University of Turku Confers 15 Honorary Doctors in May


The Ceremonial Conferment of Doctoral Degrees of the University of Turku will be organised on 26–27 May 2022. In the ceremony, 15 honorary doctors will be conferred. They will be awarded honorary doctoral degrees for their scientific merits, collaboration with the University of Turku, or because their actions have had an impact on society. The honorary doctors will be conferred in the Ceremonial Conferment of Doctoral Degrees organised in Logomo centre for events in Turku on Friday, 27 May 2022 starting at 11am.

Faculty of Humanities Confers an Honorary Doctorate on Pioneer in Postcolonial Literatures

Professor of Postcolonial and Diaspora Literatures at the University of Leeds, John McLeod has been selected as the honorary doctor of the Faculty of Humanities for his remarkable international career and collaboration with Finnish researchers. McLeod has had a significant role in the development of postcolonial literary theory and acted as a pioneer among researchers studying post-colonial themes. 

Professor McLeod has actively collaborated with researchers from Turku and other parts of Finland for already 15 years, participating in conferences and research projects organised in Finland. McLeod has also been a visiting researcher in several universities and is an active participant in both the activities of the research community and the training of researchers interested in postcolonial themes. In recent years, McLeod has conducted important literary research on cross-border legal and illegal migration and mobility.

Faculty of Science Confers Honorary Doctorates on Professor of Applied Mathematics and Environmental Influencer

The Faculty Science confers honorary doctorates on Professor Adil Bagirov from Federation University Australia and environmental influencer Saara Kankaanrinta.

Professor Adil Bagirov will be awarded an honorary doctorate for his significant merits in the study of nonsmooth and global optimisation and as a recognition for his long-term collaboration with researchers at the University of Turku. He has successfully applied his optimisation theories and methods in e.g. the optimisation of water distribution systems and prediction of rainfall and gold concentration in soil in Australia using the methods of data mining and computational intelligence. 

Professor Bagirov is a member of the editorial teams of several esteemed scientific journals and he has published a broad spectrum of academic publications. In collaboration with the University of Turku, he has produced two scientific monographs, an edited compilation, and several other scientific publications. In addition to the University of Turku, he has been a visiting researcher in Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona, and the University of Calabria in Italy.

Environmental influencer and entrepreneur Saara Kankaanrinta will be awarded an honorary doctorate for her exemplary work for the environment, in particular the Baltic Sea, and her collaboration with the Faculty of Science of the University of Turku. Chair of Baltic Sea Action Group, Kankaanrinta’s environmental actions combine the University’s basic missions: research, spreading information based on scientific research, and diverse societal interaction.

Kankaanrinta participates in the biodiversity-related research and interaction activities of the Faculty of Science. Kankaanrinta is a good example of a versatile influencer who utilises their competence broadly in battling climate change and biodiversity loss.

Faculty of Medicine Confers Honorary Doctorates on CEO of Bayer Nordic, Broad-Spectrum Immunologists and Researcher of Gerontological Nursing

The Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Technology confer a joint honorary doctorate on CEO at Bayer Nordic Miriam Holstein. Honorary doctors of the Faculty of Medicine are Professor Beat Imhof from the University of Geneva and Professor Gabriele Meyer from Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg.

The joint honorary doctorate of the Faculties of Medicine and Technology will be conferred on the CEO of Bayer Nordic, Doctor of Laws Miriam Holstein. Dr Holstein will be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Turku for her merits in developing the operations of the University’ strategic partner Bayer Nordic and promoting applied pharmaceutical research and digitalisation-based investments.

Dr Holstein graduated as Doctor of Laws from the University of Münster and has had different types of managerial positions before her position as CEO at Bayer Nordic 2017–2022. In 2021, during Holstein’s CEO term, Bayer Nordic was granted the Internationalisation Award of the President of the Republic as the first non-Finnish company for its successful long-term operations in Finland and for bringing economic value for Finland. In April 2022, Dr Holstein will start as the Head of Corporate Office, reporting directly to the CEO of Bayer AG Werner Baumann.

Professor Beat Imhof is awarded an honorary doctorate for his merits in discovering mechanisms regulating harmful cell trafficking in inflammatory diseases and cancers. He is an internationally recognised, broad-spectrum immunologist who has utilised his findings in different start-up companies developing diagnostics and new medicine.  

