Become familiar with our researchers and their areas of expertise.
Head of Research Group

Sirpa Wrede

Dr Sirpa Wrede is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests deal with the dynamics of social inequalities and social citizenship.  Her current work focuses on ageing and social ties in the context of migration and on professional work in the context of health care restructuring. She leads the MICA research team within the Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care of which she is Vice Director. 

Twitter @SirpaWrede

Co-Leaders of Research Group

Anne Kouvonen

Dr Anne Kouvonen is a Professor of Social Policy specialising in social inequalities. She is also an Honorary Professor of Social Epidemiology and Social Science in Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. In MICA research group Anne leads the quantitative research stream. She has published approx. 170 international peer-reviewed papers, mainly on social determinants of health. She is the Deputy Director (Co-PI) of the Helsinki Health Study, and the University of Helsinki work package leader of the Strategic Research Council-funded DigiIN consortium, in which she and her team investigate digital inequalities and challenges of digitalisation in a multicultural society.

Twitter @AKouvonen

Vanessa May

Dr Vanessa May is Professor in Sociology and Co-Director of the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives at the University of Manchester. She is also Co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Sociology. In MICA Vanessa leads the qualitative research. Her most recent research has explored various dimensions of belonging, with a particular focus on the temporal aspects of belonging related for example to experiences of ageing.

Twitter @VanessaLKMay

MICA Research Team

Laura Kemppainen

Dr Laura Kemppainen (neé Lyytikäinen) holds a docentship in Sociology and works as a University researcher and as the responsible researcher in the CHARM survey study. Her research focuses on migration, health and wellbeing especially in the context of ageing. Kemppainen’s research interests include research on inequalities, transnationalism, ageing and end of life and mixed methods. She has acted as a principal investigator in the projects Crossing Borders for Health and Wellbeing (2017–2020) and Transnational Health and Wellbeing (2020–2022), which investigated transnational use of health care, medical travel and tourism.

Lily Nosraty 

Dr Lily Nosraty is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, the group Migration, Care and Ageing (MICA) at the Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care. Lily is a gerontologist with a focus on mortality, good/successful aging, early retirement, good death and individual based measures of longevity. She received her PhD at Tampere University. Lily is interested in expanding her research on aging and health to immigration and care. She is working on the application of the novel method of data mining, General Unary Hypotheses Automaton (GUHA) method, in gerontology and is keen to expand her collaborative network.   

Stefan Millar

Dr Stefan Millar is a Social Anthropologist at Helsinki University with specialization in the state, migration, and the life course. His regional interests include South Sudan, Kenya, Finland, and Canada. Currently, Millar is a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care, within the MICA subproject. His current research explores East African migrants use of elderhood and experiences of the state in Finland and Canada. Prior to working at Helsinki, Millar conducted his PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. Millar's PhD examined the role of the state in the context of Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. His PhD was awarded by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.

MICA Research Group Affiliates

Ilkka Pietilä

Dr Ilkka Pietilä is an associate professor of social gerontology at University of Helsinki. His research has explored gendered interpretations of health and ageing, with a particular interest in ageing men and masculinities. He is also interested in age relations in ageing societies, ageism and intergenerational relationships.

Hanna Kara

Dr Hanna Kara works currently as university lecturer in social work at the University of Helsinki and researcher at Åbo Akademi University. Her research has dealt with the transnational migration of Latin American women in Mexico and Spain, and social work with migrant families and linguistic diversity in social services in Finland. She has written, for example, on family ties in transnational migration, the role of public service interpreters in social services, and research ethics.  

Camilla Nordberg

Camilla Nordberg is a senior lecturer in social policy at Åbo Akademi University (AAU). Her research has broadly related to issues of migration, welfare, power, political discourse, and street-level institutional encounters. She currently examines citizenisation processes and subject making in relation to migrant background mothers and families in restructuring welfare state contexts. She is the PI of Ordering the migrant family: Power asymmetries and citizenisation in restructuring welfare bureaucracies (MigraFam, 2017–2022, Academy of Finland), Language diversity and vulnerability in social work in the era of digitalisation (SOSKIELI, 2021–2023, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health) and Professional expertise in the multilingual landscape of welfare service work (2021–2022, Högskolestiftelsen).

