In 1996 there were significant changes concerning research and teaching in the Department. The undergraduate researcher orientated curriculum, founded in 1995, was commenced. Each year twenty students beginning a physics course are chosen for this line. The aim is to strengthen the education of those intending to follow a career in research right from the beginning.

Rearrangement of teaching in physics and theoretical physics was started and successfully carried through during 1996. The study year has been divided into five periods, with the aim of enabling problem-free union of physics and theoretical physics as well as to enable one course to support the other. An important aim is also to promote international student exchange by removing the problems related to the different structure of the academic year in Finland compared to other countries.

The system of announcing a compilation of pro gradu topics on the departmental notice board was introduced. It has given the students a clear idea of the diverse possibilities available.

The system includes a full list of final year graduation projects offered by the Department's research groups, the names of the supervisors and a description of how the subject offered relates to the current research interests. Also listed are graduation projects available outside the Department of Physics in research institutes of the different sectors, including industry.

During the year research co-operation was established with the Helsinki Institute of Physics which was founded in the autumn of 1996 as a national institute.

To enhance collaboration in teaching and research within the Department of Physics there were certain revisions in the course and job structure. The research activity of the Department has been catalogued with registration in the University's research data base which lists both project and participant information.

The acquisition by the Department of a pool professorship in environmental physics and chemistry strengthened research and teaching. This area has been one of the Department's development projects over some years and is now clearly more established than earlier. This unit, in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Forest Ecology in the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, was chosen as one of the University's top research groups.

The Department of Physics has a prominent national role in the nationwide project started by the Ministry of Education "Finnish mathematical and natural science awareness 2002". The Department has made a substantial contract with the National Board of Education for the education of physics teachers.

I cannot avoid mentioning something of the financial situation of the Department. The Department was along in a pilot project of the University concerning accounting and costing. Cost analysis based on activity areas and functioning gave us new and more reliable knowledge than hitherto about running the Department. Obtaining a picture of the overall resources of the Department was also of importance.

The compulsory budget cuts were met by not filling some of the posts left open by leaves of absence. The Department was successful in getting supplementary funds within the University for several teaching and research development projects. This enabled continued development of the Department.

The research groups of the Department have also been efficient in obtaining outside funding. In fact, 1996 was a record year in this respect.

The continuing increased teaching and research activity, apparent in the statistics for degrees and publications, as well as the substantial growth in the competitive research financing augur well for the development of the Department in 1997.

This 1996 Annual Report appears in a revised form which I hope gives a more readily comprehensible picture of the Department of Physics and its functioning and productivity as an integral part of the Faculty of Science.

Helsinki, March 1997

Juhani Keinonen
Professor, Chairman of the Department