Professor Dietmar Pfahl’s inaugural lecture on challenges faced by software engineers

5 days 15 hours ago

On 20 February, UT Professor of Software Engineering Dietmar Pfahl delivers his inaugural lecture “Data-driven Decision Support in Software Engineering and Management” in the university assembly hall.

Software has become part of our daily life: whether we drive a car, sit on a plane, use our washing machine, perform a bank transaction, or file our tax return, software is involved in all of these activities. Software engineers must make many decisions in their daily work. The quality of their decision-making is crucial for the success of every new software system deployed to the market. Unlike other engineers, software engineers cannot rely on the laws of nature but must base their decisions to a large extent on experience and empirically derived models.

In his inaugural lecture, Professor Pfahl will discuss how software engineers can support their decision-making by using empirical research methods as well as data mining and machine learning techniques. The lecture will end with a vision of an integrated framework for data-driven decision support in software engineering.

Dietmar Pfahl earned his master’s degree (1986) and PhD (2001) in Germany, at the Universities of Ulm and Kaiserslautern, respectively. Before joining the University of Tartu as an Associate Professor in 2013, he worked eight years in industry (Siemens AG, Germany), and held appointments with the University of Calgary, Canada, the Lund University, Sweden, and the University of Oslo, Norway. He also worked for the German Aerospace Research Establishment near Munich, Germany, and the Simula Research Laboratory near Oslo, Norway. He was the founder and director of Pika Research, Inc., Claresholm, Canada, from 2009 to 2015. Since 2008, he is Adjunct Professor with the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, Canada. In spring 2017, he was appointed Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Tartu.

Dietmar Pfahl’s research interests focus on data-driven decision support in software engineering and management. Previously, he published articles on software process simulation and improvement, software release planning, and software testing. He has more than 100 publications in top-ranked software engineering journals and conference proceedings. He is also a senior member of the IEEE and the ACM.

Dietmar Pfahl delivers his inaugual lecture in English on 20 February at 16:15 in the University of Tartu assembly hall. All interested are welcome to the lecture or to watch the webcast on UTTV.


Additional information: Dietmar Pfahl, UT Professor of Software Engineering, +47 404 48 055, dietmar.pfahl [ät]

Category: ResearchPress release
Mari-Liis Pintson (pintson)

UT associate professor emerita Reet Kasik won the Wiedemann Language Prize

6 days 18 hours ago

On 8 February, the government of Estonia decided to grant the Ferdinand Johann Wiedemann Language Prize to the dedicated teacher and scholar, University of Tartu associate professor emerita Reet Kasik for her research on word formation, development of text analysis, and educating and encouraging young linguists.

Minister of education and research Mailis Reps congratulated the laureate and expressed gratitude for the contribution Reet Kasik has made to the research and teaching of the Estonian language and to ensuring the sustainability of the language. “Reet Kasik has worked actively and efficiently for decades to promote the value of the Estonian language,” said Reps.

Doctor of Philology Reet Kasik worked for a long time as a teaching staff member at the University of Tartu, and she also worked at the universities of Oulu, Turku and Helsinki. She has authored more than one hundred scientific publications and a number of popular-science articles. Her main fields of research are Estonian word formation, linguistic text analysis, sublanguages of the written language and the history of Estonian linguistics.

Reet Kasik is a leading researcher on word formation, both her candidate of science (1973) and doctoral dissertation (1994) deal with this topic; she has described the entire Estonian word formation system and published two monographs. She also developed the Estonian critical text analysis research. She has introduced the theory and methods of linguistic text analysis, studied the language of the news, advertisements and official communication, and compiled collections of articles and university textbooks.

Reet Kasik has always promoted cooperation between text researchers. She has taught her students, colleagues and, through her popular articles, the general public to critically view texts and how the society is influenced thereby.

Reet Kasik is esteemed and loved by her colleagues and students and is an estimated lecturer for all types of audiences. Her activities and speeches reflect her concern about the younger generations’ native language skills, over the teaching and use of the Estonian language from general education school to doctoral studies.

The Wiedemann Language Prize is presented to the laureate on 20 February in Läänemaa Gymnasium. The ceremony is followed by a formal reception in Haapsalu Cultural Centre. The amount of the prize is 32 000 euros.

F. J. Wiedemann Language Prize is awarded annually to one person for outstanding merits in researching, planning, teaching, promoting or using the Estonian language. In 2017, the Wiedemann Language Prize winner was Marja Kallasmaa; the first laureate of the prize was Henn Saari in 1989.

Category: Research
Mari-Liis Pintson (pintson)

University of Tartu scientists won four national research awards

6 days 18 hours ago

The government of Estonia has announced the laureates of this year’s national research awards. The award for outstanding lifetime achievement in research and development, 40 000 euros, was granted to professor emeritus of the University of Tartu, academician Agu Laisk. In addition, three projects won the award for best research work.

Minister Mailis Reps congratulated all the awardees and expressed gratitude for their contribution to Estonian science. “The laureates are committed scientists and determined trailblazers in their field,” said Reps.

Agu Laisk is an outstanding researcher of plant photosynthesis. His research deals with the question “What determines the rate of photosynthesis?”. To answer the question, researchers led by Agu Laisk have designed the fastest photosynthesis measurement system in the world and the most complex photosynthesis model, and achieved a number of ground-breaking results in the research of the photosynthesis process.

Eight national research awards of 20 000 euros are granted for the best research work completed and published over the previous four years. This award is granted to the following researchers of the University of Tartu:

Tanel Tenson (head of group), Vasili Hauryliuk, Arvi Jõers, Niilo Kaldalu, Karin Kogermann, Ülo Maiväli, Marta Putrinš in chemistry and molecular biology for the cycle “Mechanisms of antibiotic action and antibiotic resistance”;

Joel Starkopf, Annika Reintam Blaser in medical science for the research and development “Intraabdominal hypertension and gastrointestinal failure in intensive care patients”;

Martin Ehala in the humanities for the research “Development of the sign theory of identity based on studies of the Estonian linguistic environment”.

National research awards are presented to the laureates on 20 February in Läänemaa Gymnasium. The ceremony is followed by a formal reception in Haapsalu Cultural Centre.


Category: Research
Mari-Liis Pintson (pintson)

Student Startup Camp brought new ideas to life

1 week ago

Student Startup Camp was held in Tartu last week for a 5th successful time. Garage48, the University of Tartu Institute of Computer Science and IdeaLab provided an excellent working atmosphere for the 100 students taking part in the camp, who had a busy week of building ideas into prototypes.

Camp started on Monday at the SPARK Hub Tartu where students from all over Estonia gathered, pitched 16 ideas and formed teams around 11 of them. During the next days, teams had many mentors helping them understand more about entrepreneurship and startups. Mentors covered subjects from the concept of a Minimum Viable Product to the importance of teamwork to “dirty tricks” for. Campers also had guest mentors like Liis Narusk (ELEVATE), Triin Kask (Nevercode), Richard Murutar (Sprayprinter) and Roland Kriibi (Pipedrive) giving them advice. Several founders also stopped by to share their stories of starting their companies from hackathons and start-up competitions.

At the final presentation on Friday, the jury had to make the tough decision of determining the best brand-new ideas. The jury consisted of Maret Ahonen (UT IdeaLab), Anne Jääger (UT, Institute of Computer science), Sven Parkel (UT, Centre for entrepreneurship and innovation), Jüri Kaljundi (Garage48, Weekdone) and Maret Kurve (Garage48, Testlio).

Judges selected team Recipery as the winner. Recipery is an app providing a recipe sharing service with ingredient home delivery. The team leader is Sebastian Värv, members were Agu-Art Annuk, Maria Belinska, Abdulateef Olamide Alli, Oliver Ossip, Hippolyte-Fayol Toulassi, Els Maria Metsamaa, Kristi Koppel, Leene Künnap, Eva Nebula and Clive Tinashe Mawoko.

Second place was awarded to team StartART, which is the first platform dedicated to students' artwork, which they can share and sell on the platform. Customers can browse and buy a wide variety of student's artworks. Team leader is Georg Vann, members: Maali Tars, Age Roosi, Magnar Vares, Risto Puronen. Humair Kazi, Örge Edgü, Aaliyah Wesker and Shaswata Saha.

UT student Khaled Charkie from team EziPort summed up the week very positively: “The camp was not only a great experience, but a chance to team up with people of different talents and turn ideas into reality in a short period of time.“

The Student Startup Camp was supported by HITSA and IT Academy.

Article referred from the Garage48 blog.

Category: Entrepreneurship
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

University of Tartu Scientist Published in a Renowned Science Magazine

1 week 1 day ago

Kaur Alasoo, a young scientist who has defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Cambridge and is now working as a bioinformatics researcher at the University of Tartu, focused on the reasons for complicated genetic diseases and ways to avoid them in the future.

In just one year, 6,000 scientists have already seen Alasoo’s dissertation and 2,000 of them have decided to download it to their computers. Nature Genetics, a renowned magazine concentrating on gene studies, also recently published a scientific article based on his doctoral thesis. Thus, the 29-year-old scholar of bioinformatics has entered at the world map of genetic engineering with gusto.

Figuratively speaking, Alasoo offers us new knowledge about what causes “fires” in our bodies and how genes sometimes make us ill.

In referring to “fires”, the young scientist is talking about complex diseases, such as diabetes, depression, arthritis, or heart attacks. Just like fires, these diseases seldom have a single clear and sure reason for developing.

“Thanks to major genetic studies, we can evaluate the genetic risks of many diseases. But risk analysis is of little use when we don’t know what causes the risk and how to manage it”, Alasoo said.

This means that we often know that there is a link between a certain genetic variation and an illness without knowing the reason why the link is there.

That’s why geneticists might see a greater risk for Alzheimer disease or multiple sclerosis, for example, all while not being able to identify the cause of the risk or what the person should do to prevent the disease and dodge the manifestations of the risky elements. This is the problem that Alasoo’s scientific work set out to solve.

Kaur Alasoo and his English colleagues at the Sanger Institute were the first to show that some genetic switches influencing hereditary materials are switched on before their impact to genes is even visible. The “position of the switch” affects the switching on of the gene, reacting to major changes occurring in the environment.

Lab Experiments That Look Like an Action Movie

Alasoo came to such conclusions at the Sanger Institute, located in Cambridge, England, which is one of the most influential biology centres in Europe.

He performed lab experiments for hours there and grew re-programmed stem cells from other cells. These are similar to the cells found in embryos in their early stages of development. This enabled him to get all other stem types, from neurons to heart muscles, ticking away in a Petri dish – and then turned them into macrophages.

Macrophages – round in the centre, long at the sides, just like a gyroscope – are immunity cells that kill bacteria in our bodies using tentacles. They catch “garbage”, just like vacuum cleaners. That’s why they’re informally called “big devourer cells” in Estonian.

To turn stem cells into macrophages, they had to be cultivated and nurtured in exactly the right conditions for six weeks. After this process, the doctoral student was free to conduct experiments as he desired.

“In one of such experiments, we were observing macrophages eating Salmonella. You have an immune cell on a dish that has devoured a bacterium. The cell wants to kill the bacterium inside itself while the bacterium is doing its best to escape this environment alive”.

You can find a more detailed review in the Nature Genetics Magazine.

This article is written in Estonian by ERR Novaator Editor in Chief Katre Tatrik for ERR Novaator, translated to English for UT Blog.

Category: Research
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Career Day brings together students and employers

2 weeks ago

On 15 February at 12:00, the popular Career Day will take place in the main building of the University of Tartu for the sixth time already. This year the event focuses on traineeships and labour market needs.

