Kaikki kirjoittajan kristiinav artikkelit

Suomen Akatemian deadline lähestyy – oletko valmis?

On se aika vuodesta, jolloin tutkijat istuvat tietokoneidensa ääressä hakemassa rahoitusta tuleville vuosille. Meidän alalla kiihkein hakuaika on syys-lokakuussa. Säätiöiden hakuaikojen päätyttyä ei ehtinyt levätä, sillä Suomen Akatemian deadline häilyy jo nurkan takana.

Postdoc-tutkija Krista täyttää ensimmäistä kertaa tutkijatohtoreille asetetun liikkuvuusehdon (väitöksen jälkeen min. 6 kk työkokemusta muualla kuin siellä, missä väitöskirja on suoritettu). Tämä tarkoittaa sitä, että nyt on ensimmäinen mahdollisuus hakea omaa tutkimusrahoitusta Akatemiasta.

 

Miten käytännön työ on eronnut tähänastisesta säätiörahoituksen hakemisiesta:

    • Laajuus. Ei ole helppoa kirjoittaa 15 sivua tieteellisen tarkkaa asiaa niin, että teksti pysyy ymmärrettävänä, selkeänä, johdonmukaisena ja mielenkiintoisena.
    • Budjetti. Kolmivuotisen projektin budjetti on selvästi suurempi kuin aiemmissa hakemuksissani. Kokonaiskustannusmalli tuo myös omat kiemuransa budjetin suunnitteluun. Huolellinen budjetin valmistelu kannatti, talousosaajamme hyväksyi budjettini ensi yrittämällä.
    • Ajankäyttö. Tutkimussuunnitelman, budjetin ja liitteiden (kutsu ulkomaiselta yhteistyökumppanilta, CV, julkaisuluettelo, aineistonhallintosuunnitelma) valmistelu on hidasta. Onhan kaikki tiedostot nimetty oikein ja onko asiakirjojen asettelu ja kieliasu johdonmukaista?
    • Moniulotteisuus. Tutkimuksen ydinkysymysten lisäksi mietinnässä on kansainvälinen merkittävyys, uutuusarvo, merkitys tiedemaailman ulkopuolella, tasa-arvon ja kestävän kehityksen huomioiminen, omat ja yhteistyökumppaneiden valmiudet, tutkimuksen riskit, vaikutukset urakehitykseen, tieteen avoimuuden kehittäminen.

 

Hakemuksen kirjoittaminen onnistuu Kiinastakin!

 

Tämä ensimmäinen hakukierrokseni on opettanut jo paljon uutta! Kun tutkimussuunnitelmaa joutuu miettimään niin monesta näkökulmasta, kirkastuu tutkimuksen tarkoitus ja kulku itsellekin päivä päivältä paremmin.

Vielä on viikko aikaa hioa ja parantaa. Tsemppiä kaikille kanssahakijoille!

Teksti ja kuvat: Kristiina Väänänen

6 reasons to gain international research experience

    1. Learn more. You can learn new research methods, use new instruments and find a whole new way of doing research.
    2. Boost your career. International research period will look good on your CV. At least in Finland, your research career path will be a bumpy one, id you do not have enough international experience.
    3. Get money for your research. Since it is not so easy to go abroad, there are fewer people after the money. Your chances of getting money are better!
    4. Networks, networks! You have a great opportunity to meet other researchers. It could lead to new, co-organized projects in the future.
    5. Superb transferable skills. What an opportunity to improve social skills, adaptivity, coordination skills, and so on.
    6. Language skills. If you are going to a country, where your native language is not widely spoken, you have a wonderful chance to improve your language skills. For us Finns, this part is easy, since there are no other countries where our language is spoken.

This topic was inspired by the current status of our research group. Our post doc researcher Krista just started her 6-month research period in Nanjing University, China. Her work will include environmental chemistry research in one of the top universities in China. The project is funded by Outi Savonlahti fund, International Institute for Environmental Studies, and Nanjing University.

Nanjing University, School of Environment

 

Text and photos: Kristiina Väänänen

How to improve PhD supervision?

