People & contact

Digital Geography Lab is home to an interdisciplinary group of researchers with diverse backgrounds in geography, geoinformatics, conservation biology, linguistics, and related fields.
Tuuli Toivonen

Professor of Geoinformatics, PhD

Tuuli is a professor of geoinformatics and leads the multidisciplinary Digital Geography Lab at the Department of Geosciences and Geography. Her research explores the possibilities of using novel (big/open) data sources and spatial analyses to support environmental and sustainable land use planning and decision-making. Tuuli has studied both urban systems and more natural environments on various scales from the global to the local. Together with the team, she has developed and applied a wide range of methods for analysing spatial patterns and processes related to accessibility and mobility, as well as biodiversity conservation, utilising data from social media and mobile phone data in addition to more traditional data sources. Her research benefits from methods from a variety of fields and often involves interdisciplinary collaboration.

Tuuli has taught geoinformatics at the university level for more than 20 years and participates actively in the societal processes in the field. She is a great fan of open data and open science and interested in the implications of openness for education, research and society.



Olle Järv

Academy Research Fellow, PhD

Olle holds a joint PhD in human geography and regional planning (2013) from the University of Tartu and Ghent University. As a human geographer, his broad interdisciplinary research interests focus on human mobilities in spatial, temporal and social contexts. He is particularly interested in how big data such as mobile phone and social media data can be used to examine individual spatial mobilities and behaviour, understand social processes and phenomena, and how this can be implemented in planning and policy. In recent years, he has examined ways to use big data in studying cross-border interactions, transnationalism, segregation and socio-spatial inequality, urban accessibility and regional mobility. Olle is currently working on his Academy Research Fellow project "Tracing Interactions and Mobilities Beyond State Borders: Towards New Transnational Spaces (BORDERSPACE)" and two new Horizon Europe projects MOBI-TWIN and WinWin4WorkLife.



Johanna Eklund

Associate Professor in Geography (tenure track), PhD

Johanna is an Associate Professor at the Department of Geosciences and Geography and is broadly interested in questions related to evaluating the effectiveness of conservation actions. Currently she is working on projects attempting to disentangle the many links between funding, governance and ecological outcomes of protected areas (see project description). She is also interested in developing new tools and methods for the evaluation of protected area effectiveness.

Johanna´s background is very interdisciplinary. She did her PhD with the Global Change and Conservation Lab at the Metapopulation Research Centre, University of Helsinki, and has since worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Development Studies and HELSUS (University of Helsinki) and a visiting researcher at the University of Cambridge. She has experience of working with both protected area managers and local communities on the ground (Tanzania, Madagascar) and with a diverse set of methods (both quantitative and qualitative).


Tuomo Hiippala

Associate Professor of English Language and Digital Humanities (tenure track), PhD

Tuomo holds a PhD in English Philology (2014) from the University of Helsinki. His research focuses on multimodality, that is, how human communication relies on intentional combinations of multiple ‘modes’ of expression. He has published two monographs on multimodality, entitled The Structure of Multimodal Documents (Routledge, 2015) and Multimodality: Foundations, Research and Analysis (De Gruyter, 2017, with John A. Bateman and Janina Wildfeuer). Tuomo is also interested in urban multilingualism and linguistic landscapes, which he has studied using social media and register data at the Digital Geography Lab. He has also developed computational approaches to analysing social media data using natural language processing, computer vision and machine learning.

Before joining the Digital Geography Lab in 2017 on a personal grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Tuomo worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Applied Language Studies at the University of Jyväskylä. Since 2018, Tuomo works as an Associate Professor in English Language and Digital Humanities at the Department of Languages. 




Kamyar Hasanzadeh

University Lecturer, PhD

Kamyar holds a PhD in Spatial planning and transportation engineering (2019) from Aalto University. He has a background in geoinformation technology (MSc, 2014) and geomatics (BSc, 2012) and is specialized in geospatial problem solving, modelling, and tool development. Kamyar’s broad interdisciplinary research interests focus on the use of quantitative methods to study person-environment relationships in urban context. This includes research on environmental health promotion, participatory mapping, activity spaces, mobility, and place exposure. In recent years, he has also explored the topics of open data and spatial data privacy and has examined novel methods of spatial data anonymization.

