People & Contact

Sustainable Urban Systems is an interdisciplinary group of researchers with backgrounds in economics, geography, sociology and engineering.
Sanna Ala-Mantila

Assistant professor (tenure track)

Sanna is an assistant professor of Sustainable Urban Systems at the Ecosystems and Environment Research Program at the University of Helsinki and the leader of our multidisciplinary research group. Her research aims to understand how we can build and transform our cities and other urban systems into more sustainable ones. During her career so far, she has focused on climate impacts of consumption to subjective wellbeing and socio-economic segregation in the urban context, both in the academic and governmental context. Sanna has studied economics in her master and her PhD was a double-degree in both real estate economics and environmental studies. She is interested in understanding and answering the urban sustainability questions by, in particular, using quantitative methods and various data sources. Also close to her heart are collaborating with cities, making the most of the available data sources, also including GIS data, and answering the open questions by means of multidisciplinary research. Her favorite past-time activities are spending time with her family, playing board games and dancing salsa or reggaeton.


List of publications is available at

Aleksi Karhula

Postdoctoral researcher

Aleksi is a postdoctoral researcher in the group. After a master's degree in sociology at the University of Helsinki he did his doctoral studies at the University of Turku focusing on intergenerational transmission of inequalities. Aleksi has a strong background in quantitative sociology and register-based research. He has previously worked as a postdoc in NORFACE funded EQUALLIVES-project focusing on life course inequalities. Aleksi has a wide range of research interests including different forms of intergenerational inequalities, segregation dynamics, twin models and sequence analysis methodology. He is currently working in the project Smart land use policy for sustainable urbanization (SmartLand) studying segregation in the 20 largest Finnish cities and the effectiveness of different policies combating segregation. Most of his research uses high quality Finnish register data from Statistics Finland. In his spare time Aleksi is most likely spending time with his two sons and lovely spouse, playing board games or meeting friends.


List of publications is available at

Antti Kurvinen

Postdoctoral researcher

Antti is a postdoctoral researcher at the research group of Sustainable Urban Systems. His academic background is in construction and real estate economics and he defended his doctoral thesis on real estate development externalities on May 2018 at the Tampere University of Technology. To date, Antti has gained expertise in various transdisciplinary research projects. Those cover multiple research topics, such as energy economics, municipal economics, segregation, urbanization, real estate development, urban development, urban infill, housing and real estate markets, affordable housing and sustainable housing construction. Antti’s research is mainly quantitative and data-intensive, and he is striving for contributing to more evidence-based decision-making. He has also been active in international collaboration, spending over two years’ visiting period at the Georgia State University in the US and over two years’ visiting period at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. In his current work as part of Sustainable Urban Systems research group, Antti is contributing to smart land use with the focus on segregation. In his spare time, Antti usually hangs around with the family and exercises.


List of publications available at

Ákos Gosztonyi

Doctoral Candidate

Ákos is a doctoral candidate in DENVI (The Doctoral Programme in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences) and part of the Sustainable Urban Systems research group. He holds an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree in Development Studies from France, Italy and Czechia. His research interests include environmental justice in the built environment, environmental gentrification, affordable housing, and energy and transport poverty research. Prior to joining the group, he worked as the Policy and Advocacy Manager of Habitat for Humanity Hungary, a national branch of an international NGO advocating for decent housing for all, and he also gained experience working at the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg. Ákos is currently working on the CousCOUS project, and he’s also a member of the ENGAGER-Cost Research Network focusing on energy poverty. He is keen to provide policy-relevant research and work together with policymakers as well. In his spare time, you can find him collecting, propagating and taking care of house plants, learning languages, hiking or watching series.


Former employees
  • Marjut Meriläinen

    • research assistant
  • Joanne Demmler

    • post-doctoral researcher
  • Mikko Weckroth

    • post-doctoral researcher
  • Heidi Konttinen

    • Research Assistant