, biodiversity and well-being, including safety and security.
Christopher Raymond’s broader teaching and research vision is to promote transformations toward sustainability by connecting people, place and prosperity. In terms of impact, he strives to create a paradigm shift in how diverse values of nature are considered in environmental governance, policy and planning at multiple geographic and temporal scales.
In HELSUS, Christopher Raymond is hoping to build and nurture a cross-sectoral community of practice for navigating sustainability challenges. This community will involve inter-disciplinary researchers, social entrepreneurs, industry and policy representatives, and active citizen groups. He will also be contributing to the development of University level teaching related to Environmental Change and Global Sustainability.
Laura Ruotsalainen is an Associate Professor of Spatiotemporal Data Analysis for Sustainability Science at the Department of Computer Science. Her research looks at spatiotemporal data from two viewpoints. The first goal is to develop methods for creating accurate and reliable navigation data seamlessly in every environment using consumer devices, such as smartphones. The challenges for obtaining a good navigation solution arise in places where satellite navigation (e.g. GPS) is not available, namely indoors and in urban areas with high buildings or when the satellite signals are interfered with unintentionally or deliberately. To achieve a good navigation solution using low-cost devices outputting noisy measurements, sophisticated computational methods are needed.
The second goal is to analyse this accumulating good quality navigation data for the benefit of sustainability science, especially for the development of sustainable smart cities. Both goals require the development of novel data analysis, estimation and machine learning algorithms.
Laura Ruotsalainen wants to make a difference in the quality of life in smart cities as well as safety and environmental impact of traffic. She believes her research will contribute into these important aspects by providing means for safer and less contaminating traffic via using and sharing good navigation information of all parties involved, vehicle, bicycles and pedestrians, and by retrieving understanding of the motion patterns and habits of people for creating more livable smart cities.
In Helsus, her goal is to be engaged in fruitful interdisciplinary discussions and collaboration. Laura Ruotsalainen hopes to learn more about the challenges in urban planning and development of smart cities from the sustainability science viewpoint. She also hopes to be able to contribute into resolving some of these challenges by bringing in her knowledge about using sophisticated computational means for analysing spatiotemporal data.
Niko Soininen is an Assistant Professor in Sustainable Law. His research focuses on the regulation and governance of social-ecological systems with a particular emphasis on freshwater and marine systems. In his recent work, he has studied law’s fitness for regulating complex phenomena, such as the ecological condition of fresh and marine waters in a political environment geared towards economic growth. He is a subproject PI in Strategic Research Council funded interdisciplinary project entitled BlueAdapt, which studies adaptive governance as a mechanism for reconciling resilience of aquatic ecosystems and sustainable production of energy and food. He is co-editor in chief for the Finnish Environmental Law Review. Outside academia, he has worked as a consultant for HELCOM, the World Bank, and for several ministries responsible for implementing marine environmental law, water law and nature conservation law in Finland.
Niko Soininen wants to make a difference in designing regulation that is fit for tackling global environmental change and addressing deep uncertainty in regulating complex adaptive social-ecological systems. Currently, much of environmental law is unfit for this purpose. It lacks a systems perspective, is maladaptive to change, favours law over other policy instruments and is all too rarely science-based. If environmental law wishes to stay relevant in the 21st century, it must learn and respect how social-ecological systems function.
In HELSUS Niko Soininen studies the resilience and adaptive capacity of environmental regulation. He has expertise in water law and marine environmental law on global, EU and national levels and in the theoretical building blocks of this regulatory system. He wishes to gain a deeper interdisciplinary understanding of complex social-ecological freshwater and marine systems with the aim of regulating the sustainable production of energy and food more effectively. Simultaneously, he can offer scholars and students from other disciplines an understanding of the legal system regulating the human–environment interface. In order to shift law onto a more sustainable path, there is a need to understand that law itself is also a complex adaptive system with valuable functions.
