Professors, fellows and visitors

HELSUS researchers represent expertise from various disciplines within sustainability research and their research areas cover all HELSUS thematic areas. Read more about our researchers and their projects.

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

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. 

Dorothée Cambou

Dorothée Cambou is Assistant Professor of Sustainability Science (sustainable law, governance and regulation) at the Faculty of Law and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science. As a legal scholar, her research examines human rights issues and explores questions related to global justice. Her research interests include the relationship between international law, human rights and development. For several years, her work has more specifically focused on the rights of indigenous peoples in the Arctic region. More recently, her research has also begun to examine the implications of sustainable development for human rights and the responsibility of companies as duty bearers of human rights, in relation to the exploitation of natural resources and the governance of lands and natural resources.

Dorothée Cambou broader research and teaching goals are to challenge the legal status quo to promote a more sustainable and just world. For this purpose, her research seeks to understand how the current legal order and governance structures are established and perpetuates colonial, unequal and unsustainable practices across the globe. To solve these issues, her research looks both at legal theory and practice and also takes a multidisplinary lens by combining legal research with other disciplines. In her work, she also collaborates with scientists, experts and communities in order to address local issues. With this approach her goal is to ensure that her research will serve both the development of academic discussion in the legal field but also contributes to solve concrete problems and benefit the wellbeing of peoples on the ground.

Currently, Dorothée Cambou leads the NORSIL network, a research network devoted to the study of the rights of Sámi and Indigenous Peoples. She is also an acting member of the Steering committee of the Thematic Network on Arctic Sustainable Resources and Social Responsibility aims at contributing to an enhanced understanding of what social responsibility means and which brings together experts and stakeholders to share knowledge and interact for sustainability in the Arctic.

In HELSUS Dorothée Cambou aspires to bring sustainable changes through research and education. She hopes that her involvement with researchers from HELSUS will facilitate and strengthen an interdisciplinary and cross-cutting approach to research that goes beyond traditional disciplinary and institutional boundaries.  She believes that HELSUS has created a new space to discuss and challenge the unequal, classed, raced and gendered underpinning of the world governance systems, including that of the Nordic countries. By joining researchers and students whose goals and expertise are devoted to tackle those issues, she hopes that her work can contribute to build a more sustainable and just future for all.

Jussi Eronen

Jussi Eronen is a Professor of Socio-ecological systems. He leads the Past Present Sustainability Research Unit PAES at the University of Helsinki. PAES focuses on understanding the ecological and climate related interlinkages with human activities in the present day and in the long-term historic past. The research perspective is from natural sciences and is enriched by interdisciplinary post-docs and collaborations outside the core discipline. The research unit aims for transdisciplinary research efforts to be able to evaluate potential future pathways for society at large. At the moment PAES is concentrating mainly on three research fronts:

1) How biotic interactions have been changed or modified by growing human influence from local to global scales (timescale: 1000s -100s yrs)

(e.g. how has ecological community structures changed due to human influence, how have interactions and biodiversity changed etc.)

2) Long-term SES analysis of Northern Fennoscandia (timescale: 100s - 10s yrs)

(e.g. How have the local livelihoods, like reindeer herding or forest use changed in tandem with human alteration of habitats, how has infrastructure changed the natural productivity of areas etc.)

3) The historically built path-dependencies affecting the current policies in Finland and the contemporary dynamics of socio-ecological metabolism (timescale: from 2-3 yrs to decades)

(E.g. How the infrastructure / policies / decision-making frameworks are leading to path-dependencies, how path-dependencies are affecting societal transitions and long-term risks during the next 10-50 yrs)

Jussi is also active research affiliate at BIOS and takes part in BIOS activities on a case-by-case basis as time allows.

Leena Järvi

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

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

Franklin Obeng-Odoom is currently the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science Associate Professor at Global Development Studies, the University of Helsinki, Finland. He is a Fellow of the Teachers' Academy, the highest recognition bestowed on distinguished teachers at the university. A winner of the global Deborah Gerner Innovative Teaching Award for 'effective...pedagogy that engages students with issues of war, peace, identity, sovereignty, security, and sustainability - economic, environmental, or ethical - as they are evolving in the 21st century', Dr Obeng-Odoom previously taught at various universities in Australia, including the University of Technology Sydney where he was Director of Higher Degree Research Programmes.