Ulla Buchert

Dr Ulla Buchert is a post-doctoral researcher in Work Package 2 Care Needs of Older Migrants. She is a sociologist whose research focuses on construction of immigrancy in the ageing Finland, presently especially in the context of the activities and services implemented by the third sector organizations. Her theoretical interests include categories, categorizations and classification systems especially in the institutional contexts. Her work at the CoE is funded by the Academy of Finland. 

Antero Olakivi

Dr Antero Olakivi is a post-doctoral researcher and a specialist in the sociology of knowledge, interaction and morality. His empirical research covers various topics, including work and organisations, welfare state professions, management and managerialism, transnational migration, ageing and care. Olakivi is the chief editor in the Finnish Työelämän tutkimus journal (2022-2024).

Teemu Kemppainen

Teemu Kemppainen works as lecturer in Geography at the University of Helsinki. His research interests include well-being as a contextual phenomenon, housing, migration, urban studies as well as methodology of science and social theory. He's also interested in the late 60's Detroitian soundscape.

Anna-Leena Riitaoja

Dr Anna-Leena Riitaoja is a post-doctoral researcher in MICA. Her background is in education with a special focus on migration and inequality. Her theoretical interests include the nexus of social work professional knowledge and migration issues as well as categorizations of people with migrant background in institutional contexts and encounters. Currently she works in the Swedish School of Social Science in the fields of social work and migration studies. She is also a post-doctoral researcher in the Academy funded project Ordering the ‘migrant family’: power asymmetry work and citizenization in welfare professional bureaucracies (2017-2021, MigraFam), led by Dr Camilla Nordberg. In MICA her research focuses on professionalism and professional knowledge related to ageing migrant clients. 

Reiko Shindo

Dr  Reiko Shindo’s research derives from a general interest in citizenship and community: the research examines how the space of political community is being transformed through various practices and discourses of citizenship in the contemporary world. One of the areas in the research involves domestically-recruited care workers with foreign background. In particular, the research focuses on policies and practices that encourage those identified as immigrant youth to work in the care industry. Drawing on the empirical example of Finland, the research examines a disjuncture between the legal category – of citizenship status – and policy category – of who is deemed as ‘migrant’ despite being born in the country of citizenship.

Jari Pirhonen

Docent Jari Pirhonen leads a research group studying death in nursing homes as a social process. He is a specialist in ethnography, nursing ethics, long-term care of older adults, and conceptions of good life.

Anna Simola

Dr Anna Simola is a postdoctoral researcher in MICA, and a visiting scholar at the Interdisciplinary Research Center on Families and Sexualities (CIRFASE) at the UCLouvain, Belgium. Anna’s research approach is cross-disciplinary and her current research interests include sociology of personal life, transnational families and care, critical migration research, comparative welfare state research and governmentality studies. 

Larisa Shpakovskaya

Dr Larisa Shpakovskaya is a post-doctoral researcher in MICA. Her current research interests are related to migration, ageing and gender with special attention to care, union formation, intimacy and social life of migrants. She works in the project Limited social spaces (RASTI) - research on the social relationships, sense of belonging and well-being of aging Russian-speaking men living in Finland funded by Kone Foundation (2023-2026), led by Ilkka Pietilä. In the project, she focuses on social, cultural and health practices of the aged Russian speaking migrants in a city space.

Emilia Leinonen

Emilia Leinonen, PhD in social and public policy, works as a postdoctoral researcher and coordinator in the Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care at the University of Jyväskylä and is an affiliated researcher in MICA. She defended her doctoral dissertation, Locating adult foster care: adult foster care for older people in between of formal and informal in 2020. Her main research interests include care, housing, temporalities, and the interplay between policies and the everyday life of older persons. 

Vilhelmiina Lehto-Niskala

Dr Vilhelmiina Lehto-Niskala is a post-doctoral researcher in SPIN project (Self-modification promotion in institutional interaction: A relational perspective to contested expertise). Her background is in nursing and health sciences, and she defended her doctoral thesis in the field of gerontology. Vilhelmiina’s current research interests are care of older people, management of older people care services and interactions between supervisors and care workers.

Twitter @Vilhelmiina_L

Anna Avdeeva

Dr Anna Avdeeva is a post-doctoral researcher in Minority Research profile at Åbo Akademi and in MICA. Her background is in Gender Studies and Sociology with a special focus on care and caring practices. Currently, she works on the longitude project Care work at cultural and linguistic crossroads: Culture-specific understandings of social care and barriers related to minority language in social care services provided to/by language minorities  (2021-2025). Anna explores institutional and interactional language barriers as well as mismatches between different perceptions of social care in the Swedish-language social care services in Finland and among immigrant care workers coming from post-Soviet countries.

