Toomas Asser and Margit Sutrop run for rector of the University of Tartu

1 day 15 hours ago

On 15 March, the commission formed for the University of Tartu (UT) rector elections registered Professor Toomas Asser and Professor Margit Sutrop as rector candidates.

Professor Toomas Asser was submitted as a candidate by the councils of the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Science and Technology. Professor Margit Sutrop was set up as a candidate by the councils of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science and Technology.

Chair of the election commission, UT Professor of Molecular Plant Biology Hannes Kollist was pleased that the faculties had nominated two renowned professors with extensive management experience as rector candidates. “The candidates can now start to present their election platform to university members,” he added.

Toomas Asser is UT Professor of Neurosurgery, Head of Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, member of the UT council and member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. Professor Margit Sutrop is UT Professor of Practical Philosophy, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Head of the Centre for Ethics, member of the Rector’s Office and member of Academia Europaea.

The rector candidates’ public debate is held in the UT assembly hall on 5 April at 16:15. The council and the senate of the university assume a position regarding the candidates on 9 April.

The election meeting takes place on 26 April at 12:00 in the university assembly hall.

The term of office of the new UT rector starts on 1 August 2018. Until that date, Professor Tõnu Lehtsaar is the acting rector.


Additional information: Hannes Kollist, Chair of Election Commission, 5647 0471, hannes.kollist [ät]

Mari-Liis Pintson Press Officer Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5866 8677 E-mail: mari-liis.pintson [ät]


Category: University
Mari-Liis Pintson (pintson)

Mother Language Day conference “The Language of this Land” on 12 March

1 week 1 day ago

The conference takes place in the University of Tartu main building on 12 March and aims to draw everyone’s attention to the appreciation of the native languages of all people.

The conference is not focused solely on the Estonian language, but the mother languages of all people living in Estonia. At the conference, participants discuss role of the Estonian language in the past and the future, and reflect on the topic of language more generally.

The speakers at the conference include professor Martin Ehala, associate professor emerita Reet Kasik and senior research fellow Tiit Hennoste. Participants are welcome to take part in interesting workshops.

See the schedule and register for workshops on the conference website.

Presentations will be interpreted to English.

Additional information:
Liis Saar
Development and Communication Manager, Faculty of Arts and Humanities
737 6148
liis.saar [ät]

Category: University
Mari-Liis Pintson (pintson)

University of Tartu represented with five new subjects in QS subject rankings

1 week 3 days ago

At the end of February, the prominent QS World University Rankings published its World University Rankings by Subjects 2018, covering 48 subjects. This year 18 subjects taught at the University of Tartu are represented in the rankings, five more than last year.

To compile the rankings, the international consulting company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) gathers information on 4000 universities all over the world and ranks just a small part of them. The new subjects of the University of Tartu that made it to the rankings are law (251–300), geography (151–200), politics and international studies (151–200), sociology (201–250) and history (151–200). Most of the new entries of the University of Tartu are subjects taught at the Faculty of Social Sciences – three new places in the rankings.

“Skytte Institute has become much more internationalised, especially in recent years, with 25% of our employees coming from other countries and three of four master’s curricula being taught in English. As a result, we have developed an environment in which studies and research in Estonian and English are well combined. Therefore, we are successful in finding foreign funding. But besides the funding, we also consider it important that young Estonian researchers return to Tartu to ensure we have the new generation of researchers in the speciality. All in all, it is an excellent recognition to all our people,” said acting director of J. Skytte Institute of Political Studies Mihkel Solvak, who is in charge of political science and international studies, the highest-ranking subject in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

“It is a pleasant recognition although a place in the rankings is not usually the goal of our work,” said Leho Ainsaar, director of the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, about the ranking of geography. “One of the main strengths of research and studies at our institute is interdisciplinarity. Our subject perfectly combines in itself environmental sciences, physical natural sciences, social sciences and information technology. I would definitely like to point out the invaluable contribution of our late professor Rein Ahas to making our geography so visible in the world.”

