22 new Academy Research Fellows funded in natural sciences and engineering

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The Academy of Finland has decided to grant 9.5 million euros in funding for research posts as Academy Research Fellows in the natural sciences and engineering field. The funding, decided by the Academy’s Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering, goes towards 22 five-year posts as Academy Research Fellow.

In the Academy’s September 2016 call, the Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering received in all 206 applications for Academy Research Fellow funding. The success rate was around 11 per cent. By conducting high-quality research, Academy Research Fellows contribute to strengthening the scientific and societal impact of Finnish research and to promoting science renewal.

The Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering was unable to fund all top-rated applications (rating 6 or 5), so in prioritising between these high-quality applications it utilised the review reports and its own funding policies and criteria (see www.aka.fi/rcnse/criteria). The Research Council’s most important funding criteria are the competence of the applicant and the quality, impact and novelty of the research. The Research Council aimed to support natural sciences and engineering research of the widest possible scope.

In addition to the Academy Research Fellows’ salary funding, the Research Council can grant funding to cover research costs and costs of setting up a research team. The research cost funding comes to 70,000 euros per year per researcher. The Research Council has set aside 7.7 million euros to fund the research costs of the 22 new Academy Research Fellows over the next five years.

The new Academy Research Fellows are Parinya Chalermsook (Aalto University), Xi Chen (Aalto University), Aljaz Godec (University of Helsinki), Kaisa Helttunen (University of Jyväskylä), Vesa Julin (University of Jyväskylä), Hannu-Pekka Komsa (Aalto University), Anna Lähde (University of Eastern Finland), Kirsi Mikkonen (University of Helsinki), Heikki Nieminen (University of Helsinki), Tuomas Orponen (University of Helsinki), Hannu Paukkunen (University of Jyväskylä), Nonne Prisle (University of Oulu), Paavo Rasilo (Tampere University of Technology), Leena Salmela (University of Helsinki), Till Sawala (University of Helsinki), Tiina Sikanen (University of Helsinki), Kuan Tan (Aalto University), Antti Ukkonen (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health), Mikko Varonen (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd), Zheng Yan (Aalto University), Zhirong Yang (Aalto University) and Alexander Zyuzin (Aalto University).

Examples of funded Academy Research Fellows:

Docent Anna Lähde, PhD, from the University of Eastern Finland aims to develop high-value-added products from biomass using induction annealing synthesis of carbon nanostructures. Interest in the synthesis of carbon nanostructures from biomass-based precursors is growing worldwide. A large feedstock of carbon can be found from the Finnish wood stock. Biomass from the Finnish forest industry also provides a cost-efficient source of carbon. The aim of Lähde’s project is to design new technologies for the synthesis of carbon nanostructures using biomass as a carbon source and to generate new biomass-based materials with added value.

Docent Paavo Rasilo,DSc (Tech), from Tampere University of Technology will develop new numerical computation methods to model energy losses in the iron cores and windings of magnetic components (e.g. transformers) used in power-electronic devices. A better understanding of losses in power-electronic devices could contribute to improving cost efficiency and significantly reducing CO2 emissions. This would help Finland reach the emissions target set by the European Commission. Rasilo will combine reduced-order computational models and circuit simulators to accurately and efficiently model whole power-electronic systems.

Docent Tiina Sikanen, PhD, from the University of Helsinki will address the challenges related to chemical toxicity assessment by developing new, microchip-based assays to replace animal testing. The assays will integrate a critical step – the production of biological metabolites that is lacking from current assays – into the cell-based toxicity assessment. Sikanen’s methods will also help in identifying the toxic metabolites and predicting their distribution in the body. The project will facilitate an on-chip approach to gaining a comprehensive view of chemical effects in the human body, without animal testing.

Kuan Tan, PhD, from Aalto University aims to develop a novel silicon-based ‘quantum information bus’ that will contribute to realising a solid-state quantum computer. The device will help in making individual quantum bits, or qubits, communicate with each other over distances required for quantum computation. In addition, the device will allow for the study of nonclassical electron transport, which has been theoretically predicted but never observed. The experimental observation of this phenomenon would represent a major technological breakthrough that could enable high-fidelity transfer of quantum information, opening doors for novel applications in quantum electronics and fundamentally advancing fields such as security, telecommunications, medicine and materials science.

More information

  • Science Adviser Jan Bäckman, tel. +358 295 335 010, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
  • Science Adviser Anna Kalliomäki, tel. +358 295 335 035, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
  • list of funding recipients

Academy of Finland Communications
Vesa Varpula, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 131
firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi

The Academy of Finland’s mission is to fund high-quality scientific research, provide expertise in science and science policy, and strengthen the position of science and research. In 2017, our funding for research amounts to 437 million euros. Part of our funds (€70.7m in 2017) come from proceeds of Finland’s national gaming company Veikkaus.

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