Honorary Doctors

Conferment of an honorary doctorate is the highest honour that the University can confer to a person. The University has invited persons for conferment, who have distinguished themselves on the fields of science represented in the University of Oulu. Many of them have collaborated significantly with researchers in the University of Oulu.

In addition, invitations have been made to persons who have distinguished themselves significantly in other ways in the society and for the benefit of operations of the University of Oulu.

The honorary doctorates of the 11th Conferment Ceremony of the University of Oulu

The University of Oulu will confer 21 new honorary doctorates in a Doctoral Conferment Ceremony on spring 2022.
Honorary Doctors 2022 are:

Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Professor Mats Paulsson

Professor Mats Paulsson is an internationally recognized connective tissue researcher. He is a Professor of Biochemistry and the Director of the Biochemistry Institute of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Cologne. He has led several large research consortia and has held numerous academic positions of trust. In 2012–2017 he was the chair of the Board of the Academy of Finland Center of Excellence in cell-extracellular matrix research encompassing six research groups in the medical campus of University of Oulu.

Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe

Peter Ratcliffe is a Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine in 2019. He is a Professor and Director of the Target Discovery Institute at Oxford University and Director of Clinical Research at the Francis Crick Institute. Ratcliffe served as a scientific advisor to the Center of Excellence in Cell and Extracellular Matrix, University of Oulu, 2012–2017. Ratcliffe collaborates with researchers at the Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the University of Oulu on the mechanisms of oxygen sensing in the body.


Faculty of Humanities

Border guard (retd) Niilo Ilmari Mattus

Niilo Ilmari Mattus, an Inari Saami language activist, author, translator and artist, has had a pivotal role in revitalizing Inari Saami language and promoting the language as an academic subject. He is a major developer of Inari Saami as a standard language and a self-educated researcher who specializes in onomastics and local history. He has been an expert, informant and research companion for researchers in various fields of science. Mattus has given for other researchers an incredible amount of high-quality research material collected by himself. Particularly important is a collection of about 20 000 place-names and a corpus of 1.3 million Inari Saami words. He has directly had an impact on success of academic research and raised its level remarkably.

News Correspondent and Non-Fiction Writer Helena Petäistö

Helena Petäistö is an Oulu-based former foreign correspondent of the Finnish MTV channel and author of several non-fiction books. She is one of the most well-known foreign correspondents and journalists in Finland. She has been covering the French politics and culture as a correspondent for the MTV channel in Paris and in Brussels for more than 30 years. Furthermore, she is the author of many best-selling books related to France and Europe. She continues as a popular columnist and lecturer. Helena Petäistö has been awarded to the Order of Legion of Honor of the Republic of France as Officer and has been granted the distinguished Suomen Kuvalehti Prize for Journalism.

Research Professor Emerita Sandra A. Thompson

Sandra Thompson is an internationally recognized pioneer in interactional linguistics and an expert in functional linguistics. She has published nearly two hundred scientific articles and several seminal edited collections and monographs during her long and prominent research career. Her work has regenerated the field of linguistics both theoretically and methodologically. Thompson has long had close connections to the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Oulu. 


Faculty of Education

Professor Annette Scheunpflug

Professor Annette Scheunpflug’s research areas include comparative education, global education and learning, and researcher education. As an active collaboration partner, she has significantly contributed to developing the international profile of the Faculty of Education at the University of Oulu. Annette Scheunpflug has provided expertise in global education research in Finland, Europe and internationally. She is an elected member in the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities.


Faculty of Science

Professor Jeremy B. Searle

Jeremy B. Searle is professor and chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University, and conducts research related to the evolutionary origins of new animal species, but also the interface of animal evolution and human history. Over many years he has worked with colleagues at the University of Oulu in relation to joint grants, joint graduate students and joint publications.


Faculty of Medicine

Senior Advisor Liisa Hyssälä

Doctor of Dental Science, Master of Political Sciences Liisa Hyssälä has created her successful career in the university, as an entrepreneur and as a politician. She has worked as a lecturer and a researcher at the university and operated as a private practice dentist. In the field of politics, she has been a member of the Parliament of Finland and acted as a Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services and as a Minister of Social Affairs and Health. She has also acted as a General Director of Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. Currently she is a Senior Advisor in the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.

Professor John McGrath

Professor McGrath is the Director of the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, and a conjoint Professor at the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland. In 2016 he was awarded a prestigious Niels Bohr Professorship, based at the National Centre for Register-based Research, Aarhus University, Denmark. His research has focused on the epidemiology of schizophrenia and modifiable risk factors associated with psychosis. Professor McGrath has won several national and international awards and he is one of the world leaders in schizophrenia research. He has collaborated with researchers in the Medical Faculty of the University of Oulu since the early 2000s.