Obeng-Odoom's research interests are centred on the political economy of development, urban and regional economics, natural resources and the environment, fields in which he has published six sole-authored books, including Global Migration Beyond Limits (Oxford University Press, 2022), The Commons in an Age of Uncertainty (University of Toronto Press, 2021), and Property, Institutions, and Social Stratification in Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2020), a winner of the European Association of Evolutionary Political Economy Joan Robinson Best Book Prize. Obeng-Odoom is the Global South Editor of Housing Studies, Associate Editor of the Forum for Social Economics, and Series Editor of the Edinburgh Studies in Urban Political Economy. A Docent in Urban and Economic Sociology at the University of Turku, Finland, Dr Obeng-Odoom serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, published continuously since 1941. 

The recipient of a number of reputable research awards, Obeng-Odoom is an Inaugural International Science Council World Social Science Fellow and a former Visiting Research Fellow at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. In 2015, Dr Obeng-Odoom 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.

Christopher Raymond

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

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.  

Reetta Toivanen

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

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

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.   

HELSUS funds research in the field of sustainability science. During the year 2020 a total of eight post-doc level fellows started their 2-year research projects at HELSUS. In the year 2018 HELSUS funded ten 2 year-long projects.

The international and multidisciplinary group of HELSUS fellows includes expertise from various disciplines within sustainability research and their research areas cover all HELSUS thematic areas. Read more about the researchers and their projects.

Sara Alibakhshi

In light of the pressing environmental challenges that our planet is facing, ranging from climate change to biodiversity loss, it has become increasingly imperative to identify solutions to these multifaceted issues. Sara Alibakhshi, as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, brings a strong background in Geoinformatics and Environmental Science, which provides the necessary skills, to bring deep insights into these complex challenges. Sara Alibakhshi specialized expertise lies in utilizing cutting-edge machine learning algorithms and advanced remote sensing techniques for analyzing big data.

This project entitled “The warming impacts of tropical deforestation at ecologically relevant scales”, funded by HELSUS, investigates the effect of deforestation on temperature changes in tropical forests and its impact on biodiversity. With the alarming rate of tropical forest loss, i.e., 20% since 1990, this research aims to quantify the warming effects of deforestation at ecologically relevant scales. Utilizing multiple sensors in various tropical regions, combined with satellite data and machine learning, the project will provide detailed information about understory temperature changes and their implications for species' thermal tolerances. This initiative stands as a critical contribution towards understanding habitat loss and guiding the development of sustainable environmental policies."

Stephan Hauser

Stephan Hauser completed a PhD in Architecture and Urban Planning in 2022 at TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture in the Netherlands. Coming from a legal background, his transdisciplinary research focused on the impact of oil companies on the development of port cities and on the creation and application of regulations linked to spatial planning, and the protection of health and the environment. His publications focus mostly on the port cities of Dunkirk in France and Rotterdam in the Netherlands as two extreme examples of oil industry’s influences and evolutions. Through the analysis of a wide variety of sources and archival materials, his research and his collaboration in the PortCityFutures group aimed at highlighting the origins of regulations and policies’ inefficiency in answering contemporary environmental challenges.

This topic relates to his current position as a post-doctoral researcher in the project ‘forging sustainability science for societal change’ funded by HELSUS, and where questions around the notions of transitions and justice are of particular importance. The aim of this research project is to find ways to improve the impact of sustainability science in decision-making processes. Thus, the objectives are to engage with researchers from different disciplines, as well as with communities and stakeholders; to promote co-production and co-dissemination methods; and to link sustainability science to better regulatory tools.

