PhD, Professor in urban ecosystem studies, group leader

I started my scientific career as a forest and grassland soil food web ecologist, while my current interests rest largely in urban ecosystem ecology. Although urban systems are likely to share vast amount of features atypical to “natural ecosystems”, they nevertheless provide amply of relevant research questions – both basic and applied – for an ecologist to solve. Of special interest to me is exploring the role of urban greenspace soils and the processes (“ecosystem services”) therein as affecting the ecological functioning of urban ecosystems. For instance, I explore the influence of urban parks on (i) urban runoff (“stormwater”) generation, (ii) soil carbon and nutrient retention as influenced by plant-soil interactions, and (iii) urban air quality. For research and study inquiries, please contact me by email (Heikki.setälä@helsinki.fi).

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PhD, Adjunct Prof., university lecturer in urban ecosystem studies

My research interests include the responses of invertebrate and plant communities to urbanisation. To this end I concentrate on the effects of various urban features, such as habitat edges, trampling intensity, and greenspace fragmentation in general, on communities in remnant urban forests, meadow and verge habitats, vegetated/green roofs and mires. Additionally, during the past years I have become interested in using urban soils as in situ laboratories to investigate decomposition and soil quality, and soil biodiversity.

As an important side issue, I’m keeping up with modern statistical methods to analyse, invariably, messy ecological data.

For research and study inquiries, please contact me by email (johan.kotze@helsinki.fi).

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I am also a member in the Fifth Dimension research group.

 

PhD, university lecturer in environmental chemistry

I got my PhD at the Department of Chemistry, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. My thesis tackled the use of passive samplers in environmental chemistry research. I have continued working with passive samplers at the University of Helsinki, Lahti, here exploring contamination of various pollutants mostly in surface waters and in the air. I have recently devoted much of my time exploring municipal waste waters and contamination of a small river receiving large volumes of effluents. I also explore sediments of a larger river, river Kymijoki, having highly dioxin polluted sediments. Here I have studied dehalogenation activity in anaerobic sediments of the Kymijoki-river using both chemical and microbiological methods. My urban studies concern the contamination of surface water and sediments of the urban Lake Vesijärvi and the River Porvoonjoki, as well as the air quality in the city of Lahti. For research and study inquiries, please contact me by email (anna-lea.rantalainen@helsinki.fi).

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PhD, Adjunct professor

I defended my PhD thesis in the Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland in 2010. My PhD study, supervised by Profs. Martin Romantschuk and Rauni Strömmer, was about microbial diversity in lead contaminated forest soil. I have become an expert in molecular laboratory techniques, e.g. PCR, qPCR, gene cloning and sequencing, DGGE, DNA probe, Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), etc, and in in massive data analysis, statistical analysis and paper writing. In 2011, I received a project manager position in Lahti Science and Business Park Ltd. We established the Sister-City relationship between Lahti (Finland) and Wuxi (China). I coordinated many science and technology collaborative projects between the two cities. I am also a co-founder of Environmental Master Ltd., which provides consulting services in the field of environmental technology. Since 2013, together with Prof. Heikki Setälä, we applied and received funding from the Academy of Finland for the project of Urban Park Ecosystem Services and Diversity, which aims to determine how park age and vegetation type affect soil chemical composition and microbial communities. The work is based on 101 soil samples in 45 urban parks and 5 remnant forests. We studied soil chemical properties, screened microbial communities using NGS and PLFA method. In this study, one of the high lights is that microbial diversity is higher in urban parks than in forests, which is in contrast to previous studies. My contributions in the project involve experimental design, molecular laboratory works (DNA extraction, PCR), sequencing (Illumina Miseq), massive data analysis (Mothur), statistical analysis (R), functional gene prediction (PICRUTs) and writing papers. I also teach courses of Bioinformatics and Molecular Laboratory Experiment. Feel free to contact me by email (nan.hui@helsinki.fi).

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PhD, Adjunct Professor

My research background is in aquatic ecology with the focus on food web interactions in eutrophic lakes subject to various restoration efforts. However, rehabilitation is not sustainable as long as external loading is not adequately controlled, which, in turn, is not possible until the degree of various sources of pollution is known. The loading of nutrients and other contaminants from urban sources is a topic worth studying, as cities are disproportionately located next to aquatic ecosystems. Urbanised ecosystems, characterised by surfaces impervious to water, have low capacity to generate ecosystem services, such as surface water drainage and the purification of stormwater. Green infrastructure, including green roofs, bioinfiltration basins, wetlands and other bluegreen structures, may have great potential for managing urban runoff, while the performance of such measures in cold northern climate has received very little scientific attention. There is too little knowledge on how to efficiently improve runoff quality by using constructed ecosystems. My aim is to find sustainable, ecological solutions to build green, resilient cities that cause minimal problems downstream. Feel free to contact me via email (kirsi.kuoppamaki@helsinki.fi).

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I am also a member in the Fifth Dimension research group.

PhD, Adjunct professor

My background is in urban ecology and I am currently studying ecosystem services provided by urban green areas. I am especially interested in the impact of urban vegetation, such as trees, on the concentrations of air pollutants (e.g. NO2, O3, VOCs, PAHs, SO2, particulates) and if vegetation can or cannot improve air quality in cities and provide an important ecosystem service for urban inhabitants. My goal is to provide much needed empirical research data on the topic by accurate measurements. My local-scale studies include different plant configurations, climatic regions and seasons as well as various urban environments (e.g. near-road environments, street canyons, urban parks and forests, residential areas). Moreover, I am studying the operationalisation of ecosystem services in urban planning and decision-making. You can contact me by e-mail: vesa.yli-pelkonen(at)helsinki.fi.

