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Espoo Ambassador 2022 Rebecca Piekkari

Espoo Ambassadors 2009-2022

Visit Espoo has been awarding the Ambassadors of the Year since 2009. Let us introduce the selected Espoo Ambassadors!

In 2020-2021, due to the exceptional situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional Espoo Ambassador event was not held, and the Ambassador of the Year was not selected.

Rebecca Piekkari, Espoo Ambassador 2022

We asked Rebecca Piekkari, the new Espoo Ambassador, for her thoughts on organising congresses, on Espoo and Finland as a congress venue, and on her own favourite places in her home town. Read the interview and get to know Rebecca.

Seppo Ikäheimo, Espoo Ambassador 2019

Professor Ikäheimo is the Head of the Department of Accounting in the School of Business. His specialities are Corporate Governance and, in particular, compensation, ownership, investor relationships and the work of a board of directors as well as the valuation of a company.

Ikäheimo has held various roles in about 50 different congresses since 1990. In 2021, Ikäheimo will bring 1,500 accounting academicians to Espoo for European Accounting Association's (EEA) annual conference. Ikäheimo considers these international conferences important networking events where relationships crucial to research and cooperation are created.

In addition to doing scientific research, Ikäheimo writes textbooks and practical works. He has also arbitrated several redemption cases of minority shareholders and shared his expertise in numerous legal cases. Furthermore, he consults on matters concerning investor relationships, compensation and the work of boards of directors.

Ikäheimo is also actively involved in developing education, and he sees education as the most central method of societal impact. Previously, he has worked as a Vice-Dean in the School of Business, managing matters concerning teaching and learning. Ikäheimp is in charge of the accounting basics course for the first-year Bachelor students, the Master's level Corporate Governance course and the national, fully digitised Basics of Financial Management course for non-business students, which the Finnish Business School Graduates association has awarded as a part of national-level studies of a business minor.

Ahti Salo, Espoo Ambassador 2018

Ahti Salo is a professor of Systems Analysis and director of the Systems Analysis Laboratory at the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis at Aalto University. Salo has developed methods to support risk management, efficiency analysis and decision-making, and over the years, has led various projects in collaboration with companies and public organisations. He directs Platform Value Now, a six-year project of the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland that examines the platform economy from different perspectives. Salo is also a board member of the Society of Scientists and Parliament Members (Tutkijoiden ja kansanedustajien seura, Tutkas).

Salo was the main organiser of two international conferences held in Espoo in 2017, with around one hundred participants each. The Experts in Uncertainty conference, held in April 2017, was organised in collaboration with the Platform Value Now project, the Digital Disruption in Industry project led by Professor Martti Mäntylä, and the European Commission's COST Expert Judgement Network. The theme of the conference was the prospects and impacts of digitalisation.

The Risk and Security Conference, held in November 2017, was organised by the Nordic chapter of the Society for Risk Analysis. The conference's theme was the assessment and limitation of emerging security risks.

Salo has won several international awards for his research. In 2013, Salo was one of the recipients of the Publication Award of the INFORMS Decision Analysis Society.

An excellent counterbalance to work for Salo is endurance running with Espoon Tapiot athletics club and the Runner's High training group. In 2017, Salo came tenth in the men's half-marathon at the European Masters Athletics Championships for senior athletes. The same year, he completed the Espoon Rantakymppi 10-kilometre race in 36 minutes and 22 seconds, earning him a tenth place in the all-time Finnish statistics for his age group.

Pekka Heikkinen, Espoo Ambassador 2017

Pekka Heikkinen is a Finnish architect and Professor of Wood Architecture at Aalto University. Heikkinen graduated as an architect from the Helsinki University of Technology in 1991 and has taught at Aalto University since 1995. Currently, Heikkinen is the director of the Department of Architecture. His expertise is in wood construction and eco-efficient building design.

Heikkinen is considered to be Finland's leading expert in wood construction. He has gained awards in several architectural competitions. In 2011, Heikkinen won the prestigious Schweighofer Innovation Preis with TU Munich, NTNU Trondheim and Aalto University's joint TES Energy Facade research project.

In June 2016, Heikkinen was the lead organiser of the International Forum Wood Building Nordic conference in Espoo, Otaniemi. The meeting, as a part of the German International Forum Holzbau concept, is the main event of wood construction in the Nordic countries. It gathered almost 400 construction industry researchers, architects, developers, authorities and industry and trade representatives to Espoo.

"Internationally exceptional Otaniemi Campus is an attractive destination for our international guests and architectural tourists. Otaniemi has provided a place for many domestic and international meetings, conferences and other events. The largest of these has been Forum Wood Building Nordic 2016."

Heikkinen is the first Espoo Ambassador elected from the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.
You can see more about Pekka Heikkinen's research and development projects from Heikkinen's CV / Portfolio.