Jussi Lampinen

Jussi Lampinen joined HELSUS as a post-doctoral researcher starting in autumn 2023.  In HELSUS, Lampinen will take on the RESSU-GRASS -project, focusing on the social and ecological dimensions of restoration, especially in the context of urban meadows, with spatial and quantitative and qualitative approaches. The project will identify sites of meadow restoration in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area that are ecologically defensible and enjoy strong public support, contributing to a conceptual understanding of how best restore the ecological and social values associated with diverse types of urban meadows. The policy context of the project concerns ongoing negotiation of the EU Restoration law, and the Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework.


Lampinen has a background in ecology and interdisciplinary research in conservation. He defended his doctoral dissertation in 2020 at the University of Turku, concerning the conservation problematics of semi-natural grasslands and their species. Since 2021, he has worked at the University of Helsinki in the SRC-funded CO-CARBON -consortium project. His most recent publication can be found here:

Heta Lähdesmäki

Heta Lähdesmäki is a historian specialising in environmental history, human-animal studies, human-wildlife conflicts and conservation. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the project ’Cohabitation with undesired others in urban spaces – from theory to practice’ funded by HELSUS. In this project, Lähdesmäki studies the history of bird feeding and rat conflicts in the Helsinki area and looks at bird-feeding practices and feeding prohibitions. She analyses, for instance, what animal species people have historically welcomed to or excluded from urban spaces and what practices people have used to cohabitate with undesired animals.

Lähdesmäki completed a PhD in Cultural History at the University of Turku in 2020. Her thesis focused on human-wolf relations in 20th-century Finland. After that, she has studied the relationship between humans and nature on Seili island in a multidisciplinary research project Seili - Elämän saari, funded by the Kone Foundation and led by the Biodiversity unit at the University of Turku. She is also part of the Academy of Finland funded HumBio-project, investigating the human relationship with the disappeared, endangered, introduced, and non-native as well as invasive marine animals and plants in Finland.

Lähdesmäki is interested in questions relating to human-wildlife conflicts, cohabitation, and spatiality. Her work is influenced by the idea that in order to tackle present-day environmental problems and wildlife conflicts, we need to understand their historical roots and look at how people have previously coexisted with other life forms.

Alumni Fellows

Viola Hakkarainen

Viola Hakkarainen has a background in sustainability science. Her work has largely focused on understanding epistemic plurality and senses of place for supporting inclusivity in transdisciplinary research and ecosystem governance. She completed her PhD in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences at the University of Helsinki in 2022.

Her current post-doctoral project concerns sustainability education in higher education institutes in three different geographical contexts. She studies online education environments and their possibilities and challenges in equipping students with the key competencies in sustainability. She is particularly interested in the role of universities in supporting students’ sense of transformative agency.

Knowledge processes, learning and collaboration are the key themes that guide Viola’s work. She believes in critical reflexivity and enjoys talking about philosophy of science.

Heli Korkka-Knuts

My study “The Role of Behavioural Regulatory Design in Optimization of Environmental Corporate Crime Prevention” (“BiRD”) aims at demonstrating that the prevention of environmental corporate crime can be optimized by means of behavioural regulatory design. BiRD seeks to explain that any liability model for corporate crime should be designed to account for the behavioural root causes of corporate offending, which are, according to a research hypothesis, weak corporate culture and low institutional aspirations as regards ethical behaviour. Behaviourally informed liability model is efficient, as it fields an appropriate incentive for organizing business operations in a diligent manner, which in turn, promotes meaningful self-regulation and ethical behaviour and thus, prevention of environmental offending within corporate organizations. The innovation of the study is, therefore, to interlink the prevention of corporate offending with a regulatory design motivated by the behavioural and organizational explanations of environmental crime. This novel approach unlocks new opportunities for crime prevention as the suggested model combines a punitive command-and-control mechanism with a softer self-regulatory approach. 

The HELSUS project is a natural continuation for my previous research on corporate criminal liability, related sanctions, and general criminal liability theory. My aim is to bring together research in the areas of legal jurisprudence, criminology, organizational theory, business ethics and social psychology to create new knowledge on corporate crime prevention.  

I have completed my doctoral thesis in the field of corporate crime in May 2015, after which I have worked both as postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki and as a Senior Associate at Krogerus Attorneys Ltd, Helsinki where my principle task was heading the compliance and corporate offences team.  

