Tartu University News

University of Tartu to develop photonics with a €2.5m grant from the European Union

23 hours 56 minutes ago

University of Tartu researchers are embarking on an extensive five-year project, during which a Centre of Photonics and Computational Imaging (CPCI) will be established with a €2.5m ERA Chair grant from the European Commission. The new centre will bring together the university’s expertise in photonics and related fields, and will also include a newly formed research group led by a top-level computational imaging researcher. A call for this position has been announced already.

Computational imaging is a rapidly evolving subfield of photonics, which has applications in microscopy, medicine, robotics, remote sensing and astronomy. The range of applications increases with advances in sensor technology, computer algorithms and on-board computing capacity.

Computational imaging uses computational methods to enhance the image quality, resolution or add spatial dimension to the image beyond the physical or technical limits of the imaging system. By nature, the research is interdisciplinary, and embraces the extensive competence of the University of Tartu in optics, spectroscopy, mathematics, computer science and their applications. The field of computational imaging falls under photonics – an application-oriented science of light, which belongs to the Key Enabling Technologies of the European Commission.

The project coordinator Heli Lukner, Senior Research Fellow of Physical Optics at the University of Tartu, sees the enormous potential photonics, incl. computational imaging, can offer technological development and further to the economy in Estonia and on a global scale. “The importance and impact of photonics in the 21st century is comparable to that of electricity during the previous century. The new project enables the University of Tartu researchers to vigorously develop this innovative field of research. The importance of the grant agreement cannot be overestimated, as it gives us an opportunity to foster excellence in research and photonics education, enhance the visibility of research, participate in international networks and find applications for research results,” Lukner said.

More information can be found on the project web site. The call for ERA Chair holder position for top-level researchers in computational imaging is open until 15 November 2019.

Further information: Heli Lukner, UT Senior Research Fellow in Physical Optics and project coordinator, +372 5691 5519, heli.lukner [ät] ut.ee

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


Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Improving treatment protocols of a common birth defect in Vietnam

3 days 18 hours ago

Cleft lip and palate (CLP) is one of the most prevalent congenital anomalies in the world. This diagnosis is given to one in every 677 live births in Vietnam. As this is a major issue, it requires a comprehensive approach. A Vietnamese doctoral student at the University of Tartu conducted the first study of the treatment outcomes of patients with CLP in his home country to improve deformity-related health behaviour and the organisation and monitoring of treatment. Since there is not enough competence in Vietnam, the locals in need of help are getting aid from organisations and scientists from all over Europe, including Estonia.

In his doctoral thesis, Van Thai Nguyen, a doctoral student at the Faculty of Medicine, states that the average prevalence of CLP worldwide is one diagnosis per 700 live births, so the percentage of children born with this diagnosis in Vietnam is especially high. Children born with CLP need the help of specialists from several fields and their treatment may last from birth to adulthood.

Nguyen noted that many Vietnamese patients hope to get treatment through international charity organisations. The problem is that the teams from charity organisations focus primarily on the surgical closure of the cleft, and they do not have time to provide other treatment methods, such as speech therapy and orthodontic treatment. There are no systematic post-operative follow-ups, and thus, the treatment outcomes of these patients have not been evaluated.

Therefore, the purpose of Nguyen’s doctoral thesis was to evaluate the treatment outcomes of the patients with CLP who have been operated on by doctors from international charity organisations, and based on the conclusions, make suggestions for changing the organisation of health care in Vietnam.

A total of 81 patients with CLP were included in the study. Nguyen evaluated various indicators, such as dental health; nasolabial aesthetics; speech quality; craniofacial morphology: maxillary arch dimensions and upper airway structures; satisfaction of patients and their parents or guardians, and how well mothers are coping after the birth of a child with CLP.

As the main result of his doctoral thesis, Nguyen emphasises the urgent need for establishing a national cleft registry in Vietnam, in order to make it possible to coordinate and monitor the treatment of patients. Also, diagnostic minimum requirements for monitoring patients need to be developed and implemented. “We are going to suggest the organisations organising health care in Vietnam to improve the availability of procedures related to dental health, orthodontic treatment and logopaedic services,” said Nguyen.

According to the supervisor of the doctoral student and an associate professor in orthodontics, Triin Jagomägi, Nguyen is the fourth student from Vietnam to defend a doctoral thesis at the University of Tartu’s Faculty of Medicine. “I am glad that years of cooperation between the University of Tartu and Vietnamese medical universities has yielded a new generation of medical professionals in Vietnam who can use their good knowledge and skills to help improve the health of locals,” said Jagomägi who, in recent years, has been leading the project “Joint capacity building in biomedical higher education through adopting international academic standards and transferring technology between European and Vietnam universities”.

According to Jagomägi, Estonian scientists supported Nguyen by helping him develop research methodology and relate it to the needs of Vietnam. “Estonian patients were also included in the study as a control group. The treatment outcomes of patients treated and monitored according to internationally recognised treatment protocols were compared to those that have been achieved in Vietnam where no other treatment is offered except the surgical closure of the cleft,” said Jagomägi describing the support given to the young Vietnamese colleague by Estonian scientists.

Supervisors of the doctoral thesis “The First Study of the Treatment Outcomes of Patients with Cleft Lip and Palate in Central Vietnam” are Triin Jagomägi, an Associate Professor in Orthodontics at the University of Tartu, and Associate Professor Toai Nguyen from Vietnam.

The translation of this article was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.

More information:
Triin Jagomägi
Associate Professor in Orthodontics at the University of Tartu, and supervisor of the doctoral thesis
+372 515 3634
triin.jagomagi [ät] ut.ee Category: Research
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

Tartu University researchers help reveal Scythians' true identity

4 days 12 hours ago

Researchers at the University of Tartu have led the way in uncovering the history of the Scythians, nomadic peoples who inhabited vast swathes of southern Russia, Ukraine and central Asia from around the 9th century BC to the 4th century AD.

Given their distance in time (the Scythians were mentioned by Herodotus who lived in the fifth century BC), there are still large gaps in knowledge as to who the Scythians really were.

Read futher from ERR.

Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Strategies for reducing mortality from heart disease

6 days 17 hours ago

In recent decades, mortality from cardiovascular diseases, especially from ischaemic heart disease and myocardial infarction has decreased in Estonia, but it is still higher than the European average. A doctoral thesis by Aet Saar, a doctoral student at the University of Tartu’s Institute of Clinical Medicine, found that in order to keep this on the decrease, the risk factors for ischaemic disease, such as smoking and high blood pressure, need to be lowered and myocardial infarction treatment improved.

According to Aet Saar, age-standardized mortality rates per 100,000 individuals from ischaemic heart disease fell from 1,285 to 388 in men and from 837 to 211 in women from 1985 to 2014. “Despite the fast improvement, Estonia remains among the highest-risk countries in Europe for cardiovascular diseases,” noted Saar.

In Estonia and elsewhere, the mortality rate from the ischaemic heart disease is mainly affected by two factors: how many individuals develop the disease, and how large a proportion of these patients die from it. “The incidence can be reduced by lowering risk factors prevalent in the population, such as smoking, high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia. Mortality reduction requires better treatment of myocardial infarction and more efficient intervention for preventing repeated attacks. This means that for further reducing mortality, this topic needs to be looked at comprehensively: attention must be paid to the prevention on ischaemic heart disease (primary prevention), treatment of the acute phase of myocardial infarction, as well as to preventing repeated coronary events (secondary prevention),” said Saar.

According to Saar, the cornerstone to prevention is identifying the highest risk individuals and providing them preventive treatment. The latest cardiovascular disease prevention guideline by the European Society of Cardiology stresses the importance of using validated local risk estimation systems for guiding decisions in primary prevention.

Quantification of cardiovascular risk among healthy individuals is a matter of the utmost importance, especially in Eastern Europe where the mortality rates are still significantly higher compared to Western Europe and Northern America. While the accuracy of cardiovascular risk estimation has received well-deserved attention in developed countries where cardiovascular disease rates have shown a decline over the last decades, these studies are considerably lacking in high-risk populations. Since most validation studies are carried out on populations with low cardiovascular disease rates, results may not be generalizable to high-risk populations.

The results of the thesis provide insights into the topic of how prediction tools work in high-risk countries – the place where the need for primary prevention is the greatest. The suitability of risk scores for the Estonian population has thus far not been assessed. The study aimed to investigate the predictive ability of three widely used risk scores – Pooled Cohort Equations (PCE), QRISK2 and Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) – in Estonia – a high-risk European population. The study was carried out on the Estonian Biobank cohort, which is a representative sample of the Estonian adult population. The doctoral thesis “Acute Myocardial Infarction in Estonia 2001–2014: Towards Risk-Based Prevention and Management” showed that two of the three risk scores are suited for evaluating the risk for cardiovascular diseases in Estonia: the SCORE used in Europe and the American PCE. The QRISK2 used in the United Kingdom significantly underestimated the probability of incidence and would need to be adjusted to Estonian conditions before it can be used here.

These findings highlight that many risk scores that are developed in low risk countries perform at an acceptable level in high-risk countries and their use in clinical practice should be encouraged. However, the predictive accuracy of the score should be evaluated prior to use.