Kamyar is a university lecturer and teaches several courses in geoinformatics.


Petteri Muukkonen

University Lecturer, PhD

Petteri is a university lecturer in geoinformatics and an adjunct professor (title of docent) in biogeography. He is also the director of the Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning (USP). In addition to research, Petteri has also a teaching qualification as a subject teacher of geography and biology. Due to his background as a teacher, he has recently expanded his research topics to also cover the pedagogy of geography and educational sciences. In addition, Petteri is a member of the Teachers’ Academy

Petteri supervises PhD theses, MSc theses and BSc theses in the fields of geoinformatics and the pedagogy of geography. He also teaches geoinformatics and GIS in various master’s and bachelor’s level courses.


Aina Brias Guinart

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Aina Brias-Guinart is interested in the social dimensions of conservation interventions. At the Digital Geography Lab, she is part of the MOBICON project focusing on the engagement with stakeholders. Aina holds a MSc in Environment and Development from Lancaster University and she is finalising her PhD research at the Global Change and Conservation Lab (University of Helsinki), which focuses on the links between environmental education and biodiversity conservation in rural Madagascar. She has experience with conservation practitioners and local communities on the ground (Senegal, Madagascar). She is particularly interested in supporting effective and socially-just conservation models by using participatory research approaches and promoting ethical research practices in concrete and meaningful ways.


Christoph Fink

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Christoph is researching people’s activities in cities. He is especially interested in active mobility, urban transformation and the relation between digital, social, and physical spaces. Christoph is a cartographer and social geographer graduated from the University of Vienna, Austria, and received his PhD at the University of Helsinki. At the Digital Geography Lab, he is involved in the URBANAGE project that investigates how and to which degree digital twins of cities can help planners to better take into consideration older people and improve accessibility for the ‘non-average’ citizen to urban participation and enable their rights to the city.


Elias Willberg

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Elias is a Postdoctoral researcher focused on interlinkages of urban sustainability and travel. He studies spatial accessibility and mobility, urban travel environments and ways in which GISience and spatial (big) data can help to understand and advance social and environmental sustainability of everyday travel.

Currently, Elias works in GREENTRAVEL acting as a vice leader for the project. Elias holds a PhD in Geoinformatics with his thesis focused on Sustainable accessibility, He has previously contributed to several research projects in DGL including Urban Exerciser, Healthy Outdoor Premises for Everyone (HOPE) and URBANAGE. He was the head of the conference secretariat for the international NECTAR 2019 conference: Transport in Human Scale Cities - Open and Happy held in Helsinki in June 2019. Elias is also active in teaching: he has created two GIS courses also assists on several other courses.



Kerli Müürisepp

Research Coordinator, PhD

Kerli is a human geographer whose interdisciplinary research focuses on urban segregation, integration and transnationalism, and on socio-spatial inequalities in environmental exposures. She is especially interested in capturing those processes and phenomena through the lens of people's mobility and activity spaces. In her PhD thesis “Capturing segregation through space and time: New insights from the activity space approach and big data”, Kerli used spatial Big Data sources, and in particular mobile phone data, to provide a novel understanding about people’s daily mobility and activity spaces, and about the segregation patterns and socio-spatial inequalities these create.

Currently, Kerli works as a Research Coordinator in the ERC-funded research project “GREENTRAVEL – Greener Urban Travel Environments for Everyone: From measured wellbeing impacts to Big Data analytics”. In GREENTRAVEL, her research focusses on understanding the equity of access and exposure to greenery during people’s everyday urban travels. Besides, Kerli is responsible for the GREENTRAVEL project administration and reporting, and supporting the daily operations of the Digital Geography Lab.



Milad Malekzadeh

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Milad is a postdoctoral researcher specializing in transportation and well-being. As a quantitative geographer, he uses big data and mobility data to explore how urban travel environments impact well-being and overall quality of life. His research aims to develop methods to study human mobility and its interactions with the environment.