This year QS made a separate ranking in history; earlier it was for history and archaeology. Head of the UT Institute of History and Archaeology Anti Selart finds it encouraging that QS has recognised the University of Tartu equally in both subjects (151–200). “Naturally, it is wonderful news and an encouraging recognition to the entire staff of the institute. We are pleased that the University of Tartu has, against all odds, developed a modern scientific potential in this speciality and that our work and activities have also been noticed outside our university and Estonia,” said Selart.

The University of Tartu was ranked in the following subject rankings this year (place is shown in brackets): archaeology (151–200), English language and literature (201–250), history (151–200), semiotics (101–150), modern languages (251–300), philosophy (101–150), computer science and information systems (351–400), agriculture and forestry (151–200), biological sciences (301–350), medicine (301–350), pharmacy and pharmacology (251–300), chemistry (401–450), geography (151–200), physics and astronomy (451–500), communication and media studies (151–200), law (251–300), politics and international studies (151–200) and sociology (201–250).

This year, Harvard University received again most of the first places in the subject rankings, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranked the second. Rankings are available on QS World University Rankings website.


Additional information: Lauri Randveer, UT Senior Specialist for International Cooperation, 737 5510, lauri.randveer [ät]

Category: University
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

ADAPTER now mediates 12 institutions’ R&D services to entrepreneurs

1 week 3 days ago

In February, the ADAPTER network signed contracts with two new institutions: Bio CC and Estonian Business School (EBS) joined the list of partners who connect research and business. Through the ADAPTER platform, enterprises can now contact 12 partners who provide research and development services.

“I am very pleased to welcome BioCC and EBS to the ADAPTER network. Each new partner also increases our capacity to offer research solutions tailored specifically for the needs of enterprises operating in various areas of activity,” said the ADAPTER project manager Siim Kinnas.

BioCC LLC carries out research and development and provides services encompassing the whole value chain, from breeding, feeding and keeping animals to creating health-promoting products and doing clinical trials to prove the health-promoting qualities of the products.

BioCC LLC applies innovative biotechnological solutions in research and development to create innovative feed additives, food products and dietary supplements. For better results, BioCC’s and international microbiological, biochemical, genetic, metabolomic, genomic, bioinformatic, physiological and clinical know-how is integrated.

Estonian Business School, founded in 1988 and currently operating in Tallinn and Helsinki, is the oldest business education institution in the Baltic countries. With more than 1500 students, EBS’s goal is to provide enterprising people with academic knowledge at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level, and promote their skills for successful application of the knowledge.

The ADAPTER cooperation network operates under the leadership of the University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology with the goal of bringing entrepreneurs and researchers together quickly and easily. With just one click, ADAPTER enables to contact any of the Estonian research and development institutions in the network, find a necessary service among the ones they provide, and find information about funding measures for enterprises.

View a video clip introducing ADAPTER on Youtube.


Additional information: Siim Kinnas, ADAPTER Project Manager, 520 4864, siim.kinnas [ät]

Category: Entrepreneurship
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

UT IdeaLab Unleashed an Idea Storm in Kyiv

1 week 4 days ago

On February 27 IdeaLab and Ukrainian partners initiated inspiration event Idea Storm in Kyiv. More than 100 students from different universities gathered around idea tables to generate world changing ideas.

Idea Storm in Kiev was a kick-off event of the programme Yep!STARTER that aims to transfer best practice of Estonian entrepreneurship studies to Ukrainian universities and improve students’ skills and knowledge.

Motivation speakers and table facilitators were local start-up founders and among others Andriy Bondarenko, who started his first start-up at IdeaLab STARTER programme when being the student at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration. Today Andriy and his course mates from UT BBA programme Nikita Gorskih and Kostiantyn Turchak are cofounders of Move on Miles, a successful company in Ukraine that helps talented IT developers to start their career at Google and IMB.