The need for preventive treatment is decided based on risk evaluation. “A greater risk requires earlier and more efficient intervention, primarily via medication affecting blood cholesterol levels, but in the case of increased blood pressure, for example, also via preparations to lower it. Furthermore, individuals at a greater risk need more lifestyle-related advice,” described Saar.

The second part of the thesis described the changes over time in treatment quality of myocardial infarction. As a problem, Saar highlighted the so-called risk-treatment paradox. According to the paradox, patients with the highest risk are treated less efficiently than lower-risk patients. “Therefore, to further improve post-infarction survival, more attention needs to be paid to the highest-risk patients, including the elderly, and patients with diabetes and chronic kidney disease,” emphasised Saar.

Aet Saar’s supervisors are academic and Professor of Cardiology, Jaan Eha; research fellows of cardiology, Tiia Ainla and Toomas Marandi, and Professor of Mathematical Statistics, Krista Fischer.

The translation of this article was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.

More information:
Aet Saar,
Doctoral Student at the Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tartu
aetsaar [ät] gmail.com Category: Research
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

University of Tartu maintains a high position in tough competition with the world’s best universities

1 week ago

The Times Higher Education (THE), which is considered the world’s most reputable compiler of university rankings, has published the most recent ranking of the best universities. In the 2019 ranking the University of Tartu continues in the 301st–350th band, while the results of European universities in general show a downward trend.

THE rankings, published since 2004, is considered the world’s most reputable and objective university ranking which compares world research universities across all core missions. The ranking considers 13 performance indicators which are grouped into five areas: the learning environment (30% of the final result), research (30%), research influence (30%), industry income (2.5%) and international outlook (7.5%).

According to Lauri Randveer, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation at the University of Tartu, our research influence plays the most important role in our ranking. “Like in previous years, it is the number of citations per publication that puts the wind in the sails of our alma mater. For this indicator, we rank 216th,” he said.

According to Vice Rector for Development Erik Puura, the university in its strategic plan and activities does not focus on achieving high rankings, but it is pleasant that the university has maintained its position. “We are known and recognised more widely on the international level. Namely the influence of our researchers has reinforced our strong position in the rankings,” said Puura.

“The University of Tartu is a nationwide brand, which has made us famous as a smart and educated country,” the vice rector said. However, Puura also pointed out serious problems in higher education funding: “If we look at the government’s contribution to research and higher education, the critical question in the upcoming years is whether we are able to keep the achieved level in future.”

For this year’s ranking, THE ranked 1,300 best universities in the world. This year again the University of Oxford tops the list with California Institute of Technology ranking second and the University of Cambridge holding the third place.

Read more about the methodology of the ranking and browse the full list of universities on THE website.

Further information:
Lauri Randveer, UT Senior Specialist for International Cooperation, 737 5510, lauri.randveer [ät] ut.ee
Erik Puura, UT Vice Rector for Development, 506 9882, 737 4802, erik.puura [ät] ut.ee (On 12 Sept, Mr Puura is available for questions by email only.)

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Estonian experts help create an international joint procurement network

1 week 2 days ago

In May this year, a network of procurement practitioners in the field of security was established in the course of iProcureNet project. The European Commission-funded network aims to create conditions for and facilitate cross-border joint procurement of internal security products and services. Estonia is represented in the network by the Police and Border Guard Board and the University of Tartu as the only academic partner.

The network will make it possible for public agencies of different countries to carry out cross-border joint procurement. To this end, 15 partners from 11 European countries, incl. Estonia, Bulgaria, Spain, Cyprus, Lithuania, Portugal, France, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, have joined forces. The work will involve contracting authorities, legal and innovation experts, researchers and end users.

The new network will have several advantages. According to Marine Thevenin, representative of the French Ministry of Interior, the joint procurement of security solutions will optimise costs and create a common European market in the field of security.

Internal security procurements are specific and complex by nature. For example, they may include orders of body armour, bomb detection robots or other specific technical equipment, none of which are regular consumer goods. “On the other hand, countries have very similar needs and, for instance, the Finnish and Estonian Police could perfectly procure security products jointly in the future,” said Hannes Järvine, Lead Law Enforcement Officer of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.

The Police and Border Guard Board is in charge of the project feasibility analysis and preparing of recommendations. All the information concerning joint procurement will hopefully soon be available on a website.

A team led by Associate Professor Mari Ann Simovart at the School of Law of the University of Tartu will analyse the project from legal aspects and work out joint procurement methods. “Although the law already allows countries to jointly procure products and services, there are no specific instructions or reliable methods for actually conducting cross-border procurement in such a sensitive and complex field as internal security,” Simovart said.

