Save the date: 10-year anniversary seminar of the Taita Research Station

23.12.2020
The 10-year anniversary seminar of the Taita Research Station of the University of Helsinki in Kenya takes place on January 28, 2021 in Tavastia, the Great Hall of Hämäläis-Osakunta of the University of Helsinki.

The multidisciplinary Taita Research Station was officially opened on January 12, 2011, but research started already in 1989 during a geography field course. Research re-started by the University of Helsinki in 2004, and the premises of current research station were purchased in 2009. During all these years, almost 70 MSc theses and 30 PhD theses works in Finland, Kenya, and elsewhere have used the data, infrastructure and logistics provided by the station.

Please join us in the Taita 10-year celebrations and hear how we have come this far, what is going on and what looms in the future!

In the event, greetings will be given by funders of the research: the University of Helsinki, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, and the collaboration partners from Kenya: University of Nairobi, Taita Taveta University, Ministry for Agriculture of Kenya and Embassy of Finland in Kenya.

Reports of experiences and research results will be presented by MSc and PhD students and scientists about the impact of land cover change to ecosystem services, climate and biodiversity.

Future work is presented by Academician Markku Kulmala as Taita Research Station is part of Flagship “Atmosphere and Climate Competence Center” funded by the Academy of Finland, and by Dr Tino Johansson who will tell about a new project funded by EC Development on “Earth observation and environmental sensing for climate-smart sustainable agro-pastoralism ecosystem transformation in East Africa” under DeSIRA programme.

Taita Research Station 10-year anniversary seminar, event programme:

Time: Thursday, January 28, 2021, at 9:00-16:00 (Helsinki EET).
Place: in Tavastia, the Great Hall of Hämäläis-Osakunta of the University of Helsinki, Finland. Join Zoom Meeting.

(Please, notice that there might be changes to this programme)

Session 1 - Greetings from cooperation partners and key scientific talks

9:00 DVC Hanna Snellman, University of Helsinki  
Taita Research Station and Africa programme of the Universty of Helsinki
Hanna Snellman is a professor of European Ethnology and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University in charge of international cooperation and partnerships.

9:10 Petri Pellikka, Director, Taita Research Station.
Taita - from a base camp to a multidisciplinary research institute.
Petri Pellikka is a professor of geoinformatics at the University of Helsinki and a director of Taita Research Station.

9:25 Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto, Finland
Greetings from Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Pekka Haavisto is the minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland and honorary member of Hämäläis-Osakunta of the University of Helsinki.

9:35 VC Stephen Kiama, University of Nairobi
Long-term cooperation between UoN and UH
Stephen Kiama is Vice Chancellor of University of Nairobi and professor in veterinary sciences. He holds a doctorate degree in Structural Biology from the University of Bern and served as the founding director of the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi.

9:45 PS Jaana Husu-Kallio, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Greetings from Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Dr. Jaana Husu-Kallio is the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. She served as a chairperson of the Board of University of Helsinki between 2014 and 2018, and has been a board member of European Food Safety Authority since 2012

9:55 Taita Research Station Staff
Taita Research Station staff present
Taita Research Station Staff consists of manager, three research assistants, technician, catering staff, and caretakers and watchmen; James Mwangombe (MSc in conservation in Kent University, MSc in soil and hydrology and BSc in forestry in Moi University), Mwadime Mjomba, Peter Mwasi, Darius Kimuzi, Ken Muhia Gicheru, Rebecca Mwanyolo, Granton Righa Mwamburi, Elphinstone Mwashighari Kalaghe, Julius Mzae Mwamburi.

10:10 President Tarja Halonen
Safe future of ours and the planet needs cooperation
Tarja Halonen is the Chairperson of the Board of the University of Helsinki. She was the president of Finland between 2000-2012 as the first female president.

10:20 Prof. Olli Vapalahti, University of Helsinki
Zoonotic virology research between UoN and UH
Olli Vapalahti is a professor of zoonotic virology at the University of Helsinki and has been carrying out research in Kenya and Taita Taveta since 2014 with University of Nairobi. He has been the academic figure in Finland in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

10:30 Curator Laura Arppe, Finnish Museum of Natural History
The IsoTermes project – unraveling termite ecology using stable isotopes 
Dr. Laura Arppe is a curator at the Finnish Museum of Natural History. She is an isotopist, paleoecologist, paleoclimatologist and applies isotope geochemical techniques to study a variety of topics related to past environments, also in termite mounds in the Taita Taveta County, Kenya since 2018. She leads a project funded by Academy of Finland in termite ecology.

