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Nainen laittaa tohtorinhatun päähän.

Preparations for the doctoral conferment ceremony in Joensuu are progressing – the Primus Doctor and the Ultimus Doctor have been selected, and the Light of Learning event promises novel experiences

Rosemary Mwanza, Doctor of Law, has been selected as the Primus Doctor, and Nicola Kokkonen, Doctor of Science (Agriculture and Forestry), as the Ultimus Doctor of the doctoral conferment ceremony to be held at the University of Eastern Finland in June.

The academic festivities will take place in Joensuu on 6–8 June 2024. In the conferment ceremony, doctorates will be conferred upon 69 doctoral graduates, as well as upon 13 honorary doctors. The three-day festivities include a ceremony rehearsal, a hat-fitting ceremony, the actual ceremonial conferment of degrees in the Carelia Hall, a conferment ceremony procession, the Light of Learning event, a banquet and ball, and a cruise.

Traditionally, the Young Doctors’ Committee selects, from among the doctoral graduates, a Primus Doctor and an Ultimus Doctor, who play a special role in the festivities. Both are doctoral graduates who have passed their doctoral defence with distinction. In the conferment ceremony, the Primus Doctor has the honour to be the first doctoral graduate upon whom a doctorate is conferred, and they will demonstrate the learnedness of the doctoral graduates by answering a question posed by a professor in their field. The Ultimus Doctor has the honour to be the last doctoral graduate upon whom a doctorate is conferred, and they will give a response to an address to the newly conferred doctors in the banquet and ball.

Emphasis on the merits, scientific impact and societal significance of the doctoral dissertation

Rosemary Mwanza defended her doctoral dissertation in the field of environmental law in 2022. Her dissertation examines how the right to a healthy environment could work as a regulatory response to the grave impacts of corporate environmental damage. In 2023, Mwanza was awarded her faculty’s Young Researcher Award in recognition of her doctoral dissertation. 

Nicola Kokkonen’s doctoral dissertation in the field of peatland ecology, on the other hand, demonstrated that the decline of peatland water tables caused by climate change poses a threat to specialised peatland vegetation and makes them more susceptible to periods of drought. She defended her dissertation in February 2024.

“The merits, scientific impact and societal significance of the doctoral dissertation were emphasised in the selection of the Primus and the Ultimus Doctor. In addition, other research activity during the postgraduate studies was emphasised, especially with regard to peer-reviewed articles not included in the dissertation. The doctor’s international activities and societal influence were also taken into account,” says Anniina Kämäräinen, Chair of the Young Doctors’ Committee.  

In addition, expert roles held during the postgraduate studies as well as other scientific publications and publications aimed at a wider public were considered.

Light of Learning brings together science and art

This year, the conferment ceremony participants will also get to experience the entirely new Light of Learning event, to be held after the doctoral conferment procession. Designed on the conditions of light, the event focuses on the entanglement science and art. 

“Light of Learning highlights the impact of science from a slightly surprising perspective. We wanted to avoid more traditional forms of performance and convey a new kind of sensory experience to the participants,” Professor of Theoretical Optics Pasi Vahimaa says. 

He doesn’t want the reveal any more details but hopes that the participants will arrive with an open mind. 

“Light of Learning is an apt name for the event, as it deals with both, but also with a well-functioning combination of them.” 

Print-quality photo of Primus Doctor Rosemary Mwanza: 
Print-quality photo of Ultimus Doctor Nicola Kokkonen:  
Further information on the doctoral conferment ceremony programme: