Honorary Doctors

The Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry summons eight top professors and specialists, both Finnish and international, to join the number one academic party as The Honorary Doctors.

 Maa-ja Metsätiet.tdk promootio -08 / Akti

Eva-Mari Aro

Eva-Mari Aro is a Professor in Molecular Plant Biology at the University of Turku. Her research has focused on the structure and function of the photosynthetic machinery in plants and on applying the machinery for the production of solar fuel.  Prof. Aro has been selected for the president of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters from 2014, she has been the director of Center of Excellences of the Academy of Finland and has, for several times, been selected for the Academy Professor position. She is participating in many international research networks and expert positions and has received several awards for her scientific achievements. Prof. Aro’s research is advancing our knowledge on sustainable use of natural resources, energy and environmental issues which are also the research focus areas at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.

Contact: Professor Paula Elomaa, paula.elomaa@helsinki.fi


Sir David Baulcombe

Sir David Baulcombe is Regius Professor of Botany, Royal Society Research Professor and head of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge in Great Britain. Research in his laboratory is focused on various types of disease resistance in plants. He was among the first to describe a novel antiviral defence mechanism, RNA silencing, that also controls the level of gene expression in plants, animals and human beings. As one of the most famous virologist and plant scientist of our time, he is a forebild to students and scientist all over the world. University of Helsinki and the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry have been priviledge to benefit from professor Baulcombe’s expertise, e.g., in evaluations related to scientific research and postgraduate education.

Contact: Professor Jari Valkonen, jari.valkonen@helsinki.fi


Ilkka Herlin

Doctor of  Philosophy Ilkka Herlin promotes the protection of the Baltic Sea and sustainable agriculture from the interface of policy and science. He is the founder of the Baltic Sea Action Group that brings together scientific knowledge, decision makers, and everyone willing to contribute to the protection of the Baltic Sea, maritime traffic, nutrient recycling, and the conservation of agro-biodiversity. Herlin has organized action that draws on academic research on fields and river basins as well as the costs and benefits of conservation. These activities cover agriculture-oriented projects such as “Järki” (sense) and extend to international policies, as the Baltic Sea Summits demonstrates.

Contact: Professor Markku Ollikainen, markku.ollikainen@helsinki.fi


Professor Fredrick Owino

Professor Fredrick Owino is a Kenyan who works as international forest policy consultant. He was the main initiator to the academic forestry education in his home country, and he has been a senior scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi. Prof. Owino has contributed as an invited speaker to several international scientific events organized by the University of Helsinki. He has developed close ties with the Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI), whose researchers have especially in South Sudan benefited from his comprehensive experience on that particular country.

Contact: Professori Markku Kanninen, markku.kanninen@helsinki.fi


Professor Toomas Paalm

Professor Toomas Paalme has a chair at Tallinn University of Technology. He is specialized in fermentation and food technology. The research of Prof. Paalme has concentrated on yeast, lactic acid bacteria and rye bread fermentation. Lately he has been interested in vitamin and co-factor metabolism in food fermentation and, thereby increasing the contact surface with the research areas of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. He has arranged fermentation courses in his own university for the students of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry giving an opportunity for the Faculty to utilize his expertise in fermentation.

Contact: Professori Per Saris, per.saris@helsinki.fi


Simo Palokangas

Simo Palokangas has made a significant career within Finnish industry. With 35 years of experience as Managing Director he has worked in Munakunta and Lännen tehtaat Oy, and in 1994 he started as CEO in HK Ruokatalo (current HKScan Oyj). At that time Finland was in the process of joining the European Union, and the greatest challenge for the Finnish food industry was the opening of markets to international competition. As a result of his adjustment and reorganization work that was started in the 90’s, these crisis firms that operated in closed markets have been developed into internationally competitive exchange-listed food companies. Mr. Palokangas has emphazised especially the importance of personnel in strategy development and implementation. He has many positions of trust, and after retirement he was invited to Board of Raisio Oyj.  Mr. Palokangas has also been rewarded as a Business Leader, and no doubt he has given a significant contribution to the development of the competitiveness of Finnish food industry.

Contact: Professor Saara Hyvönen, saara.hyvonen@helsinki.fi


Academy Professor Kaisa Poutanen

Academy Professor Kaisa Poutanen works at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and is co-affiliated at the University of Eastern Finland. She is an internationally highly recognized promoter of wholegrain, in particular rye products, and she has long and intense research collaboration with the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, especially in cereal-related research. Her mission is to develop new foods to help address obesity and other nutrition related public health problems. Her  particular area of interest is the impact of bioprocessing on dietary fibre and bioactive compounds of cereals and their role in relevant metabolic functions.

Contact: Professor Vieno Piironen, vieno.piironen@helsinki.fi


Professor Cindy Prescott

Professor Cindy Prescott works in Vancouver, at the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Forest Sciences as an associate dean and as a researcher of forest soil biogeochemistry and ecology. Her research speciality is nutrient cycling, especially litter decomposition and its importance on soil nutrient availability. Cindy Prescott´s research projects also include the influences of forest management practices on these processes and in recent years the reclamation of soils in Canadian oil sand areas. She is well known as an editor of international scientific journals in forest science and as a science expert. Helsinki is a city which she is familiar with through research cooperation and duties at the Academy of Finland. She considers Helsinki as her favorite city in Europe.

Contact: Professor Heljä-Sisko Helmisaari, helja-sisko.helmisaari@helsinki.fi