Professor Imhof has a long-standing connection with the University of Turku, as he has had different types of expert roles at the University for a couple of decades already. He has acted as an opponent in dissertation defences and served as a member of a Centre of Excellence advisory board and the evaluation panel of the Faculty of Medicine. Moreover, Imhof has been a visiting professor at the Faculty of Medicine and held several presentations on the important aspects of a career in research as well as offered guidance for young researchers on writing manuscripts and funding applications. 

Professor Gabriele Meyer is awarded an honorary doctorate for her merits in developing the research and education of nursing science. She is an internationally recognised contributor in the field of gerontological nursing and, in particular, has helped develop evidence-based care of patients suffering from memory disorders. Meyer has created solutions for e.g. promoting patients’ mobility, decreasing physical restraints, medication, and decision-making related to patient care. 

Professor Meyer has a long research and teaching connection with the University of Turku. The research collaboration has taken place in extensive, international studies comparing the care of people with memory disorders and competence of professionals.  For several years, as the President of European Academy of Nursing Science, she has coordinated a European network of doctoral education, which the Doctoral Programme in Nursing Science at the University of Turku is also a part of. Collaboration in education and research will continue in the future.

Turku School of Economics Confers Honorary Doctorates on Researcher of Responsible Business and Professor Emerita of Management Studies

Turku School of Economics confers honorary doctorates on Secretary-General of GRLI Anders Aspling and Professor Barbara Czarniawska from the University of Gothenburg.

Professor Anders Aspling will be awarded an honorary doctoral degree as a recognition for his work in developing the research and education of responsible business as well as his help and support in the strategic development of Turku School of Economics. During his extensive career, he has worked as dean of business schools in Scandinavia and Belgium, Professor at Tongji University, a business executive and adviser to corporations, board member of a number of NGOs, and member of expert commissions. Aspling has gained significant merits in the fields of sustainable development and responsible leadership and governance, as Aspling is both a founding member and Secretary General of Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI) and Senior Adviser in sustainable development in the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). 

Professor Aspling has served as Chairman of the International Advisory Board of Turku School of Economics at the University of Turku since its founding in 2012, and he has had a central role in the faculty’s strategic development towards an internationally accredited and respected school of economics.

Professor emerita Barbara Czarniawska will be conferred an honorary doctoral degree as a recognition for her work in developing organisational theory and, in particular, methodologies and methods of qualitative research.  In her research, she has combined qualitative research methods and narrative approach. According to Czarniawska, the secrets behind the operations of organisations and welfare states can be revealed through concrete stories, which is why she often uses prose as research material and a point of reference.  Through the development of this method, Czarniawska has had a central impact on the research practices used in business economics disciplines at Turku School of Economics. 

Czarniawska has worked in many respected European and North American universities. She is both a foreign member of the Societas Scientiarum Finnica and a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences and the Swedish Royal Engineering Academy. In 2003, Czarniawska was granted the Wihuri International Prize in recognition of creative work that has specially furthered and developed the cultural and economic progress of mankind.

Faculty of Law Confers an Honorary Doctorate on Professor of Socio-Legal Studies

Professor of Socio-legal Studies David Whyte is awarded an honorary doctorate for his pioneering scientific research on the connections between law and corporate power and long-term cooperation with the University of Turku.

Professor in Climate Justice at Queen Mary University of London, Whyte has made significant contributions in the research of harmful corporate actions including occupational safety neglect, corruption, and human rights violations. In his recent work, Professor Whyte has examined the significance of legal regulation and corporations as instigators of environmental crises.

Professor Whyte has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Turku since 2014. He has been closely involved in teaching at the Faculty of Law and in a number of significant research collaborations with the researchers at the Faculty.

Faculty of Social Sciences Confers Honorary Doctorates on Two Professors in Sociology

The Faculty of Social Sciences confers honorary doctorates on Professor Anette Fasang from Humboldt University of Berlin and Professor James Hawdon from Virginia Tech. 

Professor Fasang is a renowned sociologist who has specialised in social inequality and the research of life courses and family demography. She is the Director of the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences, one of the Principal Investigators of the Cluster of Excellence SCRIPTS, and a permanent member of WZB Berlin Social Science Center. Fasang is a well-known developer of sequence analysis methods. 

