Experts on Africa-focused topics

You can find contact details for all the University of Helsinki staff in our People Finder. The University’s communications specialists are also happy to help look for our experts.

Politics, economy and society

  • Sarah Green, Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology: the anthropology of borders, space, place and location, Mediterranean, gender and sexuality, environment, transportation of nonhuman animals; livestock; zoonotic disease.
  • Elina Oinas, Professor of Sociology: vaccine trial, HIV politics, gender, youth, activism and political engagement in Africa. Regions: Benin, South Africa and Ethiopia.
  • Auli Vähäkangas, Professor of Practical Theology: marginalised groups, HIV-positives and childless people, palliative care, African feminist theology. Regions: Tanzania, South Africa.
  • Petri Pellikka, Professor of geoinformatics, director of University of Helsinki’s Taita Research Station in Kenya: geosciences, environmental sciences, remote sensing applications on land cover, land use and land cover change and their consequences to water resources, biodiversity, climate, and livelihoods, human-nature interactions effect on the environment, sustainability and development Regions: Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso.
  • Franklin Obeng-Odoom, Associate Professor of Sustainability Science: political economy of development, cities and natural resources. Regions: Africa in Africa/Africa in the world, Africa and the World, and Africa and Asia.
  • Eija Ranta, University researcher: development cooperation, societal activism, civil society, politics. Regions: Kenya.
  • Salla Sariola, Academy Research Fellow: social study of microbes, antimicrobial resistance, fermentation, Global Health, COVID-19, intersectionality, community engagement. Regions: Benin and South Africa.
  • Tuulikki Pietilä, University lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology: economy, marketplaces, food markets, value chains, gender, moral values, music industry, fashion industry, youth music. Regions: Tanzania and South Africa.
  • Risto Marjomaa, University lecturer on history: conflicts and warfare, global history, African history. 
  • Gutu Wayessa, Postdoctoral researcher: land dispossession, marginalisation, displacement, environmental justice, migration. Regions: Ethiopia.
  • Faith Mkwesha, Researcher: post-colonial and decolonial theories, decolonialising knowledge, Black and African feminism, diversity and marginalization and anti-racism, educational management. Regions: South Africa.
  • Paola Minoia, University Lecturer and Adjunct Professor: Global development, environmental politics, socio-ecology of water, land rights, knowledge and intercultural education, post-coloniality and decoloniality, indigenous peoples, community-based conservation, tourism platforms. Regions: Sudan, Kenya, Egypt and Morocco.
  • Päivi Hasu, University lecturer in Global Development Studies: African Christianity, charismatic Christianity, religion and development, civil society, faith-based organizations. Regions: East Africa, Tanzania.
  • Andrea Butcher, Postdoctoral researcher: AMR research in the context of international development alongside associated health, food, and environmental impacts (OneHealth approach); social study of microbes. Region: West Africa, Burkina Faso and Benin.  
  • Mawa Karambiri, Postdoctoral Researcher in International Forest Policy: Forest policy, community forestry, local democracy, gender, rurality, inequality. Regions: Burkina Faso, Mali, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo. 
  • Tino Johansson, Research Coordinator: geosciences, development geography, climate change adaptation, climate-smart agriculture, human-wildlife interaction, agronomy, food security. Regions: Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Namibia.
  • Jose A. Cañada, Postdoctoral researcher: global health policy, antimicrobial resistance policy, policy implementation, scientific production, pandemic preparedness, social study of microbes. Regions: Burkina Faso and Benin.
  • Pablo Manzano, Postdoctoral researcher: pastoralism, sustainability indicators, societal collapse, conflict, gender empowerment, land degradation. Regions: Maghreb, Sahel and East Africa.
  • George Forji Amin, Visiting scholar: Bilateral investment treaties, international law, third world economic sovereignty.
  • Saara Kuoppala, PhD Researcher of Study of Religions: heritage politics, female initiation, festivalization, Christianity in Africa. Region: Namibia.
  • Saana Hansen, PhD Researcher on Social and Cultural Anthropology: anthropology of state and development, family and kinship, migration/displacement, care and welfare. Regions:  Zimbabwe, southern Africa.
  • Katja Uusihakala, Academy of Finland Research Fellow: Settler societies, diaspora, child migration, social memory, silence and silencing. Regions: Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, UK