The career fair is intended for all UT students, giving them an opportunity to find out about enterprises in their speciality and get familiar with offered traineeship opportunities. On the other hand, the fair is also important for companies who can get a better overview of future labour market trends, and make valuable contacts with potential employees. Several reputable international and Estonian companies, from Playtech to Eesti Meedia, are represented at the event. Among the participants there are organisations from different fields, offering opportunities for young people who study medicine, social sciences, physical sciences, humanities and life sciences.

Project manager of the Career Day, student Julia Gerda Sokk pointed out that the event gives a wonderful opportunity to students to make direct contacts with employers at quite an early stage of their studies. “At the event students can ask the company directly and get valuable and practical advice, which may not be possible at school. This year’s fair follows the idea that practical training experience is the basis for getting a good job,” said Sokk. Member of the Career Day organising team, student Gert Jürjo added that active students who participate more in traineeship and are also involved in extracurricular activities are likely to be more successful in their future job. “This has also inspired this year’s slogan: take the lead and succeed,” said Jürjo.

At the conference, former president of the University of Tartu Student Council Martin Noorkõiv, master’s student Leslie Carol Gibson and product development specialist of Estiko-Plastar AS and doctoral student at the University of Tartu Tõnis Paara share their traineeship success stories. During the Career Day students can also participate in practical workshops conducted in both Estonian and English, which deal with various topics from performance in the labour market to creating your own brand.

Participation in the Career Day is free for students; advance registration is required. Further information and registration form are available on the University of Tartu website.

Additional information: Annika Maksimov, University of Tartu Career Day Communication Manager, +372 526 2206, annika.maksimov [ät]

Category: Entrepreneurship
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Three museum awards to UT for Parrot, mummies and tourist-friendliness

3 weeks ago

The University of Tartu Museum and Natural History Museum won three valuable awards at the Estonian annual museum awards ceremony at the Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn on 19 January. The University of Tartu Museum received two Museum Rat awards for the best scientific event and the best collection development. UT Natural History Museum was awarded the special Rat Trap prize as the most tourist-friendly museum.

The university’s museum got the Best Scientific Event award for the 28th Baltic Conference on the history and philosophy of science “On the Border of the Russian Empire: The German University of Tartu and its first Rector Georg Friedrich Parrot”, held in Tartu from 18-20 May 2017. Topics of the presentations at the international conference ranged from the interpretation of a portrait to the first astrophysical observations made in Tartu.

The Best Museum Developer title was awarded to the UT Museum for their interdisciplinary research on the mummies in the museum collection and for promotion of the research results. The mummies were researched by a number of researchers of different fields: archaeologists, chemists, gene technologists, forensic/medical experts, a biologist, an anthropologist, the curator of the museum collection and the UT senior research communication specialist. The team applied the most up-to-date research methods, which resulted in research articles, a TV programme that attracted large viewership, an information seminar, availability of the research results at the exhibition, and educational programmes.

The special Rat Trap prize was handed to the UT Natural History Museum by the Estonian Tourist Board of Enterprise Estonia (EAS). Tourism experts highlighted the modern and rich, yet elegant and attractive exhibition of the natural history museum. Its exhibition embraces nature in its diversity; from the emergence of the universe to human evolution. The museum was also acknowledged for its easy wheelchair and pushchair access.

Tourists’ comments on TripAdvisor point out that the natural history museum is family-friendly and attractive for all ages, offers a combination of classical approach and modern solution, and its exhibition is exciting.

“It is the best recognition a museum could have in the year of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. This award is elevating and supports the visitor-oriented approach we have chosen,” said Vallo Mulk, Assistant Director of the UT Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden. “We want to develop the visitor centres of the natural history museum and botanical garden into attractive environments for nature education so that it would be interesting for people of all ages to visit us. We want to be the “rat trap” of the Tartu region, attracting a number of local and foreign tourists to visit the University of Tartu Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden.”

The special prize for the most tourist-friendly museum was awarded for the seventh time. Earlier, the UT Natural History Museum has received the Universal Design Award from the Estonian Union of Persons with Mobility Impairment, and the title of Nationally Recognised Science Populariser from the Estonian Research Council.

Additional information:
Mariann Raisma, Director of the University of Tartu Museum, 522 1702, mariann.raisma [ät]
Vallo Mulk, Assistant Director of the UT Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden, 5695 0955, vallo.mulk [ät]

Category: University
Mari-Liis Pintson (pintson)

Survey among UT international students: 97% would recommend UT for studies

1 month ago

The Marketing Office of the University of Tartu conducted a survey among international degree students in summer 2017. The purpose of the survey was to help understand how current international students made their decision to come to study in Estonia.

Total number of respondents was 176, 84% of whom were master’s and 16% bachelor’s students.

Most of the respondents came from Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Finland, USA, Nigeria, Germany, Latvia or Azerbaijan. 

Applying to the University of Tartu

98% of students said that they had no problems with the application system (DreamApply).

The most important reasons for choosing the University of Tartu:

·         Suitable study programme
·         High-quality education of UT
·         Scholarships
·         High ranking of UT
·         Affordable living costs and/or tuition fee
·         UT staff is very helpful
·         Dorm place was ensured

Students thought that the following reasons were the least important when choosing UT:

·         They weren’t admitted to their first choice university.
·         Estonia is close to home.

“Professor Marlon Dumas without a doubt. I would say tuition-waiver scholarship was also a big factor in all honesty. I cannot put one above the other. If one of the two were missing I most probably wouldn’t have come to the University of Tartu.”

Biggest obstacles students had to overcome before choosing UT

Issues that were brought out also included visa problems and distance from family. 8 students said that they had no issues.

Coming to UT

101 students out of 176 said that UT was very welcoming and everything was good.

“The information that was provided by UT is so helpful and very welcoming people in Estonia. Beyond my expectation. :)”

Students suggested to improve the integration between international and Estonian students, tutor programme and give more info about dorms, health care system, extra-curricular activities and different courses.

Financing studies

72% students have received the tuition waiver scholarship, 6% another scholarship to cover the tuition fee and 22% are paying the tuition fee.