Currently, Milad is involved in the MobiTwin and WinWin4WorkLife projects, where he primarily conducts quantitative analysis. He previously contributed to the WorkAndHome project, a collaboration between Western University in Canada—where he studied his PhD and received the Inspiring Mind of 2023 award—and the University of Birmingham, UK. At Western University, he taught the geocomputation course and led several labs, earning a teaching award for his contributions in these roles.


Oleksandr Karasov

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Oleksandr is a postdoctoral researcher in the Academy of Finland project "Tracing Interactions and Mobilities Beyond State Borders: Towards New Transnational Spaces (BORDERSPACE)". His main role in the project is to develop methodologies for using social media data to enhance research on people's cross-border activity spaces, and capture their activities and sentiments in the context of transnationalism.

Oleksandr holds a PhD in Environmental Protection from Estonian University of Life Sciences (2020). His other research interests include a spatially explicit assessment of people's activities and values focusing on landscape experience, cultural ecosystem services, and nature's non-material contributions to people captured via the lenses of social media and remote sensing. He aims at deconstructing and assessing the quality of people's personal time to address the sustainability challenges.



Riku Reunamäki

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Riku is a postdoctoral researcher studying the future of work. He is interested in contemporary worklife issues such as the digital transition, different remote and hybrid working arrangements, employee well-being, and sustainable people management. His approach to studying these topics is primarily qualitative, and he aims to give voice to regular employees in modern organizations through interviewing as well as ethnographic and discursive methods.

Riku holds a doctorate from Aalto University School of Business. His dissertation is a case study about how employees experienced the strategic renewal of OP Financial Group, which coincided with the rapid rise of remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, Riku works in the WinWin4WorkLife project, the goal of which is to promote healthy, inclusive, and sustainable remote work futures for both employees and employers in urban, rural, and cross-border areas. Outside academia, Riku plays floorball at the highest level in the Finnish F-liiga and is also an avid reader.


Silviya Korpilo

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Silviya Korpilo earned a MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development from University College London, UK and PhD degree in Environmental Change and Policy from Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences at University of Helsinki. Silviya generally studies human-nature interactions in cities from a socio-ecological-technological systems perspective and particularly how participatory GIS methods can support planning and management of urban green spaces. Her research interests include multisensory methods for studying human experiences in urban nature, environmental justice and using novel technologies to capture and analyse urban green space use. Before joining the Digital Geography Lab at the beginning of 2023, Silviya has been working on the Smarter Greener Cities project examining the links between landscape and soundscape quality and psychological restoration.

Silviya is also currently working in the GREENTRAVEL project that investigates the quality, availability and wellbeing impacts of green urban travel environments. The study employs experimental designs in laboratory and in-situ settings, and cutting edge technologies like Virtual Reality and wearable sensors. 



Tuomas Väisänen

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD 

Tuomas is a post-doctoral researcher who studies urban diversity with big data sources. He is interested in understanding how languages and activities of people intertwine with population dynamics and segregation during daily activities and decade-long trajectories. He studies these matters with an interdisciplinary selection of methods ranging from spatial analysis and statistics to computer vision and natural language processing techniques. Tuomas’ goal is to help cities become more equal and socially sustainable. 

Currently, Tuomas works in MOBI-TWIN project, which explores how interregional mobility of the European population has changed within Europe during the green and digital transitions. Tuomas' did his PhD in a research project focusing on Mapping the Linguistic Landscape of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. He also contributed to other research projects in the group related to big data analysis of Cross-border Mobilities and Social Media Data for Conservation Science. He also maintains the database of the research group and is an active teacher of masters-level GIS courses. Outside academia, he likes to go skateboarding and fishing. 


Vuokko Heikinheimo

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Vuokko is a geographer and GIS-enthusiast interested in advancing and applying spatial analysis methods to solving the ongoing sustainability challenges, especially from the point of view of urban planning. In spring 2024, Vuokko is splitting her time between the Digital Geography Lab focusing on environmental exposure analysis related to the Green Paths tool and the Urban Air Quality 2.0 project in particular, and the Finnish Environment Institute Syke where she works in research and expert projects related to urban sustainability. Vuokko completed her PhD in the Social Media Data for Conservation Science -project in 2020, and has been involved in various teaching and research activities at the Digital Geography Lab and the former Accessibility Research Group since 2015.


