No snow for skiing – a real problem or not?

Ilkka Heinonen, Academy Research Fellow and former Collegium Researcher, Faculty of Medicine, Turku PET Centre

It should be winter time and many people would love to ski, but there is currently simply no snow for skiing. Luckily this is not a problem as we have ski tunnels, such as one in Paimio very close to Turku. Even people from Helsinki region drive there during the weekends to enjoy skiing.

Cycling pathways are now often icy and have sand and even small rocks, but skiing can also be done with roller skies. Impivaara in Turku is great place for this even if there is no snow. Too few skiers go there, but everyone should try!

Any physical activity such as walking or cycling is good for our health, but cross-country skiing appears to be especially good exercise for us. Even science supports that cross-country skiing is associated with lower incidence of diabetes and hypertension, and ultimately even lower all-cause mortality. A recent study published in Psychiatric Research also indicates that people who participate in long-distance skiing events such as Vasaloppet have lower incidence of depression, as well as low all-cause mortality. Continue reading

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A Holocaust Scholar in Finland by Helena Duffy

Collegium Researcher Helena Duffy

TIAS meeting, 13th January 2020. ‘What is your research project about?’ ‘What interesting thing happened to you during your recent holidays?’ These are two of the four questions to be answered during the ‘Speed Dating’ exercise. Lasting four minutes (two minutes for each person), the exercise is designed to integrate the new arrivals into the existing cohort of TIAS scholars. The people I talk to all explore questions highly pertinent to the current social and environmental crises: effects of early stress, ethics of procurement, the destruction of the primeval forest in Poland… In this context, my own ghosts of terrified and exhausted women clutching their exhausted and terrified children on the ramp at Auschwitz seem remote to the point of being unreal. But the vision continues: soldiers are barking orders in an incomprehensible language and, held on short leashes, dogs are yelping. Is it how it happened or is it how I remember it from Spielberg’s Schindler’s List? ‘I study cultural representations of Jewish mothers during the Holocaust,’ I recite in front of each new person I introduce myself to. ‘I focus on how motherhood shaped women’s experience of Nazi persecution and how the mothers’ difficult choices are judged by literature.’ Even though in Finnish the term for the Nazi genocide of the Jews is almost the same as in English, I glimpse confusion on my interlocutors’ faces when I pronounce the word ‘Holocaust’. Is it because of the noise that fills the room as some forty people are trying to talk simultaneously and we can hardly hear our own thoughts? Or is it because the Holocaust is something that ‘didn’t happen in Finland’, as the Finnish Wikipedia page ‘Holokausti’ proudly announces. So as not to jeopardise the military cooperation between Berlin and Helsinki, Heinrich Himmler gave up, at least for the moment, on pursuing Finland’s Jews. Out of the 350 Jewish refugees who had sought shelter in Finland, only eight were deported. ‘Only’ or, should I say, ‘as many as’ eight? Continue reading

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Tiedettä ja taidetta koetusta ajasta (Valtteri Arstila)

Collegium-tutkija Valtteri Arstila

Miksi tulevaisuus on edessämme ja mennyt takanamme? Milloin katse tulkitaan vihjailevaksi tai tuijotukseksi? Mistä syntyy varsin yleiset ajatukset nykyhetken erityisyydestä ja ajan virtaamisesta, jos kerran nykyfysiikan mukaan nykyhetki ei ole mitenkään erityinen ja aika ei virtaa?

Nämä ovat esimerkkejä kysymyksistä, joita olen käsitellyt kohta päättyvässä TIAS-tutkimusprojektissani. Sen yleisenä teemana on ollut subjektiivinen aika, eli se kuinka koemme ja käsitteellistämme ajan ja ajalliset ilmiöt. Olen lähestynyt tätä teemaa niin metafysiikan, mielenfilosofian kuin psykologisten tutkimustulostenkin kautta, painottaen erityisesti subjektiivisen ajan moninaista luonnetta. Toisin kuin jaettu tai objektiivinen aika, subjektiivinen aika on mukautuva: hyvässä seurassa aika rientää ja tylsistyneenä se matelee. Subjektiivinen aika on täynnä katkoksia, se auttaa meitä ymmärtämään asioiden välisiä syy-seuraussuhteita ja näyttelee keskeistä roolia siinä, milloin ilahduttava hymy muuttuu epäilyttäväksi. Continue reading

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Mentoring the mentors by Nicolino Lo Gullo

Nicolino Lo Gullo, TCSM Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Physics and Astronomy

I am at that stage of the academic career in which I cannot consider myself a young scientist but I do not think of myself as a senior researcher neither. It is true that now I feel more comfortable with the basics of being a researcher such as identifying new problems, generating ideas, collaborating with colleagues, and writing papers to disseminate results of my research. As anyone else, I have learned how to handle all this over the years, mostly by looking at more senior scientists and, no need to say, making many mistakes.