Reetta Toivanen, professor of sustainability science, explores the sustainable wellbeing of indigenous peoples as well as the relationship between local contexts and human rights. Her current research project focuses on the Arctic region, but she also intends to conduct comparative research elsewhere. She is interested in the global future of natural subsistence economies and their relationship with the maintenance of cultures and languages.
Toivanen is the deputy director of the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives (EuroStorie) as well as the leader of the All Youth Want to Rule Their World (ALL-YOUTH) research project funded by the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council.
Toivanen wishes to play a role in protecting the long-term prospects of people still involved in natural subsistence economies. This will promote the preservation of the languages and cultures of indigenous peoples and support their revival. Each “development plan” that disregards the local population, such as the Arctic Railway plans, causes concern and generates a sense of unease, which is directly reflected in the health and wellbeing of young people. Toivanen wishes to ensure that the perspective of human rights is a key principle guiding decision-making.
The Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) provides an innovative arena for genuine interdisciplinary cooperation. Toivanen hopes to learn more about the intersections between the human and natural sciences and to help open them up to novel research and high-impact scholarship. She wishes to provide student-focused, collaborative and multidisciplinary teaching on topics such as the Arctic region, and raise the profile of the University of Helsinki’s high-quality Arctic research.
Hanna Tuomisto is an Associate Professor in Sustainable Food Systems at the Department of Agricultural Sciences, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science and Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). Her research focuses on the interaction between environmental changes and food systems, and especially how novel food technologies could contribute to the sustainability of food systems in the future. She leads the Future Sustainable Food Systems research group that uses multi-disciplinary approaches for seeking solutions to the sustainability challenges. The main focus of the group is on the use and development of environmental sustainability assessment methods, such as life cycle assessment, for measuring the environmental impacts of different agricultural and food production methods. The current projects range from seeking possibilities to improve the current livestock and plant production practices to estimating the potential of novel food production technologies, such as vertical farming and cell-culture based food production technologies (i.e. cellular agriculture).
Hanna Tuomisto aims at contributing to the improvement of sustainability of food systems and development of sustainability assessment methods. She is especially interested in the development of sustainability assessment methods that consider wider consequential impacts that are ignored by the currently used assessment practices. Her goal is to estimate the sustainability consequences of transforming the current food systems by large-scale utilisation of novel food production technologies.
In HELSUS, Hanna Tuomisto is hoping to create interdisciplinary collaborations for the development of comprehensive sustainability assessment methods interlinking environmental, economic and social factors. She is also interested in building new collaborations with various stakeholder groups for seeking ways to implement sustainability transformations in practice. Tuomisto will also be contributing to the development of University level teaching related sustainable food systems and sustainability assessment methods.
Annukka Vainio is the Associate Professor in Behavioural Change toward Sustainability Transformations at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and HELSUS. She has a background in social psychology, which she applies into the understanding of sustainability transformations. In particular, she wants to understand how to release the agency of consumers and citizens, and other actors in sustainability transformations. She has been especially interested in how to engage society and its actors into climate change mitigation.
Vainio's previous and current projects have focused on the values, beliefs and habits underlying individuals’ sustainable and unsustainable eating habits, and how new food innovations and policies can be used effectively to encourage a transition into a sustainable food system. Her research has also dealt with the use of energy, transport, forests, as well as biodiversity more generally. Her research also aims to understand the practices of farmers, private forest owners, environmental professionals, and food manufacturers. In her research, she has been especially interested in seeking to understand how unsustainable practices are rooted in individuals’ ethics, beliefs, and habits, and to find effective ways to overcome these barriers. One of her current projects aims to build young people’s relationship with non-human neighbours (bats) through citizen science.
Annukka Vainio leads the Behavioural Change toward Sustainability research group that develops an interdisciplinary understanding of the challenges and solutions related to behavioural change toward sustainability. More broadly, she aims to create a collaborative interdisciplinary network of researchers and other professionals across organizations. She wants to foster the role of science in society by means of citizen science. Her teaching at HELSUS also supports these goals.