Presently I hold an Academy Research Fellowship at the University of Helsinki. My project concentrates on analysing the role of ecological processes in affecting the interaction between environmental opportunistic pathogens (by these I mean organisms that live freely in the environment, but are able to infect host individuals upon contact) and their hosts. This work combines both theoretical analysis and microcosm experiments.

Previously, I worked as a post-doctoral fellow in a project lead by prof. Ilkka Hanski (
✝ 2016). This project concentrates on highlighting the role of the living environment on the development of atopic sensitisation in children. This work also includes analysis of the composition human microbiota and how this might relate to the regulation of the immune function. After prof. Hanski passed away, I have been in charge of this project.

After finnishing my PhD thesis and doing a short postdoc with Peter Abrams in Toronto, I started a project (postdoctoral research project, funded by the Academy of Finland) dealing with integrating spatial and temporal environmental variation in models of ecological communities. While my main research involved analysing stochastic community models, I also collaborated in research projects dealing with ecotoxicological consequences of heavy metals on chironomid communites and their bat predators, as well as testing and developing numerical methods for empirical community ecology.

My research interests include:

Community ecology
Interspecific interactions
Environmental stochasticity
– Disease ecology
– N
umerical ecology.

Past activities

2013–2015 Postdoctoral fellow in the Metapopulation Researcg Group with prof. Ilkka Hanski.

2011–2013 Postdoctoral research project funded by the Academy of Finland, considering the role of spatio-temporal environmental variation on the dynamics of metacommunities.

In 2010 I worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the university of Turku, Finland, in the project of prof. Kai Norrdahl dealing with the predictability of food web composition.

In 2009–2010 I worked at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of professors Peter Abrams & Brian Shuter, also collaborating with prof. Kevin McCann (U of Guelph). This work in Toronto dealt with food web models and the influence of climate change on spatially coupled food chains.

I did my PhD in the University of Helsinki, working in the Integrative Ecology Group, under the supervision of profs. Esa Ranta (✝ 2008) and Veijo Kaitala, and Dr. Mike Fowler. My thesis concentrated around ecological communities and the impact of environmental stochasticity on biological systems in general.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The rich and the poor: environmental biodiversity protecting from allergy

A review on the recent evidence of the biodiversity hypothesis

It has been proposed that biodiversity loss leads to reduced interaction between environmental and human microbiotas. This, in turn, may lead to immune dysfunction and impaired tolerance mechanisms in humans. That is, contact with environmental biodiversity is expected to protect from allergies. However, direct evidence linking contact with biodiversity and risk of allergy has been lacking. In this review, we consider the latest research on the biodiversity hypothesis of allergy. It is becoming clear that what you eat, drink, inhale, and touch all contribute to the grand scheme of host– microbial crosstalk that is needed for a balanced, healthy immune system to develop and maintain a healthy recognition between harmful and harmless invasions. Microbes can either communicate directly with host immune cells or affect the host via metabolism that can even lead to epigenetic modifications. Our living environment plays a key role in this process. Although especially, early exposure to diverse, beneficial microbiota from the environment is repeatedly found crucial, studies on immigrants demonstrate that condition in later life can also be decisive. We are still lacking a more detailed understanding of the interaction between natural, environmental biodiversity, and health, which calls for new innovative and more long-term investigations. The outcomes should be utilized in policy and urban planning efforts, promoting human interaction with natural biodiversity, and supporting a healthy lifestyle.

A schematic illustration of individual exposure to environmental microbial biodiversity through the course of life. See more details in The rich and the poor: environmental biodiversity protecting from allergy.