Shanaj Begum

Dr Shahnaj Begum currently leads a project on gender inequality among caregivers and is co-leader of another project on ageing and ethnicity in the Arctic (AGE-Arctic); both projects are funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. She is also an affiliated post-doctoral researcher in MICA. Her research background lies in the disciplines of law and the social sciences, spanning Arctic Studies, human rights, ageing and ethnicity in the North, and gender studies. Her recent research interest includes the concept of an age-friendly environment in the light of intersectionality and capability theory and as the concept might apply to and thus enhance the situation of older non-European immigrants.

Anastasia Asikainen

Anastasia Asikainen (M. Soc. Sc.) is a doctoral student in sociology. She is writing her doctoral dissertation on the topic of ageing Russian-speaking minority in Finland as a part of MICA research group. Her current research interests include migration, minorities, civil society, Russian-speakers in Finland and questions of rights and belonging in the every-day related to this group.

Tatiana Glushkova

Tatiana Glushkova is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Helsinki University. Her doctoral thesis examines a sense of belonging among older Russian-speaking migrants in Finland. Tatiana carries out her study as a part of the RASTI project that focuses on the social relationships, sense of belonging, and well-being of ageing Russian-speaking men living in Finland.

Katarina Blomqvist

Katarina Blomqvist is an artist-researcher and a doctoral candidate at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in the Department of Film. After studying philosophy (MA, University of Helsinki) she has been working in creative audio documentary field.

University of Helsinki email:

Inka Laisi

Inka Laisi (M. Soc. Sc) is a doctoral researcher in sociology. Her dissertation examines primary care doctoring and professional agency of junior GPs in Finnish public primary healthcare. 

Nuriiar Safarov

Nuriiar Safarov is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Social sciences in the University of Helsinki. The doctoral dissertation title is Digitalisation of public services: a qualitative study of Russian-speaking migrants. His research is focusing on the digital inclusion of older and working-age migrants, by examining their experience of taking into use and using various digital social and health services. 

Riku Laakkonen

Riku Laakkonen started his artistic doctoral studies in August 2020 at The Centre for Practise as Research in Theatre T7, Tampere University. Currently he works in the project  Approaching Social Death (funded by Kone foundation), that investigates end-of-life of older persons with memory disorders residing in nursing homes. Riku’s research is artistic one and he explores collaboration with performing inanimate objects and older people. His study is interested in how older people build intra-active performances together with performing objects. 

Mia Niemi

Mia Niemi (M. Soc. Sc., licensed social worker) is a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. Currently she is working in GERIT-project that focuses on gerontological social work and complex needs of older adults. 

Dr Bridget Anderson is the Director of Migration Mobilities Bristol and Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship. Her post is split between the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law and the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies. Bridget Anderson at University of Bristol 

Dr Loretta Baldassar is Professor in the Discipline Group of Anthropology and Sociology at The University of Western Australia and Director of the UWA Social Care and Ageing (SAGE) Living Lab. Loretta Baldassar at UWA

Dr Ivy Bourgeault is Professor in the School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies at the University of Ottawa and the University Research Chair in Gender, Diversity and the Professions. More on Ivy Bourgeault

Dr Peter J. Kivisto is Professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Welfare, Richard A. Swanson Chair of Social Thought. Peter Kivisto at Augustana College 

Dr Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti is Professor in Social Psychology at Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. Inga Jasinskaja-Lahti at UH 

Dr Marja Tiilikainen is Senior Research Fellow at Finnish Migration Institute and holds title of Docent at University of Helsinki.  Marja Tiilikainen at Migration Institute 

Dr Lena Näre is Associate Professor in Sociology at Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. Lena Näre at UH 

Dr Dermot O’Reilly is Clinical Professor at School of Medicine,  Centre for Public Health & Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation, Queen’s University Belfast, UK. Dermot O’Reilly at Queen’s University Belfast 

Dr Erika Takahashi is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Humanities, Chiba University. Erika Takahashi's ORCHID

Dr Ann Elise Widding-Isaksen is Professor of Sociology at University of Bergen. Ann Elise Widding Isaksen at UiB