Tartu University News

UT coronavirus info and updates

4 hours 15 minutes ago
24.11.2020

Coronavirus continues to spread in Estonia and globally and acting responsibly is still the best way to prevent it. We want the approaching academic year at the University of Tartu to continue as smoothly as possible. 

Below, we have gathered some recommendations and advice on how to act considerately in the circumstances of the spread of the virus. Some of the most important recommendations:   

  • if possible, work and study from home;
  • maintain distance with other people in the work and study environment and comply with hygiene rules to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading; 
  • masks must be worn in all study buildings of the university, including in the hallways and classrooms also outside lectures, everyone is responsible for ensuring they have a face mask to wear;
  • avoid unnecessary contacts and crowded gatherings both during and outside working hours, for example meetings with numerous participants, including people from other units, as well as gatherings in the corridors of the academic buildings;
  • stay home even with mild symptoms of a viral disease;
  • lets's use hoia.me app. HOIA mobile app allows rapid notification of a possible close contact with a COVID-19 virus carrier and is safe to use;
  • keep your contact information updated because in cooperation with the Health Board, the university informs its members of possible close contacts with infected persons by phone and email;
  • when returning from countries with a high coronavirus infection rate, follow the restrictions on freedom of movement requirements laid down by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

Organisation of studies

  1. All lectures and, if at all possible, also seminars, are held online.
  2. Practical classes, exams and pass/fail exams may continue to be held in classrooms, but participants must wear masks and be registered.
  3. When studies are reorganised, the lecturer informs all students registered for the course and updates the information in the SIS accordingly.
  4. If there are more than 30 people in a classroom, they should be seated farther apart so that the 50% occupancy is not exceeded
  5. Masks must be worn in all study buildings of the university, including in the hallways and classrooms also outside lectures. Everyone is responsible for ensuring they have a face mask to wear.
  6. It is important to make all students understand that they must not participate in classroom studies when they have any viral symptoms. The requirements for completing the course in case a person cannot participate in classroom studies must be also clarified and communicated to students. 
  7. Read more detailed guidelines for organisation of studies in the context of COVID-19 on the university's intranet.

 

Organisation of work

  1. Heads of units and employees will cooperate to find solutions that consider the interests of both the university and the employee and ensure a safe working environment for all.
  2. To curb the spread of the virus, we are asking all managers to encourage distance work in their units.
  3. Electronic means for participating in meetings must be created for employees working remotely. 
  4. Masks must be worn in all study buildings of the university, including in the hallways and classrooms also outside lectures. Employees are not required to wear a mask in rooms accessible to employees only. Everyone is responsible for ensuring they have a face mask to wear.
  5. If necessary, separate safe workstations must be set up for positions that require contacts with customers and people outside their unit. 
  6. Prefer paperless procedures and forward documents via electronic channels. 
  7. Read more detailed guidelines for organisation of work in the context of COVID-19 on the university's intranet.

 

Organisation of public events

Considering the current epidemiological situation in Estonia, we are asking everyone to cancel all social and recreational events and hobby activities (e.g. choir rehearsals) on the university's premises. If necessary, organise events online.


Travelling

If you travelled abroad, make sure to consult the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the for the movement restrictions for people arriving in Estonia. As the epidemiological situation changes rapidly, plan all trips abroad with the consideration that you might be subject to movement restrictions when returning to Estonia. 

 

Possible infection

  1. If you suspect infection with coronavirus, call your family doctor or the family doctor’s advice line 1220 for advice. Do not go to the family doctor’s office. 
  2. To prevent further spread of the virus, stay at home while waiting for the test results and when tested positive. 
  3. Information about a person being infected with COVID-19 is sensitive personal data and must not be forwarded, except with the person’s consent. Nevertheless, employees and students are encouraged to inform the university if they turn out to be virus carriers and close contacts of a virus carrier. Rapid exchange of information helps us prevent the spread of the virus, reduce confusion resulting from the lack of information and help the Health Board. 
  • If an employee turns out to be a virus carrier or a close contact, we strongly recommend informing his or her immediate supervisor or the academic secretary,who is the contact person of the Health Board at the university. It would be very welcome if employees also inform their colleagues and possible close contacts.
  • If a student turns out to be a virus carrier or a close contact, we strongly recommend him or her to inform either
    • the academic affairs specialist ,
    • the programme director,
    • the head of the institute, or
    • especially in the evening and on weekends – the academic secretary of the university, Tõnis Karki (529 7917, tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee).
  • Before you notify the university, think when the first symptoms appeared. Also, think back to the two days before the appearance of symptoms and try to remember when you participated in classes and in which rooms you were. If you have no symptoms but have given a positive test, think back to your movements in the two days before you gave the positive test.In this way the univeristy can trace the possible close contacts and inform them of the need to self-isolate.
  • After that, the academic secretary, the unit and the Health Board together decide which measures must be taken in the organisation of studies as well as in the study and work environment. 

 

 Important terms

  • A virus carrier is a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Virus carriers must not leave their place of residence starting from receiving the diagnosis until confirmed recovered. 
  • A close contact of a virus carrier is a person who has been in the same room with a virus carrier for more than 15 minutes and closer than two metres. All close contacts must stay in self-isolation for 14 days, even if they do not have any symptoms. The Health Board is responsible for identifying and notifying close contacts. 

 

Contact information 

Tõnis Karki, Academic Secretary of University of Tartu, contact person of the Health Board at the University of Tartu, 529 7917, tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee ">tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee 
Peeter Liik, Head of the Marketing and Communication Office of Univeristy of Tartu, 5554 8206, peeter.liik [ät] ut.ee 

National coronavirus helpline: 1247 (+372 600 1247 for calls from abroad)
State website on COVID-19:  www.kriis.ee /en  
Health Board’s website: www.terviseamet.ee/en

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Prefer studying from home

6 hours 37 minutes ago
24.11.2020

So far, the university has favoured preferring face-to-face learning to distance learning. However, as the coronavirus infection rate is increasing, the Rector’s Office decided at its today’s meeting that it is reasonable to rapidly reorganise studies wherever possible to safeguard the health of all university members.

This means that all lectures and, if at all possible, also seminars, are held online. Practical classes, exams and pass/fail exams may continue to be held in classrooms, but participants must wear masks and be registered. Teaching staff members decide on the particular form of study and inform students of that.

We would also like to remind you that as of today, 24 November, wearing a mask is obligatory in all public indoor spaces and public transport. Masks must be worn in all study buildings of the university, including in the hallways and classrooms also outside lectures. Please cancel all social or recreational events and hobby activities (e.g. choir rehearsals) on the university’s premises

The ceremony marking the university’s anniversary and the torchlight procession planned for 1 December have been cancelled. A separate ceremony for the conferment of doctoral degrees will take place in spring 2021.

Further information: Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu, 526 7930, aune.valk [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Rector: please notify university of your positive test result

4 days 7 hours ago
20.11.2020

Quite understandably, the university cannot remain untouched by the spread of the coronavirus. The growth in the number of the infected has put the Health Board under a lot of pressure, which is why the necessary information does not reach all potential close contacts as quickly as we would like.

