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, socio-spatial inequality and urban accessibility. Olle is currently working on his new Academy Research Fellow project "Tracing Interactions and Mobilities Beyond State Borders: Towards New Transnational Spaces (BORDERSPACE)".



Tuomo Hiippala

Assistant 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 the multimodality of human communication, that is, how natural language and various forms of visual communication interact and cooperate with each other in different communicative situations. In addition to authoring several journal articles and book chapters, 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).

At the Digital Geography Lab, Tuomo develops approaches that draw on recent advances in natural language processing, computer vision and machine learning, whose application is informed by theories of multimodal communication. He is also pursuing research on the linguistic landscape of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, that is, which languages are spoken and where, in order to better understand the distribution of languages in space and time, and the potential for language contact.

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. As of 2018, Tuomo is Assistant Professor of 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.


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 researcher working on sustainable urban mobility and accessibility. His research interest focuses on ways to measure social and environmental impacts of accessibility and mobility. His research topics also include exploring citizens’ opportunities to access healthy travel environments and to use active travel as part of their daily mobility. Elias' work integrates spatial methodologies and mobile big data (e.g. mobile phone and bike-sharing data) with more traditional data sources like registries and individual surveys. He works in the Urban Exerciser and HOPE and GREENTRAVEL projects.

Elias holds an MSc in geoinformatics. 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: as a co-creator, he teaches an inter-departmental course entitled Open GIS & Spatial Data Infrastructures while also assisting on several other courses.



Janika Raun

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Janika is a postdoctoral researcher in the MOPA-project (The rhythms, places and customer groups of multi-local dwelling) focusing on the spatial and temporal use patterns of second homes based on new big data sources, such as electricity data and social media data. Janika received her BSc and MSc degree in geography from the University of Tartu. During her master studies, she spent a semester in the Netherlands at Twente University. Janika holds a PhD degree in human geography and regional planning (2020) from the University of Tartu. Her PhD thesis focused on the use of mobile positioning data for tourism destination studies and statistics. Before joining Digital Geography Lab in 2021, she was an active member of the Mobility Lab at the University of Tartu. Janika has also been teaching courses on human geography and tourism geography.



Johanna Eklund

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Johanna works as a postdoctoral researcher in the group 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 both at Development Studies and as a postdoctoral fellow at HELSUS (University of Helsinki). 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).



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.



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. 



Aina Brias Guinart

Doctoral Researcher, MSc

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.


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.




Kerli Müürisepp

Doctoral Researcher, MSc

Kerli is a doctoral researcher studying urban segregation, spatial inequalities, integration and transnationalism from the perspective of people's mobility and activity spaces. She seeks how mobile Big Data sources such as social media data and mobile phone data can provide more nuanced understanding about socio-spatial interactions of individuals across their activity spaces, and consequently provide new insights for integration research and practice. Kerli's PhD is part of the project “Socio-Spatial Dialogues in the City: Tracing Spatial Mobilities, Social Engagement and Integration Using Big Data”.

Kerli holds an MSc in human geography and regional planning from the University of Tartu. Prior to joining the Digital Geography Lab in 2017, she worked in public sector consultancy in the field of policy analysis and evaluation. With experience in both academic and applied research, she aims to advance cooperation between academia and public policy institutions for applying state-of-the-art theoretical and empirical knowledge in the process of policy-making.



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


Tuomas Väisänen

Doctoral Researcher, MSc

Tuomas is a doctoral researcher interested in understanding urban areas and people through big data sources like social media and mobile phone data. He focuses on analyzing people’s spatio-temporal language use and activities across urban space using AI-based content analysis techniques (namely computer vision and natural language processing) and spatial analysis. He aims to help cities become more equal and socially sustainable by expanding knowledge of people's language and activity diversity across urban space.

Tuomas' PhD is a part of a research project focusing on Mapping the Linguistic Landscape of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. He also contributes to other research projects in the group related to big data analysis of Cross-border Mobilities and Social Media Data for Conservation Science. Tuomas is an active teacher of masters-level GIS courses.


Research assistants


Former visitors

  • Ago Tominga
    • PhD researcher from Mobility Lab of University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Marisofia Nurmi
    • MSc from the University of Helsinki, worked as a project planner in the YLLI project.
  • Emil Ehnström
    • MSc from the University of Helsinki, worked as a project planner in the YLLI project.
  • 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.