How do you finance your studies and/or living costs?

Average monthly living costs (incl. rent) are approximately 301-400 EUR (37%), 24% of students spend less than 300 EUR and only 9% over 600 EUR. Most of the students live in a dorm (72%).

54% of the students who live in an apartment said that it was easy for them to find it. Problems encountered while looking for an apartment were language barrier, high prices and landlords preferring Estonians.



Are you currently working?

Those students who are looking for a job said that the main obstacle has been Estonian language, followed by the lack of part-time jobs and nothing interesting being available.

41% of students would like to stay in Estonia after graduation to work, 8% would like to continue studying in here, 33% hadn’t decided and 18% would not stay. Students who would like to leave wish to return to their home country (39%), move abroad (26%) and 13% said that they do not believe that they will find a job in Estonia and therefore have decided to leave. Other reasons for leaving included low salaries in Estonia, studying abroad and conditions set by the scholarship the student had received (requires moving back to home country).

Living in Estonia

93% of students feel safe or very safe in Estonia, 6% were neutral and only 1% feels unsafe. Nobody felt very unsafe; however, some students mentioned that they have felt discrimination.

The biggest problems that the students currently have are the closed main library and the lack of job opportunities available to students. They would also like the university to offer cheaper options to do sports.

Satisfaction with studies at UT

86% of students said their study programme has met their expectations. Those who weren’t happy said that:

·         Some courses were not well-organised and/or pointless for them.

·         Lecturers did not speak good enough English.

·         There was a limited choice of core courses.

·         Workload between semesters was not equal.

·         More practical work is needed.

98% of students said that they are happy with the University of Tartu in general. 2% of students brought out that the library has been closed for a long time, the university is too laid-back and the programme quality has not met their expectations.

Lastly, we asked students whether they would recommend UT for studies. 97% said yes.


Contact: Eveli Soo, Head of International Marketing, +372 532 4831, eveli.soo [ät]

Category: AdmissionContinuing CoursesInternational
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

University of Tartu sports hall wins EOC recognition

1 month 1 week ago

Estonian Olympic Committee recognises eighteen regional multifunctional sports centres, which stand out for their high-quality infrastructure and offer services and conditions that enable to promote youth and amateur sports in the region.

Member of the executive committee of the Estonian Olympic Committee, chair of the sports infrastructure board Riho Terras said that regional sports centres make a great contribution to shaping Estonians’ exercise habits. “There are many sports centres in Estonia that are daily committed to the goal of offering convenient and safe conditions for people to exercise and do sports. This way people are more engaged in physical activity and new top athletes can emerge in Estonia. By the EOC recognition plaque we want to inform everyone that we have noticed the work the regional sports centres do and that we value their contribution to achieve a stronger, healthier and more athletic Estonia,” said Terras.

EOC selected the centres based on the proposals of the county sports federations. In total, eighteen sports facilities were selected, 1–2 from each county. From Tartu County, the University of Tartu Sports Hall was awarded. All the eighteen multifunctional regional centres receive a plaque that reads “Sports centre recognised by Estonian Olympic Committee”. The centres are allowed to place the EOC recognition plaque on their façade and use it for ten years. EOC sports infrastructure committee will review the list of recognised sports centres in autumn 2019.

Additional information: Raigo Häelme, UT Academic Sports Centre, Head of Marketing and Communication, +372 5344 5686, raigo.haelme [ät]


Category: University
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Postimees names UT lead researcher Asko Lõhmus Person of the Year 2017

1 month 1 week ago

The daily newspaper Postimees has recognised lead research fellow in conservation biology of the University of Tartu Asko Lõhmus with the title “Person of the Year 2017”.

“Lõhmus has led the forest ecology and logging discussion in a balanced and well-argued manner, and thereby significantly contributed to the nature conservation debate in Estonia,” Postimees editor-in-chief Lauri Hussar explained the choice of the staff.

Protection of the ecological integrity of the natural environment has been Asko Lõhmus’ main academic and also community activity for years. In an interview to Postimees, Lõhmus said that when we speak of the nature, we are also speaking of the society. “Human impact on the natural environment is so great. If once man lived separately from nature, today every forest depends on someone’s decision. Someone has decided to either keep it, manage it or cut it down,” said Lõhmus.

Postimees asked Asko Lõhmus how much courage it takes to intervene in a debate in which there is so much confusion. “I think a city person is as afraid to go into the forest as a forest person is to come to the ‘human forest’. But for a good cause, you’ll find the courage,” said Lõhmus.

Postimees has given the award of the Person of the Year since 1997. The last time a UT staff member was named the Person of the Year was in 2013 when the title was given to Mart Noorma, project manager of the Estonian students’ satellite EstCube-1. Noorma led the process that resulted in launching Estonia’s first satellite into space.

Asko Lõhmus also received another recognition this week: the Estonian Council of Environmental NGOs gave the Green Award of the Year 2017 to Asko Lõhmus and Raul Rosenvald, senior research fellow of silviculture of the Estonian University of Life Sciences, for their contribution to bringing scientific argumentation into the public debate on forest and forestry issues.

Category: University
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

UT researchers receive prestigious grant to research the causes of a common skin disorder

1 month 1 week ago

The Danish LEO Foundation supports researchers of the University of Tartu with 220,000 euros to conduct laboratory studies to discover the causes of atopic dermatitis, a frequent skin disorder.

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease, which in many cases is of allergic character, but the causes of which are not exactly known. Researchers participating in the project want to study how the early molecular events in atopic dermatitis are influenced by the specific small RNA molecules, known as microRNAs.

To determine the potential of microRNAs for pharmaceutical development, the researchers plan to use ‘courier’ peptides that enable to transport molecules of different sizes into the cells.

“The skin is a very efficient biological barrier and so far, researchers’ attempts to deliver therapeutic proteins and nucleic acids through the skin have given poor results,” said the project leader, UT senior researcher Ana Rebane. “In the case of atopic dermatitis the skin barrier is significantly damaged and therefore we assume that with the help of certain courier peptides it is possible to deliver the therapeutic microRNAs into the skin lesion,” she adds.