Many issues need a legal solution. “For example, we need to consider which law should be applied at each stage, how to conduct cooperation from the preparation of public procurement to the delivery of the order, and what the main legal risks are in joint procurement, for instance, in the case of confidential procurement,” Simovart explained.

The project also analyses innovation opportunities – internal security agencies may sometimes need a service or a product that does not exist yet. “The option to order an innovative product or service through public procurement must definitely be included in the international security procurement system right from the beginning. This, however, is not an easy task,” Järvine said.

In the course of the iProcureNet project, participants seek cooperation with as many partners as possible, including law enforcement authorities, non-governmental organisations, other EU project leaders, and policy-makers.

The project is funded by Horizon 2020, the EU framework programme for research and innovation. Read more about the project on the European Commission’s website. Have a look at the official press release.

Further information:
Hannes Järvine, Lead Law Enforcement Officer, Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, +372 517 3244, hannes.jarvine [ät] politsei.ee
Mari Ann Simovart, Associate Professor in Civil Law, University of Tartu, +372 627 1883, mariann.simovart [ät] ut.ee

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


Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu and Graanul Invest to launch innovative doctoral project on chemical and biotechnological wood valorisation

2 weeks 2 days ago

The University of Tartu and Graanul Biotech, which belongs to the Graanul Invest Group, will join forces to create a unique platform for training leading specialists who correspond to companies’ wishes and profiles and for cooperation on product development. According to the cooperation agreement, a doctoral student from the University of Tartu will study the properties of wood-derived lignin in his doctoral thesis and cooperate with Graanul Biotech in order to develop the final commercial product.

According to University of Tartu Vice-Rector for Research Kristjan Vassil, contemporary wood chemistry and bioprocessing allows local bioresources to be valorised into final products with great additional value, but this has yet to gain ground in Estonia. “The university wants to use its research competence to help companies, but we also expect significant support from the state for developing Estonian wood chemistry and bioprocessing,” said Vassil. Estonia has certain technical wood processing capabilities – for instance, we are one of the largest exporters of wood houses in Europe – but wood chemistry and bioprocessing present the perfect opportunity to move towards an economic model that offers greater added value.

The doctoral project will be carried out at the Wood Chemistry and Bioprocessing Core Laboratory, which was established on the basis of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology and Institute of Chemistry and the Estonian Centre for Synthetic Biology. The core laboratory mainly focuses on chemical and biotechnological valorising technology for wood and biomass and optimising industrial processes.

Graanul Biotech OÜ is in the process of establishing a unique plant for wood fractionation (disintegration into primary particles) in Estonia, one of the main products of which is hydrolysis lignin. This lignin has many applications and can be used in resins, glues, oils, plastics, construction materials and more.

In the course of the development work, doctoral student Kait Kaarel Puss is planning to optimise the stages of lignin processing and to obtain a comprehensive overview of the impact of industrial processing methods on the properties of lignin. The applied research plan of his doctoral thesis involves a range of technological solutions for studying the properties of wood-derived lignin and cooperation with the company in order to develop a marketable final product.

Puss’ supervisors, University of Tartu Researcher of Organic Chemistry Siim Salmar and Professor of Molecular Systems Biology Mart Loog, expect the initiative to be a success: there is already a plan to launch similar special doctoral programmes and industrial projects in cooperation with other companies. Puss’ supervisor in the company is Peep Pitk, R&D Manager of Graanul Invest.

“We are really pleased to have found a partner in the University of Tartu who sees wood valorsiation in innovative value chains as a clear priority and who is prepared to take real steps to facilitate cooperation with companies via applied research,” said Pitk. According to Pitk, the first clearly defined cooperation project is a step in the right direction because it presents a good opportunity to include the latest results of world-class research in product development at an early stage and thus increase competitiveness on the market for innovative materials.

“Companies which are interested in doctoral programmes that allow you to kill two birds with one stone – to conduct research that is necessary for product development and to train leading specialists who match the company’s profile – are always welcome to negotiate with us,” said Loog. He added that the University of Tartu is also planning to cooperate with the labs of TalTech and the Estonian University of Life Sciences in order to expand its technological and scientific capabilities.

Additional information: Mart Loog, UT Professor of Molecular Systems Biology, mart.loog [ät] ut.ee, +372 51 75 698

Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

This academic year starts differently at the University of Tartu

2 weeks 6 days ago

On 2 September, 14,092 new students start their studies at the University of Tartu in its 101st academic year as Estonia’s national university. The opening ceremony of the academic year is held in the afternoon at Kassitoome in a more relaxed atmosphere than usual. Photo exhibition “Faces of the University III” is opened on the wall of Von Bock House with a humorous play by Mart Kivastik.

