Honorary Doctors at the University of Eastern Finland 2015

In the Doctoral Conferment Ceremony at Kuopio campus on 4-6 June 2015, the university conferred 12 honorary doctorates upon scientifically or socially distinguished persons chosen by the faculties. Honorary doctorate is the most prestigious acknowledgement that the academic community can bestow on an individual.

Faculty of science and forestry:

Faculty of health sciences:

Faculty of social sciences and business studies:


Honorary Doctors of the Faculty of Science and Forestry:

Professor Richard C. Flagan

An Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy will be conferred upon Academician, Professor Richard C. Flagan. He is a long-standing professor in California Institute of Technology, Chair of the Faculty, and Irma and Ross McCollum - William H. Corcoran Professor of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Science & Engineering.

Professor Flagan is one of the leading researchers in aerosol science and technology. His creative experimental and theoretical findings have led to inventions in aerosol technology and nanoparticle synthesis. His pioneering research has opened a way to the discovery of novel ways to synthetize nanoparticles for engineering applications, to understand fine particle formation in the atmosphere, and to measure nanoparticle size distributions.

Professor Flagan has received numerous academic honours and awards, including National Academy of Engineering, Fuchs Memorial Award, ACS Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology, American Chemical Society, Doctorate of Technology, honoris causa, at Lund University, Sweden, David Sinclair Award of the American Association for Aerosol Research, Marion Smoluchowski Award for Aerosol Research presented by the Gesellschaft für Aerosolforschung , and Thomas Baron Award in Fluid-Particle Systems presented by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.


Professor Christian McDonald Langton

An Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy will be conferred upon Professor Christian Langton. Professor Langton is Theme Leader for Injury Prevention and Trauma Management, and Head of the Industry Engagement and Commercialisation Portfolio at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation of Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He also leads the Quantitative Ultrasound Imaging & Characterisation (QUIC) research group; the two programmes being ultrasound transit time spectroscopy for improved tissue characterisation and image fidelity, and ultrasound-guided robotic intervention.

Professor Langton developed the technique of broadband ultrasonic attenuation (BUA) for the assessment of osteoporosis. BUA was recognised in 2006 by Eureka UK as one of the top 100 discoveries and developments in UK universities that have changed the world over the past 50 years; and in 2008 by the UK's Department of Health in a report highlighting projects that have contributed to 60 years of NHS research benefiting patients. Professor Langton has been awarded a number of Professional Fellowships, for example, at the Australian Institute of Physics, Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine, UK Institute of Physics, UK Institute of Physics & Engineering in Medicine, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, along with being made an Affiliate of the Royal College of Physicians.

In 1996 Professor Langton received the IPEM's Manufacturer's Award and in 2007 he was awarded a Higher Doctorate (DSc) by the University of Hull in recognition of his scientific achievements.

Professor Langton has collaborated for a number of years with the Biophysics of Bone and Cartilage research group at the University of Eastern Finland.


Teollisuusneuvos Heikki Väänänen

An Honorary Doctorate in Agriculture and Forestry will be conferred upon Mr Heikki Väänänen, holder of the Finnish honorary title of teollisuusneuvos.

Mr Väänänen's expertise in the wood sector dates back to 1981, when he founded Parkettiliike Väänänen, a parquet company focusing on the installation, wholesale and import of parquet floors. The company grew and evolved into Karelia Parketti Ltd., merging with Upofloor Ltd. in 2000. This is the saga behind Karelia Upofloor Ltd., one of Europe's leading flooring experts. Mr Väänänen served as the company's CEO and Chair of the Board until 2010, and he actively continues in the role of the Chair of the Board of Karelia Finland Ltd.

Mr Väänänen has also made an impressive career as a person of influence in eastern Finland. He has held several memberships and positions of trust within the corporate, industry and cultural sectors. In 2004–2007, he served as a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Kuopio. Mr Väänänen has been recognised with a number of awards for his work promoting the development of Finnish society. In 2000, the President of the Republic of Finland awarded Mr Väänänen with the honorary title of teollisuusneuvos.

In 2014, Mr Väänänen established a fund under his name at the University of Eastern Finland to support the university's research addressing the wood sector. The objective of the fund is to increase research-based knowledge of wood, to promote the development of novel wood products, and to enhance the use and usability of wood. The Teollisuusneuvos Heikki Väänänen Fund grants scholarships to wood sector researchers and provides funding for wood sector research projects.


Honorary Doctors of the Faculty of Health Sciences:

Professor Tamás Freund

An Honorary Doctorate in Medicine will be conferred upon Professor Tamás Freund. He is Professor of Neuroscience, Head of Department of Neurosciences at the Péter Pázmány Catholic University, and Director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in Budapest.

Professor Freund is one of the leading scholars in the field of functional neuroanatomy. His main scientific interests include the synaptic and molecular organisation, functional architecture and physiology of neuronal circuits in the cerebral cortex and related structures, the network basis of behaviour-dependent activity pattern in the brain, as well as the changes in neuronal connectivity and chemical architecture underlying addiction or epileptic and ischemic brain damage. His research has led to major discoveries related to the operational principles of the cerebral cortex, most notably of the hippocampus, in health and disease.

