People & Projects

The group maintains a strong committment to diversity and consists of post docs and students, with highly complementary experience.
Prof. Ilkka Kilpeläinen (Principal Investigator)


Prof. Ilkka Kilpeläinen, PhD, is a Professor of organic chemistry at the University of Helsinki and head of the Materials Chemistry Division. He has a strong background in biopolymers (protein structure and dynamics, lignin chemistry, wood chemistry) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Previous to his position in the University of Helsinki he was the head of the National NMR lab and was based at the University of Oulu.

His current interests are in the design of ionic liquids for biomass processing, the chemistry and structure of lignin and cellulose chemistry.

He is also Chairman of the board for Liuotin Group Oy, a development spin-off dedicated to scale-up of ionic liquid production.

His full university profile, including projects and publications can be found here.

Docent Alistair King (University Researcher)


Alistair received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the Queen's University of Belfast (Northern Ireland) in 2002. After this he worked in the pharmaceutical industry in custom synthesis (Almac Sciences), before moving to Finland in 2004. After this he has been working in the Organic Laboratory (University of Helsinki) focusing on the development of ionic liquids and methods for processing and analysing biomass.

His current research focus, within Prof. Kilpeläinens group, is mainly on the development and analysis of ionic liquids, for cellulose dissolution, regeneration and chemical modification applications. His own research group (Cellulose Chemistry) is currently focused on the development of methods for sustainable cellulose surface modification, nanocellulose, cellulose NMR-based analytics and cellulose crystallinity.

His full university profile, including projects and publications can be found here.

Contact details can be found here.

Dr. Jesus Perea-Buceta (University Researcher)

Hailing from South Spain, Jesus Perea conducted his PhD studies in Organic Synthesis at the University of Edinburgh where he received his degree in 2008. He then moved back to his hometown Universidad de Granada to pursue postdoctoral studies on magnetochemistry and heterocyclic synthesis before moving to the University of Helsinki (Finland) in 2011. Since then, he has conducted postdoctoral studies on Heterogeneous Chemistry, Homogeneous Catalysis and CO2 chemistry at the Department of Chemistry.

He moved to the current Organic Materials Unit in late 2016, where he holds the status of Principal Investigator (PI). His interests span the development of new antibiotics and antivirals (in collaboration with the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki), nucleic acid chemistry and the development of new renewable biohybrid materials and ionic liquids (in partnership with the groups of Prof. Ilkka Kilpeläinen and Dr. Alistair King).

Jesus’s full profile can be found here.

Dr. Gordon Driver (University Researcher)

Gordon is working as  University Researcher in Prof. Kilpeläinens group. His university profile can be found here.

Dr. Tetyana Koso (Post Doc)

Tanja received her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen (Germany) in 2013. She has strong synthetic organic chemistry background, specializing in cage hydrocarbons’ selective functionalization, specifically homologous cubanes and diamondoids - legacy of her Alma Mater, National Technical University of Ukraine “KPI”. She also shortly worked on chlorophyll modifications in the University of Helsinki as part of the Helaja working group.

In 2018 she joined Dr. King’s group (Cellulose Chemistry) as a Post Doc where currently she is deepening her knowledge on the chemistry, and spectroscopic methods for analysis, of cellulose, wood biopolymers and ionic liquids. Her current research project is on the Academy of Finland consortium project ('WTF-Click-Nano', # 311255) but she also contributing to cellulose synthesis and analytics in Prof. Kilpeläinens 'Sustainble Chemistry' group.

Apart from the method development for sustainable cellulose derivatives’ synthesis and research of the new biomass-based materials, she is interested in multi-dimensional solution-state NMR application for the celluloses, as non-trivial method of cellulose characterisation.

Her full university profile can be found here

Dr. Aleksandar Todorov (Post Doc)

Dr. Aleksandar Todorov was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in 1983. He has obtained his BSc (2006) and his MSc (2008) in organic chemistry from Sofia University, Bulgaria. Then he got his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Helsinki (Finland) in 2020, under the supervision of Dr. Juho Helaja. His thesis was titled ‘Quinolines and quinolones : tautomerism and visible-light photocatalyzed reductions’.

