Science and research

Tieteen huiput Aalto-yliopisto

Excellence in Research

Eminent researchers works at Aalto University. The university has also a number of Centres and Researchers of Excellence funded by the Academy of Finland and the European Research Council.

Academy Professors lead research forward

The Academy of Finland chooses as an Academy Professor a person who has proven to be an eminent researcher.

  • The person is deemed to contribute to the advancement of research in their branch of science.
  • The researcher is seen to have the capability to make significant scientific.
  • The appointment gives the Academy Professor the opportunity to focus on research.
  • Academy Professors are employed by the organisation where their professorship is.

Aalto University has seven Academy Professors (2014):

    • Riitta Hari (c) Heli Sorjonen

      Riitta Hari
      Systems neuroscience

    • Olli Ikkala (c) Anni Hanén

      Olli Ikkala
      Biological and soft matter physics

    • Risto Ilmoniemi (c) Anni Hanén

      Risto Ilmoniemi
      Biomedical engineering

    • Visa Koivunen (c) Anni Hanén

      Visa Koivunen
      Signal processing

    • Jukka_Pekola.jpg

      Jukka Pekola
      Quantum physics

    • Riitta Salmelin (c) Anni Hanén

      Riitta Salmelin
      Systems and cognitive neuroscience

    • Jukka Seppälä (c) Anni Hanén

      Jukka Seppälä
      Bioactive and biodegradable polymers

Academy of Finland’s Centres of Excellence in Research at Aalto University

The Centres of Excellence in Research, funded by the Academy of Finland, are among the best representatives of their respective branches of science. Each research group has the opportunity to do research at a high international level with funding provided for six years.

The Centres of Excellence are in the forefront of their field in international terms. Besides top quality and internationality, the research groups ensure that research is ethical, unconstrained and innovative.

Each research group has the opportunity to do research at a high international level with funding provided for six years. 

Aalto University’s Centres of Excellence in Research for the period 2014–2019:

Aalto University takes part in:

  • Centre of Excellence in Laser Scanning Research (Finnish Geodetic Institute, University of Helsinki, University of Oulu, Aalto/School of Engineering)
  • Centre of Excellence in Research on Solar Long-Term Variability and Effects (University of Oulu, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Aalto/School of Science)

Aalto University’s Centres of Excellence in Research for the period 2012–2017

Aalto University takes part in:


The European Research Council provides ERC grants for the most promising research

The European Research Council (ERC) supports groundbreaking research in all branches of science by funding the work of top researchers.

ERC research grants have been awarded since 2007. Aalto University has 17 recipients of the grant. 12 of them are ERC Starting Grants, which are five-year grants awarded to talented new researchers for the establishment of their own research group. 5 of them are ERC Advanced Grants for distinguished top researchers.

ERC Starting Grants

  • Assistant Professor Petteri Kaski, School of Science, Department of Information and Computer Science (2014-2019)
  • Senior Scientist Juha Silvanto, School of ScienceO.V. Lounasmaa Laboratory (2014-2019)
  • Professor Lauri Nummenmaa, School of Science, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science BECS (2013-2017)
  • Professor Hele Savin, School of Electrical Engineering, Department of Micro- and Nanosciences (2013-2017)
  • Professor Peter Liljeroth, School of Science, Department of Applied Physics (2012-2017)
  • Academy Research Fellow Mikko Möttönen, School of Science, Department of Applied Physics (2012-2016)
  • Professor Sebastiaan Van Dijken, School of Science, Department of Applied Physics (2012-2017)
  • Senior Scientist Tero Heikkilä, School of Science, O.V. Lounasmaa Laboratory (2010-2014)
  • Professor Mika Sillanpää, School of Science, Department of Applied Physics (2010-2014)
  • Assistant Professor Ville Pulkki, School of Electrical Engineering, Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics (2009-2014)
  • Professor Marko Terviö, School of Business, Department of Economics (2009-2014)
  • Professor Tapio Lokki, School of Science, Department of Media Technology (2008-2013)

ERC Consolidator Grant

  • Professor Mika Sillanpää, School of Science, Department of Applied Physics (2015-2019). 'Cavity quantum phonon dynamics' project focuses on micromechanical resonators measured at ultra-low temperatures close to absolute zero.

ERC Advanced Grants

  • Professor Antero Arkkio, School of Electrical Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering (2014-2018)
  • Professor Maarit Karppinen, School of Chemical Technology, Department of Chemistry (2014-2018)
  • Professor Päivi Törmä, School of Science, Department of Applied Physics (2013- 2017)
  • Academy Professor Olli Ikkala, School of Science, Department of Applied Physics (2012-2017)
  • Academian of Science, Academy Professor, Riitta Hari, School of Science, O.V. Lounasmaa Laboratory (2009-2014)

Strategic research initiatives

Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, is funding a series of strategic research initiatives involving various research organisations. New and exciting solutions capable of creating cutting-edge expertise in areas that are expected to be of critical importance for business and growth in the future are central to these projects.