10:40 Academician Markku Kulmala, INAR, University of Helsinki
Global SMEAR - observing atmosphere - biosphere interactions, also in Africa
Academician Markku Kulmala is the head of Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research at the University of Helsinki. He is a founder of SMEAR protocol and infrastrucrure to study atmosphere-biosphere processes, linkages and feedback.

10:50 Mr. Jarmo Kankkunen, Geography/Biology teacher, Kauniainen High School
Taita as a field trip destination for high school groups
Jarmo Kankkunen is biology and geography teacher at Kauniainen high school, who has led 4 school excursions to Kenya and Taita Research Station. He has been honored as a teacher of a year in Finland.

11:00 Dr. Tino Johansson, Coordinator, Taita Research Station
Earth observation for climate-smart sustainable agro-pastoralism ecosystem transformation
Dr. Tino Johansson is the coordinator of European Commission funded ESSA project on climate-smart sustainable agro-pastoralism ecosystem transformation and coordinator of Taita Research Station.

11:15 Dean Ritva Toivonen, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry
Greetings from Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry
Dr. Ritva Toivonen is the dean of the Faculty for Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Helsinki.

11:20 Ms. Hanna Rosti, PhD student, University of Helsinki
Nocturnal mammals of Taita Hills - new species or what?
Hanna Rosti is a high-school teacher and a PhD student at the University of Helsinki. She studies ecology and communication of endangered nocturnal mammals in the rain forests of the Taita Hills.

11:30 VC Fred Simiyu Barasa, Taita Taveta University
TTU - Small and new university as scientific cooperation partner
Fred Simiyu Barasa is the Vice Chancellor of Taita Taveta University. He holds a PhD in comparative and international education from the University of Natal in South Africa. He also served as Manager for Academic Program Development and Management at the African Virtual University.

11:40 Purity Ncabira, Student, Taita Taveta University
Agricultural MSc thesis at Taita Taveta University using Taita Research Station infra and test fields
Purity Ncabira is a graduate student of Taita Taveta University and carries out her thesis studies in Smartland project on climate-smart agriculture funded by the Academy of Finland.

11:50 Ms. Sari Aroalho, MSc student, University of Helsinki
From students view- making MSc thesis in Taita on creative economy in Kenya
Sari Aroalho is a graduate student at the University of Helsinki. She carries out the field-work on creative industry in Kenya and Taita Taveta.

12:00 PS Prof. Hamadi Boga, Ministry of Agriculture of Kenya
Land cover changes and climate change impact on food security in Kenya
Prof. Hamadi Boga is a permanent secretary at Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya. He is previous VC of Taita Taveta University

12:10 HE Erik Lundberg, Ambassador, Embassy of Finland in Nairobi
Finnish cooperation in Kenya and Taita
His Excellency Erik Lundberg is the Ambassador of Finland in Kenya.

Session 2 - Main research results on environment

13:00 DG Leif Schulman, Finnish Environment Institute
Greetings from Finnish Environment Institute
Dr. Leif Schulman is a director general of the Finnish Environment Institute and previous director of the Finnish Museum of Natural History. He is a biologist and has visited Taita Research Station several times as a member of the Advisory Board

13:10 Prof. Thomas Wilhelmsson, rector emeritus, University of Helsinki
Greetings from rector, chanchellor emeritus
Prof. Thomas Wilhelmsson is emeritus rector and chancellor of University of Helsinki. He opened Taita Research Station in 2011.

13:15 VC Jukka Kola, University of Turku
Greetings from University of Turku
Prof. Jukka Kola is a Vice Chancellor of University of Turku and emeritus rector of University of Helsinki.

13:20 Dean Kai Nordlund, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki
Greetings from Faculty of Science
Kai Nordlund is a professor in material physics and Dean of the Faculty of Science of the University of Helsinki.

13:25 Mr. Antti Autio, University of Helsinki
Agricultural system in Taita Taveta County
Antti Autio is a PhD student at Department of Geosciences and Geography in development geography within Smartland project. He made his MSc thesis in Taita about a road project and regional development.

13:35 Mr. Juuso Tuure, PhD student, University of Helsinki
Soil-crop system at the smallholder lands
 Juuso Tuure is a PhD student in agricultural sciences within Smartland project.

