Research groups

Contact emails for supervisors:

Nano and Molecular Systems

Nano and Molecular Systems (NANOMO) has a long record in developing and utilising synchrotron radiation (SR) sources and instrumentation at various international SR facilities. The core research of NANOMO is on the electronic structure and dynamics of nanoparticles (metal clusters, environmental aerosols), heavy metal substances, applied spectroscopy, and novel functional materials development. Extensive international collaboration has provided a solid base for the research directions. This is verified by the 42 publications in international leading journals in 2011-2015, including Nat. Commun. Sci. Rep., Phys. Rev. Lett., PCCP and Surf. Rev. Lett. NANOMO has carried out pioneering research especially in the rapidly developing field of photon sciences. The group is a core part of the Molecular Materials Research Community. Use of the unique properties of SR has allowed the group to establish exceptionally wide interdisciplinary collaborations with technical, bio and medical sciences, as well as mining research at University of Oulu.

  • Group webpage:
  • Supervisors:
    Prof. Marko Huttula
    Adj. Prof. Wei Cao
    Adj. Prof. Kari Jänkälä
    Adj. Prof. Saana-Maija Huttula
    Dr. Minna Patanen

Centre of Excellence in Cell-Extracellular Matrix Research

The Centre of Excellence in Cell-Extracellular Matrix Research (CoE Cell-ECM) is one of the world´s leading centres in the field of extracellular matrix research (ECM) and it is an integrated consortium of six research groups at the University of Oulu. The CoE

Cell-ECM has a strong internationally recognized research profile, and its principal investigators are leading scientists in the fields of ECM biology, cardiovascular research, hypoxia responses, developmental biology, and cancer genetics. The CoE Cell-ECM groups are affiliated to Biocenter (BCO), the spearhead of research in biosciences and molecular medicine at the University of Oulu. Together with imaging centers at bioinstitutes in Helsinki and Turku, BCO forms the Finnish Euro-BioImaging Node for the pan-European imaging infrastructure network. Expertise at the CoE Cell-ECM covers a very wide spectrum of model organisms, in vitro cell and organ culture techniques, and biochemical approaches. To utilise advanced model systems, many of these developed by the CoE ECM scientists, molecular and cellular imaging methods are the key research techniques. Special expertise exists in mouse tissue imaging (tissue sections and whole mount preparations), long-term time-lapse imaging of cells and organoids in 3D matrices using confocal laser scanning microscopy techniques, ECM molecular imaging (confocal laser reflection, total internal reflection microscopy techniques, transmission and electron microscopy, multiphoton), and 3D imaging methods for microscopically large specimens (optical projection tomography and light sheet techniques, that were pioneered in Finland by the CoE Cell-ECM researchers. Use of advanced imaging methodologies has allowed publication in high impact journals including Nat Genet , Nat Cell Biol, Circ Res, PNAS, J Am Soc Nephrol, J Clin Invest, J Natl Cancer Ins., and Development.

  • Group webpage:
  • Supervisors:
    Prof. Taina Pihlajaniemi
    Prof. Johanna Myllyharju
    Prof. Seppo Vainio
    Prof. Robert Winqvist
    Adj. Prof. Aki Manninen
    Adj. Prof. Lauri Eklund

