University of Helsinki: Eco-innovation and alumni success

A firm student favourite, the University of Helsinki is Finland’s oldest and largest higher education provider.

Equipped with a modern outlook, this university sits within the world’s Top 100 for 2019 according to Times Higher Education, largely due to its innovative programmes and environmental science research.

Acknowledging that digitisation is deeply impacting the fields of natural sciences, Helsinki’s Faculty of Science carries out top-notch research initiatives on an international level and supplies academic programmes developed and taught by leading scientists.

That’s why Helsinki’s Kumpula Campus is one of the largest hubs of natural sciences in the Nordic countries. Attracting potential changemakers from all over the world, it has fast become an academic emblem of environmental education.

Building a change platform

At Helsinki, engaging environmental degree programmes are building a change platform for the future.

With a high-profile and extensive hub of research and teaching, one branch of Helsinki that aims to tackle climate change challenges and eco issues is the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Meeting the needs of future employers and industry demands, the faculty is comprised of three core research programmes: the Ecosystems and Environment programme, the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme and the Molecular and Integrative Biosciences Research Programme.

For those wishing to study the effects of human activity on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, as well as provide solutions for current environmental problems, the extensive and multidisciplinary Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme is the ideal route to take.

If you’re keen to research the organismal and/or population level of a wide range of taxa, including single cell organisms, invertebrates, plants and vertebrates, the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme (OEB) is a smart option that encompasses 40 research groups in the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, all of whom are based in the Biocentre at the Viikki campus.

Alternatively, the Molecular and Integrative Biosciences Research Programme brings together areas of experimental biosciences, including Biochemistry, Genetics, Structural, Cell and Developmental Biology, Microbiology, Neuroscience and Physiology; plus, your research objects shall include viruses, microbes, mammalian cells, tissues, organ systems and organisms.

With a plethora of programmes to opt for, both undergraduate and postgraduate, Helsinki has niche scientific study areas for everyone to enjoy.

Pioneering and progressive facilities

Stationed at the Kumpula Campus, the Helsinki Faculty of Science provides high-standard research infrastructure and equipment to support your chosen discipline.

Through its Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR), you’ll be exposed to internationally leading, integrated multidisciplinary research in the fields of physics, chemistry, meteorology, forest sciences, environmental sciences and social sciences.

With aims to strengthen the Helsinki education environment for atmospheric and Earth system science and to feed scientific results for the national and international environment and climate policy, it’s an interesting initiative to get involved with while studying.

During your studies, you’ll also have access to state-of-the-art science laboratories, field stations, new technologies and observatories.

Over at the Viikki Campus, the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences also has state-of-the-art laboratory facilities alongside a teaching and research farm for agricultural sciences, with extensive grounds that are popular as recreational areas among the local populace.

Through the on-site Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), you’ll wander around an attractive international environment for researchers while observing, or participating, with innovative projects for the future.

Focusing on five thematic areas of Production and ConsumptionGlobal SouthTheory and Methodology, the Urban and the Arctic, HELSUS allows students to acknowledge and understand different aspects of the topic and enables them to become award-winning graduates with a committed admiration for the environment.

Life after the lab

Alumni life after the lab is promising.

Evolving into global changemakers, students often take the valuable knowledge that they acquired from university and channel it into an engaging eco-initiative or problem-solving project.

One such alumna is Amanda Sundell. By establishing DROPP, a social enterprise that donates its profits to help protect the Baltic Sea, Sundell is swimming towards a world that supports sustainability.

While at Helsinki, Sundell enjoyed exploring the possibilities of her degree, “I appreciated being allowed to read and learn a lot before deciding what I would then do. The combination of independence, freedom and responsibility was a healthy experience for me,” she said.

“The common thread running through everything I have done is finding a way to make a difference wherever you are. I don’t know what my next project will be, but it will probably focus on environmental issues because they are such an important theme for me.”

Last year, DROPP donated €100,000 to the Baltic Sea Action Group and the University of Helsinki’s Tvärminne Zoological Station, an impressive start for Sundell’s social enterprise.

Another inspiring Helsinki story is from Zhong-qing Jiang. A food scientist and inventor of pulled oats in Finland, Jiang is working for a better tomorrow by studying broad beans and fava beans and developing new products around them.

In his opinion, the entire food production process and technology must be studied with fresh eyes.

“This kind of wide-ranging thinking is a great trend in food science at the University of Helsinki. For example, my dissertation supervisor, Tuula Sontag-Strohm, is very good at understanding the big picture.

“The University of Helsinki has great teachers and supervisors and I’ve had the chance to be part of fantastic research groups. It doesn’t surprise me that food science at the University of Helsinki has been ranked among the best in the world,” Jiang explains.

Where eco-innovation and alumni success awaits, you can become a pioneering graduate too.

Connecting entrepreneurship, research and collaboration, Helsinki has it all.

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