During his career, Professor Freund has been recognised with a number of honours and awards, among others with the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize in 2011. He has also served in executive positions in many scientific organisations both in Hungary and abroad, for example as the President of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies for several years.

The connections of Professor Freund to Kuopio date back to the late 1980s. Ever since, he has been not only an esteemed research collaborator, but also a highly respected teacher on several postgraduate courses.


Professor Göran K. Hansson

An Honorary Doctorate in Medicine will be conferred upon Professor Göran K. Hansson. He is Professor of Cardiovascular Research and Distinguished Professor at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Nobel Foundation, and Secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine.

Professor Hansson has made several ground-breaking discoveries in the field of cardiovascular research. His finding of immune activation in atherosclerosis dating back to the 1980s has led to the current paradigm of atherosclerosis being an inflammatory condition. He observed that cholesterol-carrying low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is an auto-antigen that promotes inflammation, and this finding has led to the concept of LDL triggering immune inflammation. The discovery by Professor Hansson that immunosuppressant drugs inhibit the recurrence of disease after angioplastic procedures on atherosclerotic arteries forms the basis for the present clinical therapy for thousands of patients who receive drug-eluting stents coated with immunosuppressants. Furthermore, the notion of Professor Hansson that immune mechanisms can be targeted to treat atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is an approach that is currently developed in many laboratories around the world.

Professor Hansson's work is widely recognised, and he has received numerous international awards, the most recent being the Anthony Cerami Prize in Translational Medicine in 2014.

Professor Hansson has served as a scientific advisor to the Academy of Finland, and he has also evaluated research activities carried out in Kuopio.


Academy Professor Sirpa Jalkanen

An Honorary Doctorate in Medicine will be conferred upon Academy Professor Sirpa Jalkanen. She is Professor at the University of Turku and Research Professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare. She is currently serving in her third term as an Academy Professor appointed by the Academy of Finland.

Academy Professor Jalkanen is one of the world's leading researchers in the area of lymphocyte migration in the human immune defence system. It is expected that her team will achieve pioneering results particularly in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and in preventing the spread of cancer.

Academy Professor Jalkanen has received a number of honours and awards during her research career. In 2005, she received the Anders Jahre's Award, which recognises research of outstanding quality in basic and clinical medicine and is among the largest within Nordic biomedical research. The Matti Äyräpää Award, which is the most eminent prize in medicine in Finland, was awarded to her in 2008. In addition to being an outstanding researcher, Academy Professor Sirpa Jalkanen has also been awarded for being an excellent supervisor of young scientists, and for teaching and developing biotechnology. Academy Professor Jalkanen also has solid experience in biotechnology entrepreneurship. Furthermore, she has served as the Chairman of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters in 2010–2012.

Academy Professor Jalkanen was one of the members of the international panel evaluating the research activities of the Faculty of Health Sciences in 2013.


Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission

An Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy, not only on behalf of the Faculty of Health Sciences, but also on behalf of the entire university, will be conferred upon Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission.

Vice-President Katainen's political career is impressive. He was the Prime Minister of Finland in 2011–2014 and, before that, Finance Minister in 2007–2012 during two terms.  He was Member of the Finnish Parliament in 1999–2014, and served as Chairman of the National Coalition Party in 2004–2014. In 2006–2012, he was one of the Vice-Presidents of European People's Party. On 1 November 2014, he was appointed as Vice-President of the European Commission with the responsibility for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness.

Vice-President Katainen has his roots in eastern Finland. He graduated from Siilinjärvi High School in 1990. 



Forensic Dentist Helena Ranta

An Honorary Doctorate in Dentistry will be conferred upon Forensic Dentist Helena Ranta.

Dr Ranta is an experienced lecturer and has an extensive publication record not only in dentistry and related areas, but also in, e.g., international humanitarian law. Dr Ranta is internationally known especially for her remarkable contributions to several forensic investigations of conflict situations either as a Team Leader or a Team Member under the mandate and guidance of the EU, UN, Council of Europe, truth and reconciliation commissions and Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.  In addition, she has been involved in training projects in South America in the fields of forensic medicine and forensic dentistry.

Characteristic of Dr Ranta is her unyielding assertion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  She has also brought up the concept of the human rights of the dead. During her career, she has been active in a number of civic organisations, and served for example as the President of the Finnish Federation of University Women, Plan Finland Foundation and UN Women in Finland. Furthermore, she is an honorary member of the Finnish Association of Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú appointed Dr Ranta an Honorary Professor in 2009 for her remarkable achievements in forensic medicine and anthropology.

Dr Ranta has taught in the Faculty of Dentistry at Kuopio University, and is again a long-awaited lecturer on the degree programme of dentistry at the University of Eastern Finland.


Professor Graham Russell

An Honorary Doctorate in Pharmacy will be conferred upon Professor Graham Russell (R. G. G. Russell).  Graham Russell is Professor of Musculoskeletal Pharmacology in the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences at the University of Oxford, and also in the Mellanby Centre for Bone Research at the University of Sheffield in the UK.