CULTURE AND LANGUAGES

  • Friederike Lüpke, Professor of African Studies: small-scale multilingualism, rural multilingualism, descriptive and documentary linguistics, description and documentation of West African languages in their cultural contexts, sustainable multilingual ecologies. Regions: Senegal, Mali, and Guinea.
  • Mulki Al-Sharmani, Associate Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies: Islamic jurisprudence and Muslim family laws, Quranic ethics and hermeneutics; Islamic feminism, transnational migration and family wellbeing, modern Somali diaspora. Regions: Egypt, Finland, Somalia/Somali Diaspora
  • Lotta Aunio, University Lecturer: Bantu languages, specifically phonology and tonology, South African languages.
  • Thera Crane, Academy of Finland Research Fellow: Bantu languages, especially language documentation, semantics, pragmatics, multilingualism, and language policy. Regions: primarily Zambia, Namibia, and South Africa, with work on other Bantu languages across the continent
  • Liban Ali Hersi, University Instructor of Somali language
  • Jonna Katto, Postdoctoral researcher: gender and women’s history in Africa, African landscape history, history of Mozambique, oral history, gender studies. Regions: Mozambique.
  • Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares, Postdoctoral researcher: Indigenous Peoples, ethnobiology, storytelling, biocultural diversity, conservation, Indigenous and Local Knowledge, environmental justice. Regions: Kenya, Madagascar.

EDUCATION, LEARNING AND DIGITALISATION

  • Jari Lavonen, Professor of Physics and Chemistry Education: science and technology education, teacher education, curriculum development, and the use of ICT in education. Regions: South Africa, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Arto Kallioniemi, Professor in religious education, UNESCO Chair in Values, Dialogue and Human Rights in Education: religious education, values, diversity in schools, integration of pupils with migrant background, curriculum development of teacher education in Somalia. Regions: Somalia, Kenya. 
  • Mar Cabeza, University lecturer in Conservation Science, PI:  STEM and environmental education, use of ICT and “out-of- classroom” activities in education, citizen science in education, interdisciplinary teaching, blended learning, exchange and international field courses. Regions: Kenya, Madagascar
  • Seija Karppinen, University lecturer: holistic crafts education, interdisciplinary teaching, innovative education and design education, multi-artistic approaches of teaching, collaborative learning, Training Trainers for Teacher Education and Management in Kenya, Regions: Kenya. 
  • Kaisa Hahl, University lecturer: foreign language education, interculturality, multicultural education, and early teaching of foreign languages, teacher identity, curriculum development of teacher education in Somalia, and mentor training in South Africa. Regions: Somalia, South Africa.
  • Heidi Krzywacki, University lecturer: teaching and learning in primary school mathematics, teacher education, teacher professional development, teacher identity, curriculum resources, development of teacher education (curriculum and professional development) in Somalia. Regions: Somalia.