The University of Tartu’s student body increases this year by 4297 new students, including 2548 students who start at the first level of higher education, 1589 as master’s students and 160 as doctoral students. Last year 4384 students, including 648 international students, were matriculated. This year 649 of the new students are international students. All in all, 14,092 students start the new 2019/2020 academic year at the University of Tartu: 8433 first-level students, 4425 master’s students and 1234 doctoral students.

According to Rector Professor Toomas Asser, this year is a special year for the university. “On 1 December we celebrate the 100th anniversary of providing higher education in the Estonian language. This celebration is not only for the University of Tartu; it is for entire Estonia. As Estonia’s national university we have served the Estonian society – and will serve in the future –, taking care of our economy, law, culture and language. Soon we will hand this responsible role over to the new generation, definitely including today’s first-year students. We expect these young people to be committed and demanding towards themselves and lecturers,” said Asser.

At 14 the photo exhibition “Faces of the University III”, featuring scientists of the University of Tartu, is opened on the end wall of the Von Bock House (Ülikooli street 16). Forty-five scientists representing all faculties and institutions of the university are looking out of eleven windows of the house onto the residents of and visitors to the city. The photographer for the “Faces of the University III” exhibition was Andres Tennus and designer Maarja Roosi. Previous exhibitions in the series were opened on the end wall of the Von Bock House to mark the 375th anniversary of the University of Tartu and the 95th anniversary of Estonia’s national university.

The exhibition is opened with a short humorous play “Looking for Sophocles” written specifically for this event by Mart Kivastik. In the play, rectors Henrik Koppel and Arnold Koop and linguist Paul Ariste are trying to find the legendary Sophocles Café in the main building of the university. The play was directed by Ain Mäeots and is performed by Andres Lepik, Andres Dvinjaninov and Jüri Lumiste.

At 16 all university members, new students and guests are welcome to the opening ceremony of the academic year at Kassitoome. After the traditional speeches there is a concert performance by students of the University of Tartu’s Viljandi Culture Academy. After the ceremony, attendees are invited to participate in joint singing led by musicians Inga and Toomas Lunge. Everyone is welcome to bring blankets and picnic baskets with them.

At 19 the Estonian Public Broadcasting team expects exactly 800 people to gather in front of the university’s main building to shoot a crowd scene for the new TV series about Estonia’s national university. In 1919 approximately 800 Estonians had obtained higher education – and the team wants the same number of people to gather in front of the main building.

Live broadcast of the ceremony can be viewed on uttv.ee.

On 1 December the University of Tartu will celebrate the 100th anniversary of operating as an Estonian-speaking university. Programme of the centenary events is available on the website.

Further information: Kady Sõstar, UT Senior Specialist for Protocol, 511 9188, kady.sostar [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Iris Herman (iris93)

Bolt kicks off self-driving technology research in partnership with the University of Tartu

3 weeks ago

Bolt, the leading European on-demand transportation platform, is partnering with the University of Tartu for an applied research project on the development of self-driving technology for a Level 4 autonomous car. The project will contribute to Bolt’s vision of making moving around cities easier, quicker and more reliable.

The research sets a goal for integrating autonomous vehicles (AVs) on Bolt’s transportation platform by 2026. In the short-term, Bolt will collaborate with the University of Tartu to run AV pilots in suitable urban areas.

While Bolt has previously held machine-learning contests, challenging participants to model an autonomous fleet using the platform’s data, the partnership steps up Bolt’s commitment in exploring ways how autonomous fleets can in 5-10 years start augmenting or replacing human drivers on some routes.

The research partnership between Bolt and the University of Tartu (UT) is aimed at achieving Level 4 autonomy, which is defined as not requiring human intervention in most of the situations, apart from driving in uncharted areas or extreme weather conditions.

Jevgeni Kabanov, Chief Product Officer, Bolt said: “We’re already helping millions of people move around their cities easier and faster. With the growing demand for ride-hailing services, autonomous vehicle technology will provide a solution for transportation problems on an increasingly broader scale.

Rather than developing our own vehicle, the goal of this project is to build our self-driving technology with a focus on software and maps, on top of existing platforms and open-source software. This approach allows us to leverage our team’s expertise in deep learning, maps and optimization.”

Anne Jääger, Head of Industry Collaboration at UT Institute of Computer Science, said: “Collaboration with Bolt gives us a great opportunity to do applied research in autonomous driving technologies through practical lab experiments in real traffic environment in various research directions. Our scientists will support Bolt in developing self-driving vehicle-based services and by involving students in lab experiments we’ll prepare them for future careers in the field of autonomous technologies."