Structural Enzymology

Structural Enzymology (SE) research group has internationally respected expertise in structural biology and biocatalysis by enzymes and complexes involved in lipid metabolism from human and pathogenic organisms such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Trypanasomatidae. The group has published articles in high-ranking journals, e.g. ACS Chem. Biol. and Nat. Commun. The SE group has well established complementary research collaborations within and outside the EU, including on chemistry and directed evolution. The applications of the SE group research include fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of enzymes, developing enzymes with novel activities, and drug discovery. SE research benefits from the excellent in-house protein crystallography core facility (a National Affiliated Centre of INSTRUCT) and European SR sources such as ESRF, Diamond, and MAX IV. Our faculty is one of the EU-BIOSTRUCT-X and iNEXT training TID centres. The group is very actively involved in the development of xtalPiMS, a crystal visualisation and crystal data tracking software, together with the Diamond Light Source at UK. The SE group has actively participated in organising high level workshops focusing on protein crystallography, EMBO courses and, in future, also the EMBO conference on biocatalysis.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance research group is internationally well respected community and integral part of Molecular Materials Research Community. NMR has a wide international network of collaboration including COST and EU programmes. The research has two fronts: experimental materials NMR spectroscopy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and development of NMR theory and computational methods for calculating magnetic properties of molecules and materials. The research benefits from the excellent in-house NMR facilities and access to national-level supercomputing and local cluster-computing resources. The state-of-the-art method development includes 1) ultrafast, multi-dimensional Laplace NMR techniques, 2) remote detection methods to image microreactor processes, 3) MRI of materials, 4) development of NMR theory for paramagnetic substances, and 5) novel techniques based on nuclear magneto-optic effects that combine the sensitivity of optical detection with the atom-localised information from NMR.

  • Group Webpage:
  • Supervisors: Adj. Prof. Ville-Veikko Telkki
    Prof. Juha Vaara
    Adj. Prof. Perttu Lantto
    Dr. Anu Kantola


Biophysics research group studies the fundamental processes in living organisms, with the primary focus on neural signalling and information transmission, properties of membranes of neurons and sensory cells and their molecules. The neural mechanisms, cell membrane processes and electrical signalling that are involved in processing of information are studied at several organisational levels from molecular mechanisms at subcellular level to higher order processing at neural networks level.

Environmental and Chemical Engineering

Environmental and Chemical Engineering (ECE) has long experience in research relating to abatement and measurement technologies for industrial pollution prevention applications, materials and method development for cleaner production, and phenomenological modelling of industrial processes using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Catalytic processes in particular are the core expertise of the group. In the ECE group, novel catalytic and adsorption materials are developed, characterised, and tested in close collaboration with international universities and companies. In the characterisation, various spectroscopic and imaging methods are employed to discover physical and chemical properties of materials, and phenomena occurring at material surfaces.

  • Group Webpage:
  • Supervisors:
    Prof. Riitta Keiski
    Adj. Prof. Esa Muurinen
    Adj. Prof. Satu Ojala
    Adj. Prof. Mika Huuhtanen

Fibre and Particle Engineering

Fibre and Particle Engineering (FPE) focuses on modifications of cellulosic fibres and materials and composites made from cellulose fibres and cellulose nanomaterials (nanocrystals, CNCs and –fibres, CNFs). The fabrication techniques of functionalised CNCs and CNFs and their use in bionanomaterials are the international spearheads of the FPE research. The CNCs and CNFs can be used to introduce e.g. high mechanical strength, biodegradability, lower weight and higher specific surface area to materials, which make them appealing for a wide variety of uses ranging from sustainable packaging to medical materials and water chemicals. The research is at a high international level and has recently received an additional boost with the appointment of Finland Distinguished Professor (FiDiPro) Kristiina Oksman.

Process Metallurgy

Process Metallurgy (ProMe) group has experience in examination of reactions, reaction kinetics, thermodynamics and mass and heat transfer phenomena in high-temperature processes. Research is focused in four areas: 1) reduction metallurgy, 2) refining metallurgy, 3) coke research, and 4) utilisation of waste materials produced in the metallurgical industry. ProMe has a close co-operation network with international (especially European and Japanese) research groups and industry. The research is largely technology-orientated, with emphasis on fundamental research in the area of materials characterisation. The ProMe Group has been involved in development of an on-line OES method for metallurgical applications since 2011 and has tested the method at both industrial and laboratory scale.