Other participants in the cooperation-based project are Professor Külli Kingo, Head of the Dermatology Clinic of Tartu University Hospital, Professor Margus Pooga and Professor Ülo Langel of the UT Institute of Technology, and external partners Professor Stephan Weidinger from Kiel University and Professor Jesper Wengel from the University of Southern Denmark.

LEO Foundation is the owner and developer the Danish pharmaceutical company LEO Pharma, founded more than 100 years ago. To ensure the research-based nature of the company and the development of dermatology, the foundation has supported skin diseases research all over the world for several decades already. This is the first time Estonian researchers have received a LEO Foundation grant.

Additional information: Ana Rebane, UT Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, Senior Research Fellow in RNA Biology, 737 4419, ana.rebane [ät]

Category: Research
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Tõnu Lehtsaar is acting rector of the University of Tartu

1 month 2 weeks ago

At the extraordinary senate session on 27 December, the senate of the University of Tartu unanimously appointed professor Tõnu Lehtsaar as the acting rector.

In his speech to the senate, Lehtsaar said that his primary goal as the university’s acting rector is to maintain stability and find a new rector. “We will keep the university going. I asked members of the Rector’s Office at the meeting this morning if they were willing to continue in their office. I didn’t expect them to answer right away, but they confirmed that we will go forward together,” he said.     

Tõnu Lehtsaar assumed office as acting rector on 27 December for a term of maximum one year but no longer than until 23 December 2018.

The university council will decide the time and procedure of rector elections.


Category: Continuing CoursesUniversity
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

IN MEMORIAM. Professor Volli Kalm, Rector of the University of Tartu (10 February 1953 – 23 December 2017)

1 month 3 weeks ago

Professor Volli Kalm, Rector of the University of Tartu (10 February 1953 – 23 December 2017)

On Saturday, 23 December, bright Christmas lights adorning the white columns of the University of Tartu main building went out. A candle with a black ribbon tied around it was lit under the clock in the foyer of the main building. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the University has lost its dignified leader, Estonian science and higher education its bold and wise spokesman, and Estonian nation its nationally-inclined intellectual of international stature – Rector Professor Volli Kalm.

Volli Kalm was born on 10 February 1953 in Vändra. After finishing secondary school in Vändra, he enrolled in the University of Tartu from which he graduated with a diploma in geology in 1976. He then did his graduate studies at the Institute of Geology of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. In 1984, he obtained his doctorate in geology and joined the staff of the University of Tartu as a lecturer at the Institute of Geology of the Faculty of Biology and Geography. In 1988, he spent a period at the University of Alberta as a postdoctoral scholar. He was elected professor of applied geology at the University of Tartu in 1992. Volli Kalm’s main fields of research were palaeoclimate, palaeogeography and chronology of glaciations, sedimentology and geoarchaeology.

Between 1998 and 2003, he served as Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu. In 2012, he was elected Rector of the University of Tartu. In summer 2017, when beginning his second term of office as the Rector, he could note with satisfaction that the University of Tartu has strengthened its position as Estonia’s national university and international research university, has achieved better integration of teaching and research activities with entrepreneurship training, and increased interdisciplinary cooperation. Under Volli Kalm’s leadership, the University of Tartu improved its position in international rankings by 200 places. He was far from ascribing this honour to himself alone; rather, he emphasised that the University’s success is the result of the dedicated work by all its employees and wise decisions made in the past.

Volli Kalm attached great importance to developing the University’s international links and raising its international profile. Under his leadership, the University of Tartu became a member of the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities at its public launch in November 2016. In June this year, he was elected Treasurer and Member of the Board. He was confident that partnering up with the world’s top universities will enable the University of Tartu to participate in the shaping of Europe’s research policy. In their tributes, rectors and presidents of The Guild’s member universities hail him as a visionary leader for the network of Europe’s best research universities. In November this year Volli Kalm received an honorary doctorate from Tbilisi State University, Georgia.

He regarded the University of Tartu’s mission to serve its nation with the equal sense of responsibility. “Climbing higher in international university rankings cannot be the sole development goal of this University, since as a national university we have been entrusted with tasks much broader than those taken into account in the rankings, for example the development of Estonian-language higher education and scientific terminology, advancing Estonian national sciences and culture, and rearing new generations of Estonian intellectuals,” Kalm remarked in a recent interview to the cultural weekly Sirp.

During rector’s elections in spring, Volli Kalm was asked what he regards as his greatest achievement. This was his response: “The greatest achievement of my life are my sons and my contribution to the University leadership at its many different levels. My greatest research achievement is determining the temporal and spatial extent of glaciations in north-eastern Europe along with the related climate cycles, as well as supervising seven defended doctoral theses.”

As a leader, Volli Kalm was demanding and straightforward. Always a visionary with long-time goals, he undertook some sweeping reforms and planned far-reaching changes. Volli Kalm contributed to the reorganization of Estonia’s research funding system. He helped to establish the Estonian Research Council and served as its first chair. In his position as the Rector, he steered to completion the long-planned governance and structural reform of the University. His opinions carried a lot of weight with the Universitas Estonia (Estonian Rectors’ Conference). His contribution was highly valued in various advisory and decision-making bodies of Estonia.

Under his direction, the University has redesigned its curricula and become the largest development partner to businesses and public sector in the Baltics. He also fought for the consolidation of Estonian research institutions – a process set to receive a new impetus with the merger of Tartu Observatory and Estonian Biocenter with the University of Tartu, scheduled for the nearest future.

Being himself the son of a teacher, he attached great importance to teacher education. Every spring, when handing out diplomas to graduates, he never failed to emphasise the importance of the role of future schoolteachers. Each year, Volli Kalm’s personal donation helps to support the studies of one student training to become a teacher.