The partnership agreement between Bolt and the University of Tartu was signed in the spring of 2019. Vehicles equipped with self-driving technology are expected to start first road tests in early 2020.

Bolt is the leading European on-demand transportation platform that’s focused on making urban travel easier, quicker and more reliable. Founded by Markus Villig, Bolt launched in 2013. It’s one of the fastest-growing transportation platforms in Europe and Africa with investors including Daimler, Didi Chuxing, Korelya Capital and TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus. Bolt has more than 25 million users in over 30 countries globally.

Additional information: Karin Kase, Bolt PR manager, +372 524 4233, press [ät] bolt.eu

Category: Research
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Opening of ‘Faces of the University III’ photo exhibition on wall of von Bock building

3 weeks 3 days ago

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 The third photo exhibition, featuring scientists from the University of Tartu, will be opened on the end wall of the von Bock building (Ülikooli 16) in the jubilee year of the national university.  

Over the next five years, 45 scientists from all fields and institutions of the university will be keeping an eye on the activities of both citizens of and visitors to Tartu from the 11 windows of the building. Toomas Asser, Alar Karis and Jaak Aaviksoo will be looking out of the rectors’ window.

Andres Tennus is the photographer behind the ‘Faces of the University III’ exhibition, which was designed by Maarja Roosi.

Mark Kivastik penned a humorous short play entitled ‘Looking for Sophocles’ for the opening of the exhibition. It was directed by Ain Mäeots.

‘Looking for Sophocles’ tells the story of Henrik Koppel (rector from 1920-1928), Arnold Koop (rector from 1970-1988) and linguist Paul Ariste in their search for Café Sophocles in the underworld, even though it was closed for good a long time ago. In the old days, Ariste would take his students to the café and this time he has ‘the boys’ in tow again. Instead of the café, they reach the window of the former Marx building.

Further information: Kulno Kungla, Manager of Tartu Student Club, 730 2401, kulno.kungla [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Top conference underscores how software engineering powers the digital age

3 weeks 6 days ago

The University of Tartu Institute of Computer Science is co-organizing the 27th ACM Joint European Software Engineering Conference and Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (ESEC/FSE). This top conference in the field of Software Engineering will take place in Tallinn from August 26–30.

ESEC/FSE features outstanding research and best practices in the field of Software Engineering and it brings together more than 350 researchers, practitioners and educators from top universities and companies, such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook to exchange the latest research results and trends, as well as their practical application in all areas of software engineering.

Software engineering is interwoven throughout almost all aspects of computing and is the engine of many of the fastest-growing areas in technology ― including artificial intelligence, mobile apps, and blockchain technologies. ESEC/FSE encompasses the most important developments in the field and includes talks on recent innovations in software engineering, industry best practices, software engineering of the future, workshops, tool demonstrations and a Student Research Competition.

Joanne Atlee from the University of Waterloo, Marta Kwiatkowska from the University of Oxford and Audris Mockus from the University of Tennessee are the keynote speakers of the conference. Full program of ESEC/FSE 2019 program can be found online.

“By combining the ESEC and FSE conferences into one event, we have formed the world’s most important forum on the state of software engineering research and practice,” says Marlon Dumas, General Co-chair and professor of information systems of University of Tartu. “At ESEC/FSE researchers and practitioners are the first to interact with the latest innovations in the field through the conference’s highly competitive research papers program as well as outstanding applied research in the industry track. Importantly they also actively engage with their peers by participating in ESEC/FSE’s workshops and tool demonstrations,” added Dumas.

“Several trends are reshaping the software industry, including the growth of cloud computing, big data collection and analytics, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity,” added Dietmar Pfahl, General Co-chair and Professor of Software Engineering in the University of Tartu. “We’ve put together a comprehensive program that also welcomes multidisciplinary work at the interface between software engineering and other topics such as artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, programming languages and systems engineering,” added Pfahl.   

The event is being organized in collaboration with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the ACM Special Interest Group on Software Engineering (SIGSOFT). ACM is the  world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM SIGSOFT focuses on issues related to all aspects of software development and maintenance.

For further information please contact: Dietmar Pfahl, UT Professor of Software Engineering, +372 737 5432, +474 044 8055, dietmar.pfahl [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Giving students more autonomy in gym class has far-reaching benefits

4 weeks 1 day ago

Studies show that students’ health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is declining with age. This has an adverse effect on their physical, social, emotional and academic capabilities. Since young people spend a large portion of their time at school, the school as a whole, as well as the physical education teachers, have an important role on the students’ HRQoL. A doctoral thesis written at the University of Tartu showed that for ensuring students’ HRQoL, teachers need to reduce controlling behaviour towards students and pay more attention to behaviour that would support the autonomy of students.

