First HELSUS professors appointed

Launched in January, the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science HELSUS now hosts eleven new tenure track professorships, and the same number of postdoctoral researchers received funding under the Fellow programme announced in March. Professor Reetta Toivanen is the first of the new professors to begin work. She emphasises the role of HELSUS in solving sustainability issues.

The new professorships established alongside the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science are a long-awaited piece of good news for Finnish academia, after the hard blows of the education funding cuts.

While the fields of the professorships focus on different areas of sustainability, they are all intensely multidisciplinary.

For Reetta Toivanen, who accepted her professorship in March, the field of her position is indigenous studies from the perspective of sustainable development. In her own research, Toivanen intends to focus particularly on human rights and equality.

– I’m excited, as this is a uniquely multidisciplinary institute, says Toivanen.

She believes that a comprehensive approach is the only sustainable way of addressing sustainability challenges.

The HELSUS Postdoc Fellows conduct broad-based research around the world

HELSUS is also funding eleven postdoctoral researchers. Of the international group of researchers, Sanna Lehtinen focuses on the perspective of aesthetic sustainability in urban transformations, Dalia D'Amato-Pihlman on integrating ecosystem services in corporate sustainability and Maarit Kallio on the sustainable development of small-scale forestry in the global south. The research funding from HELSUS garnered international attention when the Italian media reported on the funding granted to Enrico Di Minin, intended to determine the possibilities of artificial intelligence and social media in decreasing the illegal wildlife trade. Developments in Di Minin’s research are being actively posted on social media.

– We have a good group of talented researchers, and we are set to produce sustainability research with an international impact, states Jari Niemelä, director of HELSUS.

Additional information

HELSUS Postdoc Fellows


The University of Helsinki’s recently established Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science HELSUS focuses primarily on five research themes: the Arctic region, issues in the Global South, sustainable consumption and production, urban areas as well as the theory and methodology of sustainability science. Jointly operated by six faculties, HELSUS has Members and Student Members who represent more than 200 researchers and 60 doctoral students.