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Research at the Faculty of Science and Engineering

Our top-level international research provides a solid foundation for sustainable development.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering is a high-level research community that plays a key role in every thematic area that is included in the University’s core strategy. The natural sciences form the foundation for science, and engineering is used to create solutions that address the challenges presented by sustainable development.

The Faculty’s research groups are active participants in both national and international collaborative networks. Every year, we publish over 1,000 publications and register numerous innovations and patents. Our top-quality research has been recognised with for example several academic appointments and the funding that our top units and SRC and ERC projects attract.

The Faculty is an attractive target for research funding from both national and international funding organisations. Industrial cooperation plays a significant role in our research.

SRC projects

Growing mind: Educational transformations for facilitating sustainable personal, social, and institutional renewal in the digital age

Project is a part of the Strategic Research Programme of the Academy of Finland. The project supports the renewal of Finnish teaching and schooling in interaction with rigorous academic research.

Positive development of the youth is supported through 6 work packages:

  1. systematic longitudinal data on adolescents’ engagement and socio-digital participation, including neuroscientific studies of digital activity
  2. Growing Mind interventions on empowering learning and development
  3. carrying out engaging projects at schools
  4. developing new generation learning analytics
  5. supporting the development of the teachers and systemic school transformation
  6. organizing multifaceted workshops

The project will be carried out in collaboration with the Digitalization Project of the City of Helsinki.

>> Read more about the project

>> Presentation of the project at the website of the Academy of Finland

 

Urbanization, mobilities and immigration (URMI)

The research project URMI conducts research about the state-of-art and future of urbanization in Finland, urban sustainability policies and practices in Finland and the impact of immigration, including segregation and spatiotemporal practices of asylum-seekers in the largest urban regions in Finland. URMI produces significant international scientific publications and practical applications for urban regions and policies.

  • Consortium coordinator: Jussi Jauhiainen
  • Duration: 2016–2019
  • Unit: Department Geography and Geology

>> Read more about the project

>> Presentation of the project at the website of the Academy of Finland

Competence-based growth through integrated disruptive technologies of 3D digitalization, robotics, geospatial information and image processing/computing – point cloud ecosystem (COMBAT/Pointcloud)

More than 15 professors and 20 Dr.Sc./PhD from Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, University of Oulu, Aalto University, University of Turku and foreign universities are creating together new breakthroughs by combining 3D technologies, robotics and computing methods for 3D Finland, digitalization of 3D forests and corridor measurements. Project has about 40 stakeholders including end-users, decision makers, export industry, business angels and companies. Project aims at creating new competence-based employment, savings in the public sector, several success stories together with industry and top quality publications.

  • Coordinator at the University of Turku:  Petteri Alho
  • Duration: 2015–2021
  • Unit: Department Geography and Geology

>> Read more about the project

>> Presentation of the project at the website of the Academy of Finland

Centres of Excellence

The Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space (FORESAIL)

Space is an emerging megatrend. The increasing number of satellites threatens the sustainable use of space, as without removal, space debris will make critical orbits unusable. A central factor affecting spacecraft lifetime is the radiation environment, which is unpredictable due to an incomplete understanding of plasma dynamics.

The Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space combines top Finnish assets in space physics and debris to bring about an international paradigm change in the sustainable utilisation of space. The researchers will build a next-generation radiation-tolerant nanosatellite fleet to advance the understanding of the radiation environment to an unprecedented level. They will also demonstrate sustainability by bringing the spacecraft back to the atmosphere.

The CoE performs cutting-edge experimental analysis utilising international space missions and the world’s best supercomputer modelling tools. It will exploit top-tier science to secure safe orbits for the future, and revolutionise experimental space physics based on nanosatellites.

>> Read more about the project

>> Presentation of the project at the website of the Academy of Finland

Finnish Centre of Excellence in Quantum Technology

In the near future, quantum technologies will have a profound impact on our society. As a pioneer in the field, the Centre of Excellence in Quantum Technology brings together scientific and technological excellence and cutting-edge research infrastructures to harness quantum phenomena in solid-state-based quantum devices and applications.