Professor Russell has worked on topics related to the causes and treatment of bone and joint diseases throughout his career, and he has authored more than 500 publications. He played a key role in the discovery of the biological effects of bisphosphonates as inhibitors of bone resorption, and in their subsequent clinical development.  The bisphosphonates are currently the leading drugs used worldwide for the treatment of common bone diseases such as Paget's disease, osteoporosis, myeloma, and cancer metastases in bone.  His research group also elucidated the exact molecular mechanisms of action of these drugs as inhibitors of enzymes in the mevalonate pathway of cholesterol biosynthesis.

During his career, Professor Russell has held several national and international appointments in scientific and charitable activities related to bone disease and arthritis. Among awards, Professor Russell was recipient of the John B. Johnson Award of the Paget's Disease Foundation (USA) in 1997, and the Kohn Award of the National Osteoporosis Society in 2000. In 2007, he received the Pieter Gaillard Founders Award of the International Bone and Mineral Society.  He received the W. F. Neuman Award from the American Society of Bone and Mineral Metabolism (in 2000, and in 2014 their Gideon A. Rodan Excellence in Mentorship Award.   He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

Professor Russell has been an esteemed collaborator of researchers of the School of Pharmacy.


Honorary Doctors of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies:

Professor Staffan Höjer

An Honorary Doctorate in Social Sciences will be conferred upon Professor Staffan Höjer. He is Professor of Social Work in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Professor Höjer's research interests focus on the professionalization of welfare professions, the organisation of welfare, global issues in social work, and the development of knowledge in social work research and practice. He has been as a visiting scholar in the USA, Cuba, Portugal, and the UK. Having a strong international orientation in his research activities, Professor Höjer has led several international research and knowledge exchange projects. Recently, he has directed projects aiming at the development of academic research and doctoral studies in Uganda and Rwanda. Furthermore, he has launched collaboration with five universities in Mainland China, one of them being Fudan University in Shanghai, a mutual partner with the University of Eastern Finland.

Addressing the foundations and functions of the social care system, the central research topics of Professor Höjer link widely with research on social and health care policies and practices, and are very relevant to the social scientific research at the University of Eastern Finland. In addition to his research activities, Professor Höjer has contributed to the scientific community in his academic fields through several positions of trust in Swedish and international academic organisations alike. His latest responsibilities include appointment as Manager of the Swedish National Research School of Social Work for 2011–2014, and membership in the Editorial Board of Global Social Welfare since 2013.


Dr Virginia K. Saba

An Honorary Doctorate in Health Sciences will be conferred upon Dr Virginia K. Saba. She is CEO and President at SabaCare Inc. in Arlington, Distinguished Scholar Emerita at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., and Adjunct Professor at Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr Saba's career of over 40 years has been varied, but always related to healthcare information technology (HIT) and nursing informatics (NI).  She is an informatics specialist, who served as faculty in academia, and as a Nurse Officer in the US Public Health Service. Dr Saba pioneered the integration of computer technology in health care and spearheaded, nationally and internationally, the informatics movement.  She pioneered the conduct of workshops and conferences, introduced informatics to the nursing community, and initiated academic programmes including the development of educational materials. She also instituted the acceptance of NI as a new nursing specialty by the professional nursing organisations, promoted distant learning technologies, conducted research and developed the Clinical Care Classification (CCC) System designed to electronically document and code patient care services. The system has been localized not only into Finnish but also into many other European and Asian languages.

Dr Saba has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, served on national and international committees, and given scientific presentations at national and international conferences. She has published numerous articles and textbooks addressing the fields of health and NI. Currently, she continues to be involved as an NI consultant.


Professor Robyn Thomas

An Honorary Doctorate in Economics and Business Administration will be conferred upon Professor Robyn Thomas. She is Professor of Management and Associate Dean for Research at Cardiff Business School in Cardiff University in the UK. She has held visiting professional positions in several universities in different countries in Europe, North America and Australia.

Professor Thomas' research is concerned with the operation of large-scale, complex organisations, focusing specifically on issues of power and participation with a view to creating more inclusive and dignifying practices. Informed by a critical management and discourse based approach, her research has examined the role of middle managers and professionals in strategic change, resistance to change, and forms of "bottom up" change in public and private organisations.

Professor Thomas' highly cited work has appeared in a number of leading management and organisation journals, including Organization Science, Organization Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Organization, and Public Administration. Professor Thomas' career has been marked by a series of prestigious research funding awards and fellowships. Between 2005 and 2012, she was appointed Ghoshal Fellow of the Advanced Institute of Management Research (AIM) to conduct research into managerial performance and practice. She is a co-investigator on an Australian Research Council funded research examining age and organisations. Her work has also been influential in informing policy and practice in both the public and private sectors.

In conducting research on innovative and inclusive practices in organisations, Professor Thomas has worked closely with colleagues from the University of Eastern Finland and other universities in Finland.