The least we can do to help the Health Board is inform the members of our university. Thereby we help ensure that students and employees do not unknowingly spread the virus.

From our information systems we can quickly retrieve information about the students who might have been in contact with the infected person in the classes. We have created an efficient method of communication – we send the potential close contacts an email with all the necessary information, and in addition, a phone text message in which we ask them to read that email.

We can notify the close contacts only in case the infected persons agree to let the university know of their positive test result. Students can inform of their infection either

  • the academic affairs specialist of their institute,
  • the programme director,
  • the head of the institute, or
  • especially in the evening and on weekends – the academic secretary of the university, Tõnis Karki (529 7917, tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee).

I recommend that before you notify the university, think when the first symptoms appeared. Also, think back to the two days before the appearance of symptoms and try to remember when you participated in classes and in which rooms you were. If you have no symptoms but have given a positive test, think back to your movements in the two days before you gave the positive test.

In this way we can trace the possible close contacts and inform them of the need to self-isolate.

We advise employees to notify their immediate supervisor or the academic secretary. It would be very welcome if employees also inform their colleagues and possible close contacts.

I emphasise that every person still has the right to have the Health Board do all the notification of contacts. In that case, the Health Board notifies the university, but this inevitably leads to a delay in the informing process.

Stay healthy!

Toomas Asser
Rector of the University of Tartu

Category: University
Viivika Eljand-Kärp (viivikae)

Antibiotic use needs better regulation in Estonia

5 days 10 hours ago
19.11.2020

The use of antibiotics in Estonia needs better regulation to prevent the formation of treatment-resistant microbes. Based on their study, the University of Tartu researchers recommend paying attention to regular updating of national treatment guidelines and to doctors’ continuing education opportunities, as well as creating a surveillance and feedback system for prescribing antibacterial therapy.

Increasingly more infectious diseases fail to respond to antimicrobial treatment due to antibiotic resistance. Resistance has been observed, for example, in the case of urinary tract infections, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections and bacterial pneumonia. Antibiotic resistance is a global problem, which needs attention and quick action. In Estonia, antibiotic therapy is used less in human medicine than in Europe on average. However, the researchers noticed that Estonian doctors often tend to prescribe too broad-spectrum antibiotics. This may contribute to the development of resistance and undesirable side effects.

Four recommendations to control the use of antibiotics

Researchers have four recommendations to improve the situation. First, it is necessary, in cooperation with professional associations, to prepare national guidelines for antibacterial therapy based on Estonian antibiotic resistance data. Secondly, a national audit and feedback system for antibacterial treatment must be developed. The researchers recommend to start with auditing the doctors who most frequently prescribe antibacterial therapy to their patients – family physicians, paediatricians and dentists.

Thirdly, antibiotic use in outpatient settings must be analysed in depth and regularly, for example, in every three years. In the course of the analysis it is necessary to assess how the level of antibiotic resistance of outpatient microorganisms changes over time. And finally, more attention should be paid to the continuing education of doctors in the area of antibiotic use.

Kärt Sõber, Adviser of the Public Health Department of the Ministry of Social Affairs, said that the intermediate results of the University of Tartu researchers allow to more precisely identify shortcomings in the area of human health. “The project is still ongoing but its results are already of great help in developing and adapting the national action plan for reducing antibiotic resistance, and the national guidelines for antibacterial therapy,” Sõber said.


The researchers’ recommendations are based on the intermediate results of the applied research study “Routes for development and spread of antibiotic resistance and resistance containment measures”. The study will continue until mid-2022. It is funded by Estonian Research Council via the RITA programme from the European Regional Development Fund and the state budget of Estonia.
Intermediate reports of the study are available on the website.


Further information: Margit Meiesaar, Project Manager, Institute of Technology, University of Tartu, +372 5564 9214, margit.meiesaar [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer University of Tartu Press Adviser 737 5681
5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: ResearchPress release
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

The Response Events conference gathers scholars examining how individual experiences of representations can sometimes become life-changing events

6 days 3 hours ago
18.11.2020

Artworks and cultural productions affect us more or less. In rare occasions, their encounter can trigger a life-changing event. These rare and unexpected individual moments can be shared as narratives, some of which are found in literature.

The Response Events research-creation project led at the University of Tartu, in collaboration with Aix-Marseille University and University of Côte d’Azur, culminates with a conference on November 19-21, a doctoral workshop and three art exhibitions.

This project examines how individual experiences of representations (literary, artistic, cinematographic, etc.) can sometimes become life-changing events or “response events” for readers or spectators. The notion of response event is based on Alain Badiou’s understanding of the event: “the event is first the onset of the inexistent and the onset of an inexistent brings about in its periphery a figure of destruction”. It also builds on Claude Romano’s reflection on the event, which makes sense through an individual, “opening a world by reconfiguring its possibilities”. Therefore, even if the response event is caused by an unexpected encounter with a representation, it seems to respond to a matured situation for the individual.

The Response Events conference gathers scholars examining the concept of response event from multiple perspectives in order to enrich the understanding of this phenomena in Jakobi 2-114 and on BigBlueButton: https://button.ut.ee/b/lii-rle-2lb-kzp

Further information:
https://www.maailmakeeled.ut.ee/et/osakonnad/konverents-response-events
Sara Bédard-Goulet (University of Tartu, sara.bedard-goulet [ät] ut.ee)
Damien Beyrouthy (Aix-Marseille University, damien.beyrouthy [ät] univ-amu.fr)
Frédéric Vinot (University of Côte d’Azur, frederic.vinot [ät] univ-cotedazur.fr)

Category: InternationalResearch
Ilze Talberga (ilze)

Health Board and University of Tartu to start pilot study of saliva-based coronavirus testing

6 days 10 hours ago
18.11.2020

Next week, a pilot study will start for testing coronavirus from saliva samples. The saliva test is believed to be cheaper and more convenient than the nasal swab test used at present.

While so far mostly nasal swab tests have been used in Estonia for detecting coronavirus, the Health Board intends to assess whether the saliva test is as reliable for testing the viral infection. Külli Rae, Head of the Health Board’s infectious diseases laboratory, said that testing saliva samples is simple and probably more convenient for people than the currently used nasal swab method.

“People can take the sample themselves at home – they do not have to go to the testing station, which saves the valuable time of medical specialists, and protective equipment is not needed either. To take a sample, a person must just collect saliva into a tube provided for the sample,” Rae added. Because the method is simple, it is also cheaper than the nasal swab test.

One of the leaders of the study Lili Milani, Research Profesor of the Estonian Genome Centre of the University of Tartu, said that although saliva tests are already used in several countries, it is necessary to assess the feasibility and reliability of this method in Estonia. It is especially important to develop a child-friendly method that could be used for rapid testing in schools.

“First, we will conduct a pilot study to test the method and compare the precision of the results obtained from saliva samples with results of samples taken from the nose. In addition, we will test the method in workplaces and schools to see whether people are able to take the samples themselves,” Milani said.