Ricardo Correia

I am a conservation scientist with a PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of East Anglia and the University of Lisbon (2015), currently working as a post-doctoral researcher in the project `Tracking societal responses to sustainability issues using social media data` funded by HELSUS. I am an interdisciplinary researcher with multiple interests including the use of digital data for conservation, human-nature interactions, land and protected area management and the impact of environmental change on biodiversity. My current research aims to explore how the digital revolution can contribute towards conservation science and practice. In particular, I am actively investigating how new digital data sources (e.g. social media platforms, search engines) and analytical methods (e.g. machine learning, natural language processing) can be used to generate novel insights on the relationship between humans and nature to inform conservation action and policy. I am also co-leading the Conservation Culturomics Working Group, part of the Society for Conservation Biology. In the past, I have also worked on areas as diverse as species distribution modelling, community ecology and animal movement, and have carried out research in multiple countries including Portugal, UK, Brazil, Spain and Morocco. Much of this work focused on minimizing and managing the impacts of human activities on natural ecosystems and demonstrating the multiple forms of value provided by nature to humans.

Helsinki Lab of Interdisciplinary Conservation Science

Pablo Manzano

Pablo Manzano completed a PhD in Ecology and the Environment in 2015 at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, researching seed dispersal ecology in Spanish sheep-grazed rangelands. Since finishing his MSc in 2004, he has been working first on his PhD field work and then in a series of international development initiatives that took him from the Western Balkans to two global positions in IUCN in Nairobi and in FAO in Rome, both related to pastoralism. In these years he has kept his research agenda on rangeland ecology but expanded into other disciplines of the pastoralist domain, including economics, sociology and anthropology. His research approach aims to integrate the social, economic and environmental livelihood dimensions. He is currently a HELSUS fellow addressing global pastoralism sustainability.

Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares

Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares is an ethnoecologist interested in the contributions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to planetary sustainability. Based on his long-term, field-based ethnographic engagement with different Indigenous groups (Tsimane’ in Bolivia, Daasanach and Maasai in Kenya), his research explores the importance of Indigenous Peoples' stewardship practices and knowledge systems for biodiversity conservation. He uses a broad range of tools and research approaches in his work, from geospatial analyses of Indigenous land tenure at regional and global scales to field-based studies of local biocultural systems, including hands-on action for documenting, honouring and celebrating Indigenous and local knowledge. His research philosophy is rooted in interdisciplinarity (understood as collaborative problem solving) and premised on community-engaged participatory research practices. His current research project at HELSUS examines quantitatively the persistence, tenacity and sacrifice of Indigenous Peoples in defending their territories in the face of rapidly expanding commodity and extractive frontiers.

Anna Haus­mann

Anna Hausmann has been a HELSUS post-doctoral fellow in conservation biology working with Dr. Enrico Di Minin at the Digital Geography Lab, University of Helsinki. Her current work aims to assess societal debates around key sustainability and biodiversity conservation issues on social media, and other online sources, in order to understand socio-economic and ethical constraints to achieving sustainability better. In particular, her research is mostly related to the HELSUS Global South and Theory and Methodology areas, as it focuses on developing new machine learning tools for assessing relevant online content related to conservation actions and policy interventions with a focus on southern Africa.

Nich­olas Hog­arth

The overall aim of my research is to contribute towards mainstreaming the collection and use of high-quality forest and environmental resource-related socioeconomic data to inform policy and sustainable development processes in the Global South.

My current research activities include a multi-scale analysis of energy and forest use in Laos and Cambodia (GET-LDC), a global Systematic Review of the socioeconomic impacts of large-scale tree plantations, and a conservation-development project measuring the impact of regulations and policies on panda habitat and local livelihoods in China.

I’m also working on two forestry higher-education capacity-building projects in the Mekong Region, and in collaboration with the FAO on collecting and analysing nationally-representative socioeconomic data on forest-use from several countries.

