Our multidisciplinary research team includes researchers with varying backgrounds, but shared passion for life sciences and learning research.
Ilona Södervik

Principal investigator, Docent

My research interests focus on the development of adaptive expertise and sustainability competences, particularly in the context of life sciences. I teach university pedagogy and supervise master and doctoral theses related to topics of learning and teaching in life sciences. During my free-time, I love to listen audiobooks when jogging in beautiful parks of Helsinki.

Neea Heinonen

Doctoral researcher

My dissertation deals with questions concerning the development of university teachers’ pedagogical expertise particularly in contexts of life sciences. My research concerns especially university teachers’ ability to notice and interpret significant events in teaching-learning situations, i.e. their professional vision capability. In addition, I am also interested how university teachers’ professional vision is connected to their conceptions of teaching and learning. In my research, I utilize a mixed-method approach e.g. eye tracking methodology. During my free time, I enjoy reading, watching movies and observing of birds.

Tomi Kiviluoma

Doctoral researcher

As a biology teacher I am passionate about education and understanding the processes behind learning. In the research group I study conceptual change among undergraduate biology students. My freetime is dedicated to playing the drums for two bands or running and cycling around the Helsinki outskirts.

Vesta Vančugovienė

Doctoral researcher

My research field is related to natural sciences and STEAM education. I am interested in conceptual understanding of complex biological phenomenon. In addition, my research focuses on non-traditional learning environments and authentic learning impact on students‘ conceptual understanding. During my free time, I like to read books, try new recipes or spend time in nature.

Nina Katajavuori


My research deals with questions concerning the development of expertise particularly in contexts of life sciences. In addition, my research concerns well-being and teaching and learning in higher education. During my free-time, I do sports like jogging, biking and horse-riding. I also love gardening and baking.

Leena Hanski


My research activities deal with pharmaceutical microbiology, focusing on treatment strategies on persistent bacterial infections. I also act as the director of the Bachelor in Pharmacy curriculum and am thus actively involved in the planning and implementation of teaching for students aiming to become Pharmacy professionals. On my free-time, I am addicted to trying new receipes and every now and then even manage to prepare good food on them.

Helena Åström

Vice-dean, University lecturer

My research deals with plant biology, the overwintering of plants in a warming climate, morphological adaptations of plants to winter conditions and learning of these contents. As a vice dean responsible for teaching affairs, I am dedicated to advance learning and teaching at university especially in life sciences. In addition to CELLS project, I am involved in developing subject teacher and in-service teacher education in biology.

Riitta Savolainen

University lecturer

My research deals with ecology and evolutionary biology. I am particularly interested in investigating the interrelation between social parasites and their host organisms. I am also interested in learning research related to biosciences, because future experts of this area need to be able to solve complex, global, ecological challenges.

Henny P. A. (Els) Boshuizen


My research interest deals with conceptual change, expertise development and training people for emerging professions especially in contexts of medicine and teacher education.

Funding & Collaborators