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In the Spotlight: University of Helsinki


Overview of the University:

  • 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: facebook.com/helsinkiuniversity, twitter.com/helsinkiuni, youtube.com/universityofhelsinki, blogs.helsinki.fi/welcometouh



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 type 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 www.marex.fi. 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 our research are birds and fishes, but some work is also done with amphibians and reptiles. Albeit our 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. We 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 our 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.


EuroScholars MidStay Program in Helsinki (Finland): perspective from our host, Markus Laitinen 

From the very outset of the EuroScholars Program participating students placed in research groups across the leading European research universities have been invited to one institution for “MidStay Program”. The idea behind this was not only to allow students to network with one another but also get exposure to a city and a university other than the one they are placed. In November 2013 it was the turn of the University of Helsinki to arrange the MidStay. Now, November and Helsinki, being located in the northern part of Europe, might not sound like and ideal match given the climate and short hours for daylight. This is why we had to put special emphasis on trying to make the nine participants feel warmly welcome. On the evening of their arrival we organized a get together at the students’ hotel just to get the ball rolling and to make sure everyone was ready for the intensive one and a half days ahead. Meeting the students and seeing how eager and “research-ready” they all seemed, despite still being undergraduates, left a lasting impression. But the MidStay is not only about fun get-togethers, we had included possibilities for the participants to get acquainted with the University and on-going research here. A visit to the Life Sciences campus gave them the opportunity to meet researchers and to see various labs. During the program students also had an opportunity to present their research projects, something that they will need to do many times over when they become fully fledged research professionals. Overall I consider the Fall 2013 MidStay a real success. Having the talented and motivated students over, gave me a personal boost and reaffirmed my belief in EuroScholars!  


EuroScholars MidStay Program Spring 2014: 

The EuroScholars MidStay Program will be hosted by Utrecht University (Netherlands) and is scheduled in the week of 22 March 2014.  


Update EuroScholars participants Spring 2014:


Home Institution

Host Institution Field of Study
Rutgers - New Brunswick Heidelberg German Studies / French Languages
Sarah Lawrence College Geneva Neuro-psychology / Music Studies
Tulane University Munich Geology / Biology
Pennsylvania State University Utrecht

Biology / Neuroscience

Clark University Leuven Psychology / English Literature
Clark University Leiden Psychology / Communications
Clark University Leiden Psychology / Management
The College of New Jersey Leiden Biology / Computer Science
Tulane University Geneva Neuroscience / Mathematics
Montclair State College Geneva Psychology / Fine Arts 

Upcoming Conferences:

February 16 - 19, 2014
AIEA (Association of International Education Administrators): 
February 16 – 19
Washington, D.C., USA

April 3 - 5, 2014
NCUR (National Conferences on Undergraduate Research)University of Kentucky,
Lexington, KY, USA

May 25 - 30, 2014
San Diego, CA, USA

September 16 - 19, 2014
Prague, Czech Republic