Mikk Jürisson, Research Fellow of Public Health at the University of Tartu, said that currently some people avoid testing for the fear of the inconvenience of the procedure. “We have also had problems with involving people in monitoring surveys because they have had unpleasant experience with the nasopharyngeal test. Hopefully, saliva tests will help attract more people to take coronavirus tests,” Jürisson added.

The pilot study will be conducted over the next week and its results are due by the end of the month. Külli Rae said that if the pilot study is successful, the saliva test will be taken into use more extensively.

Category: ResearchPress release
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

Mentors help keep students’ business ideas on track

1 week 1 day ago
16.11.2020

In each semester, students start developing their ideas in the Startup Lab to gain entrepreneurial experience. A key role in this process is played by mentors who, based on their experience, give feedback to teams, share valuable advice and help them make useful contacts.

From 22 to 29 October, 17 teams had online meetings with 20 mentors from different fields in the course of the Mentor Feedback Carousel of the business idea development programme Starter Tartu. The teams gave a lot of good feedback about the event. With the help of the mentors, they set the focus of their ideas, established target groups, made the value proposition, and found the first customers, etc. For example, the team Särasilmad, who provide training for the short-sighted to improve their vision, registered their company and made their first sale.

A great product or service that provides a solution for pain points is good, but a great mentor who helps to keep the start-up on the right track is equally important. The mentor and Starter Tartu alumna Rimante Valancauskaite said that she was happy to see so many teams willing to contribute to society. “The most interesting for me as a mentor was to give them ideas on how to make a profit. As all the teams had a clear vision and the will to act, I have no doubt that we will soon hear so many success stories in the media,” she said.

Direct pass to Ajujaht top teams

For the Ajujaht organiser Harri Tallinn, this was not the first time to be a mentor for Starter Tartu teams. Every year, one team receives a direct pass to the top 100 teams of Ajujaht. This time, Harri picked our team Eventive, who develop interactive 3D models of concert and sports halls, making it easier for organisers to plan an event without going to the venue.

Ideas from different areas

A total of 17 teams joined Starter Tartu this autumn. Ideas are developed in a wide variety of fields like healthcare, food, technology, education, clothing, etc. All ideas are united by the goal of making our daily lives better. Short descriptions of the teams can be found here.

Starter Tartu organisers are very grateful to all mentors who participated in the Mentor Feedback Carousel: Aivar Pere, Alo Peets, Andreas Unt, Ants-Oskar Mäesalu, Chris Thompson, Evgenia Trofimova, Harri Tallinn, Ingrid Laht, Justin Hein, Kalev Kaarna, Kei Karlson, Kuldar Leis, Laura Eiche, Marelle Ellen, Ott Pärna, Raphael Koster, Rimante Valancauskaite, Sven Parkel, Taavi Tamm ja Vaido Mikheim. Read more about each mentor here.

The University of Tartu Startup Lab is a subunit of the School of Economics and Business Administration. It provides hands-on entrepreneurship education and pre-incubation services. Teams who have joined the Starter Tartu business development programme participate in workshops supervised by mentors, who are start-up founders and entrepreneurs from different business sectors.

The event was financed by the European Social Fund and EIT Health.

Further information: Andres Vaher, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Startup Lab, University of Tartu, +372 5558 7359, andres.vaher [ät] ut.ee

Category: Entrepreneurship
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Analysis of lessons learnt from emergency situation and distance learning at the University of Tartu

1 week 2 days ago
15.11.2020

Researchers of the Centre for Applied Social Sciences of the University of Tartu have conducted a survey to analyse how the university as an organisation responded to the crisis, and to what extent it is possible to use the gained experience to plan future work.

On 12 March, emergency situation was declared in the Republic of Estonia due to the fast spread of COVID-19. For the University of Tartu, it meant making changes in both work and teaching. All teaching and studies were largely reorganised, classroom studies were replaced by distance learning and face-to-face lectures and seminars were cancelled.

According to Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu, it was pleasant to read in the analysis that the university generally coped well with the emergency situation. Specifically, 84% of students were of the opinion that teaching and studies functioned well or very well, and only 2% answered that things were very bad. The number of graduates did not decrease and the dropout rate did not increase. Due to understandable reasons, the level of students’ participation in traineeship and mobility declined. “Of course, there are aspects to learn from – for example, that first-year students and students of practical programmes experienced more difficulties. We also have to pay more attention to the methodological issues of e-learning and to creating opportunities for social communication in online studies,” Valk said.

Read a brief summary of the study.

Sandra Sommer Press Advisor +372 737 5681
+372 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Rector's address and revised coronavirus guidelines

1 week 5 days ago
12.11.2020

View the video address of Rector Toomas Asser focusing on coronavirus prevention at the university on UTTV and read revised coronavirus guidelines at the university.

This week the Government of Estonia announced new coronavirus measures and based on the government’s recommendations, members of the UT Rector’s Office have laid down the following guidelines.

  • The university’s priority is to continue face-to-face studies and especially practical classes and seminars.
  • In block mode studies, we prefer distance learning until the end of the autumn semester.
  • We ask all participants in face-to-face classes to wear face masks. Everyone is responsible for ensuring they have a face mask to wear.
  • We recommend avoiding unnecessary contacts and crowded gatherings both during and outside working hours, for example meetings with numerous participants, including people from other units, as well as gatherings in the corridors of the academic buildings.
  • It is important to keep your contact information updated because in cooperation with the Health Board, the university informs its members of possible close contacts with infected persons by phone and email.

 

Below, we repeat the most important recommendations and advice on how to take care of each other in the context of the spread of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus prevention

  • In the work and study environment it is necessary to maintain distance with other people and comply with hygiene rules to reduce the likelihood of the spread of the virus.
  • Stay home even with mild symptoms of a viral disease.
  • If possible, avoid public transport.
  • We recommend avoiding parties and large gatherings.
  • The HOIA mobile app hoia.me allows rapid notification of a possible close contact with a coronavirus carrier and is safe to use.

Organisation of studies

  • The university’s priority is to continue face-to-face studies and especially practical classes and seminars. Be prepared to use more IT resources in studies. As the infection rate rises, we must be ready for the increase in e-learning.
  • When studies are reorganised, the lecturer informs all students registered for the course and updates the information in the SIS accordingly.
  • If there are more than 30 people attending a lecture, they should be seated farther apart in the lecture hall so that the room is up to half full.
  • In case students cannot participate in classroom studies due to illness, the requirements for completing the course must be explained and communicated to them.


Read the university’s recommendations and advice for coronavirus prevention: www.ut.ee/en/corona
National coronavirus helpline: 1247 (+372 600 1247 for calls from abroad)
National website on COVID-19: www.kriis.ee/en
Health Board’s website: www.terviseamet.ee/en

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Researchers propose method for analysing wicked political problems

1 week 6 days ago
10.11.2020

In September, Peeter Selg, Professor of Political Theory at Tallinn University, and Andreas Ventsel, Senior Research Fellow in Semiotics at the University of Tartu, published a monograph synthesising the research on relational political analysis and political semiotics that the authors have been conducting over the past decade. The book provides a systematic basis to political semiotics as a discipline and proposes a method of political form analysis.  

