Deputy Director Kristi Raik is the Alum of the Year


The Alum of the Year recognition was awarded to Deputy Director Kristi Raik at the Anniversary Celebration of the University of Turku on 28 February 2024.

The Alum of the Year 2024 of the University of Turku is DSocSci Kristi Raik, Deputy Director of the Estonian International Centre for Defence and Security. Raik studied political science at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Turku, graduating as a Master of Social Sciences in 1998. She completed her doctorate in social sciences from the University of Turku in 2004. Raik has had the Title of Docent in international politics at the University of Turku since 2014.   

Raik has had a distinguished and versatile career in different international policy research positions in Finland and Europe. She has worked at the Estonian International Centre for Defence and Security since 2018 and has been its Deputy Director since 2023. Previously, Raik has worked at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union in Brussels, and as a visiting researcher at the Centre for European Policies and the International Centre for Policy Studies in Brussels and Kiev.  

The justifications for her selection as the Alum of the Year state that Raik has had a prominent expert role both in Finland and in the international arena in the analysis of Russia’s war on Ukraine and its consequences for security policy. Raik has an excellent knowledge of Finland, but she also analyses matters from an Estonian perspective and in a broader European context. Raik is the author of numerous scientific publications, reports and analyses on European foreign and security policy issues. 

“Kristi Raik is analytical and boldly opinionated. She has an important role in public debate, helping people understand why some things happen, why certain decisions are taken, and how complex security policy issues affect people's lives. This also supports the use of research information in decision-making and societal development," says Rector Jukka Kola.     

Raik says that the role of researcher and expert has always felt more natural to her as a way of participating and making an impact than politics. She says she published her first guest columns on Estonian politics in the Turun Sanomat newspaper during her studies. 

“The popularisation of science is challenging and not something that every researcher needs to engage in, but it is important that the scientific community as a whole takes it seriously. The way we talk about policy issues in academia is very different from the way they are talked about in the media or in politics. Personally, I have thrived in the middle ground between science and politics and found it rewarding that, for example, the subject of my own doctoral dissertation – the EU's eastern enlargement – attracted a great deal of public interest at the time.” 

According to Raik, a researcher should not avoid taking a stand while presenting information. 

"I think that in Finland the input of experts is appreciated and used quite extensively to support decision-making. In my own work, I have found it particularly challenging to make policy recommendations, but also interesting at the same time. You have to constantly weigh how your own position affects the arguments you put forward in public. A researcher usually knows a tremendous amount about the matters they comment on in public or when meeting decision-makers.”  

Raik feels that the University of Turku has given her the skills to process large amounts of data and analyse information in a structured way.  

"Today, there is more information available than we have time to consume. The ability to acquire, select, summarise, and edit information relevant to your work is highly valuable.”  

Raik hopes that, in addition to developing their knowledge and skills in their own field, students will be able to explore other disciplines and thus broaden their horizons. 

"Unfortunately, the pressure to graduate does not encourage a broad approach to studies. Of course, studying is also about having fun, meeting people, networking, and getting involved in student organisations. During my studies, I was actively involved in my own subject organisation P-klubi, and I have many fun memories from it.”

The Alum of the Year recognition is awarded annually to a former student of the University of Turku who has promoted the success of the University of Turku and Finnish society with their activities, or has demonstrated other exemplary activities for the benefit of the community. The Rector of the University of Turku awards the recognition.   

Previously, the Alum of the Year recognition has been awarded to Hospital Director, MD Mikko Pietilä (2023), Mayor of Turku, MBA Minna Arve (2022), and Medical Counsellor, MD Sakari Alhopuro (2021).   

Phoenix Universitatis Turkuensis decoration to Academician Kaisa Häkkinen and Johan Wickström Medal to Terho Heikkinen

The University of Turku and Turku Finnish University Society have awarded the Phoenix Universitatis Turkuensis decoration to Academician Kaisa Häkkinen. Academician Kaisa Häkkinen has been the Professor of Finnish Language and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Turku. Her main research areas are the history and development of the Finnish language, phonetic and morphological structure, etymology of the Finnish language, and the history of linguistics. Häkkinen's scientific output is very wide-ranging and has had a great impact. In addition to her scientific work, she has popularised the results of her research to the public. By popularising science, Häkkinen has prominently highlighted the importance of scientific knowledge in our society.

Every five years since 1979, the University of Turku has awarded the Johan Wickström Medal to a doctor who has distinguished themselves in the field of practical or theoretical research in infectious diseases. The tenth Johan Wickström Medal was awarded to Professor Terho Heikkinen at the Anniversary Celebration. Heikkinen's research focuses on respiratory infections, particularly influenza and RS viruses in children. Heikkinen has had a long and distinguished research career and he continues to be an active researcher. Heikkinen has held many important positions of trust and expertise at national and international levels, including on the board of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID) and as President of the World Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases (WSPID). ESPID awarded Terho Heikkinen with the prestigious Bill Marshall Award in 2019. 

The Phoenix Universitatis Turkuensis decoration was awarded to Academician Kaisa Häkkinen.
The tenth Johan Wickström Medal was awarded to Professor Terho Heikkinen at the Anniversary Celebration.

Rector Jukka Kola held the Anniversary Celebration speech at the event, read the blog post based on the speech: University’s resources must meet the set expectations

Created 28.02.2024 | Updated 28.02.2024