Professor Maiken Nedergaard

Professor Maiken Nedergaard is a pioneer in the study of the mechanisms of brain tissue clearance mediated bu astroglial cells. She holds a professorship at both the University of Rochester (USA) and the University of Copenhagen, where she leads her research teams. In addition, Nedergaard has an extensive international research collaboration, one of them being the Oulu Functional NeuroImaging lab leading the field of human brain pulsation research.

Professor Aarno Palotie

Aarno Palotie is a University of Oulu Medical School graduate. He is a human geneticist who uses large disease and population cohorts to study the genetic background of diseases with an ultimate goal to improve and stratify prediction, prevention and treatment. He has held professorships and group leader positions in the University of Helsinki, UCLA and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. He is currently a professor and group leader at the University of Helsinki, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital and the Chief Scientific Officer of the large FinnGen project.


Oulu Business School

Professor Eli Amir

Professor Eli Amir is the Max and Steffi Perlman Professor of Financial Economics at the Coller School of Management at Tel Aviv University. He is an internationally recognized researcher known for his contributions to the field of financial reporting and capital markets. His recent research has examined the precision of positive and negative information in daily stock returns, the capital market consequences of cyber-attacks and the effect of criminal conviction on the decisions of external auditors and corporate executives. He has collaborated extensively with researchers from Oulu Business School, Department of Accounting.

Professor Eva Liljeblom

Professor Eva Liljeblom is one of the leading researchers in finance in Finland. In addition to her research career, she has held an extensive number of expert and management positions. She was the Rector of Hanken School of Economics in 2010–2015. Furthermore, she has served as a board member for several listed companies.

CEO Risto Murto

Risto Murto is President and CEO of Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company. He has several positions of trust e.g. in listed companies and non-profit organisations connected with research and culture. He has been Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board of the University of Oulu in 2014–2019. Risto Murto holds Ph.D. (Econ.) and has completed his master’s degree at the University of Oulu.


Faculty of Technology

Professor (Emeritus) Eero Eloranta 

Professor emeritus Eero Eloranta (Aalto University) has expertise in operations strategies, operations management and demand-supply chain management, both in manufacturing and service businesses. Eloranta has contributed in national and international research programs, both in EU as well as in the global arena and his impact on Finnish industry is extensive. His publication record includes over 100 international publications. Eloranta has supervised 50 PhD theses and more than 600 MSc theses, served as the reviewer and opponent in PhD disputations in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, UK and Australia. He has contributed significantly on the development of Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Oulu.

Director of Building Supervision (retd) Tapani Mäkikyrö

Master of Science in Engineering Tapani Mäkikyrö is an alumnus of the University of Oulu and an active professional in the field of civil engineering. During recent years, Mr. Mäkikyrö’s contribution both as an appointed rapporteur and distinguished expert in the field has been essential in the retrieval of civil engineering education back to the University of Oulu, as well as in developing new curriculum and external relations of this new degree program. Under the lead of Mr. Mäkikyrö, North Finnish Construction Cluster activities have been renewed to strengthen novel collaboration between the retrieved education, business and public authorities. During the time Mr. Mäkikyrö worked as the director of the Oulu City Building Supervision, a service oriented operational model, which produces added value, and which also includes substantial education and development functions, was developed and later deployed nationwide. Mr. Mäkikyrö’s work has been acknowledged by numerous national recognitions.

Professor, Director Paula Vanninen

Professor Paula Vanninen is the director of VERIFIN (Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention), which operates under the auspices of the Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki. She has participated in the activities of several national and international organizations, which relate to the monitoring the prohibition of chemical weapons, for instance in the scientific council of OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; 2010–2016) and its working parties (2005–2019). OPCW received the Nobel peace prize in 2013. Her research, which is concerned with the characterization of chemical warfare agents and biological toxins, is directed towards organic structural chemistry and is thus related to the research, which is carried out in University of Oulu. In 2013 Paula Vanninen was named the alumna of the year in University of Oulu.


Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

Entrepreneur, Investor Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman is an American internet entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author. Hoffman was executive vice president of PayPal. He is the co-founder of LinkedIn, serving also as CEO and executive chairman in it. He is currently a partner at Greylock Partners, one of the leading venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. Hoffman has influenced research and teaching of emerging information technologies, globalization and entrepreneurship in the University of Oulu.

Professor (Emeritus) Pentti Leppänen

Pentti Leppanen is a pioneer in Finland in research for broadband communications (e.g., CDMA), tactical military systems, electronic warfare, navigation and radar systems as well as cognitive radio and networks. In 1995, Leppänen established the Centre for Wireless Communications (CWC), which has developed into one of the leading research units globally in wireless communications. Leppänen also had an active role in the creation of the Center for Health and Technology and Japanese CWC Nippon K.K., in boosting academic co-operation between USA and Finland within the WiFiUS program and with Japanese universities, e.g., in Kanagawa Prefecture “Healthcare-New-Frontier” and City of Oulu “OuluHealth Ecosystem” co-operation. In addition to research and development projects, Leppänen has been acting in several expert roles and positions of trust for the Ministry of Defence and the Finnish Defence Forces.