In several joint research projects with researchers from the University of Turku, Professor Fasang has studied connections between family background, family formation, and careers at different life stages, in particular using data from Finnish records. According to her, after Germany, she has conducted most research on the Finnish society. Fasang is member of the INVEST Research Flagship Scientific Advisory Board and an international collaboration partner of a recently launched FLUX research project.

Professor James Hawdon has specialised in the sociology of deviance and research of online hate and the role of local communities. Professor of Sociology at Virginia Tech, Hawdon has conducted internationally recognised research related to community structures and community policing related to substance use. Together with researchers of economic sociology, Hawdon has studied the community-level consequences of mass violence in for example the Jokela and Kauhajoki cases in Finland. At the moment, Hawdon participates in comparative research of the individual-level effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Finland and the USA as well as the economic impact of online hate on different entrepreneurs. 

Hawdon’s collaboration with the University of Turku has enabled international, Master’s level courses, joint publications, doctoral candidates’ Fullbright visitations in the USA, and established a collaboration agreement between the University of Turku and Virginia Tech.

Faculty of Education Confers Honorary Doctorates on Distinguished Professor of Educational Policy and Educational Sociology and Director General of IBO

The Faculty of Education confers honorary doctorates on Professor Martin Thrupp from University of Waikato and Director General of International Baccalaureate Organization Olli-Pekka Heinonen.

Professor Martin Thrupp is awarded an honorary doctoral degree for his long-term collaboration with the University of Turku and as a recognition for his broader contributions to developing the field of education. He has conducted significant international research of the multinational and international connections of school and education reforms. His recent research focuses on global education business and privatisation developments in education in Finland, Sweden and New Zealand. The most recent edited work by Thrupp brings limelight to unvarnished insights into famous Finnish comprehensive schooling written in collaboration with over 50 Finnish scholars as open access publication. He has supported the research tradition of critical sociology of education and education policy as well as doctoral training at the Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning and Education CELE of the Faculty of Education at the University of Turku and contributed to successful acquiring of research funding.

Director General of International Baccalaureate Organization Olli-Pekka Heinonen is conferred an honorary doctorate as a recognition for his long-term collaboration with the University of Turku and significant contributions to developing Finnish education. Over a span of decades, he has had a central role in influencing the Finnish education system e.g. in his roles as Director General of the Finnish National Agency for Education in 2016–2021and as Minister of Education and Science in 1994–2002. Heinonen has highlighted the significance of higher education institutions in his work on national education development. He has cooperated with the Faculty of Education of the University of Turku particularly at the Rauma campus. Heinonen’s current position as the Director General of IBO is linked to the IB upper secondary education of the Turku Teacher Training School under the Faculty of Education.

Faculty of Technology Confers Honorary Doctorates on Professor of Molecular Biology and Regional Developer

The Faculty of Technology confers honorary doctoral degrees on Professor Johanna Myllyharju from the University of Oulu and kiinteistöneuvos (Finnish honorary title) Heikki Vaiste.

Professor Johanna Myllyharju is conferred an honorary doctoral degree for her significant merits in promoting biotechnological research and long-standing work in Finnish and international scientific communities and organisations. Myllyharju is an expert of the synthesis of collagens and the response of central regulatory cells to hypoxia, and she works as Professor of Molecular Biology at the Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine of the University of Oulu. During her extensive career, she has developed the research infrastructure of Finnish biosciences and significantly furthered the application of biotechnological basic research in the development of new medicinal substances. 

Currently, Professor Myllyharju is the Chair of the Board of the Academy of Finland. She is also the Government-appointed delegate of Finland in both the European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC) and European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL).

Heikki Vaiste is conferred an honorary doctoral decree as a recognition for his long-term work in promoting entrepreneurship and developing the region as well as for his role in supporting of the education and research at the University of Turku. Over the span of his career, Vaiste has successfully established and steered numerous companies. Vaiste has been awarded several crosses and medals of merit, such as the Order of the White Rose of Finland. In addition to the above-mentioned merits, Vaiste has been a central influencing figure in supporting the activities of the University of Turku, particularly related to the expansion of education and research of the Faculty of Technology to include the field of industrial engineering.

Created 17.03.2022 | Updated 17.03.2022