He regarded introducing a new academic career model to be one of the most important tasks of his second term of office. This process was ushered in with the adoption of new job descriptions of academic employees in December. Another topic of concern, which was important to him, was ensuring a decent income for doctoral students and dignified old-age pensions for the meritorious employees of the University. One project that remained unfinished was the construction of the Delta building – the University of Tartu’s centre for IT and entrepreneurship education.

Rector Volli Kalm’s devotion, consistency, and work ethic were exemplary. “We will remember him as an honest and demanding man whose position was always clear, who had a straightforward manner of expression, and a thorough knowledge of and caring attention to all of the University’s faculties. He was someone you could rely on,“ recalls one of his colleagues. “Volli’s entire working life can be summarized in one sentence: Straight way is the shortest way between two points and this way was laid down with precision and vigour. However, in his moments of leisure that Volli shared with his students and colleagues – be it while climbing in the mountains or hiking in the bogs near his summer cottage –, he forgot all his straightforwardness,“ recalls another close colleague of the late Rector.

Volli is said to have got his name from her mother Leida’s favourite brother Voldemar, who was called „Volli“ at home. Uncle was deported to Siberia where he froze to death because he gave his overcoat to someone who seemed to be freezing even more than he did. Volli Kalm spoke of his uncle’s compassion with respect and admiration. There is something symbolic in the fact that Volli Kalm passed away on his uncle Voldemar’s 115th anniversary.

Volli Kalm’s life was cut unfairly short. However, he managed to achieve a lot in his lifetime, among other things to be a loving father and husband to his family. We feel a deep sense of gratitude for the great services Professor Kalm as a scientist and Rector rendered to the University and to Estonian higher education, science and society.

Volli Kalm’s funeral will take place on Saturday, 30 December at 11am in the University Assembly Hall. The doors of the Assembly Hall will be opened from 10.30am. The funeral service will be followed by the interment in the Raadi cemetery and commemorative meeting in the White Hall of the University History Museum. Commemorative messages can be written in a book of remembrance in the foyer of the University Main Building, this can also be done on the University web page at:

We bow our heads in grief and respect to mourn the passing or our Rector, and extend our condolences to his family and friends.

The University of Tartu

Category: University
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Announcement by the Rector's Office

1 month 3 weeks ago

The University of Tartu is in deep mourning. Our Rector Professor Volli Kalm passed away yesterday. This is a loss difficult to put into words.

The University’s staff, students, alumni, collaborators, friends and supporters are all feeling bereft. The goals set by the Rector are in place and the University is firm in its resolve to move forward in the chosen direction. We are grateful for what he has done for the University and for the Estonian higher education, science and society.

Today, on the morning of 24 December, the Rector’s Office of the University of Tartu gathered to commemorate the late Rector and to decide on further steps regarding the University’s leadership.

According to the University’s Statutes, the University's Senate will appoint the Acting Rector. The Senate will hold an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, 27 December at 10:15 am.

The Rector’s Office unanimously decided to propose the Senate to appoint Professor Tõnu Lehtsaar as the Acting Rector. Professor Lehtsaar, who currently serves as a counsellor-chaplain of the University of Tartu, has proved himself as a strong and level-headed academic leader, having also served as the Acting Rector in 2007. The Statutes prescribe that the Acting Rector can be appointed for up to one year. The decision on the announcement of the Rector's election will be made by the Council of the University of Tartu.

The funeral service will be held on Saturday, 30 December at 11 am in the University Assembly Hall.

You can leave your message of condolences in the book of condolences at the foyer of the University Main Building or electronically at the UT webpage.

Christmas is the time of the year to spend time with the ones you love and think about what is really important in life. We wish all the members of the University the peace of mind and fortitude!

The University of Tartu Rector’s  Office

Category: University
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Rector Volli Kalm passed away

1 month 4 weeks ago
This node is in trash23.12.2017

With great sorrow, the University of Tartu announces the unexpected death of Rector Volli Kalm on Saturday, December 23.

Volli Kalm was born on February 10, 1953 in Vändra. He graduated from the University of Tartu in 1976 with a degree in geology. In 1984, Kalm earned his PhD in geology from the Estonian Academy of Sciences after successfully defending his doctoral thesis "Formation, composition and usage of glaciofluvial deposits in Estonia."

From 1988-1989, he attended postdoctoral studies in the geology department of the University of Alberta.

From 1981 onwards, Kalm worked in the Department of Biology and Geography at the Institute of Geology at Tartu State University (later University of Tartu), and from 1998-2003, he served as the university's vice-rector for academic affairs.

In 2012, Kalm was elected rector of the University of Tartu; his second term as rector began on June 1, 2017.

Kalm was awarded the Order of the White Star, IV Class in 2005.

The deepest condolences of the entire university family go to the Rector's family. We bow our heads in grief. 

Volli Kalm (February 10, 1953 – December 23, 2017)


Category: University
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Kaleidoskoop winners announced at sTARTUp Day pitching marathon

2 months ago

On December 8, the sTARTUp Day international business festival was held in AHHAA science centre. On its four stages, one of which was UT IdeaLab pitching stage, business ideas were presented and teams competed. The event brought together a total of 2600 visitors.

On IdeaLab stage, 62 teams from Estonia and other countries presented their business ideas. Each had 2-3 minutes to explain their business idea to the audience, point out its novelty, users of the product and the amount of money needed by the team to develop the idea further. Seven competitions took place – Kaleidoskoop finals, the final round of STARTER programme, Prototron TOP 10, EstLat-Accelerate, Cocoon, Est-Fin Pitch Match Startup Wise Guys TOP 10 and sTARTUp Pitching.

Kaleidoskoop winner was Decomer Technology, who received tickets to the European Innovation Academy in Portugal as an award. Decomer Technology develops bioprotein-based bioplastics, which they currently use for packaging honey. Bioplastic dissolves in hot tea water and is not harmful to health, therefore it is an eco-friendly and convenient alternative to sugar. The University of Tartu prize went to the team Edible, who go to Oulu Polar Bear Pitching, where they have to pitch in an ice hole. Edible is a student company that produces edible and biodegradable eating utensils. Tartu City Government’s monetary prize was granted to the team Seniorship, who plans to offer traineeship and retraining opportunities for the elderly.

