School of Science dissertation awards 2018


The doctoral dissertation awards 2018 were presented 9 March at the traditional Get-together for doctoral candidates.

The awards were presented by professor Tapio Lokki and Dean Jouko Lampinen.

The Doctoral Programme Committee of the School of Science proposed the winners based on proposals from each department and the Dean decided the award recipients.

'The awardees were selected on the basis of the statements given by pre-examiners and opponents. The altogether 76 dissertations in the School of Science in 2017 were of high quality across the board, and the majority of them received accolades and praise in the statements,' says Doctoral Programme Committee Chair, Professor Tapio Lokki.

The most meritorious top ten percent of the dissertations were awarded this year and the core criteria for the awards were academic quality, impact and originality.

The doctoral dissertation award 2018 at the School of Science

Individual commentaries are drawn from the Dean's introductions and statements made of each awardee's work.

Lari Koponen (NBE)

Implementing advanced transcranial magnetic stimulation technology

'Lari Koponen developed methodology for transcranial magnetic stimulation.  He solved the previously unsolved problem of minimum-energy TMS coil design. His multi-coil techniques allow electronic targeting of the magnetic stimuli. He also developed a way to measure microsecond-scale neuronal membrane kinetics noninvasively from humans. Lari’s results will soon lead to closed-loop stimulation: algorithms will decide in fractions of a second what spot of the brain should be stimulated next, depending on feedback signals. This is expected to lead to new possibilities in neuroscience and a breakthrough in clinical diagnostics and therapy.

Professor Stefan Goetz from the best American TMS-technology laboratory, at Duke University, wrote as opponent’s final statement: "Mr. Koponen's work is highly innovative and will permanently shape the field of noninvasive brain stimulation through the technologies he conceived and created."

The pre-examiners were similarly impressed. Prof. Jens Haueisen: "I can only congratulate the candidate … for this enormous amount of accomplished work, which I find of exceptional quality.”'


Orestis Kostakis (CS)

Advances in Analysing Temporal Data

'The dissertation of Dr. Orestis Kostakis is on the topic of analyzing temporal data. It goes beyond traditional time-series data and considers more complex data types, which are abound in the modern Big Data era.

The impact of the dissertation is supported by applications in areas such as American sign language processing, sports analytics, and data security. In particular, the algorithms in the dissertation have been tested in a deployed system running in the premises of a world-leading Data Security corporation.

The results presented in the dissertation have both solid foundations and practical applicability. The dissertation is not only a step ahead in the analysis of temporal data, but also, and perhaps more importantly, it opens new directions for future research.'


Ville Liljeström (PHYS)

Electrostatic Self-Assembly - From Proteins, Viruses, and Nanoparticles to Functional Materials

'In his PhD studies, Ville focused on the self-assembly of biological and synthetic nanoparticles. His research has open new ways to pack viruses into crystalline form, which can be utilized for example in vaccine development or to develop optical polarizers. (...) Ville has shown to be highly capable of crossing the disciplinary boundaries between physics, chemistry, biochemistry and materials science. He has a systematic and through approach to science, which has allowed him to obtain relevant results and analyse them in coherent manner. The results of his studies have been published in the top ranked international journals, including first author publications for example in Nature Communications and ACS Nano.'



Yu Liu (DIEM)

Antecedents and Outcomes of Partnering Abroad with Local Firms: Evidence from Cross-border Venture Capital

'The doctoral dissertation of Yu Liu focuses on when firms can benefit from partnering with local firms when entering foreign markets. The dissertation contributes to the research on international entrepreneurship and cross-border venture capital. The new knowledge created in the doctoral dissertation has practical value for entrepreneurial firms and venture capitalists developing partnering strategies when entering foreign markets and for policy makers developing the functioning of international risk capital markets. Findings of the dissertation have so far been published in Academy of Management Journal, the leading journal focused on empirical management research. Following the graduation at Aalto University, Dr. Yu Liu was appointed as Assistant Professor of Strategic Entrepreneurship in the Department of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, one of the leading European universities in entrepreneurship and strategy research.'


Ilya Nikolaevskiy (CS)

Scalability and Resiliency of Static Routing

'The presented dissertation concentrates on the investigation of Scalability and Resiliency of Static Routing and correspondent implications of its optimization. The dissertation presents a deep assessment and investigation of the class of static routing algorithms from two the most crucial performance characteristics namely scalability and resiliency. Being simple, yet efficient, static routing algorithms are not yet fully investigated and the limits of their applicability are not fully understood. The topic of the thesis is up-to-date and under investigation by the worldwide research community. The presented achievements are mostly of theoretical flavor with large practical potentials and targeted over development of algorithms and models. Within some feasible time the developments presented in the dissertation, will appear in real networks.'



Natalie Segercrantz (PHYS)

Optoelectronic properties of III-V compounds and alloys

'Dr. Natalie Segercrantz made her doctoral thesis, consisting of 6 peer-reviewed articles (4 in Applied Physics Letters, 1 in Physical Review B and 1 in Journal of Applied Physics), in less than 4 years. The quality and innovativeness of her work are on the highest level, as pointed out by the pre-examiners and the opponent who all represent different fields: experimental semiconductor physics, electronic device fabrication and computational materials theory. Overall, Dr. Segercrantz’s work during her thesis resulted in more than 12 peer-reviewed papers, and they are already highly cited taking into account the typical citation numbers and immediacy indices.

Two very important aspects in Dr. Segercrantz’s work should be pointed out. First, she performed state-of-the-art experiments AND theoretical calculations by herself in her thesis, in addition to developing experimental approaches. Second, she organized (again by herself, including funding) a 9-month research visit to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (USA). This visit resulted in 4 papers (2 with her as first author are in her thesis) that she wrote together with the scientists in the US, without her supervisor demonstrating the high level of independence that she has. After graduating from Aalto University she has started her post-doctoral career at the Walther Meissner Institute, Munich, Germany.'


Konstantin Tiurev (PHYS)
Quantum Knots and Monopoles

'The thesis of Dr. Konstantin Tiurev reports observations of quantum-mechanical monopoles and quantum knots through publications in high-impact journals such as Science and Nature Physics. Quantum knots and monopoles are fundamental topological structures which have not been previously observed in any quantum field. However, they are theoretically predicted to exist in various different contexts such as in the magnetic monopole particle. Thus the results of Dr. Tiurev's thesis will have an exceptionally long-lasting fundamental impact on science.'


Emanuele Ventura (MS)

Geometry of Real Tensors and Phylogenetics

'Ventura's thesis was on how to apply the most pure part of mathematics, algebraic geometry. He proved several difficult results improving on some questions stated centuries ago using the most contemporary tools. Together with Michalek he proved a conjecture by Sturmfels at UC Berkeley, which was motivated by putting an heuristic by the Pachter computational genomics group at Caltech on a firm basis.'



Photos from the get-together: