CatLab currently consists of Prof. Timo Repo, Academy Research Fellow Petra Vasko, postdoctoral researchers, doctoral students, and undergraduate students, each working on their own individual yet interlocked research project in close collaboration with other members of our team.
Professor Timo Repo

Timo Repo received his PhD in 1997 from University of Helsinki under the guidance of Prof. Markku Leskelä. During 1998 - 2003 he worked at University of Helsinki, first as a postdoctoral researcher and then as an Academy researcher, the latter granted by Academy of Finland. In 2003, he was appointed as Academy research fellow by Academy of Finland. In July 2007 he was nominated as a professor of green chemistry at University of Helsinki. During his PhD studies and later career, he has been actively collaborating with Prof. Bernhard Rieger in Technical University of Munich.

His research is focused on the development of inorganic/organometallic chemistry, green chemistry, homogeneous catalysis, especially catalyst development for major chemical transformations including oxidation, reduction, C-H activation, and C-C coupling applied for small molecule activation and biomass valorization.

Academy Research Fellow, Dr. Petra Vasko

Petra Vasko received her PhD in 2015 from the University of Jyväskylä, where she worked in the group of Prof. Heikki Tuononen studying reactivity of novel main group compounds. After defending her doctoral thesis, she relocated herself to the UK to work as a postdoc in the group of Prof. Simon Aldridge at the University of Oxford. In 2021, she was awarded the prestigious Academy of Finland Research Fellow grant and she is now establishing her own research group in Helsinki. Her main research focus is on experimental and computational investigations of main group and organometallic complexes and their unusual reactivity with small molecules.

Dr. Martin Nieger

My main focus in teaching and research is chemical crystallography, structural chemistry, and X-ray structure analysis, showing the influence of the structure in the solid state, but also in solution, on the chemical and physical properties. This covers a wide area of inorganic chemistry, organometallic chemistry, organic chemistry and supramolecular chemistry.

Since 1994 I’m a Docent for Crystallography at the University of Joensuu and in 2011 I was appointed as a Docent in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Helsinki.

For more information, see Martin's TUHAT research portal page.

Päivi Aakko-Saksa

My research focuses on the liquid organic hydrogen carriers that could be used for transportation and storing of renewable energy.

Dr. Luc Charbonneau

Luc Charbonneau is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Helsinki. His research focuses on both the capture and conversion of CO2 using superbase. Also, he is developing the expertise of Flow Chemistry for catalysis and fine chemical synthesis at the Chemistry Department. 

Prior to assuming his current position, Dr. Charbonneau obtained a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada (UQAM). After his studies, he was a Research Associate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Polytechnique Montreal. Subsequently, he obtained a master's degree in inorganic analytical chemistry and radiochemistry at Laval University, Canada. He also obtained a doctorate in engineering at Laval University, under the supervision of Prof. Serge Kaliaguine. He returned briefly to Polytechnique Montréal and managed various biomass conversion projects in Prof. Boffito Laboratory. He also contributed to the development of Prof. Chaouki's inorganic characterization laboratory.  Outside chemistry, Luc is an avid lover of classical music. 

Dr. Christina Erken

Christina Erken studied chemistry at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany and went abroad for a research stay at the University of St. Andrews (2015) in Scotland before she graduated as a master student in 2016. Afterwards, she conducted her PhD in the group of “Molecular Catalysis” of Prof. Leitner at the RWTH Aachen University (2016-2018) and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (2018-2020) in Germany. Since August 2020, she is doing postdoctoral research at the University of Helsinki in Finland in the group of Prof. Repo. Her research focuses on the synthesis of organometallic complexes and their application in the conversion of carbon dioxide into higher-value products, such as carboxylic acids. Thereby, she investigates the catalytic active intermediates to get a better understanding of the reaction mechanism.

Dr. Juan Miranda Pizarro

Juan Miranda Pizarro did his PhD under the guidance of Dr. Jesús Campos at the Institute of Chemical Research – Spanish National Research Council (IIQ – CSIC), a research centre connected to the Universidad of Sevilla, undoubtfully one of the shiniest cities in Spain. Prior to that, he studied Chemistry and did his master´s degree in Materials Science at the same university. During his PhD, he worked with Ru and Ir molecular organometallic clusters and with gold(I)-phosphine complexes. Then, he moved to the University of Helsinki for a postdoctoral stay under the supervision of Dr. Petra Vasko, where he is working with main group elements supported first row transition metals. Besides chemistry, he is a passionate Sevilla FC supporter.

Todd Elliott

Todd Elliott is working on carbon dioxide capture, to lower the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Current research is regarding the use of amidinium and guanidinium superbases to capture CO2 for either storage or further use in subsequent reactions.  Characterisation of the chemical species will allow for further understanding and tunability for improved performance that can supersede current industrial technologies.

Aleksi Eronen

My aim is to develop methods for environmental hydrogen production, preferably from water. Research is focusing on complex synthesis and their evaluation for water splitting properties (production of hydrogen and/or oxygen).

I am also known as great t-shirt designer and tea ceremonial leader at our research group.

For more information, see Aleksi's TUHAT research portal page.

Ming Guo

My research work consists of two parts. One is aimed at searching for the reaction mechanism when catalyzing six carbon sugars, then exploring how the coal is formed via chemical reaction. The other is searching for the missing tool for biorefinery, chemicals and materials from renewable feedstock, namely lignin.

