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Overview by the
Head of the Departmet

Campus

The economical resources of the Department were higher than ever before, about three million Euros higher than in 2010. The increase is due to the complementary funding. The basic funding in the Helsinki University budget was the same. The complementary funding was about two thirds of the total economical resources. It was based on the high level of research, as illustrated by about 10 million Euros funding from the Academy of Finland.

Research

The development of research and the research profile continued. Our research was connected to European strategic research infrastructures, like CERN, ESRF, ITER, JET, ESO, and ESA. We played a nationally important role in research also in the domestic strategic research infrastructure, namely the SMEAR stations. Of our 29 professors, 12 were joint professors funded partly or totally by our collaborators in research, such as other departments of the University of Helsinki and sector research institutes of different government ministries.

Highlights of the research were the preliminary results on the Higgs boson at CERN and results concerning the atmospheric change and aerosol particles. The number of the scientific journal articles stayed at the high level of over 500 articles. The results of the evaluation of research at the University of Helsinki, supposed to be published at the middle of this year, were delayed to the next year.

As in earlier years, researchers of the Department organized several national and international conferences and seminars, and were active in international research collaborations.

The high level of research is also reflected in collaboration with industry. Examples are radar development for meteorology together with the Vaisala Corporation, equipments for aerosol particle analysis together with the U.S. company Aeorodyne Research Inc., and noteworthy collaboration in construction of equipments for space research together with several companies.

Personnel

It is obvious that the high level of research was based on the competent personnel. Professor Markku Kulmala was listed by the Thomson ISI Web of Knowledge essential Science Indicators to be the most cited researcher in geosciences. The Academy of Finland selected a consortium lead by Professor Markku Leskelä of the chemistry department to be a Centre of Excellence for 2012 – 2017. The other members of the consortium are a group at VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland) and the research group of Professors Jyrki Räisänen and Juhani Keinonen.

The number of person years done at the Department was about 350. Astronomy Professor Kalevi Mattila resigned and Veli-Matti Kerminen was appointed Professor in Aerosol Physics. Peter Johansson was appointed as Associate Professor in the tenure track system of the University.

Education

The teaching in the Department is tightly connected to research, and the development of its content profile to the development of the research profile. In 2011 the teaching reform was continued at all levels of teaching. The results were seen in the introductory level teaching. In intermediate teaching the structure and content were changed to better correspond to the requirements of advanced level teaching and learning. The efforts in developing the physics teaching and learning at all levels produced the desired results as obtained in student feedback.

The number of MSc exams, 43, was clearly below the five-year average of 61 exams, whereas the number of PhD exams, 38, was much higher than the average of 28 exams.

Outreach

Outreach is one of the three basic tasks of the University and thus also of the Department, in addition to research and education. In the Department the outreach activities are organised as the F2k Outreach Centre. Year 2011 was the first year in the activities of the F2k Centre. F2k was very active in the area of its general aim, namely in promoting understanding and interest in contemporary physics and technology among Finns. F2k offered a variety of activities, like events and personal support for teachers and students, children and youth, and the general public.

Juhani Keinonen
Head of the Department