Human in Digital and Sustainable Economies research group unites curious minds from various scientific disciplines to tackle the shared and contemporary challenges.

The group brings together a unique mix of expertise ranging from applied economics, design and industrial ecology to social and economic geography.

Contact information: Toni Ryynänen

Toni Ryynänen

Toni is a Senior Researcher in digitalisation and local resilience at the University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute, and the leader of the Human in Digital and Sustainable Economies -research group. His research interests are focused on consumer and end-user research aiming to understand better human behaviour and practices in their everyday lives. He is particularly interested in experiences in various contexts and is an expert in qualitative research data and analysis methods. Currently, Ryynänen is involved in various research projects related to the utilisation of platform economy and digital participation technologies for creating and sustaining greener communities, but also in projects that focus future food technologies and the related bioeconomies from the social science perspectives.

Toni holds M.Sc. and D.Sc. degrees in Consumer Economics from the University of Helsinki. He is also an Adjunct Professor in Consumer Economics and affiliated to the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS). Ryynänen has previously worked in the Centre for Consumer Society Research, the University of Art and Design Helsinki (Aalto ARTS) and the Department of Economics and Management at the University of Helsinki.

Torsti Hyyryläinen

Torsti is a human geographer with a scientific background in regional studies. He works as a research director at the University of Helsinki, Ruralia-institute. His main research topics are local development policies and politics, civic participation and most recently, digital platforms for regional and rural development.

Päivi Pylkkänen

Päivi is a Project Manager in sustainable rural and regional development projects and policy evaluations at the University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute. Her research interests are focused on place-based development activities such as the EU Leader approach.  She is currently also taking part in applied research on digital participation.

Päivi holds a M.Sc. in human geography and planning from the University of Helsinki. She also has a professional teacher qualification from the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences. Pylkkänen has previously worked with both implementation and evaluation of international and European Union rural development policies in the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD, Rome) and the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Ryo Umeda

Ryo is a PhD student at the University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute. Currently he is working on the Japanese hometown donation system called furusato nozei in the project "Principles of the digital platform economy and municipalities' vitality policies" (DATE). As a linguist he has worked on morphosyntax of Finno-Ugric languages, especially Hungarian, Finnish and North Saami. Because of his linguistic background, he is especially interested in how language constructs the way human beings experience the digitalized world. His research interests include digitalization, linguistic analysis of human behavior, minority languages (especially Saami) and rurality in Japan and Finland.


Ryo holds a Master of Arts degree in Linguistics from the University of Tokyo. He is also a PhD student at the University of Oulu, Giellagas Institute. He was formerly a grant researcher in the University of Oulu funded by Heiwa Nakajima Foundation.

Niko Räty

Niko is a grant researcher and PhD student at University of Helsinki in the doctoral program of Political, Societal and Regional Change. Niko is a cellular agriculture enthusiast and his research focus is on consumers’ and farmers’ perceptions on cellular agriculture in the future food systems.

Niko is also design professional with a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree focused in Creative Sustainability from Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture and a board member of Ornamo Art and Design Finland.

Jana Moritz

Jana is originally from Germany. She has a background in International Business acquired during her Bachelors at Maastricht University. She lived in Toulouse for six month during her semester abroad. After obtaining her degree, she collected some working experience during an Internship in Beijing and Berlin for a social Organization called GIZ.  After that she worked for an NGO in Peru, learned the language and taught primary school children English.

Since sustainability and social related topics are her passion, she finished her Master’s Degree in Sustainability Science and Politics at Maastricht University. Her thesis topic was a foresight analysis about cultured meat from the social science perspective. During the process of writing her thesis, she knew she wanted to do this in her near future as well and thus decided to do a PhD at the University of Helsinki looking at cultured meat in post animal bio-economy. 

Natasha Järviö

Natasha is an industrial ecologist who studied at the university of Leiden and technical university of Delft. Industrial ecology is an interdisciplinary programme that focuses on closing the loops within technical sphere in the same way that they are closed in nature. It does so through taking the environment, economy, and people intoaccount.

She has done courses on renewable energy, material flow analysis, agent based modelling and life cycle assessment. Her thesis she wrote about mangrove deforestation due to shrimp farming in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. She designed a method on how to include GHG emissions from land use and land-use change of mangrove forests within LCA studies and applied it to the case study of shrimp farmingin the Mekong delta.

Currently she is applying for the doctoral programme in sustainable use of natural resources and is conducting research within the working group of “cultured meat in the post-animal bioeconomy”. She is currently performing aLCA on microbial protein production. She has an interest in food, land use and its related GHG emissions, LCA and the possibility to use GIS in the analysis. She has basic programming skills (Python, R) thatshe wishes to improve during her PhD.