Pohdintoja tutkijanuran vaiheista, kirjoittajana Teemu Niiranen

Henkilökuva kirjoittaja Teemu Niirasesta, ylävartalo ja kasvot näkyvät.

Dosentti Teemu Niiranen
TCSM kollegiumtutkija
Kliininen laitos, sisätautioppi

Lääkäritutkijan uralla otetaan monia askelia, joista kaikki eivät aina välttämättä tunnu askelilta eteenpäin. Kliinisen erikoistumisen jälkeen yleistietämys omasta erikoisalasta on parhaimmillaan, minkä jälkeen aletaan usein keskittymään hallintotehtäviin sekä yhä kapeampiin lääketieteen osa-alueisiin. Tutkijan uralla tilanne on usein samankaltainen. Väitöksen jälkeisen post doc -jakson lopussa tutkija on usein tehokkaimmillaan, kun hän pystyy oleellisimmat tutkijan taidot opittuaan keskittymään 100-prosenttisesti tutkimustyöhön.

Mikäli tutkija kuitenkin perustaa post doc -jakson jälkeen oman tutkimusryhmänsä, työpäivän sisältö ei yleensä olekaan enää entisen kaltainen. Varsinainen tutkimustyö, eli ainakin omassa tapauksessani datan tuottaminen, analysointi ja raportointi, onkin muuttunut loputtomiksi puhelinkokouksiksi, budjettien laatimiseksi ja henkilöstöhaasteiden ratkomiseksi. Continue reading

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Turku Medieval Market: researcher and popular history by Reima Välimäki


Reima Välimäki, postdoctoral researcher, TIAS

Like the previous blog post, https://blogit.utu.fi/collegia/2020/06/05/explaining-quantum-physics-with-arts-and-games/ my text discusses outreach: a part of a researcher’s work that might not be rewarded as a curriculum activity, but which is extremely rewarding in itself.

I am a medieval historian. Some of my research has been a very technical study of medieval manuscripts, their authorship, dating and provenance. Fundamental research, but not stuff for popular books. Yet, in addition to that, I have always felt that an academic historian’s duty is, in addition to research and teaching, to be an expert in the service of society. This means that one must be able to a certain extend to step outside one’s comfort zone, the narrow research area in which one publishes their journal articles.

For me, such an opportunity has been Turku Medieval Market, an annual medieval fair at the heart of historical Turku, in the Old Market Place near the Cathedral. It is the oldest and largest event of its kind in Finland and with its ca. 150 000 visitors one of the major summer events. Of course, not this year. As I am writing this, the Medieval Market is taking place online due to the COVID-19 restrictions. If you want to check it out, the programme is available also after the event days 25–28 June: http://keskiaikaisetmarkkinatverkossa.fi/

Image 1: Medieval Market attracts every year well over 100 000 visitors from Finland and abroad. Photo: Sami Maanpää/Keskiaikaiset markkinat

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Explaining quantum physics with arts and games by Matteo Rossi

Author Matteo Rossi faces forward infront of a blackboard. Head and torso are visible.

Author PhD Matteo Rossi
TCSM Postdoctoral Researcher
Turku Quantum Technologies group

This post is about one aspect of our job as scientists that we often tend to neglect or avoid as much as possible but plays a very important role towards the society: outreach. Outreach is a challenging task, as it requires us to rethink our everyday work from the perspective of someone completely new to the topic, to communicate the relevance of your research engagingly, to explain in a few minutes concepts that you learned in years of studies and training.

Some topics are particularly challenging, as they are so far from common experience. With these, the hardest part is to find a way to give an intuitive description of the phenomena that happen, and this is exactly the case I’ve been facing in explaining quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics was formulated a century ago to explain the physics of the microscopic constituents of matters, such as atoms, molecules or photons. While it is a clear, sound mathematical construction, that can predict experimental results with high accuracy, it is well known for being a difficult topic to understand. Continue reading

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Pandemic Mothers by Helena Duffy

Collegium Researcher Helena Duffy

More than ever I am surrounded by my ‘Holocaust mothers’ (the focus of my TIAS project). I used to get a break from them by going to conferences, writing articles on unrelated topics, or even going to the swimming pool. I loved my Finnish lunch. Early and boundless. And, unlike anything else in this country, affordable. And followed by a cup of coffee. Well, actually two cups of coffee. A stroll by the river. Then another cup of coffee at the main library. Coffee, proximity of books and sense of my own anonymity were so conducive to writing.