Four teams previously selected in Tallinn and two selected on the same day in Tartu (incl. Decomer Technology and Espuro, who also competed in Kaleidoskoop finals) made it to the final round of STARTER, which also culminated in presentation of awards. The international jury decided that the best STARTER team was Decomer Technology, who got an opportunity to pitch on sTARTUp Day main stage with five best teams, and tickets to the Arctic15 business festival.

“Before sTARTUp Day we were very excited and although we were quite confident, it was impossible to predict the jury’s decision in such a tough competition, so we held our breath until the announcement. Emotions were running high after winning the first prize, the possibility to participate in the EIA programme in Portugal is awesome and gives a great boost to our startup. The further victory and tickets to Arctic 15, as well as the opportunity to pitch on the main stage added to our enthusiasm and it was nice that our idea was successful with so many people,” said Mart Salumäe, co-founder of Decomer Technology.

According to IdeaLab manager Maret Ahonen, this was the largest ever pitching marathon in Tartu. “You do not have many possibilities in Estonia to present your business ideas to such a large international audience. Therefore, in a way, all who pitched were winners. Besides, there were so many interesting events during the day. sTARTUp Day was an excellent opportunity to exchange experiences and make new contacts,” said Ahonen.

STARTER programme is supported by the European Social Fund.

The EstLat-Accelerate project is supported by the Estonian-Latvian cross-border programme 20142020. The programme is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

Contact: Maret Ahonen, Manager of UT IdeaLab, 522 5910, maret.ahonen [ät]

Category: Entrepreneurship
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Merger agreement of Tartu Observatory and the University of Tartu signed

2 months 1 week ago

Minister of education and research Mailis Reps and rector of the University of Tartu Volli Kalm signed the merger agreement of Tartu Observatory and the University of Tartu today, on 13 December. Tõravere-based Tartu Observatory will operate as an institute in the Faculty of Science and Technology as of 1 January 2018.

Minister Mailis Reps said that the rearrangement of the network of research institutions helps to ensure the stability and quality of research and development activities. “Being a part of the university gives more stability and the merger means additional development opportunities in cooperation with other faculties and partners of the university,” said Reps.

Vice rector for research of the University of Tartu Kristjan Vassil said that the university and the observatory have always had common research projects and the merger of the two institutions will definitely contribute to substantive integration. “In the course of pre-merger preparations we have been assured that both parties will benefit from this cooperation,” said Vassil. 

“What the general public knows best is the student satellite project ESTCube, in which our students and researchers together with the observatory’s researchers successfully conducted Estonia’s first ever space mission for testing space technologies. Currently, ESTCube-2 is being prepared,” said Vassil and added that Tõravere is called the centre for Estonian space studies for a reason.

Director of Tartu Observatory Anu Reinart also pointed out other areas of activity besides astronomy and space technology. “A good example of close cooperation with the university is the so-called environmental observatory for remote sensing of vegetation, atmosphere, water bodies etc.,” Reinart explained, adding that the merger of the two institutions will offer numerous opportunities for better integration of research and studies. 

Reinart also mentioned business cooperation. “I believe that together with the University of Tartu, we can offer better opportunities for collaboration with Estonian enterprises in developing high-tech equipment. Tartu Observatory is steadily moving towards becoming the research and higher education centre in the area of remote sensing and space technology in the Nordic and Baltic region,” she said.

The merger is supported by the ASTRA programme.

Category: Continuing CoursesUniversityPress release
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

sTARTUp Day 2017 business festival starts in Tartu

2 months 1 week ago

On Thursday, the 7th of December, the biggest business festival in the Baltics takes off with over 2500 attendees from 27 countries.

The sTARTUp Day 2017 business festival is happening only for the 2nd time, but just as last year, the event has been sold out. The theme of this year’s event “From Zero To Hero” focuses on how to work oneself to the top with limited resources. During the opening day there will be numerous side-events around the city of Tartu: trainings and seminars on production, education, biotechnology, business and export topics.


On Friday, the 8th of December, the main festival day at Science Centre AHHAA takes place from morning until evening. Over 100 keynote speaker will step on the 4 stages of sTARTUp Day during the festival day. In addition, numerous seminars, training and pitching competitions will take place at the venue. As a big finale, the Best Early Stage Startup-up of Estonia will be announced on the main stage, who will receive investment and recognition as the most promising startup to watch.


The City of Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas is feeling proud that sTARTUp Day has emerged to be one of the business cards of Tartu as a top entrepreneurship centre, though having emerged just a year ago. “All development organisations work on the mutual goal of creating an attractive environment for businesses and start-ups in Tartu, enabling the innovative ideas to establish into successful business models. Our efforts are assured as 13 of the TOP 30 ideas of the TV program Ajujaht came from Tartu or Tartu county,” Klaas adds.


“The massive event that has sTARTUp Day become, started from just a modest idea by the University of Tartu of merging all the small events into one. Seeing the international success now, 2 years later, we can say that we succeeded,” Erik Puura, the Vice Rector for Development of the University of Tartu, is now certain.


sTARTUp Day 2017 is organized by the University of Tartu, City of Tartu and the local startup community. The festiva’ls Gold sponsor in Swedbank Estonia, Silver sponsors are Elisa and Pipedrive, Bronze sponsor Contriber. Project is supported by European Regional Development Fund.


More information, as well as the link to a live feed, can be found on the festival website.


Contact: Marelle Ellen, sTARTUp Day 2017 Head of Marketing & PR, +372 52 690 71, marelle.ellen [ät]

Category: EntrepreneurshipPress release
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Kaleidoskoop’s top 10 prepare for sTARTUp Day

2 months 2 weeks ago

On Thursday Nov 30, UT IdeaLab student project and business idea competition Kaleidoskoop took place. 43 teams partook in the competition and the top 10 were selected to the next round - Kaleidoskoop Finals at sTARTUp Day on the UT IdeaLab pitching stage.