Professor Henning Schulzrinne

Henning Schulzrinne is the Levi Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University. He has made fundamental and pioneering contributions to key protocols used in Internet multimedia applications. During the past twenty years he has supported research and education in the University of Oulu in many valuable ways. He is a member in the Scientific Advisory Board of the 6G Flagship programme.

Professor Mauri Ylä-Kotola

Professor of Media Sciences Ylä-Kotola’s interests are specifically semiotics of sensory environments, and their application in media design. Ylä-Kotola has been the Rector of Academy of Fine Arts (2005–2006) and the Rector of University of Lapland (2006–2019). He is a vice chair of Seppo Säynäjäkangas foundation and the chair of the Fine Arts Academy of Finland.


University of Oulu conferred 23 honorary doctorates in the Conferment Ceremony 2017

The following persons were conferred honorary doctorates. The list of persons with short descriptions of their merits or field of research.

Faculty of Architecture

Architect, Academic Juha Leiviskä

Internationally awarded architect and academic Juha Leiviskä has continued the tradition of modern architecture and skillful use of natural light in the churches, schools, libraries and embassies he has designed. He has designed the Church of St Thomas and the parish center in Oulu, both of which were completed in 1975.

Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Professor Bjørn R. Olsen
Bjørn R. Olsen is professor of developmental biology and cell biology in Harvard, and a leading researcher of cellular matrix. Among his research topics are genetics, cell biology, development biology, and vascular biology. Many researchers in the University of Oulu have received an excellent postdoctoral researcher education in his research group.

Professori Joel Sussman
Joel Sussman is an internationally recognized expert of structural biology. He has impacted the international networking of structural biology research in Oulu. In this work his channels of influence have been the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), and the international organizations of structural biology.

Faculty of Humanities

Artist, Novelist Hannu Väisänen
Hannu Väisänen is an internationally acclaimed, versatile, and many times awarded novelist and artist, who is originally from Oulu. He received the state award for literature 2015 for meritorious and versatile work in the field of literature. He has published several novels and had many exhibitions in Finland and abroad.

Professor Martin Kusch
Martin Kusch is an expert in sociology of scientific knowledge, and in philosophy of science technology. After his dissertation in the University of Oulu in 1989 he has been making a career in international top universities such as the universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, and from 2009, Vienna. As a University of Oulu alumnus and docent he has participated in a significant way in the guidance of several doctoral students and postgraduate students, and he has especially furthered the internationalization of the researchers on his field.

Professor (emeritus) Raymond D. Kent
Raymond D. Kent is the internationally best known and most influential researcher of speech and speech sciences in the last 50 years. His output includes several hundreds of original articles published in acclaimed international journals, invited reviews, monographies, and edited books. He has collaborated in research with researchers in the University of Oulu.

Oulu Mining School

Professor Richard J. Walker
Richard J. Walker is a specialist in isotope geochemistry and pioneer in developing Re-Os and Pt-Os systems and applying them in the study of the chemical evolution and ore formation of the Earth, Moon, and Mars. He has been in long-lasting collaboration with the Department of Geosciences (now Oulu Mining School) in ore research on the Fennoscandian Shield.

Faculty of Education

Professor Paul Kirschner
Paul Kirschner is a researcher of learning and technology-assisted learning, who does active and long-spanning research collaboration with the Faculty of Education in the University of Oulu. Kirschner is involved, together with researchers in the Faculty of Education, in a research project (2014-2017) funded by the Academy of Finland, and in international joint publications. He is also actively participating in the directing of dissertations.

Professor Jóhanna Einarsdóttir
Jóhanna Einarsdóttir is a researcher in childhood research, early childhood education, and ethics of childhood research. She is working in active collaboration with the Faculty of Education in the University of Oulu in two projects funded by Academy of Finland and in one Nordforsk-funded project in 2010-2015, among other things.

Faculty of Science

Professor Sami Solanki
Some of Sami Solanki’s fields of study are solar physics, and the interaction between the Sun and the Earth. He is active in scientific collaboration with the University of Oulu in, for example, several joint publications.

Professor John A. Agnew
John A. Agnew works as Professor of Geography in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He studies issues in political geography and geopolitics, themes in the sovereignty of nations, and the relationship between location and politics. He is in active collaboration with the University of Oulu through joint publications, among other things.

