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University of Eastern Finland recruits UEF Research Fellows from among applicants for Academy Research Fellow funding

The University of Eastern Finland offers researchers who perform well in the call for Academy Research Fellow funding (application scored as 5–6), but who are not granted funding by the Research Council of Finland, an opportunity to apply for a UEF Research Fellow position on the same application form. The first UEF Research Fellows were selected in summer 2022, and new UEF Research Fellows will start as senior researchers in 2023. The goal of the system is to strengthen the recruitment of senior-level researchers to the University of Eastern Finland and to promote the career development of researchers.

The new UEF Research Fellows are Piia Bartos at the School of Pharmacy, Eeva Houtbeckers at the School of Humanities, Samuli Junttila at the School of Forest Sciences, Sirja-Leena Penttinen at the Law School, Mari Takalo at the Institute of Medicine, Paula Korhonen at A.I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences and Matti Itkonen at the School of Computing.

The next call for Academy Research Fellow funding will open on 15 November 2023, and the deadline for applications is 17 January 2024. The Research Council of Finland will announce its funding decisions in summer 2024, which is also when University of Eastern Finland will select new UEF Research Fellows for 3-year senior researcher positions from among well-performing applicants for Academy Research Fellow funding.

Research Services at the University of Eastern Finland will organise coaching for researchers who plan to apply for Academy Research Fellow funding to the University of Eastern Finland in the 2024 winter call. The coaching sessions are faculty-specific, and further information is available from the faculties’ research funding coordinators.

Research into the value chain of battery technology, mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease, tree mortality, and work and economies

University Lecturer Sirja-Leena Penttinen at the Law School is one of the new UEF Research Fellows, and her research examines the regulatory framework relating to the sustainability and resilience of the global battery technology value chain at national and regional levels, especially in the US and in the EU, as well as at international and transnational levels.

The value chain consists of the raw materials needed for the manufacture, use, reuse, collection and, ultimately, recycling of batteries. The value chain of battery technology is global, and transnational standards relating to, e.g., battery materials and traceability, play a key role in making the value chain more resilient and sustainable. The aim of the research is to identify best practices to ensure a more sustainable and resilient global value chain. 

Conducting her research at the Institute of Biomedicine, University Researcher Mari Takalo seeks to elucidate why certain individuals are protected from Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. The research examines the functional effects of genetic variants that protect against Alzheimer’s disease, and focuses on the influence of these variants on the function of microglia – the innate immune cells of the brain.

Based on current understanding, these cells play a crucial role in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and several other neurodegenerative diseases. The research provides insights into the disease mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and will contribute to the discovery of novel therapeutic targets and treatment strategies. 

University Researcher Eeva Houtbeckers at the School of Humanities studies economies, work and livelihoods during sustainability transformations. Drawing from, e.g., ecofeminism, environmental social sciences and political economy, her ethnographic research focuses on people’s everyday work and the institutions that influence it.  As part of the research, Houtbeckers is involved in grassroots-level movements that challenge prevailing mindsets. The research contributes to the growing movement that challenges economic growth as a policy imperative.

University Researcher Samuli Junttila at the School of Forest Sciences examines tree mortality caused by drought and heat in large geographic regions in Europe and the United States. The aim is to solve environmental thresholds for increased tree mortality in different vegetation biomes and create models that can predict tree mortality in the face of climate change. The research utilises various methods and disciplines, such as remote sensing, deep learning, forest ecology, entomology and ecophysiology. Junttila has also secured an ERC grant for his research.

Further information on coaching related to Academy Research Fellow funding is available from the research funding coordinators:

  • Philosophical Faculty: Milena Fayt,
  • Faculty of Science, Forestry and Technology: Ulla Karhunen,, and Riitta Tegelberg,
  • Faculty of Health Sciences: Maria Rikala,, and Oskari Uski,
  • Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies: Katri Kostiainen,, and Saija Miina,

Further information on UEF Research Fellow positions:

Director of Research Services Anu Liikanen, University of Eastern Finland,