Are you a great supervisor? Or are you a PhD student, who is excellent in getting all the supervision he/she needs? If not, read our tips for improving yourself!

University of Eastern Finland and TOHTOS project co-organized a seminar and a workshop for PhD students and their supervisors. Our aim was to find the best practices and tools for successful supervision. Here is a list of our results:

Tips for supervisors (by Sanna Vehviläinen)

  1. Get to know the problem to get it solved. The problem might be something else than it seems at the first glance.
  2. Let your student know that you are willing to help, have common rules for communication.
  3. Have informal discussions (coffee breaks, Happy Fridays).
  4. Make sure that you are aiming at the same goals. Establish a culture.
  5. Stimulate student’s thinking by feedback. Let the student process and understand.

Tips for PhD students

  1. Tell your goals, working style and communication style to your supervisor.
  2. Have goals and structure for all your meetings with your supervisor. Send information beforehand and make memos.
  3. Find your networks and meet your colleagues in informal settings.
  4. Balance your working life and free time.

 

Wish to read more tips and some research background on the subject?

Text by Kristiina Väänänen, pictures Pixabay (CC0)

How to find a work after PhD?

You got your PhD diploma in your hand, but not a job. What then? As promised in our previous blog post, we’ll talk about how to find a job after getting your PhD.

If your dream career is within academia:

  1. Write a research plan and apply funding for your own postdoc project. There are several foundations and organizations giving out money for post docs. If you include an international research period to your application, your chances of getting the grant are better. Check the application deadlines!
  2. Apply for open postdoc positions (in Finland and abroad). Check www.mol.fi, open positions in LinkedIn and Twitter, plus open positions in the universities’ web sites.
  3. Contact your networks to ask, if they have anything available: Ask your supervisors and cooperation partners, let the people in social media know that you are looking for a job.
  4. Are there any openings (or possibilities for open applications) in research organizations outside universities? In Finland, these could include Geological Survey of Finland, Finnish Environment Institute, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Technical Research Centre of Finland.
  5. Network! If none of the previous options worked for you, widen your horizon. Go to courses, conferences and seminars. Do voluntary work in your field-related organizations. Join a mentoring program. Learn new and get to know new people. Don’t be shy, go and talk to people. Tell them who you are and that you are looking for a place to do your postdoc.
  6. Make sure that your skills are up-to-date, for example by using the following Research Development Framework.
Research Development Framework by www.vitae.ac.uk

 

If you would like to step outside the academia:

  1. Apply for open positions and send open applications to local government, central government and third sector.
  2. Look for the possibilities in the private sector. What kind of companies hire doctors from your field? Sell your expertise!
  3. Are there suitable vacancies abroad?
  4. Participate all kinds of job-seeking events and “improve your CV/job interview skills” – clinics. Join a mentoring program.
  5. Learn, how to sell your expertise to a company. They are not interested on your publication list or diploma – they are interested in what you have learned during your PhD studies and how can you apply the knowledge to practice.

 

What happened to me once I got my diploma?

I have always wanted to be somewhere in the middle – between the research, administration and private sector. Few months before I got my PhD diploma, I started job-hunting. I polished my CV and elevator pitch with my mentor, participated in an international job-hunting event (thanks SETAC Europe), sent five applications to government jobs, applied for one postdoc position and for two administration jobs in university, wrote a research plan (with international mobility) and applied money from five foundations. What was the result? Two job interviews, one job and one 6-month research grant.

 

Text by Kristiina Väänänen, pictures Pixabay (cc0)

What comes after PhD? Career prospects for doctors

You have your PhD diploma in your hand, what now? This has been a relevant question in our research group during the past few years. In spite of being extremely happy about completing the PhD, there is a nagging feeling in your head: Am I going to find a job and my place in the working life?

According to a study by University of Eastern Finland (UEF), our future is rather bright. The recently graduated Joe Average from UEF is unemployed only for a short period. Within 6 months, Joe finds a job in the field of research. Most likely, he gets a permanent full-time position. His salary is 3 000–4 000 euros per month and he works in a university. Not too bad, isn’t it!