According to the authors, the monograph has a dual objective. “First of all, we put forth a particular relational political theory, or a theoretical approach, which says that social-political phenomena do not exist separately but are expressed primarily via their mutual, changing relations. In addition, we propose a specific method – political form analysis –, which can be used, among other things, to analyse the so-called wicked political problems,” said one of the authors of the book, Professor of Political Theory of Tallinn University, Peeter Selg.

He says that wicked problems are those which cannot be unambiguously defined or definitively resolved. There are increasingly more of them in the world today. “Each attempt to solve a problem changes the nature of the problem and generates a number of new ones. In the book, we give a few examples of wicked problems – the European migrant crisis and the e-threat problems of Estonia — and use them to illustrate the use of our proposed method, the political form analysis,” Selg explained.

“In semiotics, politics has so far remained a secondary research direction, primarily limited to the analysis of political campaigns, visual symbols, rhetorical slogans etc. In our book, we give a systematic basis for political semiotics as an independent field of research,” said the second author of the book, Senior Research Fellow in Semiotics of the University of Tartu, Andreas Ventsel. This is the first monograph to present a thoroughly semiotic approach to politics both in terms of theoretical bases, methods and empirical applications, and dealing with the problems of power, governance and democracy primarily from the aspect of semiotics. Thereby the authors also attempt at building a bridge between the sociological and cultural-scientific approaches.

The book has already been acknowledged internationally: it has received endorsement from Professor Bob Jessop of Lancaster University, one of the most eminent state and governance theorists alive. In addition, it has been recognised by Professor Mark Bevir of the University of California, Berkeley, one of the most influential proponents of interpretive political science, and Academy Professor Pertti Alasuutari, the most highly cited sociologist in Finland.

The more than 300-page monograph Introducing Relational Political Analysis: Political Semiotics as a Theory and Method, published by Palgrave Macmillan, is a part of the project led by Peeter Selg “PUT1485 A Relational Approach to Governing Wicked Problems”. The project is funded by Estonian Research Council.   

Further information:
Peeter Selg, Professor of Political Theory, Tallinn University, +372 619 9586, peeter.selg [ät] tlu.ee 
Andreas Ventsel, Senior Research Fellow in Semiotics, University of Tartu, +372 737 5314, andreas.ventsel [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Advisor Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Monitoring study conducted by the University of Tartu helps ascertain the prevalence of the coronavirus

2 weeks ago
10.11.2020

On Tuesday, University of Tartu researchers will continue the monitoring study on the prevalence of the coronavirus to determine the extent of the spread of the virus among Estonian residents. Over the next two months, researchers plan to test in total up to 10,000 people nationwide in the course of the four stages of the study.

Recent data from the Health Board show that the virus is also spreading outside of the known outbreak sites and the source of infection remains unknown in a large number of new cases. Also, there is a large percentage of infected persons who have no evident symptoms of the disease. According to the head of the monitoring survey and UT Professor of Family Medicine Ruth Kalda, the situation has changed considerably compared to the time of the last wave of the study at the beginning of October.

“For better planning of virus control measures, an overview of the actual spread of the virus among the population is needed. The primary importance of our study is that it helps estimate the latent transmission of the virus. With a representative random sample, we can get a realistic picture of the amount of asymptomatic infected people who would not be referred to testing by family physicians,” said Kalda. “The larger the hidden prevalence, the larger is the expected surge in infections in the upcoming weeks. Unfortunately, however, those infected may also suffer severely from the disease and get hospitalised,” Kalda added.

Four waves of study with a larger sample than earlier

The monitoring study is conducted in four stages. During each stage, 2,400–2,500 people who are selected based on random sample will be tested.

People who are included in the sample are asked to respond to a questionnaire and thereafter to take a nasal swab test. This can be done in the public testing stations, the work of which is coordinated by Medicum. Disabled or elderly people and people with impaired mobility may order a testing team to test them at home. Synlab will transport the samples to its Tallinn laboratory for analysis. Participants in the study can view their test results in the Patient Portal at digilugu.ee. All infected people who are ascertained during the study will be regularly interviewed in order to follow the course of the disease.

Participation in the study is voluntary but, considering the complex epidemiological situation, scientists ask all people included in the sample to definitely participate. “It depends on the cooperativeness of all those invited to participate in the study whether we get an as precise picture as possible of the spread of the virus. This gives us necessary information to choose the appropriate measures for controlling the spread of the virus, and helps us better cope with the wave of the virus,” Kalda explained.

The University of Tartu researchers who are involved in the study include experts from the Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health, Institute of Genomics, Institute of Computer Science, Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, and Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies.

The research company Kantar Emor will send out the questionnaires on Tuesday. Tests will be administered and analysed by Synlab and Medicum. The cost of the monitoring study is 880,000 euros, which will be covered from the reserves of the Ministry of Education and Research.

More information on the study is available on the University of Tartu website.

Further information: Ruth Kalda, Head of Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health, Professor of Family Medicine, University of Tartu, +372 5698 5599, ruth.kalda [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Advisor Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Political scientists of the University of Tartu hold a seminar on the US presidential election

2 weeks 6 days ago
04.11.2020

Today, on 4 November, a day after the US presidential election, a seminar takes place in the Delta Centre to analyse the election results. The seminar is in English and open to everyone interested in politics. It is also possible to attend the event on Zoom. 

The 2020 US presidential election has been turbulent. The country is more polarized than ever before and the stakes are high. The elections and the role of the USA in the world will be discussed by political experts of the University of Tartu: Senior Research Fellow in Technology Research Mihkel Solvak, Research Fellow of the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies Liisa Talving, Teacher of Public Administration Hector Charles Pagan and 3rd-year student of Government and Politics Laura Vilbiks. The discussion will be moderated by Junior Research Fellow in Comparative Politics Louis John Wierenga. 

Both Louis Wierenga and Hector Pagan are US citizens entitled to vote, so their view will give a clearer and more detailed overview of the background and peculiarities of the US presidential election.  

The seminar analysing the election starts at 18 and lasts for about two hours. The event takes place in room 1037 of the Delta Centre, but it is also possible to join the event on Zoom. Participants (both in Delta and on Zoom) are required to sign up using the online form.

Further information: Louis John Wierenga, Junior Research Fellow in Comparative Politics, louis.wierenga [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Advisor Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu is looking for a mascot

3 weeks ago
03.11.2020

The University of Tartu announces a design contest to find a mascot to represent the university’s visual identity.

All students, staff and alumni of the university are welcome to submit their design projects until 22 November. The winner will be selected in two rounds: in the first round, a committee comprising the representatives of students, alumni and staff will choose three best projects that will be put to a public vote in the second round. The public vote among students, alumni and staff of the University of Tartu takes place in December.

The design projects must be sent to turundus [ät] ut.ee on 22 November at latest.

