The core group of INEQ is comprised of the office staff – director, research coordinator and project planner – and six professors whose work is focused on inequality from different angles and who work in their own disciplines at the different faculties at the University of Helsinki. On this page, you can find ways to contact the INEQ team.

Moreover, INEQ brings together already more than 250 scholars from a variety of disciplines within the university. Please see the growing community of INEQ affiliated scholars. If you are interested in becoming a member of the INEQ community, please see below for more information on how to join us.

University Researcher Dr. Meri Kulmala (; Vuorikatu 3, Office 206) is a sociologist and Docent in Russian and Eurasian Studies. She has led interdisciplinary research on post-socialist child welfare systems. Recently she has studied wellbeing and agency of young adults leaving care through co-creative research methods. She is an initiator of the Finnish Co-research Network and actively involved in the Finnish research network on linguistic diversity and the welfare state “Satakieli”

University Researcher Dr Anna-Leena Riitaoja ( is an interdisciplinary-oriented scholar whose research focuses on inequalities and social justice in educational and social service institutions and in the professional curricula and knowledge bases of helping professions. Her current research projects focus on understandings of transnational migration in the social work knowledge base, and on access of migrant background students and scholars in Finnish higher education institutions. She is a founding member of the Finnish Interdisciplinary Society, a member of the Centre of Excellence on Ageing and Care (AgeCare) and an affiliated member in the Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism (CEREN)

Nette Holopainen ( has an MSSc in social and cultural anthropology, and is interested in urban life and art. At INEQ her responsibilities include communication, event organizing and assistance in running the daily functions of the initiative. 

Peter Holley ( is a Doctoral Researcher at the Department of Social Research (Sociology) at the University of Helsinki. His doctoral research focuses on migration related issues and the social construction of self and identity. At INEQ his responsibilities include organizing the INEQ Reading Circle and upcoming events during spring 2022.

INEQ Associate Professor of Regional and Urban Inequality Dr. Pia Bäcklund ( (Department of Geosciences and Geography; Docent in spatial planning), is a human geographer whose research interest covers especially strategic spatial planning and politics. Her latest research project JustDe (2018-2022) targets the issue of how new agreement based spatial planning practices gives new form and direction to justification of societal decision making in the context of Nordic Welfare state.

INEQ Associate Professor of Law, Security and Privacy Dr. Dorota Gozdecka ( (Faculty of Law) is a legal theorist and her research focuses on how law creates and maintains otherness. Her current project uses the theory of law and aesthetics to examine how images of migrants impact on the understanding of what is legitimate in the regulation of migration flows. Her forthcoming book ‘Visual Power, Representation and Migration Law’ (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming) analyses how these perceptions of legitimacy exacerbate growing crimmigration and securitization of migration law. 

INEQ Professor of Urban Theology Dr. Henrietta Grönlund ( (Department of Practical Theology; Docent of Church and Social Studies) is a sociologist of religion who specializes in questions of civic engagement and welfare, especially the role of religion and values in relation to these themes. Her current research interests include the ways in which religion manifests in urban contexts and interacts with urbanity, especially in relation to questions of inequality and wellbeing. She currently leads two projects related to the roles of civic engagement, third sector organizations, and religious communities in promoting community resilience and support for people in the most vulnerable position during the covid-19 pandemic.

INEQ Associate Professor of Contemporary History Dr. Johanna Rainio-Niemi ( (Political History, Faculty of Social Sciences) is a historian who specializes especially on smaller states’ modern political systems and on issues of welfare state development, social / national security states, consensus-orientated democracy and state-society relations in comparative and international perspective. Her most recent and on-going projects deal with the ‘defence’ of democracy and the constitutionalist tradition in 19th and 20th century Finland, the emergence of modern national and international social politics and the international histories of the idea of neutrality.  

INEQ Professor of Social Inequalities in Health Dr. Karri Silventoinen ( (Population Research Unit, Faculty of Social Sciences and Faculty of Medicine) has background in demography and epidemiology. His major research interests cover social and global health inequalities, physical and mental development of children and risk factors of metabolic diseases. International comparisons and analyses of biosocial interaction have been important part of his research.

INEQ Associate Professor of Linguistic Inequalities and Translation Technologies Dr. Roman Yangarber ( (Digital Humanities; Leader of the Research Group in Computational Linguistics, UH). His current research is on how Artificial Intelligence can assist humans in learning languages.  Specific focus is on "high-stakes" learners – committed to learning the language to a high level of proficiency, including migrants and "heritage" learners trying to sustain their language. The goal is to support these learners in navigating their environments – to lower linguistic barriers and reduce inequalities.

Mandira Halder ( is a doctoral candidate in Educational Sciences at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from Nantes, France. Born in West Bengal, India, Mandira is multilingual and fluent in English, French, German, Bengali and Hindi. She also has Polish, Norwegian, and Rumanian notions. Before coming to Finland for research, she worked as a foreign language teacher educator and course coordinator in Lausanne, Switzerland. Currently, she is conducting a study on second language choices in Finland during spring 2022 with a doctoral mobility grant from the University of Geneva.

Researchers affiliated with Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ) are listed in the University of Helsinki Research Portal.

Would you like to join the INEQ community?

Join the INEQ Community!

INEQ affiliate scholars join the growing, internationally networked research community of scholars at University of Helsinki.  The membership is freely open for all Helsinki University scholars who have completed the Doctoral Degree or are members of the Helsinki University based doctoral programs and work with projects, issues and questions related to social and cultural inequalities and their consequences. INEQ is a multidisciplinary, cross-faculty initiative that aims for methodological diversity and welcomes different theoretical approaches.

INEQ affiliate scholars will be able to

  • identify with the Initiative with a double affiliation  
  • fully participate in the new interdisciplinary research community and its activities
  • apply for fellowship and visitors’ program and seed funding 
  • benefit from the contacts both nationally and internationally.

Criteria for INEQ affiliate scholars

  • A doctoral degree and affiliation with the University of Helsinki, OR
  • A membership in a doctoral program of the University of Helsinki
  • Ongoing research interest on inequality studies
  • Plans for future research work, project and application in the field of inequality research
  • Evidence of past and ongoing research (publications)

Apply for an INEQ affiliate scholarship online via E-form.

The affiliate scholars will be notified about the acceptance with some further instructions to join the INEQ community and its activities. The affiliates will be automatically added to the INEQ mailing list and research community on the UH Research Portal (where affiliates can select which of their activities are labelled as an part of the work of the INEQ community).