Professor Jaana Bäck to receive the Open Science Award

The Open Science Award for the year 2018 is to be granted to a distinguished researcher focused on the climate effects of our forests.

The University of Helsinki is granting the annual Open Science Award to Professor Jaana Bäck. The award will be presented today, on Wednesday, 24 October 2018, during the Kuka omistaa julkaisuni? (“Who owns my publications?”) event held at Think Corner.

Jaana Bäck is professor of forest-atmosphere interactions at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki. Bäck is investigating the role of Nordic forests in curbing climate change. With her research group, Bäck is trying to find out how our forests cool the climate by producing volatile vapours that are involved in cloud formation. Another central research target is to determine methods for tending northern forests to make their effect on the climate as favourable as possible.

In 2017, Bäck served as the principal investigator and director of a multidisciplinary project of many years coordinated by EASAC, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council. In the project, Bäck headed a working group comprised of dozens of experts from fourteen different countries. The project concluded with the publication of a popular and openly available report, Multi-functionality and Sustainability in the European Union's Forests.

In 2017, Bäck became the inaugural recipient of the Pro Scientia Prize, awarded by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. The prize jury highlighted the recipient’s altruistic work for promoting the impact of science and the EASAC report. In spring 2018, Bäck was invited to be a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters.

Open access fuels public discussion

Bäck and her co-authors have published a number of articles in open access journals that charge an article-processing fee. In addition, part of her openly published articles are available through self-archiving in the publication repositories of research universities. As they are in an open form, these publications are also accessible by the public outside academia.

Bäck has presented her research findings competently, skilfully and patiently also at public events, where her extremely current and socially sensitive topic has even induced heated discussion.

The University of Helsinki on the forefront of open science

Societies need reliable and openly available research knowledge to meet the big challenges facing humanity. For the current generations, the greatest of all challenges is climate change.

Heidi Laine, senior adviser at the University of Helsinki Research Administration and a member of the Open Science Award jury, stresses that “our society must be built on knowledge, which must flow freely and be also available for further use. Finland is among the leading countries in the conduct of open science, and as the country’s top research university, the University of Helsinki considers open science a focus area in its strategic plan.”

Internationally, open science and the openness of science are intensifying trends of science policy and on the agenda of many funders of research. For example, in European research funding instruments, open science features as various incentives and requirements related to openness.

“In this important international dialogue and transformation, the University of Helsinki must assume a role in influencing the future preconditions for science and research. Openness is a central principle of scholarly work. Open practices must be updated to fit the digital working environment of the scientific community,” Laine sums up.

 

The Open Science Award and the Kuka omistaa julkaisusi? (“Who owns your publications?”) seminar at Think Corner are part of the international Open Access week, celebrated annually in October, this year from 22 to 26 October.