Advanced-level strong research areas

In its strategy for 2015-2020, the university has identified five advanced-level strong research areas.
· Photonics – Theory, Materials and Applications
· Sustainable Governance of Natural Resources
· Learning in Interactive Environments (LINE)
· Translational Cancer Research
· Musculoskeletal Disorders

Photonics – Theory, Materials and Applications

Photonics plays a significant role in the development of modern-day society as a discipline of its own and as an enabling technology. In materials research, the characterisation of materials is typically based o the intelligent production and control of light. The research area combines photonics research and chemical materials research, creating a continuum of high-level expertise ranging from basic research to applications. Photonics research is focused on selected themes in the field of photonics that are related to basic research addressing the properties of light and the interaction between light and materials, as well as on applied research that emerges from these fields and which in part is carried out in cooperation with the university's other research areas. A profound understanding of the interaction between light and materials enables the modelling of the micro- and nanostructures of materials, as well as the mastery of manufacturing techniques. The research area is a significant source of new technologies and new employment opportunities. The research area creates applications for energy research, medicine, biosciences and environmental research. In doing so, the research area extends to other research areas and develops solutions to the identified global challenges.

Professors in charge: Professor Seppo Honkanen and Professor Tapani Pakkanen

Sustainable Governance of Natural Resources

The University of Eastern Finland is one of the strongest centres for natural resources research in the social sciences in Europe. Researchers representing this area are internationally recognised especially in the following fields: socially responsible mining, natural resources and energy law, transnational forest and bioenergy management, the relationship between forest policy and the development of local communities, local conflicts related to the protection of wild animals, and geospatial analysis of natural resources and land use. Research in this area shares the view that the sustainable use of natural resources and the related climate change call for the development of societal governance at the national, local and international levels. The research groups are multidisciplinary and their work on issues related to the sustainability and sufficiency of natural resources is also linked to climate change, biodiversity depletion, land use conflicts and social inequalities. The following approaches are characteristic of natural resources research in the social sciences at the University of Eastern Finland:1) policy networks and institutions, 2) governance models and practices, 3) conflict analysis and mediation, 4) public regulation and voluntary actions, and 5) impact assessment and monitoring.
The research area carries out in-depth investigations pertaining to specific regions and countries, comparisons between countries and sectors, and analysis of international policy and regulation pertaining to the theme. Natural resources research in the social sciences at the University of Eastern Finland is closely linked to education and to the development of the field's societal practices (public sector, companies, civic society).

Professors in charge: Professor Rauno Sairinen, Professor Ismo Pölönen

Learning in Interactive Environments (LINE)

Providing all learners with the opportunities for learning according to their individual abilities and skills in a rapidly changing society is a key factor for ensuring educational and social equality. The use of educational technology and research addressing the pedagogy of natural sciences is linked, in various interactive environments, to the promotion of the use of creative and flexible learning technology and the development of new applications related to the learning of scientific phenomena. The work of researchers addressing learning difficulties and school development has opened up new avenues and approaches for research that addresses the relationship between learning, behaviour and well-being. Psychology researchers and research into adult learners and free liberal education produces new information on the learning-related conceptions of skills, and this has increased research-based understanding of the diverse development of individuals' personality and their abilities to work within communities. Researchers representing the Learning in Interactive Environments research area form a research group that creates conceptually fresh openings and tests creative methodological solutions related to the learning and teaching of the key skills and abilities required in a changing society, such as individual problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, and information literacy.

Professors in charge Professor Leena Holopainen

Translational Cancer Research

The research area in translational cancer research is a consortium of several strong research groups. The researchers' diverse and high-level expertise ranges from basic research at the molecular level to demanding clinical expertise. The research rests on modern research methods and extensive national and international networks. The different focus areas of research complement one another and constitute a cancer research cluster which highlights the expertise of the University of Eastern Finland in cellular-level genomics/epigenomics, extracellular matrix, cancer markers and clinical applications, environmentally induced cancer and its mechanisms, the use of diverse imaging methods and bioinformatics expertise, and metabolism, transfer, novel administration methods and modelling of cancer drugs. Research provides for a better understanding of the basic mechanisms, diagnostics and treatment of cancer – we bring personalised medicine to the clinic. The foundations of translational cancer research rest on clinical sample series which have undergone quality assurance as well as on the related knowledge of diagnostics, epidemiology and treatment. Our ability to operate will be further enhanced by the establishment of a biobank in eastern Finland, which will become part of the national and European network of biobanks. We will use bioinformatics methods and speed up the processes by which scientific discoveries are applied to clinical diagnostics, treatment, monitoring and the making of prognoses. Our main goal is to find ways to improve cancer diagnostics and treatment efficacy, and to improve the quality of life and well-being of patients.

Professor in charge:Professor Veli-Matti Kosma

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common cause of pain and incapacity for work in the population. Globally, the effects of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis on public health and the public economy are already significant today, and this development will continue as the population ages. Research addressing musculoskeletal disorders at the University of Eastern Finland is performed by a compact and multidisciplinary scientific community comprising medical and computational physics, orthopaedics and traumatology, physiatry and biosciences, whose research ranges from basic to applied research and from epidemiology to clinical research. Recognising the risk factors and pathophysiology of osteoporosis, bone fractures, osteoarthritis and disorders affecting the back, and modern imaging and the related modelling of bone and cartilage create the foundations for advanced diagnostics and the assessment of individual prognoses of musculoskeletal disorders. New and innovative diagnosis methods enable cost-efficient care pathways in health care.

Professors in charge: Professor Heikki Kröger, Associate Professor Rami Korhonen