‘The University of Oulu already has a rather extensive and well-established track record when it comes to different fields of research connected to the Arctic region. With these five new positions, our aim is to complement and strengthen our existing expertise and know-how. We also want the ArcI research programme and the new researchers to bring together the currently slightly disparate research endeavours’, says Vice Rector for Research at the University of Oulu, Taina Pihlajaniemi.
In her eyes, Arctic issues are manifold and complex; relating to, for example, the sustainable use of natural resources and human impact throughout the sensitive region. ‘We need multidisciplinary research to tackle these issues, owing to their complicated nature’, she explains.
The background to the new ArcI research programme lies in the policy aim for Finnish universities to focus their research profiles in line with their respective strengths. And it was on this basis that the ArcI programme secured funding from the Academy of Finland worth EUR 3 million. The University of Oulu is set to match this sum. In addition to financing the five new researcher positions within the programme, the available funding will also cover the work of their research teams.
According to Taina Pihlajaniemi, the university's faculties are all committed to the long-term utilisation of the soon-to-be-appointed researchers as a resource. ‘It's essential to have our faculties on-board. In fact, the deans from every faculty are part of the ArcI programme’s strategic steering group. And through their work, the consolidation of our Arctic research will affect the long-term strategies of the faculties themselves’, she notes.
The main themes of the research are the environment and natural resources
‘With this round of recruitment, we want to attract high-quality, engaged, and enthusiastic people to our university – complimenting some of the areas we've identified as having shortcomings’, remarks Director of Research for the ArcI programme, Professor Björn Klöve from the University of Oulu. The programme is currently home to thirty of the university's professors and junior researchers from a range of fields.
Professor Klöve hopes that through its multidisciplinary approach, the ArcI research programme will add to current knowledge and understanding of issues connected to the Arctic region and reduce the impact of global change there, too. The main research themes addressed by the programme are global change and northern environments, human-environment interaction, and sustainable systems, development, and use of natural resources.
Subsequently, it is hoped the new researchers will bring expertise in the following areas: biodiversity and ecosystems, geology and hydrology, cultural history and folkloristics, natural resource management, and Arctic architecture and research into environmental adaptation.
The international contribution of the University of Oulu to Arctic research is highlighted by its role as a founder member and network coordinator of the University of the Arctic (UArctic). UArctic is a collaboration between 188 universities and research institutes from eight Arctic countries in Europe and Asia. Professor Arja Rautio from Oulu currently serves as the Director of Research for the University of the Arctic.
The work to consolidate the University of Oulu’s Arctic research efforts began last year with the recruitment of the then UArctic Chair, Professor Jeffrey Welker from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. In Professor Welker's estimation, the University of Oulu’s investment in Arctic research will garner significant attention throughout the Nordic countries and the whole Arctic region. ‘This will position the University of Oulu right at the forefront of Arctic research across the entire northern research community, and is another step towards the university becoming one of the world's leading research institutes’, he suggests.
Last updated: 15.1.2019