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EuroScholars News

University in the Spotlight: University of Helsinki


  • Throughout its history of more than 370 years, the University of Helsinki has represented excellence in research and higher education.
  • Today, with around 36,500 students and more than 9,000 staff and faculty, it ranks among the best comprehensive universities of Europe.
  • It is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU).
  • Education and research at the University of Helsinki are conducted in eleven faculties (colleges): Theology, Law, Medicine, Arts, Science, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Pharmacy, Behavioral Sciences, Social Sciences, Agriculture and Forestry and Veterinary Medicine.
  • The research infrastructure at the University of Helsinki is considered to be world-class making it an excellent place for undergraduate research experience.
  • The brand new Main Library is an example of student-centered learning environments.
  • The number of prestigious ERC grants awarded to UH researchers is among the highest in Europe.
  • The University of Helsinki currently enrolls approximately 3,000 international students, mostly at the graduate level. The University offers courses and programs in English in all its faculties.
  • The University of Helsinki is located in the heart of Helsinki, the capital of Finland. The city has an on overall student population of 90,000 in higher education.

For additional information visit the EuroScholars website.

Sample Euroscholars Research Projects at University of Helsinki:

Synthesis of Marine Bioactive Compounds and Their Derivatives

Biodiversity in the sea is a potential source for novel drug candidates. The goal of this project is to modify synthetically marine-based heterocyclic bioactive compounds more active and improve their ADME-properties. Synthetic medicinal chemistry approaches will be highly focused and iterative with biological testing. The plan is to synthesize a library of marine-based analogs and screen them against many types of targets (e.g. cancer, ion-channels, microbes) since the collection of novel type of structures possesses wide-ranging potential. This project will be part of MAREX (EU FP7 Project): Exploring Marine Resources for Bioactive Compounds - From Discovery to Sustainable Production and Industrial Applications. This project is a joint effort of 19 academic, research institute, and industrial partners from 13 countries. MAREX plans to go through the whole discovery path from sourcing of marine organisms from the sea to cultivation, compound isolation, characterization, bioactivity screening to synthetic optimization of active molecules.

Evolutionary Genetics of Wild Vertebrate Populations

This research group focuses on questions relating to the mechanisms and process of animal adaptation - or lack of it thereof - to local environmental conditions. Population genetics, genomics, phylogeography, evolutionary quantitative genetics and statistical genetics are approaches which characterize a lot of our research. The main model organisms in their research are birds and fishes, but some work is also done with amphibians and reptiles. Albeit their research is chiefly fundamental science, but some of the projects have strong applied dimensions. These include studies on conservation genetics, human induced evolution due to harvesting and environmental modification as well as studies on the effects of environmental stressors on individuals and populations. They can offer various projects – according to students’ own preferences – where familiarization with various kinds of genetic methods and approaches are possible while doing cutting edge science.

Finland and Helsinki

Many international surveys and comparisons place Finland at the very top globally. It has even been cited as the World’s Best Country by Newsweek. One of the most important contributing factors to this success is their investment in research and education resulting in excellent environment for innovation. English is widely spoken throughout the country and especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area.

Located on the Southern coast of Finland, Helsinki has very good connections to everywhere in the world by air, boat or rail. Helsinki has a reputation of being a vibrant city for students; it has an overall population of 550,000 making it large enough to have all the attractions and services a visitor expects from a major European city. As a capital city it also has embassies, government ministries and the national parliament. International visitors consider Helsinki to one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world. Every year Helsinki welcomes international students and scholars with a wide range of events.


Alumni Perspective

Nathan Wright, University of Minnesota, KU Leuven

When selecting where to study abroad, the country did not really play into my decision process. I mostly chose based on the program offered and how that fit into my unique interests. A lot of things surprised me about Belgium because I knew almost nothing about it before studying there. The prevalence of English was one very surprising feature of Belgium and it eased the adjustment process of moving to a new country. The most surprising part was if I were to attempt to talk in Dutch, the individual I was talking to would know I was not a native Dutch speaker and simply answer in English. Overall, I believe a lot of the experiences were different than what I expected, but in the best way possible.

I believe study abroad will help me in my future in a number of ways. First, the EuroScholars program gave me great experience in my field of study, and also in conducting high-quality research. Also, I learned about a whole new culture and was able to appreciate a different perspective on the world. Studying abroad opened my eyes up to many new and exciting things that I may not have realized if not for studying abroad. One of the most important ways in which my time abroad will help in the future is being open to different ways of looking at things and accepting those different ways as perfectly fine.

In This Edition:

Site Visit Update

EuroScholars will host a site visit for honors directors from March 16-23, 2013. This visit will give participants the opportunity to explore the EuroScholars’ campuses, meet with research project supervisors, tour host cities, and meet with current EuroScholar students. They will visit Ludwig-Maximilians University, KU Leuven, and Karolinska Institutet.

Update on EuroScholars Participants

From Fall 2008 through Spring 2012, 42 top students participated in the EuroScholars Program, spread over the 11 participating European universities.

In September 2012, we welcomed 9 students who recently finished their project at one of the European universities.

In November, we had our Annual Meeting with the consortium members of the universities in Geneva. In the same period, these 9 students participated in the MidStay Program which was organized by our colleagues of the University of Geneva. During the MidStay Program, the students participated in lectures, presentations, cultural activities and had a dinner with the consortium members. During the dinner, 6 students received a scholarship award certificate. The scholarships were either sponsored by an external provider, by the European university, or by EuroScholars.

For Spring 2013, we received about 19 requests of interested students. We expect 12 students to participate in the program. These students come from 10 different US institutions and will participate in a project at Karolinska Institutet, Utrecht University, KU Leuven, University of Heidelberg, Leiden University, University of Zurich, University of Milan and University of Geneva.

New Project at University of Geneva


Upcoming Conferences

  • AIEA (Association of International Education Administrators): February  17 - 20, 2013 in New Orleans, LA
  • NCUR (National Conferences on Undergraduate Research): 11-April 11 - 13, 2013
    University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
  • NAFSA: May 26 - 31, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri
  • EAIE: September 10 - 13, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey

Application Deadline for Fall 2013: April 1st

How to Apply