Jaana Sorvari, Espoo Ambassdor 2016

Associate Professor Jaana Sorvari comes from Aalto University's School of Engineering.

Sorvari is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of environmental engineering and has specialist knowledge and expertise in the assessment of risks and eco-efficiency of risk management actions at contaminated sites as well as in environmental suitability appraisal concerning mineral residues. She has authored and co-authored many scientific publications and has experience in project management. Jaana Sorvari has also been a reviewer for several scientific journals, conferences, and EU programmes.

Even though Professor Sorvari is still a newcomer in the business of organising international conferences, she has shown enthusiasm and courage to take up the challenge. In Autumn 2016, Sorvari coordinated the 7th Joint Nordic Meeting on Remediation of Contaminated Sites, NORDROCS 2016, at Aalto University Otaniemi Campus. The conference attracted around 200 researchers and experts from Nordic countries and beyond. In addition to NORDROCS, Sorvari is interested in inviting the corresponding European event to Finland soon.

"After living 30 years in Espoo, I am glad to represent and market my hometown and my university campus as a place to organise international conferences. Otaniemi is a unique campus area with its verdancy and proximity to the sea. In addition, there are numerous other wonderful places to showcase our international guests in Espoo," says Jaana Sorvari.

Photo: Aalto University

Filip Tuomisto, Espoo Ambassador 2015

Professor of Nuclear Engineering Filip Tuomisto from Aalto University School of Science is our Espoo Ambassador 2015.

The decision to choose Tuomisto was based on his active work in national and international scientific research groups and organisations. Professor Tuomisto has been involved in several program and organising committees of international congresses and thus has positively impacted the role of Espoo and Finland within the global scientific communities. In the summer of 2015, Tuomisto was the chairman of the 28th International Conference on Defects in Semiconductors conference held at Aalto University Otaniemi Campus in Espoo. The conference attracted more than 300 industry leaders to Otaniemi.

 Filip Tuomisto, Doctor of Science (Tech.), stepped into his position as a Professor of Nuclear Engineering at the School of Science on 1st May 2012. Professor Tuomisto, 36, has a background in material physics and researching the structure of materials at their atomic level. As a professor, one of his key areas of research is the examination and prediction of the resistance to radiation of the energy materials. He is also the head of the Positron Physics research group.

Filip Tuomisto feels excited about his new position and award.
"EspooAmbassador Award is a great honour, and I'm going to encourage my research fellows to organise conferences in Espoo. In particular here at the Aalto University Otaniemi campus, but why not elsewhere, for example, in our stunning Nuuksio National Park."

"EspooAmbassador Award is a great honour, and I'm going to encourage my research fellows to organise conferences in Espoo. In particular here at the Aalto University Otaniemi campus, but why not elsewhere, for example, in our stunning Nuuksio National Park."


Ari Sihvola, Espoo Ambassador 2014

Ari Sihvola, professor of electromagnetics from Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering, is Espoo Ambassador 2014. 

The decision was based on Sihvola's diligent work in national and international scientific organisations. Professor Sihvola has been involved in several program and organising committees of international scientific congresses and thus has positively impacted the role of Espoo and Finland within the international scientific communities. Professor Sihvola has successfully organised international conferences in Espoo, bringing hundreds of international researchers to the city recently in 2009.

Sihvola is a professor of electromagnetics at Aalto University interested in electromagnetic theory, complex media, materials modelling, remote sensing, and radar applications. He is currently the chairman of the Finnish National Committee of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) and a fellow in IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

Radio science in Finland has a long history, and the country has been an active and constructive collaborator within URSI. In 2011, Sihvolas' group bid to organise and host the URSI Electromagnetic Theory Symposium (EMTS) 2016 in Espoo, Finland. Espoo won the bid thanks to the compelling and cost-effective presentation competing against Versailles, France. EMTS Conference 2016 attracted over 300 delegates.


Tapio Lokki, EspooAmbassador 2013

Born in Helsinki, Finland, in 1971, Professor Tapio Lokki has studied acoustics, audio signal processing, and computer science at the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and received an M.Sc. degree in electrical engineering in 1997 and a D.Sc. (Tech.) degree in computer science and engineering in 2002.

Lokki is an Associate Professor (tenured) with the Department of Media Technology at Aalto University. Lokki leads the virtual acoustics team jointly with Prof. Lauri Savioja. Their research aims to create novel objective and subjective ways to evaluate concert hall acoustics. In addition, the team develops physically-based room acoustics modelling methods to obtain authentic auralizations of performance spaces. The team also studies augmented reality audio and eyes-free user interfaces.

Lokki has published over 35 journal articles and over 100 conference papers. He is a member of the editorial board of Acta Acustica, united with Acustica. Lokki is a member of the Acoustical Society of America, the Audio Engineering Society, the IEEE Computer Society, and Siggraph, Helsinki, Finland. In addition, he is currently the President of the Acoustical Society of Finland.