Revolution of Knowledge Work

The project's vision is to revolutionise data-intensive work by developing new search and processing methods. The project brings together HIIT's and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health's extensive multidisciplinary know-how in machine learning, human-computer interaction, distributed calculation techniques, cognitive neuroergonomics, and the human factors involved in people's working lives.

Partners: Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT (Aalto University and University of Helsinki), Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
Years: 2013-2014

Design-Driven World of Cellulose

The project's vision is to develop new business success stories based on lignocellulose. The project is focusing on developing a completely new industrial ecosystem and making Finland a centre for products based on leveraging lignocellulose technology. The goal is also to promote the integration of design and design processes into the strategic development of Finnish companies.

Partners: Aalto University, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Tampere University of Technology
Years: 2013-2014

The New Global 

The New Global is a multidisciplinary innovation research project aimed at creating innovations with a small resource requirement for markets that need to make more from less; and generate new business opportunities for Finnish companies.

Aalto University
Years: 2014-2015

3i – Innovative Induction Initiative 

The project's vision is to increase the ability of the heart and the brain to produce new cells with the help of oral pharmaceuticals produced from people's own stem cells. Success here could revolutionise the treatment of coronary heart disease and brain dysfunction.

Partners: University of Helsinki, Aalto University
Years: 2014-2015

Digital Health Revolution

The vision of the project is to allow the use of information on individuals as part of personalised and preventive services and to improve citizens' chances of maintaining their well-being independently.

Partners: University of Oulu, University of Helsinki, University of Lapland, Aalto University, Tampere University of Technology, VTT, National Consumer Research Centre
Years: 2014-2016

Living Factories

The aim of the project is to develop and use potential based on synthetic biology in Finland. The project will involve the creation of a new internationally competitive operating environment combining research, training and industrial operations and which will also make use of a combination of engineering and unique biological functions.

Partners: Aalto University, VTT, University of Turku
Years: 2014-2016


FiDiPro – funding scheme for visiting top level scientists in science and technology

FiDiPro - the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme, led and financed by the Academy of Finland and Tekes, provides Finnish universities and research institutes with the opportunity to employ distinguished professor-level scientist from all around the world for a fixed term.

Micronova (c) Aino Huovio

The funding programme strengthens scientific and technological knowledge and know-how in Finland and adds a more international element to the Finnish research system. The aim is to create new form of international cooperation between basic and applied research and research and development activities in industry.

Finnish universities and research institutes can apply for FiDiPro funding. The first FiDiPro-professors began their work in Finland at the beginning of 2007. New calls for  the programme are opened at regular intervals.

Tekes provides funding also for inviting FiDiPro Fellows - promising top researchers past their post doc stage- to work in Finland.

The following FiDiPro-Professors and -Fellows appointed by the Academy of  Finland and Tekes, are currently engaged at Aalto University 


  • Rauf Hürman Eric (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa), School of Chemical Technology (in cooperation with the University of Oulu): Sustainable production of ferroalloys.
  • Marcus Greferath (University College Dublin, UCD, Ireland), School of Science: Applied algebra in communications technology. 
  • Hannes Jónsson  (University of Iceland and Brown University, Iceland  and  USA), School of Science: Development and application of advanced simulation and computational techniques for nanoparticle-facilitated catalysis in solar cells.
  • Lauri Koskela (University of Salford, UK) School of Enginering: Building information modeling for lean construction.
  • Leon Lefferts (Universty of Twente, Holland), School of Chemical Technology: Hydrogen from Biomass using Thermo-chemical methods.
  • Peter McNeil (University of Technology Sydney, Australia), School of Arts, Design and Architecture: Costume Methodologies – Building Methodological Tools for Research in the Field of Costume Design.
  • Nasser Peyghambarian ( University of Arizona, USA), School of Electrical Engineering (in cooperation with the University of Eastern Finland): Emerging nanophotonic devices using advanced materials.
  • Junuthula N. Reddy (Texas A&M University, USA), School of Engineering: Non-Linear Response of Large, Complex and Thin-Walled Structures. 
  • Dominique Richon (Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Techniquea Avancées, Ranska) School of Chemical technology: Phase Equilibria for Biorefineries.
  • Stefano Zapper (National Research Council of Italy, CNR-IENI & Consorzio Nazionale Delle Ricerche, Italy), School of Science: Noise and fluctuations in materials.

FiDiPro Fellow -researchers

  • Koen Van Leemput (Harvard University, USA), School of Science: Computational analysis of brain images
  • Fa-Hsuan Lin (National Taiwan University, Taiwan ja Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA), School of Science: ultra-low-field MRI
  • Emma Master (University of Toronto, Canada), School of Chemical technology: Enzymatic modification of plant fibres

Page content by: verkkotoimitus [at] aalto [dot] fi | Last updated: 16.01.2015.