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University of Eastern Finland will confer 13 honorary doctorates in 2020

The University of Eastern Finland will hold a doctoral conferment ceremony at the Kuopio Campus on 4-6 June 2020. In addition to conferring doctorates upon its graduates, the university will also confer 13 honorary doctorates. An honorary doctorate is the highest distinction the university may confer upon a person.

“The faculties will confer honorary doctorates upon major influencers from the realms of science, arts and society to serve as an inspiration not only to our newly minted doctors, but to eastern Finland as a whole,” says Katri Vehviläinen-Julkunen, Chair of the Conferment Organising Committee.

In the doctoral conferment ceremony to be held in Kuopio, honorary doctorates will be conferred by the faculties operating on the campus, i.e. by the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies.

Leading researchers in natural sciences

The Faculty of Science and Forestry will confer four honorary doctorates. An honorary doctorate in philosophy will be conferred upon Professor Alan J. Grodzinsky, Professor Erkki Somersalo, Professor Ralf Zimmermann and Secretary General Petteri Taalas.

A pioneer of research into osteoarthritis, Professor Alan J. Grodzinsky is Director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering at MIT in the U.S. He is also, e.g., past President of the Orthopaedic Research Society, which is recognised as the global leader in its field. Professor Grodzinsky’s research addresses osteoarthritis and the degeneration and repair of cartilage, drug delivery for osteoarthritis, cellular mechanotransduction and molecular nano-mechanics. Professor Grodzinsky has collaborated with the Department of Applied Physics at the University of Eastern Finland in projects funded by, e.g., the Academy of Finland and the EU’s Horizon2020 programme.

Professor Erkki Somersalo is based at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, in the U.S. His research focuses especially on computational inverse problems and Bayesian statistical methods, in particular those related to brain functions. Professor Somersalo’s support for the Inverse Problems Group at the Kuopio Campus in becoming a leading research group in many fields of computational inverse problems, especially in impedance tomography, has been significant over the years. He has also supported the emergence of successful spin-off companies.

Professor Ralf Zimmermann at the University of Rostock in Germany has years of experience in active and multidisciplinary collaboration with several University of Eastern Finland research groups. Professor Zimmermann’s field of research is analytical chemistry and he focuses on mass spectrometry in particular. He is also Director of the Joint Mass Spectrometry Centre at Helmholtz Zentrum München. Professor Zimmermann’s research addresses, e.g., the health effects of atmospheric particles.

Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization Petteri Taalas, PhD, holds the highest UN office ever occupied by a Finn. Dr Taalas was appointed for a second term for 2020-2023 to lead the Geneva-based specialised UN agency on weather, climate and water, and he is also a UN Climate Principal. From 1986 onwards, Dr Taalas served as Research Professor and Scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, and he was the institute’s Director-General in 2002–2015. Dr Taalas developed the institute into one of the leading international organisations in its field, both in terms of scientific research and services provided. His research addresses air quality, ozone, UV radiation, climate change and satellites. Dr Taalas was the first Chair of the University of Eastern Finland Board in 2009–2015.

Trailblazers of health and arts

The Faculty of Health Sciences will confer six honorary doctorates. An honorary doctorate in pharmacy will be conferred upon Professor Kim L.R. Brouwer, an honorary doctorate in dentistry upon Professor Pekka Vallittu, and an honorary doctorate in medicine upon Professor Gabriel J.E. Rinkel and Professor Masayuki Yamamoto. An honorary doctorate in health sciences will be conferred upon Professor Anne Marie Rafferty and dance artist, Professor Jorma Uotinen.

Professor, Associate Dean Kim L.R. Brouwer works in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is the highest-ranking pharmacy institution in the U.S. She is an internationally acknowledged pharmacy scholar, educator and innovator as well as an ambassador for the societal relevance of pharmacy. Her research deals with the transportation of drugs in the body, effects of different diseases on that process, and adverse effects of different drugs. Professor Brouwer is has extensive experience in patenting inventions and founding new companies, and she is held in high regard thanks to her various roles in national and international research and education consortia, and in different authorities. She has been involved in the activities of the University of Eastern Finland through collaboration in research and education. The UNC partnership is important for University of Eastern Finland, as the university is reforming its research and education in pharmacy to meet the changing needs of the future.

Professor of Biomaterials Science Pekka Vallittu, Dean of the Institute of Dentistry at the University of Turku and Director of Turku Clinical Biomaterials Centre, is one of the most esteemed dentistry scholars in the world. His innovative research focuses, e.g., on the development of non-metallic, fibre-reinforced composites for tissue repair, including implants that are suitable for the treatment of skull injuries.  His research findings have led to several patented inventions and new business activities. Professor Vallittu completed his dentistry training in Kuopio. He has collaborated with the Institute of Dentistry at the University of Eastern Finland, both in research and education, ever since its establishment. Professor Vallittu is an inspiring teacher, an active science policy commentator and an avid advocate of research funding for the field of dentistry.