Link to my research group: Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI)

Jo­hanna Eklund

Johanna is a HELSUS postdoctoral fellow and is broadly interested in questions related to evaluating the effectiveness of conservation actions and especially how sustainable they are over the long term. Currently she is working on projects attempting to disentangle the many links between different levels of governance and ecological outcomes of protected areas and the role of funding to achieve sustainable outcomes. She is also interested in developing new tools and methods for the evaluation of protected area effectiveness. Johanna is keen to advance the uptake of robust impact evaluation techniques and is currently sitting on the board of the Impact Evaluation Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology. In HELSUS she is active under the HELSUS Global South and Theory and Methodology- themes.

Johanna´s background is very interdisciplinary, she did her PhD with the Global Change and Conservation Lab at the Metapopulation Research Centre, University of Helsinki, and has since worked with both Development Studies and now the Digital Geography Lab at the University of Helsinki. She has experience of working with both protected area managers and local communities on the ground (Tanzania, Madagascar) and with a diverse set of methods (both quantitative and qualitative).

Find out more:

Johanna´s research profile

eklund_jo on Twitter  

Hanna Gut­torm

My postdoctoral research “Revitalizing the connection with the Earth: Walking and becoming Earth” is an autoethnographic project, where I examine, move, and imagine towards embodying and reconceptualizing the sustainable connection with the Earth. This re-thinking, re-searching, and re-vitalization is done in Sápmi (Sámi land) with Sámi traditional knowledge holders, artists and other researchers, while being inspired by both Indigenous and posthumanist theorizations and methodologies. I am highly interested in social and ecological justice, as well as maintaining and celebrating diversities in human and more-than-human entanglements. With explicating and playing with creative scientific writing I dream to invite readers to feel, think, and act differently.


In­ari Helle

My research focuses on marine oil spill risks in the Arctic. The ice-free period is lengthening in many high-latitude areas, which opens new opportunities for maritime traffic as well as oil drilling. This development increases also the risk of accidental oil spills. I will develop quantitative risk estimates and ecological loss functions for arctic marine species at risk, and apply these in a decision theoretic framework. I aim to identify the most critical components of ecosystems and to combine this knowledge with other information to identify the most risk-prone areas. This type of knowledge is relevant information for decision-making when, for instance, different management measures are to be compared. 


Maarit Kal­lio

Trees managed by smallholders in a diverse range of systems can contribute towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals by providing vital ecosystem services and supporting smallholder livelihoods. Yet, smallholder forestry in the Global South is far from being optimal, and there is a need to: (i) systematically identify the knowledge gaps and bottlenecks that are still preventing trees on farms and smallholder forestry from becoming a more inclusive, sustainable and profitable livelihood option; (ii) and to identify the opportunities and innovative ways forward. The aim of my research is to help to fill these knowledge gaps by identifying the keys to smallholder tree growing in the Global South by: 1) conducting a systematic literature review; (2) designing and pilot-testing a Global Comparative Study (GCS), and; 3) developing a funding proposal and multidisciplinary partner network for the GCS. The results will allow decision makers to adjust and formulate sustainable policies, strategies and support mechanisms to better meet the actual needs of farmers.

Read more about Maarit's research:

Sanna Le­htinen

In my postdoctoral research project "Aesthetic Sustainability in Urban Transformations: Intergenerational Perspective to Creating Experiential Value” the focus is on developing the concept of aesthetic sustainability to support urban sustainability transformations. My current research interests revolve around philosophical and applied environmental aesthetics, the experiential sphere of urban life, urban futures, and philosophy of technology. I have a special interest in finding out how environmental and urban aesthetics can support different types of collaborations in- and outside academia. 


Ossi Ol­li­naho

My research project is about exploring, both conceptually and empirically, agroforestry practices in Brazil. Within the conceptual dimension of the research my aim is to uncover the uses of the concept in academic and general discourses––and not only in Brazil. Scholars have insisted that using trees within cultivated landscapes delivers a range of social, ecological as well as economic benefits, such as biodiversity conservation, soil enrichment, air and water quality and carbon sequestration and due to such positive impacts agroforestry appears to have gained legitimacy over the recent decades. But what kind of referents does the term have and toward what types of ends have the concept been harnessed? In empirical terms, I plan to conduct fieldwork in Brazil, mostly in the North and Northeast of the vast country, studying the various forms, methods and practices agroforestry is worked with. I make two fieldwork travels to Brazil in both two years of the project.

