Dr Visa AJ Kurki is the Principal Investigator of the project. His work covers animal law theory and legal philosophy more generally. His particular expertise is on the topic of legal personhood, on which he has published the monograph A Theory of Legal Personhood (OUP 2019). He works currently as an Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Fellow at the Law Faculty of the University of Helsinki.


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Tero Kivinen is a late-stage doctoral researcher working for the project. His 2014 master’s thesis explored the ethics of international animal regulation whereas his forthcoming doctoral dissertation will provide a rhetorical criticism of animal law discourse. Over the course of the project, Kivinen seeks to further utilize rhetorical theory in order to better understand the inner workings of animal law as well as develop alternative lines of argument for improving the legal and societal status of animals. His prior research interests include public international law, space law, and media law.

Veera Koponen is a doctoral student in the project. She graduated in 2020 with a Master’s thesis on the prohibition to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal and the criteria of necessity. Continuing and widening the themes of her Master’s thesis, her doctoral dissertation focuses on welfarism as a cornerstone of Finnish animal law. Koponen aims to determine the general principles of Finnish animal law and to find a balance between animal welfare and human rights.

Dr. Soc. Sc. (public law) Birgitta Wahlberg works as a university teacher of public law at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics, Åbo Akademi University, Finland. Her field of expertise is animal law in general and animal law as a jurisprudential subject of law. Wahlberg has published the first animal law textbook in Finland (Inledning till djurskyddslagstiftningen i Finland 2014), and several articles about animal law issues. As an academic her main interest is to develop animal law and animal law teaching on university level, and to ensure the recognition of animals' fundamental rights on the constitutional level. She is co-founder and president of the Finnish Animal Rights Lawyers' Society, and she has also founded the Global Journal of Animal Law, published by Åbo Akademi University.

Dr Tarja Koskela (LL.D. Criminal Law) is a senior lecturer and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Eastern Finland. In her dissertation (February 2017) she studied the optimal protection of animals in the criminal procedure and the public administration. Koskela teaches in addition to criminal law and criminal procedure law, animal law and animal welfare supervision at the University of Eastern Finland.  She also teaches animal law at the Police University College, the University of Helsinki and the Åbo Akademi and wrote a textbook for the police: “Animal as an Object of a Crime”. In her research, she is focused on animal law. She is one of the founder members of the Finnish Animal Rights Law Society.