The Joe Average – a new PhD graduate from University of Eastern Finland.

 

After completing the PhD, 20% of the doctors from UEF did not have a job. Fortunately, the unemployment periods were short: half of the people found a new job within the first 6 months, and 24% more within the first year. If there were 100 doctors, 80 of them would find job right away. From the 20 persons without a job, 10 would find one in 6 months and 5 more in 12 months. After one year from graduation, 5 would still be looking for a job.

Doctors get more money and interesting tasks

The working life of recent doctors sounds interesting: Most of the young doctors got better salary, more demanding tasks, and a better position, after having their doctorate. A quarter of them were hired for a new position.

Where are the new PhDs from Ecotox group working at the moment?

Are the people from our ecotox group the Joe Averages? Partly, yes. Almost half of our recent doctors (PhD less than 5 years ago) work in the university as a researcher – half of them in Finland and the other half abroad.  Most of us have had a short unemployment period before finding the job. In most of the cases, we were not lucky enough to get permanent positions. But, on the other hand, we have real salary instead of research grant.

How to become a better contestant in job-hunting market?

If you are still a PhD student, use your time wisely. Pay attention to networking, do your work as well as possible, participate in extra-curriculum activities, spend enough time to learn transferable skills (e.g., project management, communications, reporting, financing). Also, recognize and learn the skills in your own field, which you may be missing. If you already have your diploma in your hands, stay tuned of our upcoming post about job hunting.

One of us is working to find jobs for doctors

The current job of our most recent PhD, Krista, is to help PhD students in developing their working life skills/relevance. The most important goal for her is to help doctors getting jobs, also outside the academia. Latest updates of this Tohtos project are found on Twitter, @tohtos.

Text and figures by Kristiina Väänänen

Three research grants for us: for nanosafety, method development and metal (eco)toxicity.

In the past few weeks, we have received many happy news in our research group. First, Kukka got funding from the Maj and Tor Nessling foundation for her Post doc project Searching nanosafety: Solutions for testing environmental effects of nanomaterials.

One of Kukka’s daphnids

Next, our group leader Jarkko got project funding (4 years) from the Kone foundation for developing biotests methods for evaluating the ecological effects of wastewater effluents.

Today, Kristiina received a mobility grant from Outi Savonlahti fund (Joensuu University Foundation) for initiating her Post doc project with the focus on metal bioavailability, toxicity and ecotoxicity. The mobility period shall be in Nanjing University, China.

Congratulations for everyone! And many thanks for all our collaborators for your help with writing grant proposals.

Text by Kristiina Väänänen, pictures by Kukka Pakarinen and Varpu Heiskanen.

Two new Phd dissertations from our research group!

Our PhD students Kaisa and Krista have been working extra hard within the past few months. There were many exciting moments with writing the dissertations and planning for the public examinations. In Finland, the dissertation is first sent to two pre-examiners. They shall give recommendations (is the thesis ready for publication or not) and comments for the final improvements. Then, it is time for final polishing and language editing. Finally, we get the book printed and get ready for the public examination and the evening party, Karonkka.

It was a great moment to finally get the book in your hands. Krista’s can be found in here (Adverse effects of metal mining on boreal lakes:metal bioavailability and ecological risk assessment) and Kaisa’s in here (Bioaccumulation and trophic transfer of polychlorinated biphenyls in boreal lake ecosystems:
predicting concentrations with models and passive samplers).

Krista’s final version of the PhD dissertation.

The most exciting moment was just before entering to the lecture hall, Kaisa is here with her opponent Dr. Kari Lehtonen and Custos Dr. Jarkko Akkanen

Kaisa is on her way to her public examination.

The public examination lasts usually from two to three hours and it is a  combination of interesting discussions and tough questions.

Exciting moments at Kaisa’s public examination.

Finally, everything is over and it is time to celebrate. Krista served some sparkling wine and snacks after the examination to celebrate the occasion.

Krista enjoying the sparkling wine after the examination (see the wide smile!), together with her opponent, Dr. Kari-Matti Vuori and Custos, Dr. Jarkko Akkanen

Congratulations to Kaisa, who already obtained her doctoral diploma! Krista’s diploma is still on the way, in the wheels of bureaucracy.