Subarachnoid haemorrhage caused by a rupture of an intracranial aneurysm is an acute life-threatening brain event that affects the working-age population. The world’s leading researcher of subarachnoid haemorrhage and intracranial aneurysms, Professor of Neurology Gabriël J. E. Rinkel, is based at Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht.  His contribution to clinical research addressing the clinical picture, risk factors, heritability, treatment and prognosis of intracranial aneurysms has been significant.  He and his research networks have played a major role in the development of international care guidelines and clinical risk calculators for the disease. For more than a decade, Professor Rinkel has collaborated closely with the Intracranial Aneurysm Research Group at the University of Eastern Finland and the NeuroCenter of Kuopio University Hospital, significantly promoting the visibility and success of the research group.

Professor of Medical Chemistry Masayuki Yamamoto is based at Tohoku University in Japan. His research group has made several discoveries in gene transcription, profoundly shaping our understanding of the field. The group has identified a key mechanism by which cells sense chemical and oxidative stresses in their environment. Professor Yamamoto is also Director and co-founder of Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, which was founded in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake to promote health monitoring, reconstruction and business activities in the Tohoku region.  Professor Yamamoto has collaborated closely with University of Eastern Finland researchers.

Professor Anne Marie Rafferty from King’s College London is known for her long-term research addressing the health care service system and health workforce and patient safety in particular. In addition to her internationally recognised scientific career, she has also served as an expert on various committees focusing on the future of health care and health care policies. Professor Rafferty actively collaborates with the Department of Nursing Science at the University of Eastern Finland in a study dealing with medication errors. She has played a major role in facilitating international collaboration and networking in nursing science research, as well as in the development of novel, innovative research methodologies.

Professor Jorma Uotinen’s impressive career as a dance artist spans five decades. He has danced and been a member of both Finnish and international dance companies. In 1992–2001, he served as Artistic Director of the Finnish National Ballet, and as Artistic Director of Kuopio Dance Festival in 2002–2019. His career as a singer and TV and radio performer speaks volumes of his versatility. In recent years, Professor Uotinen has facilitated collaboration between the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio Dance Festival. He is interested in health issues affecting dancers as well as in the use of dance in health promotion. One form of this collaboration is a health-related seminar, organised five times already, in connection with the dance festival. Professor Uotinen has also frequently visited HUMEA, the Human Measurement and Exercise Analysis laboratory used by researchers of applied physics and exercise medicine.

Societal impact

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies will confer three honorary doctorates. An honorary doctorate in philosophy will be conferred upon Director Patricia Flatley Brennan, an honorary doctorate in business studies will be conferred upon Director General, vuorineuvos (a Finnish honorary title) Mikko Helander, and an honorary doctorate in social sciences upon Professor Zhao Fang.

Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, has made several openings relating to the development of data science and open science, which are also relevant to the strategy of the University of Eastern Finland. During her extensive career, Dr. Brennan has focused on the safety and effectiveness of various software designed for the health care sector.  She has developed some of the first web-based tools for home care and has also tested the use and effects of tools and methods to treat and monitor chronically ill patients. She is among the first to promote the use of patient-generated data in electronic patient health records. At the University of Eastern Finland, Dr. Brennan has served as a mentor for Master and Doctoral level students at the Department of Health and Social Management, among other things.

Director General of the Finnish trading company Kesko, vuorineuvos Mikko Helander has a long history of collaboration with the University of Eastern Finland. Together with experts of Kesko, he has supported the university and its business studies in education, research and community relations. Director General Helander has facilitated the creation of a diverse and extensive network of business and industry partners for business studies and the university as a whole. Strong, fruitful and long-term collaboration with business and industry calls for strong community relations. This collaboration is linked to education and research in management accounting, management, marketing, international business and tourism alike. Furthermore, Helander has played a key role in highlighting and addressing many issues that are vital for the future of eastern Finland.

Professor Zhao Fang is Head of the Department of Social Work at Fudan University in China. Her areas of expertise include child protection, family services, and child and family policy. She is held in high regard in the Chinese academic community focusing on social work, and she has played a major role in the research and development of child protection in China.  Professor Zhao has collaborated with the University of Eastern Finland for many years and on various projects. She has, for example, played a major role in the BUIBRI project, which seeks to develop academic social work education in China. The project is coordinated by the University of Eastern Finland and funded by the EU. Professor Zhao is Director of the Centre for Child Protection Research, a joint initiative between the Fudan University and the University of Eastern Finland, and she has also served as Visiting Professor at the University of Eastern Finland.

For further information, please contact:

Conferment Ceremony Coordinator Kirsi Bykachev, kirsi.bykachev (a) uef.fi, tel. +358503634819