Group members

Our group consists of 6 people of which 4 are PhD students and 1 is an undergraduate student.

Here you can find the contact and personal information of our group.

Risto Koivula

Hi, my name is Risto Koivula and I have worked with ion exchangers since my graduation on radiochemistry in 1996 (M.Sc.). My first project concerned the removal of heavy metals from metal plating industry (Brite Euram EU-project 96-99) where chelating ion exchangers were used mainly as end-of-pipe polishing materials. Since then my focus has been on inorganic ion exchange materials. I got my PhD. (2003) from the selective removal of activated corrosion products from nuclear power plant waste waters utilizing highly selective metal oxides. The following years has been filled with different projects and innovations in the area of selective separations, working mainly with inorganic materials in association with nuclear and mining industry.

Over two decades work in the ion exchange group has deepened my knowledge and interest on the selective separations and educated me from the junior researcher into the group leader (2016) that I now am. This position allows me to seek out new materials and methods for selective separations and boldly use them in applications where they haven’t been used before.

Otto-Matti Hiltunen

Background and education

I originally come from the catalysis and green chemistry group of Helsinki university where I finished my Master’s project (2019). In my Masters’s thesis I was exploring the possibilities of carbon dioxide in the NHC-copper(I)-catalyzed synthesis of different carboxylic acids from unsaturated hydrocarbons. Organometallic chemistry, catalysis and CO2 utilization in organic synthesis were the main topics when working in the catalysis group. During my studies I have worked as a research assistant in the catalysis group and participated in two publications. These publications were related to copper(I)-Schiff-base-complexes in order to oxidize alcohols in a more selective and efficient ways and preparation of pharmaceutically relevant cyclic carbamate structures. I also have experience as a teaching assistant from basic inorganic chemistry laboratory courses.

Current work

I started my PhD project in May 2019 in which I develop strategies for group separation of lanthanides and actinides. The focus is on porous inorganics combined to different f-metal selective organic functional groups which create a framework for Ac/Ln selective hybridmaterials.

Interests and skills

I have experience in basic analytical techniques, such as GC-MS, LC and NMR. I am excited to gain expertise in the field of radiochemistry and I am also interested in learning new different techniques, for example XAS and XRD.

Miho Otaki


Education and background

I obtained a BSc degree in chemistry from the University of Tokyo, and an MSc degree in radiochemistry from the University of Helsinki. During the studies, I developed my knowledge in materials science (solid-state physics, transition-metal chemistry, etc.) and radiochemistry (radiochemical analysis, naturally occurring radioactivity, etc.). My background also includes research experience at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization of Japan, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland (Säteilyturvakeskus). 

Current work

I am currently working on the “USEMA” project funded by the Academy of Finland. The project aims at developing organic-inorganic hybrid materials for selective separation of Group 3 and f-block elements, where I am especially focusing on materials to separate Lu-177 for medical applications. 

Interests and skills

I have been interested in radionuclides since childhood, but the Fukushima nuclear disaster particularly kindled my passion to be a radiochemist. Throughout my research experience, I have learned various techniques of radiochemical analysis (gamma spectrometry, LSC), radiation dosimetry, materials characterization (XRD, AFM, XAS, electric and magnetic characterization), elemental analysis (MP-AES, ICP-MS), and inorganic synthesis.

Topi Suominen


Education and background

I finished my M.Sc. degree in chemistry and molecular sciences at the University of Helsinki in 2020. In my studies I focused on radiochemistry, and in my master's thesis I studied the current state of two mine waste sites, focusing on possible transport of radionuclides and other harmful elements. The thesis was done in cooperation between the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) and the University of Helsinki. I've also worked as a university trainee at STUK in 2019 and 2018, where I was tasked with pretreatment of natural samples. I obtained my B.Sc. in chemistry from the University of Helsinki in 2018.

Current work

I am currently working as a PhD student in an Academy of Finland funded project “USEMA”, which aims at developing hybrid materials for ultra-selective separation of Group 3 and f-block elements.

Interests and skills

I have a lot of experience working with natural samples. I am familiar with gamma spectroscopy and elemental analysis with ICP-MS. I also have some experience with XRD and TGA along with some radioanalytical methods. My interests lie in all aspects of radiochemistry, from environmental radiochemistry and ion exchange applications to radiopharmaceutical chemistry.

Lauri Pettilä