The professors and researchers of this research group have various disciplinary backgrounds. Scroll down and get to know us!
Note: Venla Bernelius is working at the City of Helsinki as a Leading Specialist (university sabbatical)
Venla Bernelius is Assistant Professor in Urban Geography at the University of Helsinki. Her education and working life have centered on a deep fascination on research and building an understanding of the world through science. Making a social impact through collaboration outside the academia has also played a major role in her work. She has a Ph.D in Urban Geography from the University of Helsinki, and she has studied Geography, Statistics and Social Sciences in Finland and Sweden. Before becoming a Lecturer in Urban Geography and Regional Studies, she worked as a researcher in several academic research projects, as well as in EU projects and collaborations between universities and governance actors.
Venla Bernelius's main academic interests have been to understand socio-spatial development in cities, and the way that impacts the society and its institutions. Most of her work focuses on segregation and schools, in search of the mechanisms through which the processes of differentiation operate. However, as Geography is a wonderfully diverse subject, she has also studied themes from trust and solidarity in neighbourhoods to the housing preferences of highly skilled immigrants in Helsinki.
Heidi Huilla MA (History), MA (Sociology and politics of education.) works as a PhD and a project researcher in URBARIA, Helsinki Institute for Urban and Regional Studies, located in the Department of Geosciences and Geography at the University of Helsinki. Her PhD research focuses on disadvantaged schools in urban environments. Heidi Huilla is currently working in the comparative research project "Mixed Classes and Pedagogical Solutions (MAPS)", which seeks answers to how urban schools in Helsinki, Amsterdam and Reykjavík tackle challenges brought on by segregation with the idea of inclusive education (for more information on the project, see the research page of this research group).
Heidi Huilla’s other research interest relate to reputations and stigmas of urban schools and neighbourhoods, policies and practices of school choice, quality assurance and evaluation policies, and ethnography as methodology. Her previous work experiences include working seven years as a teacher in history, civics, and religious studies.
Teemu Kemppainen (D. Soc. Sci.) works as a Senior Lecturer in Urban Geography at the University of Helsinki and is also an associated research fellow at Centre Maurice Halbwachs (CNRS/EHSS/ENS), Paris. His PhD thesis (2017) examined the residents’ experiences of their residential contexts from the perspectives of social disorder and insecurity. He has studied well-being as a contextual phenomenon from various points of view. His current research interests include housing studies, migration, health service use, social theory, survey methods, complexity and regression analysis.
Joonas Luukkonen is a doctoral student at a Department of Geography, in the Doctoral Program of Social Sciences. His doctoral research concerns spatial and intergenerational forms of inequalities in education, especially focusing on social processes contributing to the phenomenon. His perspective lies in the intersection of urban geography, educational sociology and stratification research. Before starting his PhD, Joonas has inter alia worked in a research project concerning youth unemployment and activation policies in Helsinki metropolitan area.
Riikka Oittinen (M.Sc, geography) is a doctoral candidate at the University of Helsinki. Study is a part of an ethnographical research project Local Educational Ethos (LEE) – A study on well-performing comprehensive schools in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. LEE is funded by the Academy of Finland for 2018-2022. Her dissertation focuses on micro-level mechanisms of segregation in schools and neighbourhoods and segregation in various life domains of pupils. Previously, she has worked as a teacher and in research projects and teaching development projects at the University of Helsinki.
Isabel Ramos Lobato works as a post-doctoral researcher at the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Helsinki. She studied geography, sociology and peace and conflict studies at Philipps-University Marburg, Germany and obtained her PhD in Geography from the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany in 2019. In her PhD, she examined the interplay between socio-spatial and educational segregation by examining parental choice of primary schools after the abolition of catchment areas in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
Building on mainly qualitative methods, Isabel's research interests area broadly rooted in urban and social geography – with a particular emphasis on processes of social inclusion and exclusion particularly in the fields of education and housing. Most of her work focuses on topics such as socio-spatial and school segregation, social mixing (policies), social networks and encounters between households in (disadvantaged and mixed) urban neighbourhoods, and institutional discrimination in the housing market.
Oskar Rönnberg (M.Sc.) is a doctoral student in urban geography in the doctoral program in political, societal and regional change. He also works for the research project “Re:Urbia”, that is part of the government funded Lähiöohjelma (suburban program) 2020–2022. Oskar’s research interests include socio-spatial inequalities and geography of opportunities. In his PhD research, he uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to study the roles of schools in urban segregation and for the local neighbourhood.
Joonas Salmijärvi (M. Soc. Sci.) is a Project Coordinator at the Department of Geosciences and Geography. He works for the research project “Citizens as agents of change in decarbonizing suburban and rural housing (DECARBON-HOME)” funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Academy of Finland. Joonas has graduated from the Master’s Programme of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Helsinki, and studied social and administrative sciences also at University of Tampere. His main research interests are socio-spatial dynamics and inequalities in cities, people-place relationships, human-centred urban development, and urban mobility and accessibility.
Joni Vainikka is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the DeCarbon Home project in the Department of Geosciences and Geography at the University of Helsinki. He holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Oulu and an MSc in Geography from the University of Turku. Before joining the University of Helsinki, he was a visiting scholar in the Centre of Mobilities and Urban Studies at Aalborg University and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oulu. He has also studied at the University of Sheffield and visited the University of Exeter for field research.
Joni’s main academic interests are questions of identities, spatial transformation, mobilities and time. Understanding the social and cultural heritage and anticipatory futures of the archipelago of cities is a key to realize our collective environmental impact. His work focuses on relational identities and the need for a common ground for sustainability, the social ownership of climate solutions, the metropolitanization of identities and the cultures of the ephemeral and durable. His previous research has touched upon spatial identification, regional geography, networks and aeromobilities, and he has taught well over twenty courses at three different universities.
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