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Overview by the
Head of the Departmet

Campus

As a part of the strategic planning of the University, a new strategic plan was prepared in the Department for the period 2013-2019. We shall continue on the strategic lines from earlier years, but there are changes in research, education, and outreach.

As an on-going process from earlier years, we shall continue the development of our research profile. It has been influenced by the global development of research and its relevance for the society. The curriculum has been developed along with the development of the research.

The strategic planning was influenced by the proposals of the reform group appointed by the Rector. Its task was to make proposals how the University will take into account the strategic plans and prepare the University for savings in costs. Of the 63 proposals, some affect the Department directly and some indirectly. To be able to implement the strategic plans, the Rector cut the budgets of all the units by four per cent. Part of that was returned to strategic projects proposed by the faculties and departments. Our Department had four strategic projects, namely atmospheric sciences, bilingual teaching, geosciences, and space physics. These will be financed by the Rector, Faculty, and Department.

Based on the proposals by the reform group, the Rector made a decision for the centre of the atmospheric sciences in the Department of Physics. Connected to the decision, personnel and facilities were transferred from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry to our Department, namely the Värriö Subarctic Research Station as a whole and the facilities and personnel connected to the atmospheric sciences from the Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station.

Research

The quality of our research was X-rayed in two evaluations by international panels. In the evaluation organized by the University we got positive and encouraging reporting for our main research areas. The report of the second evaluation organized by the Academy of Finland, where also our main research areas were the evaluated units, showed that our Department as a whole is at the highest level among the physics departments in Finland. Altogether 30 units in the Finnish universities were evaluated. Atmospheric sciences are outstanding and internationally leading in studies of aerosol nucleation. Elementary particle physics is leading in the Nordic countries and pilot on its area internationally. Materials physics research is excellent and of the highest international standards. Space physics research evaluated together with the space physics research in the Finnish meteorological institute is at extraordinary high level.

Both reports gave very encouraging picture of the quality of our research. At the same time they require to continue the development of the research and researcher education.

The following facts illustrate the quality of our research: annually over 500 refereed scientific publications, high research funding by the Academy of Finland (annually over 10 million euros) and by the European Research Council (annually over 2 million euros), and the location of international offices in our Department like, as the latest one, the European ICOS headquarters headed by professor Vesala.

Education

In education the development of teaching was continued. In introductory courses a new curriculum was introduced. Attention was paid on the modernisation of the content to better meet the requirements of more advanced courses. Learning in small groups and in laboratory was developed.

We have been successful in actively engaging the top-level researchers in teaching, which ensures that the best expertise and the most up-to-date insights in physics are available to students. The need of professionalism in teaching is also noted. Many of the teachers have attended on courses of university pedagogy in order to improve their teaching skills.

A working group updated the “road map” for education, with new plans to consolidate the studies at an advanced level.

Personnel

We headed in the future with appointments of new professors. Alexis Finoguenov started as a professor in observational astronomy. Heikki Järvinen was appointed to the chair of professor in dynamic meteorology and Ilmo Kukkonen in solid Earth physics. They replace professors Savijärvi and Pesonen, respectively. Chandrasekaran Venkatachalam started as a professor in radar meteorology. He is a FiDiPro professor.

Outreach

The outreach activities are organised in the framework of the F2k Outreach Centre. F2k was very active in the area of its general aim, namely in promoting understanding and interest in contemporary physics and technology among Finns. F2k offered a variety of activities, such as events and personal support for teachers and students, children and youth, and the general public.

Juhani Keinonen
Head of the Department