HEALTH

  • Olli Vapalahti, Professor of zoonotic virology: emerging and reemerging infections, particularly viral zoonoses, including arboviruses, Zika virus, ebolavirus, COVID-19. Regions: Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa, and Kenya.
  • Anu Kantele, Professor of infectious diseases: vaccine trial, diarrhoea, infectious diseases, COVID-19, influenza. Regions: Benin and Niger.
  • Olli Peltoniemi, Professor of Animal Reproduction Science: domestic animal reproduction, reproductive health, reproductive biology especially in the pig, cattle and dogs, animal welfare, one health, relationship between humans and animals.
  • Elina Oinas, Professor of Sociology: vaccine trial, HIV politics, gender, youth, activism and political engagement in Africa. Regions: Benin, South Africa and Ethiopia.
  • Tarja Sironen, Associate professor of emerging infectious diseases: zoonotic pathogens, pathogen discovery, ebolavirus, COVID-19. Regions: South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon and Senegal.
  • Annamari Heikinheimo, Associate professor of zoonotic antimicrobial resistance: zoonosis, antimicrobials, one health approach, food safety.  Regions: Botswana, Nigeria, and Niger.
  • Salla Sariola, Academy Research Fellow: social study of microbes, antimicrobial resistance, fermentation, Global Health, COVID-19, intersectionality, community engagement. Regions: Benin and South Africa.
  • Andrea Butcher, Postdoctoral researcher: AMR research in the context of international development alongside associated health, food, and environmental impacts (OneHealth approach); social study of microbes. Region: West Africa, Burkina Faso and Benin.  
  • Kaisa Haukka, University Researcher: Microbiology, antimicrobial resistance in human impacted environments, enteropathogenic bacteria, One Health, capacity building in higher education. Regions: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali.
  • Liisa M. Korkalo, University Lecturer: undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, dietary diversity. Regions: Mozambique
  • Essi Korhonen, Postdoctoral researcher: emerging infectious diseases, viral zoonoses, vector-borne diseases, mosquito-borne viruses. Regions: Kenya 