This semester’s competition included ideas from a wide area of topics, a large number of which included apps or websites.

This semester’s TOP 10 are:

ANNY - A device, that helps disc golf players to locate lost discs quickly and therefore saves time, money and nerves.
Decomer Technology OÜ - Biodegradable bioprotein polymer films. The first product is water-soluble honey packages.
Edible - Cutlery that is edible and biodegradable.
Espuro - An air purifier, smart connected product, that not only purifies the air with reliable and latest technologies, but also adds humidity to the air.
IamDead - Website that organises your social medial profiles when you die.
Juice³ - We make natural cubed Juice concentrate.
Russó - Change everyday fashion for men by creating special bow ties and briefcases.
Seniorship - Seniorship is a web platform that offers internships for people aged 50+ and brings them together with companies.
SILK - A an app which collects information about sales from different clothing shops.
StartLegal - A chatbot that helps people to get access to legal help and receive legal advice.

“We are very excited to participate in the biggest business festival in Estonia, and are definitely looking forward to it!” said Hugo Palm, the creator of Juice³ after making it to the top 10. Another finalist, the founder of Decomer Technology OÜ Mart Salume, added that their team feels confident, but they understand that competition is tough and it’s not going to be an easy ride.

Out of the 43 teams that participated in Kaleidoskoop’s first round, 16 were teams of the STARTER program, based in Tartu, Pärnu and Narva. The best 10 teams will get to Kaleidoskoop finals at sTARTUp Day where they can pitch their ideas on the UT IdeaLab's pitching stage. There will we 3 major awards - ticket to European Innovation Academy, world’s largest extreme entrepreneurship program in Portugal, a chance to pitch in Polar Bear Pitching, an event held in Oulu which puts competitors in extreme contitions, in ice cold water, and a financial award from the city of Tartu.

“We are very happy that the first round of Kaleidoskoop has become an attractive event fro teams with different backgrounds. We had competitors from high schools, UT-s different courses as well as from out STARTER program, and the ideas included both web solutions as well as physical products. The common nominator for the teams was the desire to show themselves, get feedback on the work they’ve done and the chance to present their idea at the international sTARTUp Day,” said Maret Ahnonen, Manager of UT IdeaLab.

Kaleidoskoop is the last event in the autumn semester’s program and Idealab is now ready to prepare for spring 2018. Right before Estonia’s 100th birthday, on February 22th, an inspiration event called „Idea Storm: 100 ideas, that will change the world“ is once again held. Dozens of experienced mentors are expected to join close to 300 participants to discuss finding solutions to problematic situations in many areas. The groups created, along with their ideas, are given the chance to grow through the STARTER Basic program in spring.  

For students, Idealab is hosting the Student Startup Camp in collaboration with Garage48. The camp will be held during the winter break in early February and has previously brought over 100 students together, all with the goal to develop an idea to a prototype in just five days.

The STARTER programme and Kaleidoskoop are supported by the European Social Fund.

Contact: Maret Ahonen, Manager of UT IdeaLab, +372 522 5910, maret.ahonen [ät]

Category: Entrepreneurship
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

University of Tartu is celebrating 98th birthday of Estonian-language university

2 months 2 weeks ago

Friday, December 1 2017 marks the 98th birthday of the Estonia’s national university in Tartu. To celebrate the event, several events take place during the week-long celebrations – honorary doctorates and doctorates are conferred, the University’s honorary member named and the laurate of The University of Tartu Award for Contribution to Estonian National Identity named.

The celebrations started at the Pärnu college on Tuesday Nov 28. In Tartu, the events start a day later, on Wednesday Nov 29. The varied program includes a suitable event for all UT students, alumni as well as the general public.

The Rector of the University Volli Kalm emphasizes the importance of the national university in his address: “The country and society of Estonia lives in the wait of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, just as the University of Tartu prepares for the 100th birthday of the Estonian university, higher education and clerisy. For a small nation, a national university and own-language higher education is a great privilege. The entire university feels the opportunities and responsibilities this privilege includes. We call upon all Estonians and our charitable partners to support the national university’s mission.” In the preparation for the 100th anniversary celebrations, all can contribute to the cause through fundraising campaigns, among others means.

In the formal ceremony of the birthday of the national university, 5 honorary doctorates and 141 PhD degrees defended within the previous year are conferred. The title of the honorary doctor of the University of Tartu is conferred upon Mihály Hoppál, the Doctor of Science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Honorary Doctor in Folkloristics and Semiotics), Salme Näsi, Professor of the University of Tampere (Honorary Doctor in Economics), Kauko Antti Markku Kaste, Professor Emeritus of the University of Helsinki (Honorary Doctor in Neurology), Eske Willerslev, Professor of the University of Copenhagen (Honorary Doctor in National Sciences) and Vladimir Veksler, Professor of the Paris-Sud University (Honorary Doctor in Pharmacology). The recipient of the UT Contribution to Estonian National Identity award will be announced. This award is granted to recognize individuals who in their creative pursuits have shown outstanding achievements in promoting the national cultural identity of Estonia. The academic lecture “National University in the Digital Society” will be given by Marju Lauristin, the Professor of Social Communication. The ceremony can be viewed on the UTTV website.

This year’s 98th anniversary marks the birth of the Estonian-language University of Tartu in 1919, and is celebrated in three cities – Tartu, Pärnu and Viljandi. The programme includes public lectures, opening of a photo exhibition, the traditional torchlight procession dating back to the first Republic, as well as a ball.

The entire program can be viewed on the University website.

Contact: Kady Sõstar, Senior Specialist of the International Cooperation Unit, 737 5685, kady.sostar [ät]

Category: University
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)
15 minutes 38 seconds ago
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