But things have now changed and I am mostly stuck at home with the ghosts of women wearing 1940s dresses and hairdos and fussing over their children. They are in my kitchen making gefilte fisch or kugel. They are working with margarine in the absence of butter, replace double cream with condensed milk. They chop liver. They make the best noodles in the world. They still observe the kosher rules and the Shabbos and take pride in being able to feed their families with the little that there is to feed them with. Continue reading

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Striving for sustainability by Karoliina Lummaa

Karoliina Lummaa, collegium researcher, TIAS

Climate change, biodiversity loss and other global environmental crises pose a monumental challenge to societies. We are now facing the situation where societies need to be reconstructed ecologically within the next ten to thirty years, and the reconstruction has to be implemented in ways that are socially just, culturally imaginable and economically feasible.

The ecological, social, cultural and economic facets of societal development are elemental in the sustainable development framework, which is nowadays broadly adopted in politics and business policies, nationally and internationally. In 2015, all United Nations member states agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The concept of sustainable development was first introduced by the so-called Brundtland Commission (initiated by the United Nations and chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland) in their report Our Common Future (1987), where sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Continue reading

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What is life? By Jianwei Li

Jianwei Li, head and torso, photograph in front of trees

Jianwei Li, Collegium researcher and group leader in MediCity

“Jianwei, can you tell us what life is?” This is a question asked by an opponent Prof. Harutyunyan in my PhD thesis defense. The answer to this question is quite simple by telling the audience without hesitation three main characteristics of life: compartmentalization, metabolism, and reproduction. Such a certain answer is well and perfectly defined if the word “life” means biological life in science. However, science is not all.If you have ever been asked the same question, I bet the first reaction of most of us is to regard the word “life” as our existence or everyday living and cannot come up with an answer immediately.

What is life in this respect? The answer becomes complicated. 1000 people have 1000 kinds of opinions. Life cannot be predicted precisely. Continue reading

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Koronavirus muokkaa toimitusketjuja, entäpä ilmastonmuutos? Sini Laari

Tutkijatohtori Sini Laari

Koronaviruksen leviäminen globaaliksi pandemiaksi on nostanut toimitusketjut valokeilaan. Monet yritykset ovat jo pitkään ulkoistaneet tuotantonsa halvemman kustannustason maihin. Samoin ne ovat pyrkineet vähentämään varastoon sitoutuneen pääoman määrää, ja pitävät vain pientä varmuusvarastoa luottaen globaalin logistiikan tehokkaaseen toimintaan. Kun koronavirus iski Kiinaan, monet toimitusketjut ajautuivat vaikeuksiin, kun tuote- ja komponenttipula aiheutti dominoefektin lailla toimitushäiriöiden sarjan ja paljasti moniportaisten toimitusketjujen haavoittuvuuden. Koronavirus aiheutti esimerkiksi pitkistä logistisista ketjuista riippuvaiselle autoteollisuudelle valtavat tappiot tuotantolaitosten seisahtuessa ja uusien autojen myynnin sakatessa lähes kokonaan. Korona iski rajusti myös risteilyvarustamoihin, mikä voi kerätä Suomen meriteollisuuden taivaalle synkkiä pilviä. Maaliskuussa monet suomalaiskuluttajat puolestaan näkivät ensimmäistä kertaa elämässään markettien hyllyjen ammottavan tyhjinä. Yllättävä kysyntäpiikki tyhjensi mm. wc-paperihyllyt, kun toimitusketjut eivät pysyneet hamstrauksen perässä. Viime päivinä puolestaan Suomessa huolta ja julkista keskustelua on herättänyt erityisesti suojavarusteiden saatavuus. Asiantuntijat ennustavatkin koronaviruksen seurauksena muutoksia toimitusketjujen rakenteeseen. Monet yritykset harkitsevat varmasti alihankintaketjunsa lyhentämistä ja paikallisten toimittajien määrän lisäämistä. Continue reading

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2019 Novel Coronavirus – 2020 New Challenge!