Idea Storm Kyiv had fifteen idea tables and most popular was the table where participants searched solutions to the question “How to create a strong student community?” Similar enthusiasm was on the faces of the people generating ideas for creating crowdsourcing platform for small sized businesses in Ukraine. Daria Chornomorets, the student at Idea Storm said she liked to be pushed out of comfort zone and was happy about the opportunity to talk to students from other universities in Kiev. “Hundreds of thoughts were literally whirling in my mind. I think that Yep!STARTER will help participants to launch their project ideas or to get into the world of start-ups “, she said.

Semester long business idea development programme Yep!STARTER will end with a competition in May and the best teams will have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas at International business festival sTARTUp Day 2019.

According to IdeaLab Manager Maret Ahonen Idea Storm in Kiev and the Yep!STARTER programme is designed on the best practice of running pre-incubation programme STARTER in Estonia and meet the needs of Ukrainian universities. “I am so happy we can share our experience in Kiev, because at IdeaLab we have noticed extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit of students coming from Ukraine and now we can provide similar programme at their home country. The enthusiasm at beginning makes me believe that students turn their ideas into life. Together with mentors and experts we give them all the support they need “, said Maret Ahonen.

University of Tartu IdeaLab together with Ukrainian partner NGO “Platform of Innovative Partnership “, provides hands-on entrepreneurship training to the Network of universities including four Project partners: Kyiv National Economic University, Taras Schevchenko National University of Kyiv, National Aviation University and Donetsk National Technical University.

The collaborative project is financed by the Republic of Estonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs Developing Cooperation funds and Humanitarian Aid Funds. Project is implemented until May 2019.

Additional information: Maret Ahonen, UT IdeaLab Manager, (+372) 52 25910, maret.ahonen [ät]

Category: Entrepreneurship
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Professor Lisheng Dong discusses in his inaugural lecture what went wrong in housing reform in China

1 week 5 days ago

On Monday, 5 March at 16:15, University of Tartu Professor of Asian politics Lisheng Dong will deliver an inaugural lecture “Housing Reform in China: Rational interests gone wrong or organizational design failure?”. The lecture is in English.

At the end of the 20th century, China’s housing policy went through a radical shift: first, a focus on provision of social housing, partly through state institutions like state-owned enterprises; second, a gradual opening of a commercial housing market; and third, an emphasis on the market aspects of housing, with social housing being very much pressured and decreasing in importance. Fourth, since 2012 the new policy is increasingly focused on social inclusion rather than merely on economic growth.

Observers have noted that the third phase was marked by ambiguity. The reform also had a number of adverse outcomes. Above all, it reflected in an increase in housing prices which is why they became unaffordable for the poor.

What accounts for these challenges and tensions in the housing policy? Two broad frameworks of analysis can be deployed to explore this question: a rational interests perspective and an organisational design or ‘instrumental-structural’ perspective.

The first approach gives a good account of the dominant role of powerful interests, ‘short-termism’ and neglect by decision-makers of key social groups. The second approach fills in some gaps in this account by showing how structural features in central-local relations and ineffecient mechanisms of policy coordination and control also contributed to the outcomes. Structural and financial reforms are needed to help correct the policy failures.

Lisheng Dong is Professor of Asian Politics at the University of Tartu Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, and Professor Emeritus of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. From June 2015 to May 2017, he was Marie Curie Professorial Fellow at the University of Glasgow, the United Kingdom. Professor Dong has published 20 books and 48 peer-reviewed articles, and contributed to 20 books. In 2012 he was co-recipient of the Pierre de Celles Award for outstanding achievements in the area of Public Administration. His latest monograph is titled “Public Administration Theories: Instrumental and Value Rationalities”.  He is the co-editor of “Urban Mobilization and the New Media in Contemporary China” and “China and the European Union”. He has published in Public Administration Review, American Review of Public Administration, International Public Management Journal, International Review of Administrative Sciences and Journal of Contemporary China.

