Overview by the Head of the Department

Year 2014 started a new administrative four-year cycle of the University. I begun my service as the Director of the Department 1 January 2014, and nominated two Deputy Directors Prof. Kaarle Hämeri (outreach and facilities) and Prof. Heikki Järvinen (teaching). Following decisions made in 2013 the internal structure of the Department of Physics was streamlined to three Divisions, which are now Division of Atmospheric Sciences led by Prof. Markku Kulmala, Division of Materials Physics led by Prof. Jyrki Räisänen and Division of Particle Physics and Astrophysics led by Prof. Katri Huitu.

Measured in terms of scientific productivity the Department's year 2014 was highly successful. The size of the Department is about one third of the Faculty of Science. However, we produced more than 600 peer-reviewed scientific articles, which was about 49% of the entire Faculty. The scientific highlights are described in the sections of each individual Division.

Also the results of doctoral education were excellent. In total 35 PhD theses were approved, which was 52% of all PhD theses of the Faculty. At the same time we continue to get too few Bachelors and Masters through our teaching programmes. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, as the trend with the number of students obtaining at least 55 ECTS credits per year is turning positive. This is a result of efforts put in the improved curriculum and teaching during the past several years. This development was strengthened giving more responsibility and power to the Committee for Teaching Matters. We are continuously developing the exercise sessions towards more workshop-type of problem solving. Training of the teaching assistants is enhanced and the student laboratories are being modernized to remove one of the major bottlenecks of graduation. Furthermore, more emphasis has been put in the guidance in writing Bachelor's theses.

Outreach is an important part of our activities. These activities are organized through the F2k Outreach Centre of the Department that operates as a part of the national LUMA centre. Among our prime targets are physics teachers but we have also enhanced contacts with our own alumni.

We have several active scientists promoting scientific world-view. An example is Dr. Syksy Räsänen who received the University's J. V. Snellman prize for disseminating scientific knowledge in 2014. Our staff has also been active in arranging various events at University's Think Corner (Tiedekulma).

The full-time equivalent work effort of the Department's personnel was 310 person years. About one third of this is performed by doctoral students, which explains the high number of new PhDs. Three formerly temporary professors were tenured to permanent positions: Karri Muinonen (planetary astronomy and geodesy), Sauli Savolainen (medical physics) and Hanna Vehkamäki (computational aerosol physics). Furthermore, Prof. Mark Hindmarsh (theoretical physics) from the University of Sussex was invited as a part-time visiting professor for five years.

Hannu Koskinen

Head of the Department