13:45 Mr. Ilja Vuorinne, PhD student, University of Helsinki
Geographic datasets and environmental sensing infrastructure of Taita Research Station
Ilja Vuorinne is a PhD student in remote sensing in atmospheric sciences within ESSA project. He carried out his MSc thesis in Taita about remote sensing of biomass of sisal plantation.

13:55 Dr. Temesgen Abera, University of Helsinki
Climatic impacts of bushland to cropland conversion in Taita
Dr. Temesgen Abera is a post doc scientist in remote sensing in the ESSA project. He carried out his PhD studies about climatic impacts of vegetation dynamics in East Africa.

14:05 Ms Iris Aalto, PhD student, University of Helsinki
Tree canopy cover as a modifier of microclimate in tropical landscapes
 Iris Aalto is a PhD student in remote sensing. She carried out her MSc thesis studying impact of vegetation canopy cover to land surface temperatures in Taita.

14:15 Dr. Eduardo Maeda, University of Helsinki
Terrestrial laser scanning for ecological applications
Dr. Eduardo Maeda is Academy Research Fellow in remote sensing. He studies land cover and forest cover change globally and is impact to ecosystem services. He made his PhD thesis land cover change in Taita Taveta.

14:25 Dr. Janne Heiskanen, University of Helsinki
Land cover and biomass research with remote sensing
Dr. Janne Heiskanen is a senior scientist at the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research. He focuses on remote sensing of land cover, biomass and carbon sequestrated in woody vegetation.

14:35 Ms. Yang Liu, PhD student, University of Helsinki
Biogenic VOC mixing ratios from different ecosystems in southern Kenya
Yang Liu is a PhD student in atmospheric sciences studying biogenic volatile organic compounds from various ecosystem types in the Taita Hills. She has graduated from Beijing Normal University.

14:45 Mr. Edward Amara, PhD student, University of Helsinki/Sierra Leone Agriculture Research Institute
Land use impacts on biomass distribution in a multi-use savannah landscape
Edward Amara is a PhD student in remote sensing studying vegetation biomass in African landscapes, and especially impact of land use and fencing on biomass in Taita Taveta. He is a scientist in Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute

15:00 Prof. Kristiina Karhu, University of Helsinki
Soil microbes on altitudinal gradient
Kristiina Karhu is a tenure-track professor in soil science in forestry, and Academy Research Fellow studying microbes in tropical altitudinal gradient in Taita Hills and elsewhere.

15:10 Ms. Martha Munayo, PhD student, Taita Taveta University/University of Helsinki/Kenya Wildlife Service
Human wildlife conflicts
Martha Munayo is a scientist at Kenya Wildlife Service, graduate student at Taita Taveta University in geoinformatics and PhD student in environmental studies at the University of Helsinki. She studies human-wildlife conflicts in Taita Taveta County.

15:20 Prof. Janne Rinne, Lund University
Termite mounds as source for greenhouse gases
Janne Rinne is a professor in physical geography in Lund University. He is a micrometeorologist studying fluxes from varying ecosystems, including termite mound landscapes in Taita.

15:30 Ms. Sheila Wachiye, PhD student, Kabianga University/University of Helsinki
Soil respiration from various land uses in Taita Taveta
Sheila Wachiye is a teacher at Kabianga University, Kenya and a PhD student in atmospheric sciences at the University of Helsinki. She studies greenhouse gases and soil respiration from various land uses in Taita Taveta.

15:40 Curator Charolette Sletten-Bjorå, Natural History Museum of University of Oslo
Taita Research Station as target for student trips
Curator Charlotte Sletten Bjorå is from Natural History Museum in Norway. She is interested in a wide range of plant groups and topics, including evolution and speciation, molecular systematics, historic biogeography, conservation and ethnobotany.  She has been leading student excursions to East Africa.

15:45 Dr. Gretchen Gettel, IHE Delft
Taita as a platform for hydrological research
Dr Gretchen Gettel is a scientist at International Hydrology Education in Delft, Netherlands. She has supervised numerous MSc thesis in Taita Hills done by African students.

15:55 Prof. Jouko Rikkinen, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki
Final remarks
Jouko Rikkinen is a professor of botany at the University of Helsinki and chairman of the Advisory Board of Taita Research Station. He has carried out research in Taita since 2009 and supervised MSc and PhD thesis.

The University of Helsinki warmly welcomes you to the event!

More information:
Petri Pellikka, PhD
Professor of Geoinformatics
Earth Change Observation Laboratory
University of Helsinki
www.helsinki.fi/echolab

Director, Taita Research Station of the University of Helsinki in Kenya