One of the duties that a young scientist undertakes in the attempt of climbing the academic career is the supervision of students, and of PhD students specifically. Usually everything starts when we are asked to help a student in our group. Suddenly we become the reference for the student and without being completely aware of it, we start guiding the student in the tortuous path of the PhD. Are we ready for it? Most likely not, but nevertheless we embark on this venture. Continue reading

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TIAS and Scholars at Risk by Kimi Kärki

Kimi Kärki, Post-doctoral Research Fellow at TIAS

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of academic institutions, organised to support and defend the principles of academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars around the world. It is coordinated from the United States of America, originally established in University of Chicago in 1999, and nowadays based in New York University. The network membership now includes more than 500 academic institutions in 39 countries. Scholars at Risk also maintains affiliations and partnerships with other associations and organizations with related objectives, including e.g. Academy for Research and Higher Education, Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP), Colonial Academic Alliance, Communauté Université Grenoble Alpes, Compostela Group of Universities, Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration (CONAHEC), European Students Union (ESU), European Universities Association (EUA), International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion (IMISCOE), Magna Charta Observatory, Swissuniversities, Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, and Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA). Continue reading

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Collegium supports starting an independent career

Associate Professor Katja Anttila, Department of Biology

I was one of the “lucky ones” getting a Junior Group Leader position in Collegium of Science and Medicine in 2016. I say “lucky one” since there were 166 applicants and six of them got position. The competition of positions and grants has been “shadowing” the life of researchers for decades but as the pace of life seems to come more and more hectic, the competition comes harder and harder. Collegium, however, offers extremely nice opportunity (for those lucky ones that get the position) to start an independent scientific career. Those who got the position in call 2016 got a position for 3 years which gives time to start establishing your own research group and develop a career as independent researcher. Collegium also offered 20,000€ as research grant that could be used for material and travel costs and also for paying small working grants for students. Even though this extra grant might seem a small sum as compared to e.g. ERC, Academy of Finland or Tekes grants, it actually also makes a difference. To be independent you cannot rely anymore for your supervisor’s grants and building e.g. a lab requires funding. The extremely good thing in University of Turku is that most of the expensive equipment are bought centrally so actually the expenses are not that huge to start your work and even a small sum could really help. If you get your lab running fast (e.g. my collogues from abroad really have had to build whole lab all the way from the beginning which could take easily a year) you could get students working with you and you really start the group and you could spend whole three years leading a group not just doing science by yourself.

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What Determines the Success of a University?

Academician Sirpa Jalkanen

There are several global ranking systems for universities. The University of Turku is doing pretty well in these rankings percentagewise but there are about 400-500 universities to win for reaching the top. Can the University of Turku ever get there? Highly unlikely, I say, while hoping to be severely wrong. A university is as good as its people: successful scientists make marked discoveries and the best teachers provide the next generation with professional knowledge and make it ready for different duties in society. Administration, on the other hand, should make all the effort to avoid unnecessary formalities and form fillings, which in fact too often just take time from the ‘real work’ and do not get us any closer to the top universities.

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TIAS and Other Stories by Martin Cloonan

Hello and welcome to the TIAS/TCSM blog.

Martin Cloonan Professor Turku Institute for Advanced Studies

I’m delighted to have been asked to write something for the first blog. Having been asked, it seemed to me that it might be appropriate to write something about the role of Institutes for Advanced Studies (IASs) in the modern world and how the Institute I direct, TIAS, contributes to that. In order to do this, it is necessary to say something about the origins of Institute for Advanced Studies and the ideals which they embraced. So, I need to start this blog with a bit of history.

The first Institute for Advanced Studies was established in 1930 in Princeton, USA. Idealism was present from the start as the founders believed this IAS should be concerned with the advancement of knowledge purely in and of itself. Instrumentalism was to have no place. The ideals which underpinned this Institute were wonderfully articulated by it first director, Abraham Flexner in an article published in 1939, just as the world was about to be enveloped in the horror of the Second World War. At this time of extreme international crisis, Flexner begins his article explaining the rationale for having an IAS by posing a question:

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