Since then Aleksandar has been working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki, in the group of Prof. Kilpeläinen. As post-doctoral researcher his main areas of research are: application of the ionic liquids developed into the group for adhesion of raw wood materials. He also works on synthetic modification of the superbase cores, developed into the group. His main interests are synthetic modifications of organic substrates and their future applications.

In his leisure time Aleksandar Todorov likes to do carpentry, model building and spend time with his family.

Aleksandars full university profile can be found here

Maiju-Lotta Soikkeli (Post Doc)

Maiju is a former group member, who now works for Orion Corporation.

Daniel Rico del Cerro (PhD Student)

This is Daniel Rico del Cerro, originally from Spain, with a broad experience living abroad. I am a PhD candidate in material chemistry division under the Chemistry and Molecular Sciences (CHEMS) doctoral programme. I am currently in the final stage of my doctoral studies, which are funded by UPM Kymmene.

My professional experience and my intellectual concerns helped me to develop an appropriate critical scientific thinking to develop myself professionally in the field of organic chemistry and material sciences. My expertise covers the design and development of new task specific ionic liquids (ILs) and their application in biomass processing; for instance, the use of ionic liquids as non-dissolving pre-treatments in activation of cellulose or the design and synthesis of new ILs for cellulose dissolution and chemical modification.

During my research I gained experience in advance experimental design and synthesis methods, isolation and purification techniques. Additionally, I also got a broad knowledge in characterization techniques such as,  1D & 2D Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), Attenuated Total Reflexion Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), Wide Angle X-ray Scattering (WAXS), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC), Thermogravimetric analyses (TGA) and some minor experience in mass spectroscopy (MS-MS, MS-GC and MicroTOF-MS).

I have very good communication and networking skills, which I developed in international conference presentations. I consider myself social skilled, open-minded, hard worker and helpful. I am volunteering in CHEMS doctoral programme as PhD representative.

Jussi Helminen (PhD Student)

Jussi is working as a PhD student in Prof. Kilpeläinens group. His university profile can be found here

Jingwen Xia (PhD Student)


Jingwen is a PhD student in Prof. Kilpeläinens group. She is from China. She has a Bachelor's degree from Northeast Forestry University, China in Polymer Materials and Engineering and a Master's degree from the University of Helslinki, Finland in Polymer Chemistry.

Her PhD studies concern the 'Regeneration of cellulose from phosphonium ionic liquids and UCST-type phenomena of cellulose-ionic liquid solutions.'

Her pastimes inclued: Piano playing, singing, dancing, cooking and cats.

Contact:,, +358 465605921

Matti Leskinen (PhD Student)

I’m a doctoral student in the Doctoral Programme in Chemistry and Molecular Sciences, specializing in materials chemistry. I graduated from University of Helsinki with a M.Sc. in organic chemistry in 2018. I first became interested in chemistry during my time in high school at the Helsinki School of Natural Sciences.

My current research interests include cellulose materials chemistry, dissolution & regeneration of cellulose from ionic liquids and 3D printing of cellulose, with particular emphasis on studying the mechanism of cellulose regeneration from superbase ionic liquids and shape manipulation of the regenerating dope from nano- to millimeter scale.

My future interests lie in expanding my analytical toolkit in X-ray diffraction, stable isotope mass spectrometry and MRI imaging methods as well as pursuing further experience in 3D printing technology, especially in the development of novel cellulose 3D printing equipments and techniques.

Favourite cheese: leipäjuusto aka “Finnish Squeky Cheese”


Materials Chemistry Division, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, P.O. Box 55 (A. I. Virtasen aukio 1), FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Eva Gazagnaire (PhD Student)


Eva is a PhD student in Prof. Kilpeläinens group. Originally from France, she did her first two years of her BSc studies at the university of Nice, South of France and her last year as an Erasmus student, focusing on Organic Chemistry, at the University of Helsinki. She decided to stay in Finland and joined the Kilpeläinen group for her MSc in Organic Chemistry.

She started her PhD in 2019, in the Kilpeläinen group, and her studies are focused on the synthesis of new superbases, to be used as precursors for cellulose-dissolving ionic liquids. Apart from ionic liquids she is interested in scale-up of organic synthesis.

Her pastimes include: horse riding, eating cheese, taekwondo and hiking

Grete Project - Biobased Industries Consortium (Horizon 2020)

Collaborative project with:



University of Aviero

Metsä Spring