My research is part of bigger literature/activity attempting to find alternative models of development, particularly to the ruralities of the Global South, but also with regard to the globe at large. Differently put, this research belongs to the critical agrarian studies that has kept problematizing the state of affairs and the directions the food systems have taken since in the post-war era. It has become evident that modern agriculture with its heavy dependence on fossil fuels, toxic chemicals, onslaught on animals, and expansion of the cultivated area are not sustainable at all due to their insidious impacts on the climate, soil fertility and inequality, to mention some examples. Furthermore, the entire technoscience structure dominated by few agrobusiness giants has long since divorced from any inclusive type of socioeconomic development.

The focus of my research is on agroecological agroforestry practices with which I refer to the various means through which genuinely ecological, socially driven or sustainable intensification can be reached through using trees within pluricultural farming. It implies of reducing the dependence of peasants, small farmers, family farmers or such from the system through reducing the use of externally produced inputs, cultivating the soil ecosystems, shortening the supply chain, ‘nichifying’ the produce etc. I theorize such agroforestry practices as a development strategy that can be transplanted at various policy levels. Agroecological agroforestry can be seen as a natural enemy of the practices related to modern industrial agriculture and the development models that presuppose them.

This research project builds on my earlier research in which I have crafted conceptual understanding of the current environmental predicament that aims to understand how we actually produce environmental changes through the ordinary and how important environmental changes really are in different life-worlds, especially in the Global North: Such a nonideal account attempts to understanding what really goes on in our social lives, what are actually relevant issues in the life-worlds and our societies here and now, rather than prescribing how humans and groups should ideally act. With another essay of the same linage I conceptually clarified what is at stake with the virtualization of the life-worlds:

Hen­rik Thorén

The title of my research project is "Values in Model Integration for Sustainability: Principles, Practices, and Problems." Effectively tackling pressing environmental problems and finding pathways towards more sustainable resource use requires recruiting the knowledge and expertise from researchers from a wide range of disciplines belonging to both natural and social sciences. In sustainability science this has often taken the form of developing integrated models that borrow components from different disciplines to represent and explore human-nature interactions. Hence an important methodological issue in sustainability science is how, more precisely, models should be integrated. The interdisciplinary challenge emanates from the fact that normative evaluation of models and modelling practices is usually carried out within the context of a particular discipline. The norms, values, and conventions that underpin such evaluation can be highly idiosyncratic and difficult harmonize across disciplines. Moreover, the transformative and social aims of sustainability science as whole means that ethical and social values also come into play and the way such values inform, or are obscured by, various modelling practices and choices is of great relevance. This project seeks both to examine and describe models and modelling practices, and to adress normative issues concerning model integration in the context of sustainability science. 

I did my undergraduate degree in both Umeå and Gothenburg, although mostly the latter where I majored in Theoretical Philosophy. I also studied History, International Relations, Logic, and Music. In 2009 I moved to Lund to do my doctoral degree there and managed to secure a position on the then newly started sustainability science centre of excellence LUCID. I got my doctoral degree in Theoretical Philosophy in 2015 with a thesis that concerned interdisciplinarity and scientific integration in sustainability science. Since then I have completed a post doc in Lund, also under the auspices of the LUCID programme, and have held two shorter duration research positions working on e.g. the uncertainty framework of the IPCC.

Paul Wag­ner

My research involves the application of network methods to the study of climate politics and the policymaking process. I work on the Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks project – an international comparative research project seeking to explain the variation in national responses to climate change.

The project examines the causes of this variation from the perspective of networks of discourse and policy-making interactions among relevant organizations and knowledge brokers. By integrating theories and methods from political science, sociology, and network analysis this research aims to contribute to HELSUS' objective to be at the forefront of theoretical and methodological developments in the sustainability sciences. 