Read more about Biomass valorization.

Eeva Heliövaara

In my research I focus on the development of safe, sustainable and selective methods for oxidative dissolution and recovery of noble metals. The topic covers the coordination chemistry of gold and other noble metals.

For more information, see Eeva's TUHAT research portal page.

Faranak Heshmatnia
Joseph Install

Joseph Install completed his undergraduate studies at the Department of Chemistry at The University of York (UK) before moving to the University of Helsinki to begin Ph.D. studies in 2021. His research interests are green and sustainable approaches to modern chemistry for a circular economy, including green process design. Also work on lab automation techniques and integration into chemical research.

Liselotte Karulf

Liselotte Karulf received her Bachelor's (2018) and Master's (2020) degrees in chemistry from Aarhus University in Denmark. In August 2020, she joined the CatLab supervised by Timo Repo for her PhD studies. Liselotte’s research focuses on the activation of CO2 catalyzed by transition metal complexes and its application in fine chemical synthesis. 
In November 2020, she was elected Student Representative on the Steering Committee for NordCO2.

Jukka Puumi


Jussi Lundahl

Jussi Lundahl is Academy Research Fellow, Dr. Petra Vaskos first PhD student. His PhD focus on main group and transition metal-containing heterobimetallic complexes in small molecule activation and catalytic applications. 

Enlu Ma

My studies focus on development of novel Frustrated Lewis Pairs concepts. The aim is to activate H-H bonds for development of novel metal based and particularly metal-free hydrogenation catalysis and hydrogen storage concepts.

Jere Mannisto

I research the organocatalytic activation of CO2, and its subsequent capture by various amines into carbamates. These are then reacted with suitable trapping reagents, for example γ-brominated Michael acceptors, resulting in stable 2-oxazolidinones. I am interested in the use of strong neutral organic bases as catalysts, guanidines in particular.

For more information, see Jere's TUHAT research portal page.

Kati Meriläinen

Kati Meriläinen focuses on natural material characterization and plasticization. 

Her PhD is in collaboration with Sulapac Ltd

Aleksi Sahari

I study metal mediated carbon dioxide activation in fine chemical synthesis.

For more information, see Aleksi's TUHAT research portal page.

Sarah Seefried
Nikita Slesarchuk

Nikita Slesarchuk graduated from the Chemistry Department of Moscow State University (2020) and also worked at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Science in the Laboratory of Molecular Design and Synthesis (2017-2020). In the fall of 2020, he joined to the CatLab for obtaining a PhD.

His main research dedicated to the development of new FLP applications in organic synthesis.

Undergraduate students

The following people are currently working on their Bachelor's or Master's thesis at the Catalysis and green chemistry research group:

  • Aidan Banks
  • Evelyn Valbonetti
  • Henri Liljeqvist
  • Johannes Heikkinen
  • Jussi Tahvanainen
  • Jukka Puumi
  • Roni Koivu

The following people are currently Erasmus Students at the Catalysis and green chemistry research group:

  • Donatella Abba
  • Jan Brokemper

Since 2003, the following people have completed their PhD, PhLic, or MSc degree at the Catalysis and green chemistry research group (only the highest degree is shown):



Marina Surakka (PhLic)

Mika Kettunen (PhD)


Mikko Kalmi (PhLic)


Arto Puranen (PhLic)


Ulla Markkanen (MSc)



Kirill Axenov (PhD)

Erkki Aitola (PhD)

Pascal Castro (PhD)

Antti Pärssinen (PhD)

Kaisa Kervinen (PhD)

Katariina Yliheikkilä (PhD)

Heikki Korpi (PhD)


Petro Lahtinen (PhD)


Kristian Lappalainen (PhD)


Mikko Lankinen (PhLic)




Minna Räisänen (PhD)

Santeri Feodorow (PhLic)

Marjo Väänänen (PhLic)

Heini Markkanen (MSc)



Pertti Elo (PhD)

Victor Sumerin (PhD)


Jaakko Tuunanen (MSc)




Jahir Ahmad (PhD)


Jingjing Chen (MSc)


Nevil Guan (MSc)


Erika Rantala (MSc)


Emilia Streng (MSc)



Kostiantyn Chernichenko (PhD)

Aleksi Eronen (MSc)

Maija Hakola (PhD)


Manuel Giraldo (MSc)


Tomi Iivonen (MSc)


Sandra Nurttila (MSc)


Laura Svärd (MSc)


Xingting Zeng (MSc)




Afnan Al-Hunaiti (PhD)

Feda Al-Qaisi (PhD)

Markus Lindqvist (PhD)

Sari Rautiainen (PhD)

Ahlam Sibaouih (PhD)

Eeva Heliövaara (MSc)

Elina Autio (MSc)

Jere Mannisto (MSc)




Juha Keskiväli (PhD)


Kalle Lagerblom (PhD)


Teemu Niemi (PhD)


Vili Salo (MSc)



Todd Elliott (MSc)

Vladimir Iashin (PhD)


Otto-Matti Hiltunen (MSc)


Jaakko Karjalainen (MSc)




Kristina Sorochkina (PhD, Passed with Distinction) 


Emi Lagerspets (PhD)


Rui Zhang (PhD)