Professor Antti Kupiainen
Antti Kupiainen is professor of mathematics in the University of Helsinki. His specialty is mathematical physics. Kupiainen has been selected Academy Professor three times. He has directed the unit of excellence in the Academy of Finland, which the University of Oulu is part of, for two terms. He has twice been invited speaker in the International Congress of Mathematicians.

Faculty of Medicine

Professor Leena Bruckner-Tuderman
One of Leena Bruckner-Tuderman’s fields of research is molecular biological and clinical study of skin’s connective tissue and its diseases. She is the professor and director of the dermatopathy clinic in the Alberg-Ludwigs university in Freiburg. She is an alumna of the University of Oulu.

Director of Hospital District Hannu Leskinen
Hannu Leskinen is director of the Hospital District of Northern Ostrobothnia. He is currently also working as reporter for the social and health care organization model. Hannu Leskinen has been a central figure in promoting clinical education and research as collaboration between the Hospital District and the University of Oulu. He was involved in founding Medical Research Center, the centre for clinical research, among other things.

CEO, Industry Advisor Heikki Kyöstilä
Heikki Kyöstilä acts as the CEO of the company he founded, Planmeca Group, which manufactures dentistry instruments and devices. Planmeca is one of the most successful Finnish health technology exporters. The company has collaborated in development and research with the University of Oulu ever since dentistry education began here.

Oulu Business School

Professor Gautam Gowrisankaran
Gautam Gowrisankaran is a leading researcher in the study of modern industry. He is also studying the modelling of vertical integrations. Gowrisankaran has developed a balance solution for the foundation of the functionality of fusions. He works in close collaboration with the energy economics research group in the Department of Economics of the Oulu Business School.

Councilor of Commerce, CEO Timo Levo
Timo Levo is CEO of Oulun Osuuspankki (Oulu Cooperative Bank), chairman of the board of the Oulu Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the board of the Oulu University of Applied Sciences. Oulun Osuuspankki has grown and developed during his term into one of the biggest cooperative banks in Finland. Oulun Osuuspankki has been active in finding solutions in the structural change of information technology, especially after the OP Group set up a development unit in Oulu. Levo has had a strong impact in the positive development of the economic life of the Oulu region. He has been involved in developing education both in the Oulu Business School and in the Oulu University of Applied Sciences.

Faculty of Technology

Professor Lauri Lajunen
Lauri Lajunen served as Rector of the University of Oulu in 1993–2014. During his term Lajunen furthered the development of the University of Oulu into an international science university. Lajunen has also held several national and international positions of trust, which have been significant for the social impact of the University.

Chief Technology Officer Matti Härkönen
Among Matti Härkönen’s fields of research are catalytic air discharge control and heterogenic catalysis. He is licentiate of technology and works as manager of technology in Ecocat India Pvt. Ltd. Härkönen and the companies he represents have been in close collaboration with the University of Oulu. As result of the collaboration, several joint projects, dissertations and other degrees, and joint publications have been born.

Emerita Director of Research Danielle Ballivet-Tkatchenko
Danielle Ballivet-Tkatchenko studies, among other things, heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis and chemical utilization of carbon dioxide. She works as research director emerita in the Molecular Chemistry research unit in the CNRS Institute (CNRS-University of Burgundy) in Dijon, France. Tkatchenko has been a central contributor in the research on utilization of carbon dioxide in the University of Oulu. This collaboration has resulted in several international joint products and publications, and dissertations.

Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

Professor Behnaam Aazhang
Behnaam Aazhang is a renowned and often cited researcher of telecommunications technology and related signal processing, network technology, and information theory. He has collaborated actively with the University of Oulu since 1994. Aazhang worked as Finland Distinguished Professor (FiDiPro) in the University of Oulu during 2007-2013. Aazhang has significantly aided the content, development of research traditions and methods, and the internationalization of the research done in the communication laboratory and the Centre for Wireless Communications (CWC) research unit. Aazhang has also directed many dissertations, among other things.

Professor Anita Lloyd Spetz
Anita Lloyd Spetz has worked as Finland Distinguished Professor (FiDiPro) in the University of Oulu in 2011–2015. Her field of research encompasses SiC-FET gas sensors for difficult conditions, including sensoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs); biosensors, resonator sensors and graphene sensors, and other advanced sensor technologies and the required data analysis. In the University of Oulu, she has studied and developed, for example, a method for detecting toxicity of particles for cells, which will make it possible to test various health effects without animal testing.

CEO, Industry Advisor Jorma Terentjeff
Jorma Terentjeff is an alumnus of the Department of Electrical Engineering in the University of Oulu. He has been an important force in the Finnish technology industry for 40 years by working in managing positions in corporations and serving in the boards of several technology companies. He has been chairman of the Council of External Relations of the University of Oulu from 2013.

Last updated: 22.1.2021