SCI Awards 2019

The School of Science celebrates its people and their successes this year

The SCI Awards 2019 were awarded at the School’s Christmas party on Wednesday 18th December. Nomination had been a rolling process all year, and over 40 nominations were received. The winners were chosen by the Dean, based on recommendations from the school’s Quality Working Group.

Alumnus of the Year: Tuomas Sandholm

Tuomas Sandholm is Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the Computer Science Department, with affiliate professor appointments in the Machine Learning Department, Ph.D. Program in Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization, and CMU/UPitt Joint Ph.D. Program in Computational Biology.  He received his MSc from Industrial Engineering and Management at TKK in 1991 and PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1996. He has published more than 450 papers on optimization-powered electronic marketplaces. 

In parallel with his academic career, Professor Sandholm has been very successful in transferring his research to innovations and business. Professor Sandholm could not participate in the award ceremony, but sent his greetings via video. He will visit us later during 2020 to give his Alumnus of the Year lecture.

Kuva: Matti Ahlgren.

Innovation of the Year: Novel Preclinical Model for Personalized Breast Cancer Therapy

The team, led by Docent Nonappa, are developing an extracellular matrix  that keeps the structure of biopsy tumour tissue unchanged, allowing pathologists the opportunity to create personalized drug treatments for patients. 

On average, more than 90% of breast cancer drugs fail in clinical trials with real patients, and each failed drug costs 1.4 billion euro. Aalto University and the University of Helsinki are developing and commercializing a novel preclinical model to enhance drug development processes and personalized medicine approaches.

Team: Nonappa, Olli Ikkala, Lahja Martikainen and Kia Bertula.
Read more here

Service Person of the Year: Minna Günes

Minna Günes is a tireless organiser for the department and for Quantum Technology Finland. The success & visibility of her groups are down in no small part to her work. She's also an absolute pleasure to work with: she has great ideas, a fun sense of humor and is always quick and detailed in communications.

Also nominated: Marja Järvi, Juuli Jantunen, Talayeh Aledavood, Paula Nyman, Tiina Aulanko-Jokirinne, Karoliina Kekko, Johanna Glader, Johanna Bovellan and Taru Bister, Kenrick Bingham, Riikka Raitio.

Kuva: Matti Ahlgren.

Team-building and Co-operation Award: Talayeh Aledavood and Milica Todorovic

Talayeh Aledavood and Milica Todorovic are awarded for their efforts in fostering diversity and building inclusive culture at their departments. 

Milica Todorovic from the Department of Applied Physics took the leadership of FinWiP (Finnish women in Physics) single-handedly on her own initiative. She is not only passionate about her science, but equally about outreach and equality. Milica participates in Shaking Up Tech and in Scientists in Schools Program. She is caring, talented and very good at including people. She always goes out of her way to make science more inclusive.

Talayeh Aledavood from the Department of Computer Science has ran the women’s mentoring group, organised women’s lunches and events fostering diversity at the department. Talayeh has made amazing and devoted work for diversity mentoring. She has been taking care of young researchers and created community.

Also nominated: Henri Schildt, Marjo Kauppinen, Tassu Takala, Kalle Airo & Håkan Mitts

Kuva: Matti Ahlgren.

Teaching Assistant of the Year: Tolou Shadbahr

Tolou Shadbahr from the Department of Computer Science has demonstrated exceptional commitment to teaching and has gone way beyond her original duties. Toulou's work, leadership and management skills are directly responsible for improving the content and quality of the Data Science course with 700+ students.

In addition to Tolou, also the other teaching assistants of the course worked hard and made it possible to successfully transfer the course to three new lecturers. Thank you to the entire group of assistants: Alena Shchevyeva, Cagatay Yildiz, Fanni Ojala, Khaoula El Mekkaoui, Letizia Iannucci, Petri Jehkonen, Ricardo Falcon Perez, Tolou Shadbahr and Vladimir Kuzmanovski.

Also nominated: Mehdi Saman Booy, Otto Solatie, Miika Leinonen, Laura Jakobsson

Kuva: Matti Ahlgren.

Scientific Communication Award: Petri Ala-Laurila and Aarni Seppänen

Petri Ala-Laurila and Aarni Seppänen from the Department of Neuroscience & Biomedical Engineering organised the  European Retina Meeting 2019. The feedback was positive:

“Looking at it from the sidelines, I am absolutely stunned by the big thinking combined with attention to detail that showed in every single aspect of European Retina Meeting 2019. Fantastic speakers, top-notch venue, hosting incl. dinners and social events, as well as co-located scientific program at the university. This is big league playing we should all be proud of, and deserves significant recognition. Overheard from audience: "best visual neuroscience event ever; can't Petri&co just arrange ERM every year?"

Also nominated: Heikki Nieminen

Kuva: Matti Ahlgren.

Teaching Award: Matti Stenroos and Jukka Suomela

“I have been attending courses in Aalto for 8.5 years, and I can't think of anyone who would deserve this award more than Matti Stenroos. He puts an admirable amount of effort and thought into course development and teaching - not just to his own courses but also in general. He has outstanding pedagogical skills and applies them to guarantee that students understand and deeply learn the course content. He is also always happy to discuss with students and support them in any challenges of life.”

Jukka Suomela’s bachelor level course ‘Programming parallel computers’ which is highly appreciated among the students of computer science. The students feedback has been excellent: in 2019 the overall grade was 4.44 and in 2018 4.57. Some examples of student feedback from Jukka’s courses: 

“Easily the best organized programming course in Aalto.”
“The effort the teaching staff put into the course was spectacular.” 
“The best course I have had in Aalto so far.”

Furthermore, Jukka Suomela is active in organizing training for programming competitions, hackathons and the Datatähti competition for high school students. His devotion to teaching is exceptional for a young professor. 

Also nominated: Janne Halme, Petri Salo and Ville Havu, Pekka Alestalo

Photos: Matti Ahlgren

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