Genetics and Physiology

The research of Genetics and Physiology (GP) group focuses on biosciences and especially on genetics, plant, and animal physiology. The GP research group includes two supervisors (Häggman, Pirttilä), and currently 4 post-docs, 7 Ph.D. students, and >10 PhDs have graduated from the group in the past. The group has funding record including Academy of Finland, TEKES and EU, and belongs to Northern Bioeconomy research community (NORBE,, which was ranked high within the university of Oulu in RAE2013.  The group has publications in high-impact journals, e.g. Nature Biotechnology and Nature Chemical Biology. We have a large network of research collaborations within and outside the EU, such as ETH Zurich, Austrian Institute of Technology, Umeå Plant Science Center, and NC State University (USA). The research includes a wide range of studies from microbial community analyses to cell biology and from biotechnological approaches to applications in sequencing technology, however, various imaging methods are at the core of our research projects. For instance, gene expression studies provide important data, but through in situ hybridization or GFP labeling, coupled with light, fluorescence, or confocal laser scanning microscopy, gene expression can be localized into a specific cell or tissue. On the other hand, we can study if the proteins of interest are interacting e.g. by BiFC assay. Several staining assays, e.g. TUNEL assay, are important to understand the processes going on in the tissue under study.  Furthermore, through analysis of protein crystal structures, or by structural modeling, support can be obtained for the supposed functioning of a protein.

Optoelectronics and Measurements Technologies

Optoelectronics and Measurements Technologies (OPEM) focuses on the development of new non-invasive sensors, optical diagnostic and imaging modalities and their applications in medicine & biology, material sciences, pharmacy, environmental monitoring, energy harvesting, security, agriculture, food processing and cosmetic industries. The key scientific objectives include: 1) development of imaging and opto-electronic devices and sensors for advanced clinical diagnostics, biomedical applications, and industries; 2) designing wireless and wearable sensor solutions for human health and wellbeing; 3) fabrication of sensors, components, products and solutions enabled by printed intelligence technologies; and 4) applying state-of-the-art photonics-based measuring technologies for industrial needs. OPEM is an international leader and the largest research group in Finland in the field of Biophotonics and associated sensing technologies.

Microelectronics and Materials Physics

Microelectronics and Materials Physics (MIC) has a strong background and over 40 years of experience in development of devices all the way from materials to applications. Various components, such as sensors, motors, control devices and energy harvesters, have been developed in the laboratories based on electroceramics, carbon nanotubes, thermoplastic composites, functional inks and microwave dielectrics. MIC employs experts in material sciences, process development and electronics applications. MIC has successfully carried out numerous projects funded by the EU (e.g. ERC Advanced Grant and PoC project). MIC operations are a major part of MtM-RC, which received the highest ranking in its international RAE2013 research assessment. The group has published in leading international journals e.g. Small, Adv. Mater., ACS Nano, Sci. Rep., Phys. Rev. Lett., Carbon, J. Mat. Chem. A, and Int. Mat. Rev. The group has an excellent network for international research groups in Europe, Asia and USA and industry.

Circuits and Systems Research Unit

The Circuits and Systems research unit consists of ~25 researchers working at the Faculty of Information and Electrical Engineering at the University of Oulu. Its main activity is in the field of electronic and optoelectronic circuit and system design. The main interest of the group is devoted to certain novel devices, circuit topologies and functional units, although the group is also interested in applications, especially in the field of electronic/optoelectronic measurements and telecommunications. The main research fields are: time-to-digital converters and timing circuits; generation and detection of powerful and high-speed electrical and optical pulses/transients (e.g. high-speed/high energy laser diodes, wideband sub-THz emitters, CMOS single photon detectors) and the study of breakdown phenomena in semiconductors in general; development of pulsed time-of-flight laser range finding (solid state 3-D imaging) and time-gated Raman spectrometer technologies, especially for industrial applications; radio telecommunications, including linearization of power amplifiers, AD/DA conversion and base-band blocks.

Part of the group activities belong to the Center of Excellence in Laser Scanning Research (funded by the Academy of Finland, 2014-2019, Also, a FiDiPro Research Fellow Dr. Vassil Palankovski works in the research unit.

