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UEF presents awards to accomplished young researchers

Doctor of Education Anniina Kämäräinen, Doctor of Agriculture and Forestry Tuomas Yrttimaa, Doctor of Health Sciences Siiri-Liisi Kraav and Doctor of Philosophy Niko Vartiainen have been recognised with the University of Eastern Finland’s Young Researcher Award 2021. Rector Jukka Mönkkönen and Academic Rector Tapio Määttä selected a promising young researcher from each UEF faculty on the basis of nominations made by PhD thesis supervisors. The award winners were announced in the Young Researchers' Evening organised online this Tuesday.

A highly relevant topic addressing peer learning based teaching methods

The Young Researcher Award 2021 of the Philosophical Faculty was presented to Anniina Kämäräinen. Her doctoral dissertation in the field of special education addresses the construction of social architecture in student-centred mathematics lessons among ninth-grade students. Considering the increasingly widespread use of teaching methods that are based on peer learning, the research topic is highly relevant.

Kämäräinen’s doctoral research combines different research methods in a pioneering and creative way.  The doctoral dissertation provides substance for considering the practical significance of the results and to develop pedagogical applications.

Kämäräinen’s research career has continued successfully, and she now works as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the PEICAS project funded by the Academy of Finland.

An invention made in the course of doctoral research enhances precision procurement of wood raw material

At the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Young Researcher Award 2021 was presented to Tuomas Yrttimaa. In his doctoral dissertation in forest sciences, he developed novel, automated point cloud -based methods for characterising the structure of trees and tree communities. The doctoral dissertation also led to an invention that provides a solution for novel precision procurement of wood raw material, for identifying the source of wood-based products, and for improving the transparency of production chains in the forest-based bioeconomy.

The doctoral dissertation also led to the creation of various automated point cloud processing technologies for the mapping and monitoring of trees and forests. This set of technologies has been made openly accessible for use by the international scientific community.

The point cloud methods developed, and the scientific discoveries made in the course of the doctoral research form the methodological basis for the Capturing Structural and Functional Diversity of Trees and Tree Communities for Supporting Sustainable Use of Forests project, which was launched at the beginning of 2022. The project constitutes part of the Academy of Finland’s set of projects aiming to promote Finland's sustainable growth, and the green and digital transition. 

Loneliness research bears great public health and societal significance

The Young Researcher Award 2021 of the Faculty of Health was presented to Siiri-Liisi Kraav, MSc (defended), whose doctoral dissertation addresses the health effects of loneliness. Loneliness is a health risk comparable to smoking and obesity. It significantly increases physical and mental illness, as well as mortality. The findings of Kraav’s doctoral research bear considerable significance for public health and the Finnish society.

As a researcher, Kraav is a highly interdisciplinary. She completed her undergraduate degree in educational sciences at the University of Tartu, and her Master's degree in social pedagogy. Her research has since expanded to the fields of psychiatry and epidemiology. She has adopted new theoretical reference frameworks and analysis methods with astonishing accuracy. In her further research, Kraav is focusing on loneliness-related interventions.

Regulatory recommendations for future reforms of municipal structures

At the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies, the Young Researcher Award 2021 was presented to Niko Vartiainen. In his doctoral research, he employed statistical methods to analyse the effects of municipal mergers and bigger municipality sizes. Based on empirical findings, he has also made regulatory recommendations for future municipal restructuring. Vartiainen’s research combines two themes of great societal significance and relevance: impact assessment of legislation and municipal mergers.

Vartiainen’s research has both scientific and societal novelty value. The scientific novelty value pertains to ex post impact assessment as part of the legislative drafting process. The societal novelty value, on the other hand, pertains to the findings on municipal mergers’ impact on business activities.

Prior to Vartiainen's doctoral research, there was hardly any research data on the topic and, instead of scientific facts, the effects have had to be assessed based on assumptions. Indeed, Vartiainen has presented the results of his doctoral dissertation to the Ministry of Finance, and he has attended the ministry's meetings on future municipal policy. Vartiainen’s doctoral dissertation will be a key scientific source in the development of an ex post evaluation system for legislation, which is planned by the government

A recording of the Young Researchers’ Evening is available at:

For further information, please contact:
Rector Jukka Mönkkönen, +358 40 728 8057, jukka.monkkonen(a)

To contact the awardees’, please contact:
University Lecturer Merja Lyytikäinen, tel. +358 50 360 6382, merja.lyytikainen(at)