Jo­han Munck af Ro­senschöld

I have been a postdoctoral fellow at HELSUS with an interest in science-policy interfaces, projectification of environmental policy, and the study of inter- and transdisciplinary research. In my HELSUS research project “Sustaining co-produced knowledge: Learning from transdisciplinary projects in social networks (SCOPE)”, I critically assessed how knowledge produced in short-term transdisciplinary projects is learned and by whom. While learning from project-generated knowledge is often considered a methodological issue, this project focused on the political challenges of learning involving multiple actors, interests, and expectations. The project also identified and developed best practices of learning from transdisciplinary projects, which have direct practical value for actors working outside of academia.

Hanna Kuus­isaari

I have been working as a post-doctoral researcher in the project “Education for Everyday Sustainability – Learning Skills at School for 1.5 Degree lifestyle“ funded by HELSUS. The focus of the project is on deepening the understanding about teachers’ current knowledge and the actual practices of teaching sustainability in Home Economics education. The overall aim of my research is to contribute towards the future development of initial teacher education and an in-service education for teachers related to sustainability pedagogy. For decades, scientists have argued that people should change their unsustainable behaviour and practices in order to have a positive impact on climate change, such as global warming and carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, it is essential to improve practice of teaching everyday sustainability themes and responsible consumption in schools in order to change practices to more sustainable at homes and in society. Home Economics as a school subject teaches knowledge and skills and integrates theoretical knowledge and practice by teaching e.g. economical and ecological thinking and behavior as well as health and wellbeing. Home economics teaching could be a major player in the field of sustainable development education.

Özlem Ce­lik

Özlem Celik has been a post-doc researcher at HELSUS and Development Studies at the University of Helsinki. She works with Franklin Obeng-Odoom on Social Sustainability of Urban Transformations in the Global South. Özlem's research concerns the political economy of urban development and change, including the politics of urban economic relations, housing, state interventions, rescaling of the state, and urban social movements. She is also interested in using participatory and collaborative methodological approaches in engagement with housing movements and activist groups. Özlem’s  previous research has focused on the financialisation of housing, and the limitations and possibilities of spatial politics of solidarity through commoning practices in Turkey.

She is currently completing a book on ‘Theories of the Spatiality of the State’, editing a special issue, which brings together a set of papers that examine financialisation of housing and violation of housing rights at the time of crisis and which thereby explore the contemporary state of neoliberal urbanisation in divergent political economic contexts, and co-ordinating the Urban and Regional Political Economy Working Group, IIPPE.

She has previously worked at Lund University, Yasar University, Middle East Technical University and The University of Sheffield, after obtaining a PhD in Urban Studies and Planning, an MA in Sociology, and a BA in Urban and Regional Planning.

Sara Fraixedas

My research project entitled “Towards wetland sustainability: operationalizing socio-ecological indicators in Europe” aims to provide decision-makers with a complete set of socio-ecological indicators in order to inform a European-level strategic plan to address wetland sustainability. The present work will serve to broaden the scope of policy options available to address the current drivers of wetland loss and degradation in Europe. By feeding the results of this project into science-policy interfaces, the impact of the project will be directly channelled into producing policy-relevant science and stimulating transformative change towards wetland sustainability in Europe.


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Global Change and Conservation

HELSUS welcomes international research visitors, who contribute to the intellectual community and the interdisciplinary research done within HELSUS.

Past visitors

Charles Gore

is a Visiting Scholar in Development Studies in the University of Helsinki from January to June 2019. Between 1999 and 2008, he was team leader and principal author of UNCTAD's Least Developed Countries Report, and from 2008 to 2012 he was Special Coordinator for Cross-Sectoral Issues in UNCTAD, directing research on Africa and on least developed countries. In that role he led the team writing Structural Transformation and Sustainable Development in Africa (UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report 2012). He is currently an Honorary Professor in Economics at the University of Glasgow, a Research Associate in Global Studies at the University of Sussex, a Non-Resident Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER, and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (UK).  His research focuses on the nature of the explanations, normative judgements and discursive narratives which underpin international development practice. Whilst in Helsinki he is writing the first draft of a book about how the idea of poverty went global in the 1970s, which is part of a broader examination of the concept of global goals and a broader history of development.

Heidi Sinev­aara-Niskanen

Heidi Sinevaara-Niskanen is a University Researcher in Gender Studies at the University of Lapland, Finland, and a visiting Fellow at the Helsinki Institute for Sustainability Science (April-June, 2019). Her research interests combine questions of Arctic development, power, gender and indigeneity from a critical perspective. In her ongoing research project, Indigeneity in Waiting: Elusive Rights and the Power of Hope (2016-2020, Academy of Finland), Sinevaara-Niskanen studies the complex ways in which indigeneity is governed in international politics. She has published in journals, such as, International Political Sociology, Resilience: International Discourses, Practices and Policies, Polar Record and Globalizations. Her recent book, Global Politics and its Violent Care for Indigeneity: Sequels to Colonialism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), co-authored with Marjo Lindroth, analyses and illustrates how the inclusion and recognition of indigeneity in global politics constitute a continuation of colonial practices.

Tahnee Prior

Tahnee Prior is a Ph.D. Candidate in Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, University of Waterloo, as well as a visiting researcher at the Helsinki Institute for Sustainability Science in Finland and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria. She holds a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholarship and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Her doctoral work in global environmental governance examines the role of legal systems in maintaining or preventing our ability to adapt to rapidly changing and complex environments, like the Arctic. Together with colleagues at the University of Lapland and the University of Helsinki, Tahnee is co-organizing a NordForsk-funded event titled "Women of the Arctic" at the 2018 UArctic Congress in Helsinki. She has also written on gender and the circumpolar North as a team member of a Finnish Academy project on “Human Security as a Promotional Tool for Societal Security in the Arctic” and as a contributing author to the 2016 Arctic Resilience Report.

Previously, she was the lead author of a Finnish Foreign Ministry project at the intersection of gender, climate change, and human rights. In 2016, Tahnee was humbled to land on Corporate Knight’s #30under30 list of Sustainability Leaders in Canada.

You can follow her on Twitter @tahnsta.

Laura Ver­brugge

Laura Verbrugge is a postdoctoral researcher in the Water Engineering and Management Group at the University of Twente (The Netherlands). She was awarded a Frye Stipendium award for her PhD thesis ‘Going global: perceiving, assessing and managing biological invasions’ in 2014. She is a member of the Management Committee of the COST Action CA17122 on Citizen Science and Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and the International Association for Open Knowledge on IAS (INVASIVESNET).

Her present work focuses on public perceptions of river landscapes and knowledge co-production processes in transdisciplinary settings. Her research is part of the RiverCare program (2014-2019) funded by TTW-NWO (2014-2019) that aims to improve the design and maintenance of river interventions by investigating their biophysical and social impacts.

She is working at HELSUS to develop new collaborations within the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and the Environmental Policy Research Group.

Seona Candy

Seona Candy is a research fellow with the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at the University of Melbourne in the areas of food and urban systems. Her earlier research work used scenario modelling to link land and resource use with food consumption at a national level on an Australian Research Council Linkage project, titled 'Modelling policy interventions to protect Australia's food security in the face of environmental sustainability challenges’ (LP120100168), and at a city level as a joint chief investigator of the first phase of the Foodprint Melbourne Project funded by the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation.

More recently, she has been involved in two projects funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living. The recently completed Visions and Pathways 2040 (VP2040) project was concerned with developing visions, scenarios and pathways for transitioning to low-carbon in Australian cities. The ongoing Future Cities Distributed Infrastructure (FCDI) Project aims to identify opportunities across Melbourne where critical infrastructure services like energy, food, water and waste can be delivered in a way that is more distributed to reduce carbon emissions, improve urban resilience and transform cities.

She is currently working at HELSUS in collaboration with Dr Katriina Soini at LUKE as a visiting researcher on a project investigating the role of distributed food systems in post-carbon resilient cities. It forms part of the broader FCDI project, bringing together aspects of critical infrastructure, ecosystem services and urban planning from a food systems perspective.