PhD, Principal Investigator, Academy of Finland Research Fellow
I started my scientific career in 2003 as a research assistant at the Animal Virus Laboratory of Dr. Tero Ahola (University of Helsinki), studying the differences in viral RNA synthesis in temperature-sensitive mutants of Semliki Forest Virus. Being infected with a passion for viruses, I carried out my MSc studies in 2005 on the biochemical characterisation of the SARS coronavirus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence for Structural Virology 2000-2005 (University of Helsinki) under the supervision of Prof. Dennis Bamford. For my PhD studies I continued at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence for Virus Research 2006-2011 (University of Helsinki). With the inspiring mentorship of Dr. Minna Poranen and Prof. Dennis Bamford, I explored the molecular mechanism of bacteriophage phi6 RNA polymerase and its utilization in biotechnological applications, obtaining my PhD degree in January 2011.
As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Helsinki, I expanded my biochemical research into other viral polymerases, studied the membrane assembly phase of bacteriophage phi6, and developed RNA production and purification methods. Upon receiving the Sigrid Jusélius Fellowship (2012-2014), I entered the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine (Münster, Germany) to study the evolutionary role of tRNA modifications in response to cellular stress factors. Under the expert mentoring of Dr. Sebastian Leidel (Max Planck Research Group for RNA Biology), I co-developed a nano-LC mass spectrometry technique that is suitable for ribonucleoside analysis and allows accurate determination of changes in tRNA modification levels. Using this approach I revealed a temperature-dependent thiolation deficit in yeast. This unexpected result has generated attention at international conferences and was featured on the cover of the journal RNA (February 2015). I have also studied several closely related yeast strains following temperature stress and observed a marked difference in their tRNA modification levels (unpublished work), which suggests that environmental adaptation strongly influences stress responses.
In May 2016 I obtained Academy of Finland Research Fellow funding for the period 01.09.2016-31.08.2021, enabling me to establish myself as a principal investigator. I am currently instigating my research group at the Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki.
As a recognition of my teaching skills, I was appointed Docent in Molecular Biology by the University of Helsinki in 2014.