Professor Dong’s work in Tartu is supported by the University of Tartu’s ASTRA project PER ASPERA, financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

A live webcast of his inaugural lecture will be available on UTTV.


Additional information: Lisheng Dong, University of Tartu Professor of Asian Politics, lisheng.dong [ät]

Mari-Liis Pintson

University of Tartu Press Officer

Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5866 8677 E-post: mari-liis.pintson [ät]


Category: University
Mari-Liis Pintson (pintson)

Participate in the “My Adventure Abroad” contest and share your experience

2 weeks 1 day ago

Until March 12, all students of the University of Tartu are invited to send in photos and videos from their time spent studying or interning abroad as part of our My Adventure Abroad contest.

The only requirement for the photo or video to be taken during an overseas study or interning experience, meaning short tourist trips do not count. The winner of the contest will be rewarded with an aerial adventure – a unique sightseeing flight over Tartu. The runner-up will receive University of Tartu memorabilia and souvenirs.

The photos and videos are to be submitted by uploading them to Be sure to add your name, e-mail address and the name of the institution where you spent your time abroad.

The University of Tartu offers students numerous opportunities to study and/or intern abroad. For more information, check our study abroad webpage.

By submitting an entry to this contest, you certify that you are the rightful owner of the materials. You also grant permission for UT to publish, disseminate and use the entry in one or many publications without monetary compensation and without a written agreement.

Contact: Jaanika Haljasmäe, UT Erasmus Student Exchange Coordinator, 737 5151, jaanika.haljasmae [ät]

Category: Studies
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

EstLat-Accelerate Starts Its Second Season

2 weeks 1 day ago

EstLat-Accelerate pre-acceleration program for Estonian and Latvian early-stage start-ups invites all new business owners to apply for its second season before March 11.

The program suits best early-stage startup projects, who need to validate their idea and test the team before diving into the process with full speed. EstLat-Accelerate consists of joint workshops both in Tartu and in Riga on topics such as business development, marketing, and pitching, followed by one-on-one mentoring speed sessions and meetings with a coach to monitor your process.

The co-founder of FoodyCheck the winning team of previous EstLat-Accelerate batch Mara Lasmane: “EstLat-Accelerate is a motivating pre-acceleration program that helped us develop FoodyCheck. Within the framework of the program, we met with many professional mentors, who helped with business strategy and prepare for final pitch presentation. Significant to mention that we got valuable contacts, including the ones that are specific to our industry. We definitely recommend it to other early-stage startups.”

Before the official beginning of the pre-acceleration program, there will be an open hackathon Garage Hardware&Arts in Tartu (March 2-4), which is not mandatory for the participants, but a good challenge to take on. The official start of the program is on March 23 in Riga, the program will last about two months and finish with two Demo days in Riga and Tartu in mid-May.

Registration and more information on the EstLat-Accelerate website.

The program is led by five partners: University of Tartu, TechHub Riga, Startin.LV, Garage48 and Baltic Innovation Agency. “EstLat-Accelerate” is supported by ERDF program ‘Interreg Estonia - Latvia 2014 – 2020’ and implemented under the European territorial cooperation goal of the cohesion policy and it supports cross-border cooperation. Program is co-funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Latvia.

Contact: Marge Seppo, Project Manager at UT Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, marge.seppo [ät]

This press release reflects the views of UT IdeaLab. The managing authority of the programme is not liable for how this information may be used.

Category: Entrepreneurship
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Teachers of Mandarin Chinese meet in Tartu

2 weeks 2 days ago

On 2-3 March, an international symposium on practical and methodological issues of teaching Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language will be held at the UT College of Foreign Languages and Cultures.