In addition to research and teaching work, Lokki has actively organised conferences in Espoo and other parts of Finland. Tapio Lokki has been involved in AES Conferences on Spatial Audio in 2014, 2012 and 2002, as well as in several national Acoustics Days around the country.

Professor Lokki has also received international recognition, such as International Commission for Acoustics (ICA) Early Career Award in 2013. It is also called the Nobel Prize for acoustics, which illustrates the value of the prize.


Jukka Tuhkuri, EspooAmbassador 2012

Jukka Tuhkuri (born in 1960), head of the Department of Applied Mechanics and professor of strength theory at Aalto University School of Engineering, is the Espoo Ambassador 2012. 

Tuhkuri has completed all his degrees, Licentiate of Science and Doctor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the former Helsinki University of Technology, TKK, which is now part of the Aalto University. Today Tuhkuri's primary scientific research focuses on glaciology or the study of ice.

Tuhkuri has and continues to be an active member of several international organisations and scientific committees of many conferences on ice mechanics, arctic engineering and discrete element method. 2012-2013 Tuhkuri held the position of President of the International Committee of POAC (International Conference on Port and Ocean Engineering under Arctic Conditions), the association of which conference he is bringing for the second time in Espoo in 2013.

Tuhkuri has also been nominated as the Teacher of the year 2003 at TKK, selected by the Student Union of TKK (today Aalto University).


Olli Simula, EspooAmbassador 2011

In 2011 when Professor Olli Simula was awarded the Espoo Ambassador 2011, he was the head of the Department of Information and Computer Science at Aalto UniversitySchool of Science. In 2013, Simula retired. As a professor of Computer Science, Simula has been working since 1997. Between 1989 and 1996, he worked at Helsinki University of Technology as Associate Professor in Computer Science and Engineering.

Simula's central areas of scientific interest are digital signal processing, neural networks and their applications in intelligent and adaptive systems, computer architectures for signal processing and exploratory data analysis and mining.EspooAmbassador 2011 Olli Simula

Simula has invited many international conferences to Finland, with 13 in total and 10  in Espoo. In addition, Simula has worked in 33 local scientific or organising committees of international conferences (5 of which were held in Espoo).

Olli Simula is also highly appreciated within his scientific field, shown by the multiple presentations and requested speeches plus a comprehensive list of scientifical publications and articles.

Espoo Ambassador 2011 award was given to Olli Simula in Dipoli Congress Centre on 25th August 2011. 


Riitta Smeds, EspooAmbassador 2010

"I'm a Professor Riitta Smeds, founder and head of the Enterprise Simulation Laboratory SimLab at the Aalto University School of Science. My research and teaching focus on business and service processes in digital networks.

In SimLab, we study collaboration in networks of organisations. SimLab visualises and simulates inter-organisational processes and facilitates process co-creation workshops together with the people who collaborate in the processes. We video all workshops and conduct interviews and surveys - accumulating an enormous amount of rich research data." Read the whole interview of Riitta Smeds from Aalto University Magazine, issue 06 2013.

Espoo Convention & Marketing (today Visit Espoo) nominated Riitta Smeds for the Espoo Ambassador 2010. Espoo Ambassador award was given to Riitta Smeds on 21st September 2010 in connection to the "Syystreffit" Autumn meeting of the city of Espoo held in Dipoli Congress Centre. Riitta Smeds has earned her award by playing an active role in international association work and contributing to bringing congresses to Finland. Riitta has also acted as a responsible congress and workshop organiser in Espoo.

Smeds leads the Special Interest Group on Experimental Interactive Learning in Industrial Management, one of IFIP's research groups. The International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) is an umbrella organisation for national societies working in information technology. Smeds is also a board member in a research network of Cicero Learning.

Photo: Laura Vuoma


Honorary Ambassador Markku Peltoniemi

In 2009, geophysical Emeritus Professor Markku Peltoniemi from Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University) was elected as the first Espoo Ambassador in the spring of 2009. Peltoniemi was given the name of Honorary EspooAmbassador. He was the first congress ambassador receiving the task to promote Espoo as a congress destination and tell how the city of Espoo can support and help organise international congresses.

Peltoniemi has participated actively in international associations holding different board and committee memberships during his career. Due to his important positions, Peltoniemi has contributed to bringing congresses to Espoo and Finland. Besides that, Markku Peltoniemi has also played an important role as a congress organiser in Finland.

In 2010, the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers EAGE awarded Peltoniemi an Honorary membership. The prize argument was Prof. Peltoniemi's long-term operation in EAGE's various trust and leadership positions. The European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) is a global professional, non-profit association for geoscientists and engineers with around 18,000 members worldwide. Prof. Peltoniemi is the first person in Finland to receive this award.