The prize for the winner of the contest is 1,000 euros. Read more about the contest and see the terms and conditions on ut.ee/en/mascot.

Further information: Mariana Tulf, Specialist for Marketing, University of Tartu, 737 6271, mariana.tulf [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Recipients of new decorations of the University of Tartu selected

3 weeks ago
03.11.2020

On 30 October, the University of Tartu Senate decided to award the Johan Skytte Medal to the President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid. The highest award for university members, the University of Tartu Grand Medal, will be given to four long-term high-calibre researchers. Also, the recipients of the University of Tartu Star of Appreciation, Medal, Badge of Distinction and the decoration “100 Semesters at the University of Tartu” have been selected.

The Johan Skytte Medal is awarded to a statesperson or public figure who, in the eyes of the University of Tartu Senate, has significantly contributed to the development of the University of Tartu and higher education in Estonia in the recent years. It goes to Kersti Kaljulaid, who, as the University of Tartu Council Chair in 2012–2016, supported the governance and structural reform of the university and helped to increase its international renown. “We are also very grateful that as the President, Kersti Kaljulaid supported the signing of the Estonian Research Agreement, helping to ensure the development of Estonian research and innovation,” said Rector of the University of Tartu Toomas Asser.

From this autumn, the university uses a new way to recognise its members and other important persons for the university – an integrated system of honorary decorations with a unified design. According to Academic Secretary of the University of Tartu Tõnis Karki, the new decorations continue the long-standing distinguished tradition and at the same time mark a new era in recognition. “The design of the honorary decorations proceeds from the design of the rector’s chain of office with the portico of the university’s main building as its central element. The intersecting lines forming the outlines of the portico symbolise the university as a place where ideas are born and move on,” described Karki. The design of both the rector’s chain of office and the honorary decorations is by Julia Maria Künnap. The rector will present the honorary decorations at the ceremony taking place at the end of November, just before the anniversary of Estonia’s national university.

The senate decided to award the University of Tartu Grand Medal to four members of the university for their services of particular value. Professor of Accounting Toomas Haldma was the initiator and first chair of the university’s auditing committee and has led and developed the School of Economics and Business Administration for a long time. Professor of Health Care Management Raul-Allan Kiivet has continuously and efficiently contributed to the development and implementation of the governance and structural reform of the University of Tartu and its Faculty of Medicine. Research Professor Andres Merits has fostered research-based attitudes in the Estonian society which have helped to choose the measures necessary for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Senior Research Fellow in Psychometrics Olev Must has developed intelligence research and worked out and implemented the academic test of the university.

Rector Toomas Asser recognises individuals outside the university who have rendered great services to the university with the University of Tartu Star of Appreciation and members of the university with the University of Tartu Medal, Badge of Distinction and the decoration “100 Semesters at the University of Tartu”.

Further information:
Toomas Asser,  Rector of the University of Tartu, 516 6849, toomas.asser [ät] ut.ee
Aliis Liin, Legal Counsel of the University of Tartu, 509 8623, aliis.liin [ät] ut.ee

The list of all awardees of an honorary decoration of the University of Tartu is published below.

 