The symposium has two main topics: the impact of native linguistic patterns and cultural habits on teaching Chinese as a foreign language, and applying new practical methods in classroom teaching in order to advance the effectiveness of obtaining practical language skills. The main speakers and instructors in the symposium are Professor Chin-Chin Tseng from the National Taiwan Normal University and Professor Yea-Fen Chen from the Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, U.S.A. Among the speakers are also teachers of Mandarin Chinese from Estonian and Lithuanian universities and high schools.

The symposium is supported by the Taipei Mission in the Republic of Latvia who is a long term supporter of teaching Mandarin Chinese at the College. A co-organiser and supporter of the symposium is the UT Asian Centre.

Associate Professor Märt Läänemets, one of the initiators and main organisers of the symposium said that in recent years learning Chinese has gained popularity over the world, Estonia and the other Baltic countries being no exception. But the training of Chinese teachers has still plenty of room for development. “Although the governments and related institutions of both the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan offer training courses with scholarships to the local teachers, it is not a commodity we can use regularly. Therefore, to have such a practical symposium here to exchange experiences is a great step forward,” added Läänemets. According to him, it is especially important to keep advancing special training methods, and to create textbooks and teaching materials in the language of the target groups, for using English as mediator inevitably creates an additional filter in the learning process.

On both days, the conference starts at 10 am at Jakobi 2, room 114. Everyone interested is welcome to join. Within the program of the conference, at 5 pm on Friday, the 2nd of March, a poster exhibition Chinese and Mandarin Studies at the University of Tartu and a collection of ink paintings titled Sah-Sah by the Estonian artist Virge Loo will be opened at the College’s library (Lossi 3-213).

The conference program is available on the college’s website.  

Additional information: Kätlin Lehiste, Assistant to the Director of UT College of Foreign Languages and Cultures, 737 5358, katlin.lehiste [ät]
Mart Tšernjuk, UT’s Teacher of Chinese Language, mart.tsernjuk [ät]

Category: StudiesPress release
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

Hundreds of ideas generated at Idea Storm in honor of Estonia’s birthday

2 weeks 4 days ago

On 22nd of February the 4th Idea Storm brought a few hundred people together in Tartu generate a hundred new ideas.

The conversations in the event were led by 22 topic experts who helped young people to think innovative solutions to problems in table topic areas. „Space as a Service“ was selected the best idea of the evening – an idea to predict food demand with satellites and give the gathered data to farmers to meet the demand. It was created by the people discussing the topic “What is going to be the next "killer" app based on satellite data?“, led by Andrus Kurvits, Tartu Science Park leader.

Participant Sascia Assak from Tallinn Arte Gymnasium was very happy with her experience from this year: “Idea Storm was one of the most expected events because of the great emotion I got from it last year. Topics we had the opportunity to discuss about were all very interesting. What I liked the most is that there were so many interesting people together with whom you could network/change contacts with or just spend some great time together. Definitely recommend taking part in this amazing event. “

The “Tartu 2024 - For European Capital of Culture“ project’s core team Erni Kask and Kalle Paas were also heading a topic and were very satisfied with the feedback the event provided. “My table’s students from Russia, Ukraine and France all brought up so many great things about Tartu: museums, theatres, events, places where to eat and also clean air, a lot of greenery. They also said that Tartu’s problem is that it’s not well-known in the world. We have this great city that needs more marketing so that even more people from all around the world could come here,“ Kalle Paas said. He added that the ideas discussed at Idea Storm will definitely affect Tartu 2024 vision and some of them might make it to the candidate's book that will be completed this year.

More information about Idea Storm and all future IdeaLab events can be found on the IdeaLab website.

The Idea Storm event was funded by European Social Fund.

Contact: Riin Lisett Rei, UT IdeaLab marketing and communication manager, 737 4817, riin.lisett.rei [ät]

Category: Entrepreneurship
Maria Kristiina Prass (b14327)

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

1 month 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

1 month 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

1 month 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 month 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 month 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

1 month 1 week 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

1 month 2 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 4 weeks 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

2 months 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

2 months 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)
1 minute 57 seconds ago
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