CLIMATE, FOOD AND ENVIRONMENT

  • Markku Kanninen, Professor of Tropical Silviculture: tropical forestry, climate change, forest ecology, environmental policy, forest management. Regions: Burkina Faso, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya and Tanzania.
  • Petri Pellikka, Professor of geoinformatics, director of University of Helsinki’s Taita Research Station in Kenya: geosciences, environmental sciences, remote sensing applications on land cover, land use and land cover change and their consequences to water resources, biodiversity, climate, and livelihoods, human-nature interactions effect on the environment, sustainability and development Regions: Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso.
  • Mikael Fogelholm, Professor of Nutrition Science: food science, nutrition science, food chains, health. Regions: South Africa and Kenya.
  • Mikael Fortelius, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeontology: Palaeontology, environments and climates of the geological past, macroevolution, fossils, mammals, African prehistory. Regions: Kenya.
  • Kristina Lindström, Professor of Sustainable Development: sustainable food production, legumes, biological nitrogen fixation, rhizobium, soil microbiology and nutrient flows. Regions: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, Benin.
  • Laura Alakukku, Professor of Environmental Technology of Agriculture: agronomy, agrotechnology, soil management, environmental technology in agriculture and agricultural engineering. Regions: Kenya.
  • Maria Brockhaus, Professor of international forest policy: forest policy and governance in climate change mitigation and adaptation, political economy, policy and institutional change in West and Central Africa. Regions: South Africa, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique.
  • John Sumelius, Professor in Production Economics and Farm Management: Business and management, agronomy, production economics, food security, agricultural economics, and development studies. Regions: Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya.
  • Marko Virta, professor of microbiology: antibiotic resistance in various environments in global scale including Asia and Africa.
  • Jouko Rikkinen, Professor of Botany: ecology, botany, lichens, fungi, symbiosis, fossils, plant biology, virology. Regions: Tanzania and Kenya.
  • Timo Vesala, Professor of meteorology: meteorology, biogeochemistry, forestry, vegetation, soil greenhouse gas emissions. Regions: Kenya.
  • Mar Cabeza, University lecturer in Conservation Science: Tropical ecology, interdisciplinary conservation, Biodiversity, Human-Wildlife conflict, Environmental justice, Climate change. Regions: Kenya, Madagascar
  • Ndegwa (Henry) Maina, University Lecturer: food science, agriculture and forestry, carbohydrate chemistry and enzymology and grain technology. Regions: Kenya and Burkina Faso.
  • Tino Johansson, Research Coordinator: geosciences, development geography, climate change adaptation, climate-smart agriculture, human-wildlife interaction, agronomy, food security. Regions: Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Namibia.
  • Miikka Tallavaara, Assistant professor of hominin environments: archaeology, palaeoanthropology, human evolution in Africa. Regions: General.
  • Juha Saarinen, Postdoctoral Researcher, Docent: palaeontology, evolution of grasslands and herbivory, evolutionary history of elephants. Regions: Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda.
  • Indre Zliobaite, Assistant professor of Life Science Informatics: macroevolution, fossil data, predictive modeling, machine learning, NOW database of fossil mammals, palaeontology. Regions: Kenya
  • Kari Lintulaakso, Collection coordinator, Luomus: co-operation for creating a collection management system of fossil specimens with National Museums of Kenya. Regions: Kenya
  • Liisa M. Korkalo, University Lecturer: undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, dietary diversity. Regions: Mozambique
  • Eshetu Yirdaw, University lecturer in tropical forestry: forest ecology, agroforestry, restoration ecology and forest biodiversity. Regions: Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tanzania. 
  • Laura Arppe, Curator: stable isotope research, termite ecology, termite greenhouse gas emissions, dry savannah ecology and paleoecology. Regions: Kenya
  • Risto Vesala, Postdoctoral researcher: ecology, stable isotopes, termites, plant-fungal-insect interactions, savanna carbon and nitrogen cycling. Regions: Kenya.
  • Aregu Amsalu Aserse, Postdoctoral researcher: soil microbiology, molecular microbiology, rhizobia, bacterial genomics, soil fertility management, sustainable food production, legume/pulse cultivation, biological nitrogen fixation, symbiosis agricultural biotechnology; biofertilizer/rhizobium inoculant field application. Regions: Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia.
  • Rose A. Ingutia, Postdoc visiting scholar: Agricultural economics, food security and development studies. Regions: Sub Sahara Africa in general, focus in Kenya.
  • Noora Kanerva, Docent in nutrition epidemiology: human nutrition, dietary diversity and patterns, public health, socioeconomic and regional differences in food consumption. Regions: Mozambique and Kenya.
  • Kaisa Haukka, University Researcher: Microbiology, antimicrobial resistance in human impacted environments, enteropathogenic bacteria, One Health, capacity building in higher education. Regions: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali.
  • Arto Luttinen, Adjunct professor of geochemistry and petrology, senior curator: Geochemistry; Petrology; Mineralogy; Composition, origin and evolution of volcanoes, magmas and mantle. Regions: Mozambique, South Africa. 
  • Jussi S. Heinonen, Adjunct professor of geochemistry and petrology, Academy Research Fellow: Geochemistry; Petrology; Mineralogy; Composition, origin and evolution of volcanoes, magmas and mantle. Regions: Mozambique, South Africa
  • Sanni Turunen, Doctoral student in geology: flood basalts, large igneous provinces, elemental and isotope geochemistry, Earth’s mantle, mantle plumes. Regions: Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana.
  • Pedro Cardoso, Curator of Zoology, Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus: ecology, conservation biology, biogeography, spiders. Regions: Cape Verde, Ghana and Tanzania.
  • Pasi Sihvonen, Senior Curator of entomology, Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus: insect systematics, moths, biodiversity, conservation. Regions: southern Africa, Kenya.
  • Gunilla Ståhls-Mäkelä, Laboratory Manager, PI, Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus: insect systematics, hoverflies, biodiversity, biogeography, molecular systematics. Regions: sourhern Africa, Kenya.
  • Sergei Tarasov, Curator, Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus: evolutionary biology, species diversification, extinction, evolutionary radiations, biogeography, nature conservation, beetles. Regions: Madagascar.
  • Tuomas Aivelo, Postdoctoral researcher in ecology and evolutionary biology: parasitology, disease ecology, primatology, rodents and Malagasy mammals, One Health, biology education. Regions: Madagascar.