Recipients of honorary decorations of the University of Tartu in 2020 Johan Skytte Medal
  • Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia
University of Tartu Grand Medal
  • Toomas Haldma, Professor of Accounting, School of Economics and Business Administration
  • Raul-Allan Kiivet, Professor of Health Care Management, Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health
  • Andres Merits, Academy Research Professor, Institute of Technology
  • Olev Must, Senior Research Fellow in Psychometrics, Institute of Education
University of Tartu Star of Appreciation
  • Peeter Einola, Leader of the Estonian community in Canada
  • Veljo Ipits, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of AS Salvest
  • Mart Koldits, Director of “The Spirit of Tartu”, the light show dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Estonia’s national university
  • Tõnis Leht, Editor of TV series “The Century of National University” (ETV)
  • Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of The Guild network of European research-intensive universities
  • Andres Tenusaar, Designer and animator for “The Spirit of Tartu”, the light show dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Estonia’s national university
  • Pärt Uusberg, Composer of “... windship with oars of light...”, the large-scale composition for mixed choir and symphony orchestra dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Estonia’s national university
  • Ardo Ran Varres, Composer for “The Spirit of Tartu”, the light show dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Estonia’s national university
University of Tartu Medal
  • Alan Altraja, Professor of Pulmonology, Institute of Clinical Medicine
  • Indrek Aus, Assistant in Otorhinolaryngology, Institute of Clinical Medicine
  • Raul Eamets, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor of Macroeconomics, School of Economics and Business Administration
  • Ülo Langel, Professor of Molecular Biotechnology, Institute of Technology
  • Martin Noorkõiv, PhD student of Media and Communication
  • Renate Pajusalu, Professor of General Linguistics, Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
  • Ando Pehme, Associate Professor in Martial Arts Didactics, Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy
  • Lehti Pilt, Senior Specialist for Educational Technology, Office of Academic Affairs
  • Bakhtier Rasulov, Senior Research Fellow in Plant Biology, Institute of Technology
  • Jüri Roosaare, Associate Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Science and Technology
  • Hannes Tomusk, Assistant in Human Anatomy, Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine
  • Oivi Uibo, Associate Professor of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Institute of Clinical Medicine
  • Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs
  • Heili Varendi, Associate Professor of Paediatrics, Institute of Clinical Medicine
University of Tartu Badge of Distinction
  • Allan Aksiim, Master’s student of Change Management in Society
  • Laura Altin, PhD student of Geography
  • Reelika Alunurm, PhD student of Economics
  • Ene Anijalg, Assistant in Propaedeutics of Internal Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine
  • Jaan Aruväli, Senior Engineer, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
  • Hendrik Ehrpais, Engineer, Tartu Observatory
  • Ilona Faustova, Senior Research Fellow in Molecular Biology, Institute of Technology
  • Peeter Haavik, Caretaker, Estates Office
  • Merit Hallap  Assistant in Speech Therapy (until 2019), Institute of Education
  • Merli Ilves  Master’s graduate of Geography in 2020
  • Sulev Iva Lecturer in South Estonian Language and Culture, Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
  • Julius Juurmaa PhD student of Medicine, medical resident in Radiology
  • Argo Jõeleht  Senior Research Fellow in Geology, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
  • Priit Jõers Associate Professor in General and Microbial Biochemistry, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Peeter Jäme  Caretaker, Estates Office
  • Allen Kaasik, Professor of Molecular Toxicology, Senior Research Fellow in Pharmacology, Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine
  • Karoliina Kalda, Exhibition Specialist, Museum
  • Kaire Kallak, Secretary-Information Specialist, Grant Office
  • Maarja Kalma, Specialist in the Research Group of Physical Activity for Health, Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy
  • Uku Kangur, Bachelor’s student of Computer Science
  • Juri Karjagin, Associate Professor in Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Institute of Clinical Medicine
  • Heili Kasuk, Lecturer of Physical Chemistry, Institute of Chemistry
  • Toivo Kikkas, PhD student of History
  • Tatjana Koor, Assistant in Tourism Management, Pärnu College
  • Tiia Krass, Teacher of English Language Teaching Methodology, Institute of Education
  • Eerik Kurs, Skipper-Engineer, Captain of M/S Aurelie and M/S Emili 007, Estonian Marine Institute
  • Joanna Kurvits, Master’s student of Change Management in Society
  • Andres Kuusk, Scientific Adviser, Tartu Observatory
  • Eha Käige, Secretary, Institute of Clinical Medicine
  • Aitel Käpp, Head of Marketing and Communications, Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Meelis Käärik, Associate Professor in Probability Theory, Institute of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Kalmer Lauk, Analyst of Research and Development, Grant Office
  • Laurits Leedjärv, Senior Research Fellow, Tartu Observatory
  • Helina Leppik, Secretary, Institute of Clinical Medicine
  • Anneli Lorenz, Assistant of Entrepreneurship, School of Economics and Business Administration
  • Maria Murumaa-Mengel, Lecturer in Social Media, Institute of Social Studies
  • Marko Mägi, Research Fellow in Bird Ecology, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
  • Reedik Mägi, Research Professor in Bioinformatics, Institute of Genomics
  • Anu Noorma, Research Professor in Applied Remote Sensing, Tartu Observatory
  • Aime Pahverk, Collector of Ichthyological Material, Estonian Marine Institute
  • Jüri Paljak, Electrician-Repair Worker, Estates Office
  • Sirje Pihlap, Assistant in Didactics of Mathematics, Institute of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Olev Salum, Lecturer in Orthopaedic Stomatology, Institute of Dentistry
  • Elo-Hanna Seljamaa, Senior Research Fellow in Estonian and Comparative Folklore, Institute of Cultural Research
  • Esta Sikkal, Teacher in Didactics and Teaching Practice, Institute of Education
  • Margret Sisask, Assistant to Head of Institute, Specialist in Academic Affairs, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
  • Anton Solbaja, Caretaker, Estates Office
  • Mihkel Solvak, Senior Research Fellow in Technology Research, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
  • Allan Zirk, Senior Specialist, Research Group for Biological Informatics, Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden
  • Ingrit Zolotov, Head of Library, Narva College
  • Peep Talving, Professor of Surgical Diseases, Institute of Clinical Medicine
  • Aile Tamm, Senior Research Fellow in Materials Science, Institute of Physics
  • Maria Tamm, Coordinator, Dean’s Office of Faculty of Arts and Humanities
  • Tarmo Tamm, Senior Research Fellow in Materials Science, Institute of Technology
  • Dorel Tamm-Klaos, Head of Dean’s Office, Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Peeter Tenjes, Senior Research Fellow, Tartu Observatory
  • Mai Toom, Project Theme Manager (until 2020), Institute of Psychology
  • Enda Trubok, Assistant in Estonian Language, Narva College
  • Kenneth Tuul, Chemist, Institute of Chemistry; Specialist, Institute of Physics
  • Neeme Tõnisson, Senior Research Fellow of Medical Genetics, Institute of Genomics
  • Ilmar Uduste, Master’s student of Data Science
  • Aune Unt, Teacher of TV Journalism, Institute of Social Studies
  • Anneli Uusküla, Professor of Epidemiology, Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health
  • Sille Vahtra, Coordinator, Institute of Clinical Medicine
  • Marge Vaikjärv, Graduate of integrated Bachelor’s and Master’s programme of Medicine in 2020
  • Madis Vasser, PhD student of Computer Science
  • Aimar Ventsel, Senior Research Fellow in Ethnology, Institute of Cultural Research
  • Kerstin Ventsel, Master’s student of Educational Innovation
  • Norman Vester, Bachelor’s student of Economics
  • Marili Vihmann, Master’s student of Entrepreneurship and Technology Management
Decoration “100 Semesters at the University of Tartu”
  • Malle Ernits, Library
  • Toivo Hinrikus, Institute of Pharmacy
  • Jüri Jegorov, School of Law
  • Kalle Kaarli, Institute of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Edvitar Leibur, Institute of Dentistry
  • Madis Noppel, Institute of Physics
  • Sirje Olmre, Finance Office
  • Kalju Paju, Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine
  • Jüri Parik, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Mare Peedimaa, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
  • Miia Rannikmäe, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
  • Silvia Russak, Institute of Dentistry
  • Maie Ruus, School of Law
  • Mare Saag, Institute of Dentistry
  • Väino Sammelselg, Institute of Chemistry
  • Ljudmila Savihhina, Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine
  • Jüri Sepp, School of Economics and Business Administration
  • Juta Sikk, School of Economics and Business Administration
  • Vladimir Šor, Institute of Chemistry
  • Illi Tarmu, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
  • Väino Vaske, Institute of Psychology
  • Eevi Vider, Estates Office
Sandra Sommer Press Advisor Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu celebrates the traditional Day of Gustavus Adolphus

3 weeks ago
03.11.2020

On Friday, 6 November, the Day of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, is held in Tartu to mark the 388th anniversary of the founding of the university. The programme of the event includes lectures, placing flowers at monuments and a free concert.

In 1632, Gustavus II Adolphus signed the foundation decree of Academia Dorpatensis (Academia Gustaviana). The day dedicated to that event starts at 15:00 with lectures in English in Jakobi 2, lecture hall 114. First Kaidi Kriisa, Lecturer in Latin at the College of Foreign Languages and Cultures, speaks about the legacy of Gustavus Adolphus in early modern Tartu. “Naturally, the legacy of Gustavus Adolphus is not limited solely to the University of Tartu. The lecture aims to give a comprehensive overview of his importance in Tartu in the early modern period,” Kriisa said.

Then Christer Haglund, Director of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia, gives a talk about the Swedish Day and the Finland-Swedish traditions. “As Finland Swedes, we are probably the best treated ethnic minority in the world. We are lucky to have the freedom to observe the celebrations that are important for Swedes – even when living in Finland,” Haglund said.

At 17:00, flowers are placed at the monument to Johan Skytte, the first chancellor of the University of Tartu, and at the monument of Gustavus II Adolphus.

At 18:00, there is a concert of arias and duets by Claudio Monteverdi, Henry Purcell and Georg Friedrich Händel in the university assembly hall. Admission is free. The soloists, soprano Maria Valdmaa and mezzo-soprano Tuuri Dede, are accompanied by ensemble Floridante.

The event is organised by the University of Tartu, the Department of Scandinavian Studies of the University of Tartu, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden to Estonia, and the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia. The Ambassador of Sweden, His Excellency Mr Mikael Eriksson will also participate in the Day of Gustavus Adolphus.