Solar System and Astronomy

Research at Solar System and Astronomy (SOLA) group encompasses dynamic models and many body simulations in the field of astrophysics from the solar system to extragalactic scale. The research includes analysis of circumplanetary dust particles detected in situ by instruments on a spacecraft. SOLA is a Co-Investigator in the cosmic dust analysis team on the NASA/ESA Cassini mission and the NASA multiple flyby mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa. The group is experienced in analysis of optical images from spacecraft, e.g. using photometry to constrain the spatial and size distribution of the grains in the ice-volcanic plumes of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. SOLA analyses and uses large imaging data catalogues to model galaxies and is actively involved in the EU ITN network DAGAL (detailed anatomy of galaxies) and S4G (Spitzer survey of stellar structure in galaxies). SOLA is at the forefront of developing novel methods for decomposing galaxies into their main structural elements using images, to constrain their morphological types and learn about their evolution.

Center for Machine Vision

Center for Machine Vision (CMV) is renowned world-wide for its expertise in computer vision. It has a solid record, which now spans over 34 years, of scientific merits on both basic and applied research on computer vision. In RAE2013, CMV was one of the research communities with the highest scores. The research strategy of CMV is to develop novel computer vision and image analysis methods and technologies that create a basis for emerging innovative applications in various fields. Some of its methods, including the Local Binary Pattern methodology, have been widely adopted for different types of problems and applications around the world. One of the CMV’s focus areas is image and video analysis methods for biomedical images. For example, CMV recently contributed to several research papers, together with biomedical experts, in which its texture and motion analysis and cell segmentation methods were applied to microscopic images and videos.

  • Group Webpage:
  • Supervisors:
    Prof. Janne Heikkilä
    Prof. Matti Pietikäinen
    Prof. Olli Silven
    Assoc. Prof. Guoying Zhao
    Adj. Prof. Esa Rahtu

Medical Technology

Medical Technology (MT) Research group links technology and medicine with the aim of developing and applying novel technologies in biomedicine and healthcare, combining approaches and methodologies of engineering, biomedicine, and clinical medicine. The focus areas of research are musculoskeletal biomechanics and imaging, physical activity monitoring, fall detection technologies for the elderly and eHealth. The MT group is performing cutting-edge research in the assessment of individual risk of bone fracture. Novel imaging methods have been developed for the assessment of bone structure and structural risk factors in cervical and trochanteric hip fracture. These show that the pathoaetiology of different types of hip fractures differs significantly. Novel imaging modalities combined with advanced image processing and analysis algorithms allow for non-invasive assessment of the different structural and densitometry profiles of the two hip fracture types, as well as fractures of the pelvic bone.

Diagnostics of Osteoarthritis

Diagnostics of Osteoarthritis (DIOS) group's research focus is to develop new biomedical and clinical imaging methods for diagnostics of early osteoarthritis and other joint diseases. The group combines digital image analysis methods with machine vision algorithms to enable extraction of novel information from traditional clinical imaging modalities. Furthermore, DIOS develops new biomedical imaging methods and image analysis algorithms to show early pathological changes in joint tissues in vitro at micro/nanometre scale. The research has the potential to significantly improve our understanding of pathogenesis of osteoarthritis. DIOS group represents the world’s top level in the field of osteoarthritis imaging, proven by the high-profile research grants from the European Research Council (ERC).

Theoretical Physics

Theoretical Physics research group uses mathematical to understand physical phenomena with focus on scales from atomic to mesoscopic physics, with particular interest in superconductivity, quantum dots, and superlattice effects. First principles modelling of surfaces and nanoparticles provides a complementary avenue for interpreting imaging and spectral characterisation results and is e.g. essential in relating scanning tunnelling microscope images to atomic structures.

Medical Physics

The multi-disciplinary research group of Prof. Nieminen concentrates on various aspects of medical imaging. First, the group focuses on developing new quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biomarkers for evaluation of articular cartilage and other musculoskeletal tissues for diagnosis of musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Second, the group develops novel imaging technologies for cardiac imaging. Third, the group is active in developing and validating new methods for determining patient exposure in x-ray based imaging methods. Finally, the Nieminen group is currently active in evaluating the diagnostic quality of mobile device displays and understanding the relationship between technical and diagnostic image quality when viewing radiographic images on various type of displays.

Last updated: 2.2.2018

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