The Academy of Finland has decided to grant 12.3 million euros in funding for research posts as Postdoctoral Researcher in the natural sciences and engineering field. The funding, granted by the Academy’s Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering, goes towards 48 three-year posts as Postdoctoral Researcher. The funding was open for application in the Academy’s September 2016 call.
The Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering received a total of 289 applications for Postdoctoral Researcher funding. The success rate was around 17 per cent. The higher success rate was made possible thanks to the additional funds allocated to the Academy in the state budget for 2017. The additional funds enabled the Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering to fund more high-quality applications than before under the Postdoctoral Researcher funding scheme.
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. Other important factors influencing the funding decisions are researcher mobility and experience of working in different kinds of research environments.
In the September 2016 call, the Research Council aimed to support natural sciences and engineering research of the widest possible scope. It invited applications especially in the following fields, which have been determined as important fields for Finland’s economy and welfare:
- technology in support of energy, environmental and material efficiency (clean technology)
- bio- and nanotechnology
- health and welfare technology
- Arctic know-how.
Of the applications submitted in these fields, 43 received an excellent rating in the review. The Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering funded 21 of the applications.
Examples of funded Postdoctoral Researchers:
DSc (Tech) Harri Ali-Löytty (Tampere University of Technology) aims to develop efficient photocatalyst materials. Solar energy can be converted into chemical energy through a reaction where a water molecule is split into hydrogen and oxygen on a semiconductor surface. Semiconductor photoelectrodes need to be coated with catalyst materials because currently there exists no cost-effective solution for large-scale solar fuel production. The knowledge produced in Ali-Löytty’s project could facilitate the development of superior photocatalysts that will enable efficient solar-driven fuel production using an environmentally sustainable solar fuel device, the Artificial Photosynthesis Panel, without exploiting rare or critical materials.
Tiina Nygård, PhD, (Finnish Meteorological Institute) studies atmospheric moisture, clouds and radiative processes in the Arctic region. Clouds are one of the largest error sources in weather prediction and climate models. Among other things, Nygård will investigate how atmospheric moisture and moisture transport are related to spatial distributions of clouds in the Arctic. Nygård’s work is based on novel combinations of reanalyses, satellite data, observations from Arctic observatories and numerical simulations.
Lassi Paavolainen, PhD, (University of Helsinki) explores how machine learning methods could be used in profiling cancer cells. Paavolainen will focus on deep learning, one of the most successful applications of machine learning in recent years. His project will collect and utilise millions of microscopic images of cancer cells from patients and cell line models. The results of the project could have an impact on machine learning research and provide computational tools for cancer researchers.
Lassi Rieppo, PhD, (University of Oulu) analyses the capabilities of infrared spectroscopy to diagnose cartilage changes caused by osteoarthritis and joint injuries. Osteoarthritis, a common musculoskeletal disease, impairs an individual’s quality of life and causes significant costs for society as it reduces people’s working ability and increases the costs of care. It is extremely important to detect and diagnose the symptoms of osteoarthritis as early as possible, so that people can make lifestyle choices to slow down the disease progression. Infrared spectroscopy can be used to determine the biochemical composition of articular cartilage during arthroscopy. Accurate determination of cartilage quality during arthroscopy could, for instance, enable better planning of surgical treatments.
- Science Adviser Maaria Lehtinen, tel. +358 295 335 061, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
- Science Adviser Jukka Tanskanen, tel. +358 295 335 071, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
- list of funding recipients
Academy of Finland Communications
Vesa Varpula, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 131
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.