Further information:
Madis Kanarbik, Honorary Consul of Sweden in Tartu, +372 504 6570, madis.kanarbik [ät] norden.ee (in Estonian, English and Swedish)
Daniel Sävborg, Professor of Scandinavian Studies, University of Tartu, +46 706 034 235, +372 737 6250, daniel.savborg [ät] ut.ee (in English and Swedish)

Sandra Sommer Press Advisor Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Pharmaceutical researchers help to find a new form for colostrum powder

3 weeks 5 days ago
29.10.2020

Colostrum is an exceptionally useful basic product abundant in immune and growth factors. So far, bovine colostrum has been marketed in Estonia in the form of powder meant as a human food supplement and complementary feed for farm animals. Now, researchers of the University of Tartu Institute of Pharmacy are helping producers to develop colostrum-based pharmaceutical preparations.

Colostrum is the milk produced by the cow in the first five days after calving. It has a high dry-matter content and its ingredients give new-born calves passive immunity. As colostrum is very temperature-sensitive, it is not collected by the dairy industry and most often the surplus is disposed of.

For health products, however, colostrum is an important raw material. The company Teadus ja Tegu from Tartu has seized this largely unused economic resource. Väino Poikalainen and Lembit Lepasalu, the leaders of the company, have been valorising colostrum into different products for years. They have developed and implemented technology for collecting and storing colostrum and producing powdered colostrum products for both humans and livestock.

“Colostrum is high in immune factors that protect the body against pathogenic viruses and bacteria, and in growth factors that stimulate the growth of bones, muscles, nerves and tissues as well as balance the level of blood sugar,” said Poikalainen and Lepasalu to describe the benefits of colostrum. While so far, colostrum has been available for human use only as a powder, the company now wants to create pharmaceutical products and expand the range of health-promoting colostrum products.

To develop preparations that are evidence-based and meet pharmaceutical requirements, the company turned to the University of Tartu Institute of Pharmacy, as in addition to the special equipment, devices and tools, the development of such products also requires excellent pharmaceutical knowledge, skills and experience.

The head of the University of Tartu Institute of Pharmacy, Professor in Pharmacognosy Ain Raal admitted that the institute finds it exciting to produce pharmaceutical preparations from Estonian colostrum, especially considering the ultimate goal of bringing health-promoting colostrum powder tablets to the market. “In addition to the powder, we will also add other natural ingredients to the tablet. The skilful combination of ingredients ensures a more versatile effect and a better quality,” said Raal.

The production activities will involve researchers from the Institute of Pharmacy from the fields of pharmacognosy, pharmaceutical technology, pharmaceutical nanotechnology and pharmaceutical analysis. The development of the preparations will include experimental studies to determine the best combination of the main active substance(s) of the colostrum powder and the suitable natural additives, the establishment of a methodology for analysis, the selection of the pharmaceutically suitable delivery systems, assembly of the composition of the modern pharmaceutical forms, the development of prototypes and the study of their keeping quality.

Further information:
Ain Raal
Head of the University of Tartu Institute of Pharmacy, Professor in Pharmacognosy
+372 502 7574
ain.raal [ät] ut.ee

Väino Poikalainen and Lembit Lepasalu
Founders of Teadus ja Tegu OÜ
+372 505 7038
info [ät] teadusjategu.ee / teadusjategu.ee

 

Category: Research
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

New subject rankings confirm the world-class quality of computer science at the University of Tartu

3 weeks 6 days ago
28.10.2020

In the World University Rankings by subjects, published by the reputable Times Higher Education today, the University of Tartu’s computer science has climbed to the highest position ever, reaching the 176–200 band. This result is 75 places higher than last year.

According to Head of the University of Tartu Institute of Computer Science, Professor Jaak Vilo, progress in major fields like life sciences, computer science and medicine has been rapid. “This is significant for the University of Tartu, because strong computer science is essential also for the development of genomics and the medicine of the future, for example” Vilo said.

In his words, the high ranking is the result of long-term work, in which focusing on quality has been given priority before raising quantity. “I am hopeful that the Delta environment enables us to achieve our goals even better, teach the skills and knowledge required by Estonia in the best possible way, and support the development of new technological solutions,” Vilo said.

Besides computer science, also clinical, pre-clinical and health subjects (up 50 places to rank 251–300) and life sciences (up 25 places to rank 151–175) have improved in the rankings compared to last year. All in all, the rankings were published today for 11 subjects, and the University of Tartu is represented in nine of them.

To compile the ranking by subjects, the UK-based weekly magazine Times Higher Education uses the same methodology as the one used for the World University Rankings. For evaluation, they employ 13 performance indicators, which describe the learning environment, research influence, volume of research, academic reputation, income, innovation and international outlook.

Further information:
Jaak Vilo, Head of Institute of Computer Science, Professor of Bioinformatics, University of Tartu, Academician, +372 504 9365, jaak.vilo [ät] ut.ee (for interviews and comments)
Lauri Randveer, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation, University of Tartu, +372 512 9996, lauri.randveer [ät] ut.ee (questions about the ranking and indicators)

 

Sandra Sommer Press Advisor Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Physically active pre-schoolers remain fitter at school

4 weeks ago
27.10.2020

Sports researchers of the University of Tartu studied children from Tartu at their transition from kindergarten to school and found that when a pre-schooler gets to engage in at least one hour of moderate or intense physical activity every day, it will have a positive effect on the child’s physical well‑being also a year later.

Cross-sectional studies conducted among Estonian pre-schoolers and schoolchildren have shown that children’s physical activity is limited and sedentary time is on the rise. This can lead to childhood obesity which affects physical and mental well-being.

Kirkke Reisberg, doctoral student at the University of Tartu Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy, encourages kindergartens and parents to take children outdoors more often, despite the weather, and engage them in active movement – outdoor games, ball games, cycling, jogging, walking –, as it fosters children’s development and ensures a good state of health.

According to international recommendations, children should engage in moderate to intense physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day. “In the kindergarten’s schedule, this means going outdoors about twice a day. For many kindergartens and also parents this may require getting out of their comfort zone, but this benefits the child’s health and has a positive effect on bone tissue, for instance,” said Reisberg.

“Research says that weight-bearing activities together with a sufficient intake of calcium significantly increases bone mineral density and is thus very suitable for preventing osteoporosis. Especially in pre-adolescents, physical activity in childhood increased bone growth by 0.6–1.7% a year,“ explained Reisberg.

Study involving children from Tartu

The positive effect of physical activity was also proven by the sports researchers’ study among 6–8-year-olds from Tartu and its surroundings who finished kindergarten and went to school. 147 children were involved in the study. The researchers aimed to understand the association between physical activity, body composition and fitness and whether and how it affects the child’s physique in transition from kindergarten to school.

In the study, the children’s body composition was determined and, to assess physical activity, the children were asked to use a hip-worn accelerometer for a week. Fitness was measured by various tests: standing long jump, hand dynamometer, shuttle run and endurance run.

The overall results indicated that increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary time in pre-school has a positive effect on the child’s body composition and fitness, including on the strength and agility of lower and upper limbs, also when the child is already at school.

Reisberg pointed out that even five minutes of physical activity brings significant benefits. “If five minutes of sedentary activities of 6.6-year-olds were replaced by high-intensity physical activity, the measurements done a year later showed that there is less fat in the child’s body, thus more fat-free mass, and the child’s fitness is remarkably better,” said Reisberg to illustrate the benefits of even a minor change.