Text by Kristiina Väänänen, pictures from various sources (published with the kind permission of the photographers).

 

Surviving conference in record-breaking heat – even a panda falls into trance!

In August last year we wrote a blog post about the 2nd IIES work-shop that took place in Kuopio, Finland. To refresh your memory, you can click yourself to the post HERE.

This year was the 3rd year that this kind of a conference is held, and the location changed from chilly Kuopio in Finland to super-hot Shanghai in China. Yes, truly overheated…. during the conference week, we experienced the hottest day in Shanghai in its recorded history, which is 145 years.

The conference was held at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which everyone knows for its Shanghai list of top universities in the world. SJTU is the university that originally compiled and issued the list in 2003, which is not known as renowned Academic Ranking of World Universities, ARWU, being among the most prestigious ones globally. More than 1,200 universities from around the world are evaluated in ARWU ranking. The criteria include, among other things, Nobel and Fields prizes, articles published in Nature and Science, and citations. In the latest 2017 ARWU the University of Helsinki was ranked 56th, being the leader among the Finnish universities. The University of Eastern Finland (UEF) maintained its position and was ranked among the leading 301–400 universities in the world, thus being ranked once again as the second best Finnish university. Aalto University, the University of Oulu and the University of Turku were ranked in the rank range 401–500. Congratulations! Like in the previous years, the top of Shanghai Ranking comprises Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Cambridge, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT. Here is more information about The Shanghai Ranking.

The locations of top 100 universities in the world, by www.shanghairanking.com.

Okay, back to the IIES annual workshop. This year the 3rd Annual IIES Science and Policy Workshop was held simultaneously with International Conference on Low Carbon Development—Responding Post-Paris Agreement on Climate Change: Energy Transmission and Innovation which was also being sponsored by the IIES, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University with the GlobalTech Alliance. The two meetings were held simultaneously and offered participants the opportunity to meet colleagues from a wider range of institutions and to participate in both meetings. The participants came from Asia (mostly China, naturally), Europe and North America. There were sessions on atmospheric pollution – health Interactions, collaborative projects – ongoing or prospective, green technology, low carbon economies – technology and policy, soil resources – contamination and remediation, water resources – contamination and remediation. The workshop lasted four days and consisted of interesting presentations, fruitful discussions, conference dinners and informal get-togethers. IIES welcomes everyone to join the workshop next year – although the location remains unknown yet. You can read more about IIES.

Kaisa giving her presentation at IIES meeting in Shanghai.

The Finnish delegation representing UEF this year at the workshop included four PhD students and three senior researchers complemented with two professors. Two researchers from the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) added their forces to the Finnish delegation. Our ecotox group sent two final stage PhD students, Kristiina and Kaisa, to the venue with great success! They both had interesting oral presentation regarding their own research areas: Kristiina about metals in environments, and Kaisa about PCBs in aquatic food webs. Both of them had obviously learned the lesson HERE ) and managed to speak and discuss their topics and co-operate with others with great success. IIES is now starting a post-doc program together with Nanjing University, and who knows, maybe this would be a great possibility in the future also for our soon-to-be PhDs at ecotox research group!

Kristiina visiting the world 2nd tallest building, Shanghai Tower.

Photos and text by Kaisa Figueiredo

Total weight loss 13 kilos! Follow-up for our fitness test.

Who remembers our blog post from last September about Fitness test truck and body composition measurements? If you have forgotten, you can refresh your memory HERE. Nine months passed, and our motivated and scientifically oriented test group was finally ready for a second measurement, this time in Kuopio. We prepared well for the measurement process: avoiding extra salt and carbohydrates to get rid of the excess of body liquids, wearing light clothes (as light as possible), and leaving from home early in the morning so that we could survive without eating until lunch hour.

On our way to Kuopio! Surprisingly happy even without the breakfast.