A doctoral student at the University of Tartu’s Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy, Henri Tilga, said that in studies, children coming into adolescence admit that they are physically less active, have trouble concentrating, their cognitive abilities while studying have decreased and relationships with teachers are no longer as good as they could be.

“The key factor here is how the student perceives the teacher. Self-determination theory divides teachers’ behaviour towards students in two: controlling and autonomy-supportive. When with the former, the teacher’s attitude is commanding and unyielding towards students’ choices, then with the latter, the teacher is understanding, gives students relevant information, options and opportunities,” explained Tilga. With a controlling teacher, a student may feel that their psychological needs are thwarted or frustrated. For example, the student may feel that their actions are not self-determined, that they are not capable of completing the required task, or they do not feel a sense of solidarity with their classmates. With an autonomy-supportive teacher, the student is likely to perceive their psychological needs to be fulfilled.

The doctoral thesis by Henri Tilga, a specialist at the University of Tartu’s Department of Physical Education and Sport, includes four studies conducted among 28 physical education teachers and 3,870 students between the ages of eleven and fifteen from 75 Estonian schools. The practical aim of the doctoral thesis is to raise awareness in physical education teachers about autonomy-supportive as well as controlling behaviour, and their effect on students.

The doctoral thesis showed that in order to improve students’ HRQoL, physical education teachers need to reduce controlling behaviour including intimidation. HRQoL affects students’ physical, social, emotional and academic functioning. A student with better HRQoL feels they can complete physically strenuous exercises, they get along with other students, sleep well and are academically successful. With a decline in HRQoL, their relationships with classmates may deteriorate, they may feel scared or worried, have difficulty concentrating in class and miss more classes. “The positive effect of supporting autonomy and the negative effect of controlling behaviour take different paths. When a teacher intimidates a student, later affirmation will not compensate for the intimidation. Controlling behaviour must be decreased. We need to pay more attention to both behaviours at schools,” said Tilga.

The results of the studies showed that physical education teachers need to offer students cognitive, procedural and organisational autonomy support. “This means that to support students’ HRQoL, physical education teachers should try to understand the student, show interest in their wishes, encourage them and increase their self-confidence, create discussion, explain why something is being learnt, guide them towards finding solutions and give an overview of the learning process. The students should have the opportunity to choose between the exercises, equipment and exercise place. The teacher should know how to accept different reasonable solutions,” described Tilga.

Based on research, a web-based training programme has been developed, which gives physical education teachers feedback on their behaviour, its effects on students as well as on the more specific mechanisms behind this influence.

The translation of this article was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.

More information:
Henri Tilga
Specialist at the University of Tartu Department of Physical Education and Sport, Doctoral Student
+372 737 5382
henri.tilga [ät] ut.ee Category: StudiesResearch
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

A German chemist visits University of Tartu and gives lecture about the possibilities of applying artificial intelligence in chemistry related research fields

1 month ago

On Monday, August 26, Professor Johann Gasteiger will give a lecture at the Chemicum of the University of Tartu. A professor at Friedrich Alexander University in Germany talks about "Artificial Intelligence in Chemistry - From Drug Design to the Prediction of Material Properties".

According to Uko Maran, senior researcher of molecular technology at the University of Tartu, researchers have always relied on experiments and data when studying chemical compounds and their properties. "To facilitate this acquisition of knowledge different computational methods, such as artificial neural networks, have been introduced," he explained.

"In his presentation, Johann Gasteiger gives an overview of the applications of artificial intelligence and cheminformatics in analytical chemistry, drug design, biochemistry, cosmetics products and materials science," Maran added. Professor Johann Gasteiger is one of the pioneers in cheminformatics and an application of artificial neural networks in chemistry and related research fields.

Gasteiger defended his PhD degree in organic chemistry at the University of Munich and completed his postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley. He started his academic career as an assistant professor at the Technical University of Munich. He received his habilitation under the guidance of Ivar Ugi, an Estonian-born German chemist, and has been a long-time professor at the Computational Chemistry Centre which he co-founded at Univeristy of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

In addition to his academic career, the professor has been active in in commercialisation research results - he founded the chemical software company Molecular Networks GmbH. He has been awarded several research awards and has participated in various advisory boards and organizations in academia and in industry. Professor Johann Gasteiger has also written and edited books, some of which can be considered the seminal books of cheminformatics.