The CoE aims to introduce novel approaches for control of quantum coherence and dissipation and to develop new and improved quantum circuits and hybrid architectures.  Its research combines experimental, theoretical and applied expertise in all-superconducting and silicon-based devices, superconducting-metal interfaces, graphene and other 2D materials, nanowires and carbon nanotubes. New technological applications are foreseen in quantum sensors, simulators, communication and computing, with unprecedented scientific, economic and societal benefits.

>> Read more about the project

The Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology of Primary Producers

The Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology of Primary Producers is interested in exploring the growth, development and stress and energy metabolism of plants and photosynthesising micro-organisms. It applies the most up-to-date research methods in the field of systems and synthetic biology.

Basic research in this field – and therefore related applied research that promotes bioeconomy – is highly fragmented throughout the world. The consumption of fossil fuels has caused the climate to change, and the continuing growth of the world population requires that food production is stepped up. The European Union has proposed new strategies for the transition to bioeconomy, but the key lies in the limits of primary energy production. It is imperative to increase the ability of plants, algae and cyanobacteria to capture solar energy in a form that is useful to humans as food, fuel and animal fodder.

The aim of the CoE is to find out how photosynthesising organisms integrate the absorption of solar light energy and the consequent carbon metabolism pathways, and to explore opportunities to improve the efficiency of primary production. The photosynthesis researchers and the plant development and stress biology researchers are internationally respected experts in their fields. To date, they have had only limited contact with one another, but the CoE offers a unique opportunity for them to join forces.

>> Read more about the project

Towards versatility of aquatic production platforms: unlocking the value of Nordic bioresources (NordAqua)

NordAqua is a five year Nordic Centre of Excellence (NCoE) funded by NordForsk through the Nordic Bioeconomy Programme. NCoEs are an important funding mechanism of NordForsk, which strengthen cooperation between excellent research groups or institutions within the Nordic countries. NCoEs increase the impact of Nordic research in Europe and worldwide.

The NordAqua NCoE is a hub of 10 Nordic universities and research institutes from 3 different Nordic countries, along with several industrial and societal partners. The University of Turku is the coordinator of the NordAqua NCoE. 

The consortium gathers together world-leading Nordic scientists who are experts in microbiology, photosynthesis, synthetic biology, industrial biotechnology, medical sciences, water management, environmental research and entrepreneurship. The resultant hub enhances cross border Nordic collaborations within the sustainable blue bioeconomy. NCoE will put particular emphasis on training and on increasing both societal and political awareness of the feasibility of bio-based economy. The specific focus of NordAqua is to pave the way for industrial applications of micro- and macroalgae in Nordic environments.

>> Read more about the project

ERC projects

Myanmar Timber Elephant Project

The ageing population structure of most European countries has major health, economic and social consequences that lead to a need to better understand both the evolutionary limitations of deferring ageing, as well as the mechanisms involved in growing old. Ageing involves reduced fertility, mobility and ability to combat disease, but some individuals cope with growing old better than others. Improving the quality of life at old age and predicting future changes in longevity patterns of societies might depend on our ability to develop indicators of how old we really are and how many healthy years we have ahead, and how those indicators depend on our health history across several decades. Yet, most model species used in biology are short-lived and provide a poor comparison to long-lived mammals such as humans. Further, they do not often inform on the mechanisms of ageing alongside its fitness consequences in natural populations of long-lived mammals.

This project integrates different ageing mechanisms with unique data on lifelong disease and reproductive history in the most long-lived non-human mammal studied so far, the Asian elephant. Researchers examine how different mechanisms of ageing (telomere dynamics, oxidative stress and telomerase activity) interact with lifelong disease and reproductive history, and current endocrinological measures of stress and reproductive status. This will help us to better understand both the mechanisms of ageing and their consequences on senescence rates. To do so, researchers will combine the most comprehensive demographic data (N~10.000) on Asian elephants in the world with bi-monthly health assessments and disease records across life (N~2500) and with longitudinal markers of ageing and hormonal correlates of stress and reproductive potential (N~240). Understanding changes in health across life and its links to ageing rates, stress levels and life-history in a species as long-lived as humans will be relevant to a large range of end-users.

  • Coordinator: Virpi Lummaa
  • Duration: 2016–2020
  • Unit: Department of Biology

>> Read more about the project