Diplomas and flowers. Photo: Elli Alasaari.
The Alum of the Year, the Teacher of the Year, and the Student Group of the Year, among others, were awarded at the annual celebration of the University of Lapland. Photo: Elli Alasaari.

Alum of the Year Maarit Simoska, Teacher of the Year Salla Jutila – Annual Celebration honored university community members with several awards


The Alum of the Year, the Teacher of the Year, and the Student Group of the Year were awarded at the annual celebration of the University of Lapland on 1 March 2023. In addition, the Dissertation Award and Rector’s Award were presented. A new Award for Science/Art Communication was also given to university researchers during the annual celebration week.

Alum of the Year 2023: Maarit Simoska

The Steering Group for Alumni Activities awarded Maarit Simoska the title of alum of the year. Maarit Simoska earned a Master's degree in social sciences at the University of Lapland in 1996 and she is a licensed social work professional.

Simoska sets a positive example by working in diverse sectors of society as a journalist, politician, entrepreneur, and memory specialist. She has spent most of her career as a journalist in print media and at Yle. She has consciously sought researchers at the University of Lapland for interviews and made stories on interesting research topics for both provincial and national media. Social work-related themes have been of special interest to her, and she has endeavoured to advance social justice by introducing various issues into public debate.

Simoska is known for her societal knowledge and for her devotion. As an alum, she has actively and positively contributed to the notability of our university and admirably pointed out the significance of social work as an enabler of the well-being of people living in Lapland. Through her activity, Simoska has strengthened collaboration between the university and the job market. She also gives lectures and participates in teaching actively at the University of Lapland. Maarit Simoska is a commendable alum who has an interactive relationship with her home university.

Maarit Simoska. Kuva: Elli Alasaari.
Alumn of the Year, Maarit Simoska. Photo: Elli Alasaari.

Teacher of the Year: Salla Jutila

The Student Union of the University of Lapland awarded Salla Jutila the title of teacher of the year. Salla Jutila works as university teacher in tourism research at the Faculty of Social Sciences. The Student Union describes the teacher of the year as follows:

In addition to her teaching duties, Salla Jutila has worked as an exemplary teacher tutor. Students have always been able to arrange personal guidance meetings with her when there is a need for such. In guidance meetings, she brings up the most relevant problems and knows how to steer in the right direction when progress in studies seems difficult. In addition to her excellent personal guidance, Salla has an ability to consider students' everyday life around their studies and she is flexible by scheduling study periods while listening to the students' wishes.

Salla Jutila. Kuva: Elli Alasaari.
Teacher of the Year, Salla Jutila. Photo: Elli Alasaari.

Student Group of the Year: First year students of sustainability education

The Student Union of the University of Lapland awarded a student group of sustainability education – Gabriel Fiskarholm, Hanna Huostila, Telma Metsämuuronen, Nuppu Savolainen, and Siiri Syrjänen – the title of student group of the year. Student Union describes them as follows:

Despite the challenges brought by the new degree programme, the sustainability education students who started their studies in autumn 2022 have performed excellently during their first fall of studies. In an exemplary and constructive way, they have brought out the problems and development areas they have identified within the programme. They have actively sought to develop education. In addition, they have also provided exemplary support to each other since the beginning of the studies.

Vuoden 2023 opiskelijaryhmä. Kuva: Elli Alasaari.
A group of first year students of sustainability education were awarded as the student group of the year. Photo: Elli Alasaari.

Dissertation Award to Joonas Vola

The doctoral dissertation Homunculus – Bearing Incorporeal Arcticulations by Joonas Vola was awarded with the Dissertation Award. The jury decribes the dissertation as follows:

Joonas Vola's interdisciplinary dissertation studies the subject of research on "The Arctic in change". The dissertation demonstrates scientific courage and strong expertise in both the philosophy of science and arctic research. Vola's monograph rethinks the starting points of research and research writing and offers new ways to define the Arctic as a concept and network of meanings. The dissertation also has international significance and potential both methodologically and from the perspective of the Arctic.

Mustavalkokuva Joonas Volasta.
Joonas Vola received the dissertation award. Photo: Marko Junttila.

Rector's Award to Petra Falin

The purpose of the Rector's Award is to recognise work, an employee, or a group that has made a valuable effort for the benefit of the university. This year the Rector's Award, 2,000 €, was given to Doctor of Arts, Senior Specialist Petra Falin.

Rector Antti Syväjärvi describes the recipient as follows:

Petra Falin works in research and development services, where her rigorous competence has been at the community’s disposal – as service-oriented expertise. The person has been a member of the Research Development Committee, engaged in various research evaluations, and carried out tasks requiring first-rate RDI expertise. Finally, it is important to point out her contribution to the ethical pre-evaluation of research.

Falin has worked successfully and provided a significant contribution to the entire university community. She has selflessly and in a highly professional manner supported the university in ensuring the success of one of its central tasks. In our community, the recipient is regarded as a team player who works in the best interests of the university and strives for success through cooperation. When working for a team or the community, she does not place actors in order of preference to optimise issues for the benefit of her favourites or herself. Instead, she treats people and teams impartially and patiently. Therein culminates the ethos of service production.

Petra Falin. Kuva: Elli Alasaari.
Petra Falin received Rector's Award. Photo: Elli Alasaari.

In addition, medals of honour and recognition of service were handed out during the annual celebration.

Award for Communication to researchers of the OdigO project

A new Award for Science/Art Communication was also given to university researchers during the annual celebration week. With the award for communication, we want to highlight researchers' and artists' own good practices in communicating and popularizing science, research, art and design, as a part of the social interaction of the University of Lapland. The award is given for communicative activity which has promoted the understanding of research/art in society, has demonstrated an insightful attitude and courage, and/or has acted as an inspiring example in the university community.

The researchers and project personnel of the OdigO project (The skillful tutors of adults' and aging population's digital competences to Lapland) were awarded for their communication: Professor Päivi Rasi-Heikkinen, University Lecturer Susanna Rivinen and University Lecturer Hanna Vuojärvi from the Faculty of Education of the University of Lapland, as well as Principal Lecturer Satu Elo, Senior Lecturer Tuula Ahokumpu and Senior Lecturer Anne Jokelainen from the Lapland University of Applied Sciences.

The project has taken up the topical theme of the digital skills of aging population. Researchers and project personnel have done meritorious work to ensure that the perspective of the elderly would be considered and heard in the development of digitalization and in the related discussion and practical measures. They have implemented and continue to implement versatile, multi-channel and well popularized communication about the results of the project and research related to the theme, such as open webinars, a 15-part short video series, articles in newspapers and magazines, social media content, and expert interviews and talks. Their communication activities have made University of Lapland and its researchers known as experts in this research area both nationally and internationally.

Susanna Rivinen, Päivi Rasi-Heikkinen ja Hanna Vuojärvi. Kuva: Elli Alasaari.
Researchers of the OdigO project were awarded for their communication. Susanna Rivinen, Päivi Rasi-Heikkinen and Hanna Vuojärvi in the photo by Elli Alasaari.