School of Science Awards 2021 highlight great people and achievements at our school this year

The annual awards were given out at the online Christmas party.

The School of Science annual awards celebrate excellent work by members of our community. Following tradition, they were granted at the Christmas party on December 15. The event was organized online this year, as it was in 2020.

The awardees are listed below, with messages from colleagues who nominated them.

Petteri Koponen

Alumnus of the Year:

Petteri Koponen

‘Petteri Koponen is a significant venture capitalist through his Lifeline Ventures that has made early-stage investments in several of our most successful and exciting startups, including Supercell, Wolt, Varjo, Iceye, and numerous others. He has established four companies, including Jaiku and First Hop, and he is currently the Chair of the Board at Wolt and Varjo.

Petteri started his studies in applied physics at Helsinki University of Technology in 1990, and worked as a research assistant in the Telecommunications Software and Multimedia Laboratory. Petteri is a committed friend of Aalto, of education in general, and a strong believer in research-based innovation'.

Read Petteri Koponen's interview here.

Dry and Durable

Innovation of the Year: 

Robin Ras, Sami Franssila, Ville Jokinen, Ilkka Hyytiäinen, Juuso Korhonen, Aki Luukkainen, Tiina Kossila, Bhuvaneshwari Karunakaran, Anas Al-Azawi, Ashkan Bonabi, Laura Tiainen, Mehran Mirmohammadi, Marko Kaarne, Hilma Kovanen, Afrooz Gholamianpour: Dry and Durable

‘The innovation by Robin Ras and team enables the fabrication of extremely water-repellent materials, without compromising long-term mechanical durability. The new material outperforms the best competition by a factor of 100 in a standardized wear test. The concept behind the innovation is to create a protective micropattern onto the material surface. The substrate itself acts as a protective sacrificial material that allows the functional coating to stay intact and retain its properties.’

‘The innovation has raised interest as a replacement for anti-icing chemicals for airplanes, as friction management solution for skis and other sliding surfaces, as a protective layer for various sensors in harsh environments, and as a self-cleaning window for solar panels, to name a few.’

Also nominated: Richard Darst; Jaakko Nieminen, Heikki Sinisalo and Victor Souza; Jussi Rintanen; Vital Signs

Kahvit näppikselle

Scientific Communication Award

Risto Sarvas, Matti Ahlgren, Anu Haapala & Minna Hölttä: Kahvit näppikselle podcast 

‘The "Kahvit näppikselle" podcast is an outstanding outreach activity that has introduced the diverse research at the Department of Computer Science in a fun and understandable way. This podcast has been a very entertaining way to get to know how technology plays a key role in solving different kinds of problems and how computer science is involved in basically everything.  

The podcast has been highly popular and much of the success can be attributed to the charisma and superb interview skills of Risto Sarvas — several listeners have thought that the interviewer is a professional radio journalist/show host. Also, Risto has put in pre-production and production a number of hours that go beyond the call of duty‘.

Also nominated: Matthew Allinson, Laura Karvonen, Siavash Khajavi 

Eeva Lampinen

Service Person of the Year:

Eeva Lampinen

'Eeva always keeps up the good spirit and friendly attitude, regardless how busy she is or what  hassle is going on. She is always on the faculty’s side and considers what's best for the academic activities and how to help. She is extremely hardworking and always voluntarily ready to step up for the community. Eeva is always ready to help even when she really is too busy, and yet there's a smile on her face. She really cares for the department around her. Being one of the experienced financial service persons in SCI, she is highly valued amongst NBE department staff but also in Finance and other service teams throughout the whole Aalto'.

Also nominated: CS HR team, Richard Darst, Jacqueline de Faveri, Katja Hakala, Mikko Hakala, Tiina Hartikainen, Esa Heikkinen, Elsa Kivi-Koskinen, Aija Kukkala, Mikko Mikkola, Paula Nyman, Janitors, Noora Suominen de Rios, Katariina Toivonen


Teaching Assistant of the Year:

Letizia Iannucci 

‘Letizia Iannucci has successfully demonstrated her excellent teaching skills in various CS courses in the past three years, including Data Science, Data Structures and Algorithms, Data Science Project, etc. She is able to explain complicated things thoroughly, even during the challenging pandemic period. She always tries her best to provide assistance and encourage students to ask and think further. She is a real game-changer at Aalto’.


Etna Lindy 

‘Etna has been instrumental in helping us design, develop and co-teach the Databases for Data Science course which was newly devised for the Data Science program. She has been extremely diligent and thoughtful in all her interactions with students and instructors, helped prepare compelling teaching and exercise sessions, and led a team of 6 teaching assistants in our course last spring. She was consistently rated as the best teaching assistant by all students in course evaluations in 2020 and 2021. She strives for fair grading even on the expense of her own inconvenience and seems to know how to reach the students' wavelength’.

Also nominated: Divya (Nagadivya) Balasubramaniam, Mikko Salervo & Ivan Baranov, Henriette Friis Hansen, Onerva Korhonen, Visa Mäkeläinen, Virve Vuontela


Teaching Award:

Fabricio Oliviera             

‘Fabricio Oliveira has been responsible for the renewal of three courses on optimization since joining the Aalto community in 2017. The new course versions have attracted praise from both peers and students, as evidenced by four internal teaching prizes of the MS department, “Vuoden opettaja” prize by the Finnish Foundation for Technology Promotion and excellent feedback by students taking the courses. In the written course feedback, Fabricio is often referred to as the best lecturer encountered in Aalto’.

Also nominated: Tuomas Aura; Richard Darst, Jarno Rantaharju & Marijn van Vliet; Petri Salo & Ville Havu; Mikko Heiskala; Barbara Keller; Nitin Sawhney; Kai Yao 

Team-building and Co-operation Award

Richard Darst

‘Richard Darst has put a tremendous amount of effort to facilitate high performance computing at Aalto. He has heavily invested in organizing courses to teach best practices of computing to junior researchers and making computing accessible for people from various backgrounds. The freely available learning materials have been carefully crafted for both master's students and researchers conducting scientific computing, in Aalto University and beyond.’

‘Richard has also built the team of Research Software Engineers who support researchers in their work. They build really meaningful IT solutions for the pandemic and remote work and more generally. The focus on the concrete and meaningful, and the tireless help of Richard in particular are exceptional and deserve recognition! The daily scientific computing garage has been very helpful for students especially now in the time of remote work because often this kind of knowledge is passed in informal discussions around the offices. Richard recognized this need and found a way to cater for it remotely.’

Also nominated: The Making Waves team: Matthew Allinson, Ondrej Krejci, Stavrina Dimosthenous & Milica Todorović; PHYS Diversity Team; SCI-LES; Risto Sarvas; Nitin Sawhney; CS IT and EDIT team members: Markus Murhu, Sami Laine, Markku Riekkinen; Noora Suominen de Rios; Rebecca Heilmann & Milli Keskinen; Richard Darst; Jan Studeny

During the Christmas celebration, also decorations from the President of Finland were handed out.

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