Meet the board

Heidi Harjunpää, chair

I did my PhD about cancer immunotherapy in Brisbane, Australia, and then started as a postdoc in Integrins in Immunity group (Molecular and Integrative Biosciences, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences) in Viikki in 2018. Currently I´m studying immune cell metabolism and the role of integrins in tumor immunity. I joined ViPA board 2020 because I think it´s important to have a friendly peer network that you can use to change ideas with and to receive support from. I also like to be part of ViPA´s mission in promoting professional development by organizing various courses and events about important skills needed in research.

Maureen Akinyi, outgoing chair

I am originally from Kenya and moved to Helsinki for my postdoc after receiving my Ph.D in Trieste, Italy in 2015. I am passionate about Biology and even more so RNA biology. I joined ViPA to get more involved in the University and contribute to developing a vibrant network of postdocs through organization of both scientific and social activities.

Pia Kinaret, communications

I obtained my PhD degree  in year 2017 and I am currently studying immunotoxicity and immunomodulatory effects of engineered nanomaterials at the Institute of Biotechnology. ViPA is actively promoting and organising courses, networking possibilities and events for postdoctoral fellows. I wish to be part of ViPA’s important effort to improve postdoctoral training and creating dynamic research environment for postdocs!

Esa-Pekka Kumpula

I’m a biochemist and structural biologist originally from Kemijärvi, from the far north of Finland. In my PhD I studied malaria parasite actin motility at the University of Oulu and in Hamburg, Germany. In 2019 I joined the group of Juha Huiskonen, now at the Institute of Biotechnology, and am working on method development for cryogenic electron microscopy sample preparation. I joined the ViPA board in 2021 to get involved in the postdoc community and to promote the spread of information about crucial issues at the postdoctoral stage. I’m interested in development of skills such as scientific communication, organisation and teamwork and hope to be able to put forward ideas that strengthen them in my fellow postdocs.

Heli Mönttinen

I am currently working in the research group of Ari Löytynoja at the Institute of Biotechnology, where I study template switch mutation patterns in sequence data. I joined VIPA to strenghten the support network among postdocs as well as to improve postdocs’ training opportunities.


Previous Members

Tânia Keiko Shishido Joutsen, former secretary

I am a postdoctoral researcher studying natural products produced by microbial communities living in lichens. I am a biologist from Brazil, but I have been living in Finland since 2010 and during this period I obtained my PhD in microbiology and I am currently working in the group of Petri Auvinen at the Institute of Biotechnology, HILIFE. I joined VIPA board with the hope to improve postdocs lives and networking possibilities within the University life.

Janne Wallenius, former board member

I started as a postdoc in the Fungal Genetics and Biotechnology group in the beginning of 2019. I work on fungal enzymes related to aromatic metabolism. I joined VIPA board with the hope of contributing and strengthening the multidisciplinary postdoc network over the departments.

Gustavo Borin, former board member

I am Brazilian biologist and I moved to Helsinki in 2020 to work as a postdoc researcher at UH. My research addresses lignin bioconversion and valorization by microorganisms, with focus on metabolic pathways, enzymes and fungal biology. Although I am relatively new in ViPA board, I saw in this the opportunity to improve other important skills that sometimes we cannot develop working in the academy. Besides, ViPA makes you think outside the box in a friendly and enriching environment with other postdocs of different areas.  Join us you too!

Joanna Kowalczyk, former chair

I have been a postdoc in the Fungal Genetics and Biotechnology group since 2017. Fungi are fascinating microorganisms and have a major commercial impact in product areas including food and feed, pulp and paper, textiles, detergents, beverages, bio-fuel and chemical production. I believe that better understanding of fungal molecular biology is critical for the sustainable, knowledge-based bio-economy. I joined ViPA to promote social integration and professional development among postdocs.


Daniel Toddie-Moore (secretary, vice chair)

Konstantin Kogan

Windi Muziasari

Maryna Chukhlieb

Former BiPA members