Yu Cao, TCSM Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Medicine

Yu Cao, TCSM Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Medicine

New coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV), was discovered due to Wuhan, Hubei, China, virus pneumonia cases in 2019, and was named by the World Health Organization on January 12, 2020. [1] Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause colds and more serious diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The new coronavirus is a new coronavirus strain that has never been found in humans before. The real appearance of 2019-nCoV is show in a rendered pseudo-color photo. [2] The image looks so harsh, but it also shows the 2019-nCoV virus’s ugly face, covered with crowns on its surface, like a demon’s mouth

2019-nCoV is the seventh known coronavirus that can infect humans, and the remaining six are HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, HCoV-HKU1, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.[3] This virus can cause severe respiratory illnesses, it has infected more than six hundred thousand people in world to date and killed at least 30000 people, and spread to more than 190 other countries and territories. Continue reading

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Classics in Time of Pandemic: Lock-down Reflections from the Ivory Tower by Michiel Meeusen

Bust of Apollo Belvedere wearing a mouth mask © Shutterstock

Western literature starts with a disease. At the beginning of the Iliad, Homer sings of an “evil pestilence” (1.10) sent by the Olympic god Apollo to devastate the camp of the Greeks during their siege of Troy. Apollo, the god of medicine and healing (among other specialisms), could bring ill health and deadly plague with his arrows too. It is this darker side that the Greeks get to face: “his coming was like the night” (1.47).

The Trojan war has been dragging on, non-stop, for almost a decade now but is about to enter its decisive phase. Unsurprisingly, the morale among the Greeks is at an all-time low, war-wearied, traumatized, and homesick, as they have become. An extremely irritable situation even for the noblest Greek hero. Add an epidemic to this epic mess and see what happens. (Homer’s thoughts, not mine.)

To give you some context. The angry god mainly targeted his plague arrows at Agamemnon (the Greek general), who had dishonoured Chryses (Trojan priest of Apollo) by scornfully rejecting the glorious ransom he offered in exchange for his captive daughter Chryseis (now Agamemnon’s personal booty). Long story short: Agamemnon eventually gives in to the plea of the assembled Greeks to release Chryseis and appease Apollo. After all, he “would rather the people be safe than perish” (1.117). Subsequently, he confiscates Briseis, the sweetheart of Achilles, thus triggering the next crisis. Great leadership for sure! Continue reading

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Pascal’s Wager for Climate Denialist by Hemmo Laiho

TIAS Post-doctoral researcher Hemmo Laiho

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), a famous French mathematician, is also famous for a philosophical slash theological slash game-theoretical thought experiment known as Pascal’s wager. You can find the thought experiment in the section §233 of the collection of his notes titled as Thoughts (Pensées, originally published 1670) and from many secondary sources. Skipping details and nuances and already adapting the original version for my purposes, the experiment goes roughly as follows.

You cannot prove by reasoning whether God exists or not, but you can legitimately think what consequences there would be if you believed in God and acted accordingly or if you did not. You can also speculate about the gravity of these consequences in two opposing scenarios, in one of which there is God and in the other of which there is no God. You end up facing four options and possible results: (1) If you are a true believer and God exists, it can be expected or at least supposed that your gain is enormous or indeed infinite (eternal rejoice, you know). (2) If you are an unbeliever and God exists, then you risk infinite gain, possibly facing infinite loss (perhaps you are not allowed in Heaven). (3) If, on the other hand, you believe in God but God does not exist, it can be supposed that you end up limiting your choices in this life, whereas (4) as an unbeliever you would gain more. Such mundane things, however, are disproportionate to infinitely good and infinitely bad, which is why it is rational for you to opt for the first alternative, that is, to believe in God and act accordingly. Continue reading

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