The results were good. Our test member Kaisa had probably the biggest work to do in achieving the ideal weight and body composition, but of course, we all wanted to get good results and have some improvement compared to last autumn’s test results. It was very rewarding to see that healthy lifestyle with lots of aerobic exercise, muscle training, and proper diet, finally results in weight loss, muscle gain and reduced fat percentage. In Kaisa’s case, the fat content of the body had reduced by 7.5 kg, visceral fat had decreased by 30%, and the overall health and fitness index had improved remarkably. The Body Mass Index had reduced by almost three units, and all measurements were within the normal limits, finally.

So many good changes seen in the Inbody measurements, when compared to the previous time.

During the winter, also Kukka and Kristiina had been working on improving their fitness – with varying success.

For Krista, the results were well in line with the lifestyle. She lost some weight (3.2 kg of fat and unfortunately, 1.4 kg of muscle tissue). Well, she had eaten less and done lots of sports. However, besides the regular dancing and badminton, Krista did not find time for gym. It shows in the results! During the summer, she’ll be planning to go to gym at least twice a week, hoping that that will have some kind of effect. Then to the other results: Visceral fat was reduced by 20%, which was great. Also, the maximal oxygen uptake has increased 20% (from average to very good). Overall, her health seems to be quite good and there is no need to lose any more weight. The Fitness test truck shall come again to Joensuu after four months. It will be interesting to see, what kind of results we get during the summer (and holiday).

What happened to Kukka? “Need to increase weight by raising a bit of muscles and a even more fat” was said in the previous evaluation. Well, the muscle and bone mass had increased, which is a good thing. With increasing the fat, she was not so successful. ”I’m not sure if I really want to carry recommended 15 box of butter”… Anyway, we think that living at countryside by doing things like digging, carting, lifting, running and so on keeps whoever in a good condition.

We were so happy about the results that we directed ourselves for a pizza buffet lunch and continued analyzing our results there. We combined this day with a trip to countryside, where we had an opportunity to pet the cute horses and dogs. Kaisa had a bunch of energy left, so she continued with the sports theme!

After all the hard work, it’s time for pizza. Note, we took also some salad.
A stopover in countryside. It was the first summer day for this year!

 

Photos by Kaisa Figueiredo and Kukka Pakarinen

Riding the emotional rollercoaster of publishing scientific articles

Publishing scientific articles is an important part of researcher’s life. The process is full of ups and downs, especially for a young researcher. Planning and writing the manuscript is another story, but there is lot to expect after you think you have finished your manuscript.

The emotional rollecoaster of publishing scientific articles.
Polishing

The final polishing takes a surprisingly long time. Is everything according to the journal’s requirements? Fonts, figures, colors, spacing? Do you need separate files for everything or do you build a single file including figures? What kind of reference formatting is required? For me, this is the happy phase. I feel that my hard work pays off and I am actually finishing a part of my work. I can’t wait to get that manuscript for the reviewers!

Submitting the manuscript

With my first manuscript, this was the phase where I started to have doubts. You need a cover letter for the editor. What on earth am I supposed to write in there? And how do I find the most suitable referees? So many forms to fill and the figures do not show as I planned. Can I be sure that everything is ready to be submitted? Did I make all the last corrections to the text after the proofreading? Since I am not a native English speaker, there is a bit more stress in that part.

Review process

Relieved to get the manuscript out of your hand. Expectations are high and the process seems to take way too much time. Unless you get a quick response from editor saying that your manuscript doesn’t fit to the scope of the journal, or that they have recently published a similar paper. Then it’s just waiting. When I finally get the response, my feelings go up and down. Well, of course, if it’s not a blunt rejection. Major of minor changes – Yay, there is light at the end of this tunnel! On the other hand, the comments from the reviewers prove that there is still a lot of work to be done before the article is published.

Finishing line

In the end, you will have the paper in your hand, with your name on it and everything. Should I send it to my family to read (didn’t, I guess they wouldn’t appreciate it that much). Maybe I could bring some sparkling wine or a cake to colleagues? Part of my PhD thesis is now completed and it’s time to move on to the next part!

Celebrate the good work you have done!

 

Text by Kristiina Väänänen, photo by Kaisa Figueiredo