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PhD, Post doc researcher

I graduated in environmental biology in 2009 from Florence University. In 2013 I received my PhD from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland focused on the effects of reindeer grazing on plant and soil microbial/biota communities. Currently my research focuses on urban soil ecology. As a member of the ECOGRAD project the aim of my research is to disentangle the effect of vegetation type and park age on soil communities. As a researcher I am particularly interested in a holistic approach to soil dynamics and exploring multi-trophic relationship among soil biota components. Feel free to contact me via email (gaia.francini@helsinki.fi).

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PhD, post doc researcher

In my master thesis I studied the repellent effect of birch-originated tar and pyrolysis acid on the land snail Arianta arbustorum. During my PhD, I continued working on the same topic: pyrolysis acids as a molluscicide and its ecotoxicological effects. Recently, I have been studying the use of biochar as a soil amendment and its impacts on plant growth and leaching of nutrients and pesticides from agricultural soils. I’m also interest in the effects of glyphosate on soil ecosystems. Currently I also study the functioning of green roofs under Finnish urban climatic conditions by exploring the properties of green roofs that give rise to an active soil animal community, efficient cycling of nutrients and carbon, plant growth and the quantitative and qualitative management of stormwater. Experimental green roofs have been established by using recycled materials, biochar and mycorrhiza amendment. I am also working as a researcher at the Plant Health team in Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). Feel free to contact me via email (marleena.hagner@helsinki.fi).

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I am also a member in the Fifth Dimension research group.

MSc, doctoral student

I received my bachelor of science in geology from the University of Georgia, USA in 2002 and then worked for nearly ten years in the environmental regulatory and compliance field in the US, where I focused on water quality issues. In 2016 I received a master of engineering from the Lahti University of Applied Sciences, where I studied the retention of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contaminates in municipal snow disposal site sediments. I began working as a research technician with Helsinki University in 2014 and have been involved in projects examining the ecosystem services provided by urban green spaces, the use of nanotechnologies in brownfields remediation and the effects of street trees on urban air quality. In my doctoral project I hope to examine the poorly understood impacts of dogs on urban green spaces and their role in urban nutrient cycles. Please feel free to contact me via email (john.allen@helsinki.fi).

MSc, doctoral student

I graduated with my MSc at the University of Helsinki. My thesis was about ecotoxicological effects of nanosilver particles in aquatic environments. Now I am doing my doctoral studies on environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology. I aim to understand the chemicals’ route from the environment to organisms and the effects that they cause in the biota. For example, I study flame retardant’s polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), pesticide cypermethrin and the industrial chemical nonylphenol which all belong to the European Parliament’s priority substance list. I study the occurrence of these chemicals in the river Porvoonjoki and how they affect aquatic organisms - especially during long exposure times. For research and study inquiries, please contact me by email (paula.kajankari@helsinki.fi).

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MSc, doctoral student

I finished my postgraduate study in the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences and was awarded with a Master degree in environmental sciences. I received a personal 4-year grant from the China Scholarship Council. Urban vegetation and the soil provide multiple ecosystem services (ES) for urban residents, and making the best use of this potential is of utmost importance in the pursuit of more sustainable cities. My PhD research builds upon exploring the role of urban vegetation and the soils beneath them in mitigating the various anomalies that growing urbanization brings about. The main objective of my research is to study the role of plant functional types, in connection with urban soils, in the provision of soil-derived ecosystem services in urban parks.

MSc, doctoral student

Starting from environmental management (BSc), I quickly found my way to the fascinating world of urban ecology (MSc). I am particularly interested in conserving biodiversity in this highly human-dominated landscape. Thus, my research interests lie in the fields of population, community and invasion biology. In my master’s thesis I studied the effects of neighbouring urban habitats on carabid beetle communities in linear habitats. After graduation, I broadened my area of expertise and moved from beetles to plants. My PhD research concentrates on an invasive alien species, the large leaved-lupine. I am interested in understanding why it is such a successful invader and how it could be controlled. For example, could herbivores control lupine populations? But what if the soil properties are changed? Feel free to contact me via email (marju.prass@helsinki.fi).

MSc, doctoral student

I have a background in ecology from the University of Helsinki. I started studying vegetation and urban air quality in my Master's thesis, and continued on the same topic in my PhD studies. It is often taken for granted that plants remove air pollutants from the atmosphere with their large leaf area, thus providing ecosystem services for citizens. However, empirical evidence showing that local-scale air quality is uniformly improved by e.g. urban forests is scarce. I study the effects of vegetation on local scale air pollutant concentrations (e.g. PM10, PM2.5, UFP, NO2, O3, VOCs and PAHs) in urban environment. Studies have been conducted in Finland (Lahti and Helsinki), China (Shenyang) and the USA (Baltimore). My PhD work has been funded by the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation. The main objectives of my research is to (i) produce new information of the effect of urban vegetation on pollutant concentrations, (ii) to recognize the good and bad urban green solutions regarding local air pollution levels, and (iii) examine critically the general conclusion that vegetation is an efficient air cleaner. This information can be conveyed to those associated with city planning, urban green planning and urban air pollution abatement. Feel free to contact me via email (viljami.viippola@helsinki.fi).

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