Ashish Shete

Technical Assistant, MSc

With over a decade of experience in Visualization and CAD software development across diverse domains like shipping, oil-field exploration, and BIM, Ashish has expertise in crafting immersive experiences like walk-throughs and animations. He has successfully led teams in both MNCs and startups, building scalable 3D applications. Ashish has a master's degree in automotive engineering. He now directs his efforts towards developing a VR experience setup for the GREENTRAVEL project.

Håvard Wallin Aagesen

Doctoral Researcher, MSc

Håvard is a doctoral researcher studying cross-border mobility within the Academy of Finland project "Tracing Interactions and Mobilities Beyond State Borders: Towards New Transnational Spaces (BORDERSPACE)". He focuses on examining individual spatial mobilities, transnational spaces and cross-border interactions using big data sources like social media data. Håvard holds a BSc in Human Geography from the University of Oslo and an MSc in Geoinformatics from the University of Helsinki. In his Master’s thesis, he studied cross-border regions in the Nordics based on Twitter data. Håvard teaches two MSc level courses at the Department of Geosciences and Geography: Geo-Python and Automating GIS-processes.




Jussi Torkko

Doctoral Researcher, MSc

Jussi is a doctoral researcher part of the GREENTRAVEL project, specialized in the mapping of perceived greenery, using novel methods and data sources. His research focuses on trying to more deeply understand how we should map street-level greenery using a combination of various machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and in-situ approaches. He has a MSc in geography, specializing in geoinformatics, from the University of Helsinki. In his thesis he studied mapping greenery on the human level and how different people experience it.


Leyi Xu

Doctoral Researcher, MSc

Leyi is a doctoral researcher on the VIMAS project, focusing on identifying new visitor typologies in nature recreation using mobile big data. She aims to  understand “who” visit nature recreation and their corresponding visiting behaviors. She is also part of the MOBICON project, and her role is to analyze the characteristics of visitors. She holds a MSc in Geographic Information Science and Systems from the University of Zurich. Her thesis investigated visitor behaviors and city perceptions through semantic trajectories using Foursquare check-ins and Flickr tags.


Matti Hästbacka

Doctoral Researcher, MSc

Matti is a doctoral researcher working in the MOBICON project. His work is focused on using novel big data sources for understanding the environmental impacts of human visits to national parks and other green spaces. In his MSc thesis, he studied the role of nature for tourists visiting the Canary Islands, making use of Flickr posts and their contents. 


Omkaranathan Ravindran

VR specialist, MSc

Omkaranathan is an XR specialist with extensive industry experience in areas of Computer Graphics including 3D visualization, Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality, VFX and CAD. He holds a Master's degree in Computer Animation and Game Development from Coventry University and spent most of his career in the industry. His previous work include building solutions and managing teams to create visual experiences in the fields of automotive , architecture, image processing, Hollywood movie visual effects, medical imaging, satellite data processing etc., in both startups and multi-national companies. He finds joy in exploring new ways to use the power of 3D visualization techniques to address practical real world problems and is interested in cross disciplinary collaborations that can benefit from the use of 3D computer graphics. Currently part of the GREENTRAVEL project, he is engaged in the design and implementation of Virtual Reality urban environments featuring elements of greenery, seasonality, and navigation for conducting ex-situ experiments.




Robert Klein

Doctoral Researcher, MSc

Robert is a doctoral researcher in the GREENTRAVEL project. His focus is on mapping urban greenery from human perspective and the development of a human-perspective greenery index. More specifically, he aims to understand how the quality of the greenery and seasonal variations can be considered there, using computer vision techniques and remote sensing-based data. His research also includes spatial analysis of where and when citizens get exposed to greenery during their everyday trips, through applying routing tools and mobility patterns.