Kirkke Reisberg introduced the study “Associations between physical activity, body composition and fitness in transition from kindergarten to school” at the research conference marking the anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine.

Further information:
Kirkke Reisberg
Doctoral student at the University of Tartu Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy
+372 513 5996
kirkke.reisberg [ät] ut.ee Category: Research
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

New ERA Chair creates opportunities for various fields of research

4 weeks 1 day ago
26.10.2020

A brand new European Research Area (ERA) Chair has started work at the University of Tartu. Scientists believe that research in nanotechnology brings us novel solutions in several areas such as electronics, sensors, energy sources and even biomedical technology.

Nanotechnology is the part of materials science that focuses on the development and exploitation of any kind of structures sized from just a few to a hundred nanometers. Within the last few decades, research in nanotechnology has laid the groundwork of modern technology in various areas. Today, most of the electronics such as computers, phones, and power supplies are based on it.

Despite the fact that nanotechnology has a great impact and is widely used, there is a huge deficit in the existing solutions. The scale of nanotechnology is so different – near the nanoscale, physics starts to behave differently, as atomistic and quantum effects appear. In addition, the conditions needed for using nanotechnology are hard to establish because external factors, such as contamination, vibrations, and temperature fluctuations, are significantly amplified at the nanoscale. This is a challenge for researchers from all over the world. On the other hand, the emergence of nanoscale phenomena gives a wide range of new possibilities.

Researchers of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology are now working to understand the behavior of nanomaterials in extreme environments in the ERA Chair project MATTER. The research is led by Dr Andreas Kyritsakis, the new Associate Professor of Materials in Extreme Environments, and aims to find new structures and technologies that could be used in a wide range of applications.

Interdisciplinarity in nanotechnology

According to Dr Kyritsakis, MATTER aims to connect nanotechnology with his previous research in vacuum breakdown, which he did at the University of Helsinki. Vacuum breakdown is similar to the processes in a thunder, meaning that a strong electric field ionizes the matter, converting it into plasma and creating a strong electric current. For us, the process expresses itself as the buzzing sound inside the thunder. Another everyday life example of this phenomenon is the electric sparks when starting a lighter. “Our aim is to combine high-field phenomena with nanotechnology in order to find applications that are exotic and novel in some ways,” added Dr Kyritsakis.

The research on vacuum breakdown phenomena is inspired by the CERN Compact Linear Collider (CLIC) project, with which the researchers from Tartu have a long-standing collaboration. The CLIC accelerator requires an extremely high electric field that induces nanoscale material response and eventually causes the material to break down. However, Dr Kyritsakis explained that on the other hand, we could successfully exploit these phenomena and use them for manipulating nanoscale structures. This possibly has a wide range of applications starting from robotics to biomedical applications and sensors.

ERA Chair gives more opportunities

Dr Kyritsakis believes that the biggest strength of the ERA Chair is that we can bring all the know-how to the University of Tartu and develop something new by combining both theoretical and experimental work. “It is also flexible and allows to pursue big and bold and more ambitious ideas,” added Kyritsakis. “This is the reason why we are looking for scientists to our team who have their own ideas, ambition, and a vision of what they want to achieve.”

The project combines both theoretical and experimental work, in physics, materials science and computer engineering, and therefore the research is highly interdisciplinary. “This creates the foundation for innovative solutions. The Institute of Technology with its versatility is just the right place to do it,” explained Kyritsakis. The research group is already collaborating with CERN, the Institute of Solid State Physics of the University of Latvia, the University of Helsinki and Uppsala University, but also plans to expand its connections to manufacturing companies.

The director of Institute of Technology Reet Kurg added: “MATTER is already the third ERA Chair project in the Institute of Technology within last five years. We are pleased to welcome young, ambitious scientists with great ideas and passion for science and support them in the process of developing future technologies.“ She also believes that the project will bring new fresh ideas and expertise to the interdisciplinary institute and will strengthen our science overall.

Scientists believe that the research is opening new possibilities in different fields. For example, it can be used in drug delivery and cancer therapy. We can use electric fields to move and manipulate nanomaterials, which means they could be used to efficiently deliver drugs to a specific place in a body in exactly the required quantity and, therefore, not harming the rest of the body. “This is a solution that could be achievable within the next five years in the lab environment,” explained Kyritsakis. “And in addition, the developed technologies can change the way we see different sensors, batteries and electronics.”

The article was originally published in the Research in Estonia blog.

ERA Chair MATTER has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 856705.

Category: Research
Mare Vahtre (mare96)

University of Tartu and Ülemiste City cooperate to create a unique healthy city concept

1 month ago
22.10.2020

On 20 October, the University of Tartu signed a memorandum with Mainor Ülemiste and Technopolis Ülemiste (the developers of Mainor and Ülemiste City) to enter into a broad-based cooperation in the fields of research, development, teaching and traineeship. The signed memorandum establishes a comprehensive health promotion programme, one aim of which is to create a concept of a healthy city that is unique in the world and fosters the mental, physical and social development of the talents living and working there.

Among other actions, the cooperation will lead to the creation of an original model of a healthy city in Ülemiste City, aiming to change and significantly improve the health behaviour of the 12,000 talents living and working in the city. The companies operating in the city will get a tool to help them improve their work environment and health-supporting services.

According to Kadi Pärnits, chair of the management board of Mainor AS that develops Ülemiste City, different models considering the level of companies and individuals have been created, but to her knowledge, no city, campus or developer has so far managed to take the needs of the person’s physical, mental and social health into account at once. “This means the cooperation with the University of Tartu will lead to a solution that is unique in the world and can be developed further in other communities,” said Pärnits.

“We wish that the knowledge created at the University of Tartu would benefit the society faster and faster. I am happy that in Mainor, the university has found a partner who is willing to engage in a diverse cooperation. We have agreed that in creating the healthy city concept we will mediate the opportunities for research and development, teaching and traineeship. By that,
we can change the understanding of what a human-friendly densely populated area could look like,” said Toomas Asser, Rector of the University of Tartu.

Ursel Velve, member of the management board of Mainor Ülemiste, explained that the cooperation proceeds from a sense of mission and the wish to focus on prevention instead of dealing with the consequences. Velve finds it important to contribute to social values, think about how to increase the talents’ everyday wellbeing and sense of belonging and thus improve their mental health. “We are aiming to create an ever motivating environment for working, living and development, in which the infrastructure fosters communication and movement and, together with community action, facilitates new success stories. This helps to decrease the risk of stress, exhaustion and burnout,” Velve added.

The University of Tartu started to develop the three-stage talent’s health model already in spring. It is part of a large study of the university, focusing on three main influence factors: the person’s physical, mental and social health. These are monitored on three levels: what could be done by the employee, by the employer and by the city as a whole.

Further information: Andres Vaher, Consultant at the communications firm Dalton, 507 9643, andres [ät] dalton.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Advisor Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: UniversityPress release
Marika Koppel (mkoppel)
Checked
24.11.2020 - 19:23
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