The Researcher in Spotlight is a series which introduces the researchers of the Faculty of Law. We are presenting now Project Researcher Saara Ylisaukko-Oja.
Position in the Faculty of Law: The project researcher (EduRESCUE)
Degrees: Master of Law (2013)
Fields of interest: Child rights, particularly issues related to children's rights in the context of custody disputes.
Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?
I graduated from the University of Lapland in 2013, and I enjoyed writing my thesis so much that I immediately dreamed of doing a doctoral dissertation. However, I couldn't come up with a topic I wanted to write a dissertation on. But the dream didn't fade away, and after working in the professional field for a few years, I found an interesting topic in the practical work while serving as a lawyer in custody disputes. My topic was related to a child's right to visitation and, more specifically, the grounds on which a court can restrict a child's right to visit their parent under supervision or with support. In 2018, I got accepted into a doctoral program at the University of Lapland and started working on my dissertation alongside my job. I took a study leave for ten months between 2019 and 2020, dedicating myself solely to my doctoral research.
In the fall of 2021, my supervisor, Tuulikki Mikkola, asked me about my interest in a project researcher position, and after a brief consideration, I took on this challenge. I started working on the EduRESCUE project at the beginning of 2022. I took a maternity leave in between, but now in May, I have returned with renewed enthusiasm and ideas. My dissertation has also progressed along the way, and now I am determined to complete this project as soon as possible.
What projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I work as a project researcher in the EduRESCUE – Resilient School and Education project. In the project, my perspective is focused on children's rights, and in the spring, my article titled "”Lapsen oikeus turvalliseen oppimisympäristöön ja oikeuden turvaaminen etäopetuksessa " was published as part of the project. As a second project, I work on my doctoral thesis.
Have your interests evolved since finishing your studies?
My interests have partially changed and expanded, although the core focus remains largely the same. During my studies, criminal law was the main interest for a long time. Towards the end, it shifted to family law, particularly because of my work at a law firm, where I had the opportunity to become more familiar with practical family law issues. Through that experience, I also became interested in custody disputes, which became the topic of my thesis. I still enjoy legal questions related to custody disputes, but my interest has broadened to encompass the position of the child across different areas of law. In particular, through the project, I have delved deeper into the field of education and discovered new exciting research topics there.
For Saara Ylisaukko-Oja, the most exciting part of her work are the moments when thoughts fall into place.
What would you be, if you were not a researcher?
This question is easy to answer because I have been working as a lawyer in a psychology and law firm since graduation, and participating in research has been possible because I have been granted leave from that position. However, if I were to consider the question more broadly instead of giving a definite answer, I could see myself, for example, in teaching and educational roles.
What inspires you?
The most exciting part of my work is experiencing those moments, when thoughts "fall into place" or when I finally manage to articulate my ideas in a comprehensible manner. The joy of realization is exhilarating, and I may jump and bounce with happiness when I solve a problem related to my research, for example. I am also passionate about teaching and particularly enjoy contemplating how scientific knowledge reaches practitioners in their work.
In my free time, I get excited about sports, especially endurance sports. During the summer season, you can often find me participating in running or orienteering races, challenging myself. In winter, I love skiing, especially in the slopes of Lapland. I am also highly enthusiastic about traveling and embarking on various new adventures.