Robert holds a MSc degree in Environmental Science from the University of Gothenburg. His research there was focused on urban climate and spatial analysis of thermal comfort distribution in Gothenburg.




Roope Heinonen

Software developer, BSc

Roope is interested in building software solutions for solving real life problems, especially spatial ones. He’s working in GREENTRAVEL project and doing his masters thesis in the process. Roope has bachelor’s degrees in Geography (University of Helsinki) and in software engineering (HAAGA-HELIA university of applied sciences). He has been working with software for years e.g., with web development, QGIS plugin development, scripting, and testing. Roope is most comfortable working with technologies such as Python, React and SQL to name a few. Roope is still to find his ikigai subject, but in GIS his interests lie in mapping, visualizing data and as a new addition to the collection: routing.



Tatu Leppämäki

Doctoral Researcher, MSc

Tatu is a doctoral researcher studying the use of national parks and green spaces from big data in the MOBICON project. His role in the project is especially to further develop methods and tools for understanding visits to national parks, be they physical or virtual, and how the visits have changed over time. These questions are tackled through novel data sources, such as mobile phone data and social media data of both textual and visual format. Tatu is a geographer specializing in Geoinformatics from the University of Helsinki. His interests lie in how geographical and linguistic computational methods and big data sources can be applied to understand human actions and sentiments. In his Master’s thesis, Tatu explored how location information can be gained from Finnish texts through the use of place names


Kirsi Ylinen

Research assistant, BSc

Kirsi works as a research assistant for project MOBICON. She has a bachelor's degree in Geography from the University of Helsinki, and is currently pursuing her Master's studies in the same field, specializing in geoinformatics. In her work, she's exploring how mobile phone data can be utilized to analyze demographics of park visitors, with a particular interest in understanding which groups are underrepresented in visits to national parks and other large green areas.


Rory Taylor

Research assistant, BSc

Rory is currently completing a Master’s Programme in Geography (Geoinformatics). He holds a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (Sust.Sci.) and Bachelor of Science (Environmental) from the Australian National University. In a previous antipodean life down under, he worked as environment planner, primarily for large-scale renewable energy projects across NSW. Rory is intrigued by how people understand, value and communicate about the environments in which they live and how they manifest in community-based/led environmental stewardship, biodiversity conservation and restoration. He works as a research assistant on the DGL's GREENTRAVEL project, while also keeping a side hustle with the Human-Nature Transformations Group at the University of Helsinki.



Former visitors

  • Kofoworola Modupe Osunkoya
    • PhD Researcher from Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), Estonia.
    • Visited DGL: November 2023–May 2024.
    • Read our mini-interview with Modupe HERE!
  • Xiao Cai
    • MSc student from the University of Tartu, Estonia.
    • Visited DGL: February–May 2024.
    • Read our mini-interview with Xiao HERE!
  •  Manuel Mendoza Hurtado
    • PhD Researcher from the University of Cordoba, Spain.
    • Visited DGL: March–May 2024.
    • Read our mini-interview with Manuel HERE!
  • Mahtab Baghaie Poor
    • PhD Researcher from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany.
    • Visited DGL: April–May 2024.
    • Read our mini-interview with Mahtab HERE!
  • Ago Tominga
    • PhD researcher from Mobility Lab of University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Bryan R. Vallejo
    • Trainee and MSc student from the University of Tartu
  • Sławomir Goliszek
    • PhD candidate from the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Daniel Lopatnikov Rojo
    • PhD candidate from the Universidad Pública de Navarra (UPNA)
  • Jeison Lon­doño Es­pinosa 
    • Trainee and MSc student from the University of Münster
    • MSc thesis: Comparative spatial data analysis method of urban accessibility realities for public transport and private car: Helsinki and Tallinn as a case study
  • Ludovic Chastenet 
  • Laura Centore 
    • Research assistant
Former lab members
Graduated MSc students

Visitor/collaborator/new member of the team

Are you interested in our work and would like to join us as a guest researcher or a visiting PhD student? Please email digital-geography[at] and let us know about your background and interests! We also encourage MSc students to contact us for potential thesis topics or internship related to our research themes.