Crop Science group members represent different nationalities and different stages of scientific careers. Group members work in a wide perspective of topics from agronomy to biochemistry, some with interdisciplinary nature.
Kiflemariam Belachew

Postdoctoral researcher

I am an Ethiopian and received my doctoral degree in Agriculture at the University of Helsinki in 2019, MSc degree in Agriculture (Horticulture) at Haramaya University in 2006, and BSc degree in Agriculture (Plant Sciences) at Alemaya University, Ethiopia, in 2002. I am interested to understand the morpho-physiological basis of abiotic stresses in crop plants mainly: soil-acidity and Al3+-toxicity, drought, and salt tolerances. In my research, I apply phenotyping techniques to identify root and shoot markers expressed in crop plants under controlled and field conditions in response to the changing environment at different stages of growth. Currently, I am working in two ERANET SusCrop projects namely ‘ProFaba’ and LegumeGAP in which I am mainly entitled to identify acidity and Al3+-toxicity tolerant faba bean genotypes for European agriculture. Previously, I was working as a teaching and research personnel at Haramaya and Bahir Dar Universities in Ethiopia.

Kiflemariam's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal

Kiflemariam's Research Gate profile

Kati Knuutila

Doctoral student

My interest towards agriculture and agronomy specifically relates to my background, since I come from a farm directed at crop production. In my PhD project I investigate how genotype, cutting and availability of nutrients affect the root growth and root activity of grass swards. I have received Bachelor's and Master's degree from the University of Helsinki majoring in Plant Production Biology. During my studies I have worked among research in several companies.

Kati's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal

Anniina Lehtilä

Doctoral student

I am a doctoral student doing research on forage maize production, its environmental impact and sustainable intensification of roughage production (TUKEVA-project). I grew up on a small crop farm in Central Finland and learned the basics of agriculture there. I got my master's degree in 2015 from the University of Helsinki, majoring in Crop Science. I am very interested in climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as agrobiodiversity.

Anniina's Research Gate profile

Anniina's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal

Clara Lizarazo

Postdoctoral researcher

I am a crop scientist with experience in legume supported cropping systems and adaptation of agriculture to climate change (CC). I have studied the drought response of Andean lupin; and studied narrow-leafed lupin, faba bean and lupin as candidates for local protein production in Boreal-nemoral cropping systems. I have also measured nitrous oxide emissions from faba bean cultivars, and organized workshops to assess sustainable alternatives for agriculture adaptation to CC and farmer's perception to CC, within the EU funded Climate CAFE project.

I have a broad range of research interests that include: biodiversity in rural ecosystems, development of sustainable cropping systems, novel crops and environmental conservation. Currently I do research on crop science at the University of Helsinki and on conservation ecology at the University of Jyväskylä.

My crop science research currently focuses on finding different strategies to improve the seed oil quality of caraway, and assess how different environmental factors may affect it.

Clara's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal

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Pirjo Mäkelä


I got my MSc and Doctoral degree from the University of Helsinki, majoring in Crop Science. My interest towards crop production comes from my background as I grew up in farm which I now run. My doctoral thesis was related to exogenous glycinebetaine application and its role in plant stress tolerance. Since that I have been working with topics related to plant nutrition, cropping sequences, secondary metabolites and their utilization in plant production. Lately, my interest has mainly been forage maize cultivation as well as glycinebetaine.

Pirjo's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal

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Anthony Owusu-Sekyere

Doctoral student

I am from Ghana and studying in the Doctoral Programme in Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources (AGFOREE). With MSc in Plant Production Sciences (University of Helsinki) and a BSc in Herbal medicine (KNUST, Ghana), my research interests are in sustainable food/feed production, plant nutrition and secondary metabolites in plants in general. My current research focuses on the uptake and bioavailability of trace elements in organic and inorganic fertilizers in sustainable intensifications and how well they affect the nutritional quality of food and feed.

Anthony's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal

Frederick Stoddard

University lecturer, adjunct professor

I lead research on protein crops. My main interest is faba bean, where I have projects and collaborations investigating aspects from gene to plate and back again. I grew up in Canada, earned my PhD at the University of Cambridge and worked in Australia for 15 years. I have been on the staff of the University of Helsinki since 2007. My recent international collaborations include the FP7 project “Legume Futures” on legumes in cropping systems and FACCE / ERA-NET+ project Climate CAFE on climate change adaptation of cropping systems. I am currently involved in the ERA-GAS project MAGGE-pH on the effects of soil pH management on greenhouse gas release, EIT-FOOD project ISP on ice-structuring proteins for food uses and Danish Innovation Fund project NORFAB on genomic tools for faba bean improvement. I co-lead the Academy of Finland project Papugeno on sequencing the gene space of faba bean.

Fredrick's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal

Fredrick's Research Gate profile

Priit Tammeorg

University lecturer, adjunct professor

I am an Estonian who, while growing up in my grandparents' farm, grew more interested  in solutions increasing the sustainability of agriculture. After completing my BSc degree with distinction at Estonian University of Life Sciences, I started MSc studies here at University of Helsinki. 

My research interests include ways to improve nutrient recycling, soil fertility, organic farming and recycling fertilizers and biochars as ways to improve the sustainability of crop production. The main focus of my doctoral thesis was to study the effects of biochar use as a soil amendment on soil fertility, earthworms and cereal and legume yield formation in boreal soils. My postdoctoral research continued along these lines and currently my AgriChar research group is focused on exploring the mechanisms of the long-term effects of biochars in boreal soils, nutrient recycling from waterbodies and organic fertilizers.

I am involved also in two Estonian Innovation Cluster projects (together 1.6 M EUR)  that focus on novel ways to protect soils and fertilize crops in organic farming systems.  The HYKERRYS2 project that I lead focuses on developing best practices for using recycled fertilizer and soil amendment products. Most recently, together with Aalto University, we started also EIT C-KIC project CarbonLane where we develop concept designs and principles of urban carbon fixing parks and lanes.

AgriChar research group website

Priit's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal

Priit's Research Gate profile

Chao Xiao

Doctoral student

I am a doctoral student from China. I have a Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Engineering (China NWAFU) in 2014. My research interests are sustainable agricultural production, rapid diagnosis of plant nutrition by UAV and pollution of agricultural land. My current research focuses on the impact of mixed crop cultivation on greenhouse gas emissions and how they affect agricultural productivity and the soil nutrient environment.

Chao's Research Gate profile