Hanna Help, Plant Production Sciences

Hanna Help, who graduated with a degree in plant production sciences, is a doctoral student in Professor Ykä Helariutta’s research group at the Department of Biosciences and the Institute of Biotechnology on the Viikki Campus.

  1. What did you study?

    I studied plant production sciences, especially plant breeding and plant biotechnology, at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry on the Viikki Campus. After completing my Master’s degree I moved on to doctoral studies in plant production sciences, although I physically work at the facilities of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences and the Institute of Biotechnology on the other side of the campus. My dissertation analyses the roles of phytohormones, hormonal interaction and their effects on various genes in the regulation of cellular differentiation in the vascular tissue of plants. My microscope is particularly focused on factors affecting the formation of xylem cells.

    2. What do you do for a living?

    I am currently banging away at my various dissertation projects in Professor Ykä Helariutta’s research group.

    3. How does the future look in your field?

    I have not yet decided whether I want to continue in academia once I finish my doctorate. Considering my training in plant biotechnology, the corporate sector is a tempting option, and I would like to use my knowledge and skills to create practical applications in the fields of, for example, process engineering or pharmacy. I believe there are many job opportunities in Finland for researchers with skills like mine, and I am intrigued about a career in the forest industry or other research institutes. However, I must also point out that an international postdoctoral position of a year or two is also an enticing option, because I love academia!

    4. What is your favourite memory of your studies?

    The Nordic post graduate (NOVA) summer course for plant improvement students in Mustiala was one of the finest and most memorable courses in terms of both its great milieu and relaxed atmosphere as well as the scientifically diverse syllabus! I recommend that all students make use of available courses with an open mind, including courses offered by other faculties and universities. In addition, I want to encourage current students to personalise their degrees with optional courses and minor subject modules as well as to actively contact the research groups on campus to complete traineeships. For me, it was summer traineeships, part-time jobs and my Master's thesis project that showed me that practical experience is invaluable in the planning of my future and my career.