The lecture will be held on August 26, at 14:00, in the Chemicum of the University of Tartu, at Ravila 14a Str., in auditorium 1021. The lecture is funded by the European Regional Development Fund within University of Tartu ASTRA project PER ASPERA.

Further information: Uko Maran, senior researcher of molecular technology at University of Tartu, +372 737 5254, +372 503 7163, uko.maran [ät] ut.ee

Category: International
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu’s Centre for Entrepreneurship of Delta Centre Celebrates Completion of First Construction Stage

1 month 1 week ago

On Thursday 1 August at 15:00 p.m., the University of Tartu’s Centre for Entrepreneurship celebrated the completion of the first construction stage.

“I am very pleased that construction has so far gone as planned and stayed on schedule,” said Heiki Pagel, Head of the Real Estate Department of the university. “In order to recognise the constructors for achieving the maximum height of the building, we invited the future tenants of the building and all the constructors to the celebration of the completion of the first construction stage.”

The Delta Centre, situated in the heart of Tartu on the bank of Emajõgi, consists of an educational and research building and an entrepreneurship building. The educational and research building is estimated to be transferred to the university by the end of this year and the entrepreneurship building in January. The Institute of Computer Sciences, the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and some laboratories of the Institute of Technology can move to the educational and research building at the beginning of next year.

The entrepreneurship building of the Delta Centre is a five-story business building which will have approximately 3500 m2 of rental area. It aims to bring education and research-related, science-based entrepreneurship as close to the university as possible, creating opportunities for diverse cooperation. Machine learning and data science competence centre STACC OÜ, Cybernetica AS, AS SEB Pank, Statistics Estonia, Swedbank AS, the Business Incubation Centre of the European Space Agency and Tartu Science Park will move to the entrepreneurship building.

According to Erik Puura, Vice Rector for Development of the University of Tartu, the Delta buildings will boast an environment where scientists, professors, students, entrepreneurs and supporters of creating and developing companies meet. “Research-intensive companies growing together with the university make new ideas move fast,” he believes.

The whole Delta Centre has been designed by the architecture firm Arhitekt11 OÜ. Both the educational and entrepreneurship building is constructed by AS Ehitusfirma Rand ja Tuulberg and AS Ehitustrust. The construction of the educational building is funded by the University of Tartu.

Additional information: Heiki Pagel, Head of the Real Estate Department of the University of Tartu, 737 5110, 503 2021, heiki.pagel [ät] ut.ee

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


Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Researchers from the International Society for Child Indicators will hold a conference in Tartu

1 month 1 week ago

On the 27–29th of August, the International Society for Child Indicators (ISCI) will be holding their annual conference in Tartu. Head of the organizing committee Dagmar Kutsar from the University of Tartu says that what makes the conference special is the symbiosis of scientists, practitioners and policymakers who come together for one goal – to find better ways to increase child well-being.

Even though the field of research in children’s subjective well-being is relatively new, it has helped us understand the merits and drawbacks of children’s lives a lot better, says Dagmar Kutsar, researcher at the University of Tartu. “It’s really an honor to host such a conference here in Tartu. It gives our local practitioners and policymakers a one of a kind opportunity to learn from the best scientists in the field and put that knowledge into practice,” she says.

The conference warmly welcomes some of the greatest minds in the field of children’s well-being. For example, Elizabeth Fernandez from Australia will be joining us. She has studied so-called “Stolen childhoods” of Australia. In 1930–1989 many children from native Australians were taken from their homes and put into children’s homes to grow them into true Europeans. However, the conditions there often didn’t meet proper standards – children’s rights and human rights were not ensured and many of them were mistreated. That resulted in childhood trauma still affecting the people today. Fernandez has studied the childhood memories of those taken from their families and will join the conference to discuss her findings.

Many of the talks and discussions will concentrate on the well-being of children today in different areas of the world. For example, scientists Nicole Bromfield and Hasan Rexa Nende from the USA will present their research on the street children of Bangladesh – children who make their own living and are often victims of child trafficking. “We will discuss well-being of children in different districts, how different social systems are being organized and how are children doing in the legal spheres,” says Kutsar.

There will also be a discussion about Estonian children and their well-being. Statistics Estonia will present their new book “Children’s Subjective Well-Being in Local and International Perspective”. Both ISCI top scientists and Estonian researchers and analysts wrote the book. The book will later be available both online and on paper.

Futher information: Dagmar Kutsar, UT Associate Professor in Social Policy, 737 5951, dagmar.kutsar [ät] ut.ee

Category: InternationalResearch
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Andres Metspalu Selected as a Member of the Mission Board for Cancer of Europe Horizon

1 month 2 weeks ago

Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas announced the names of the experts who have been selected as members* of the mission boards to work on five major European research and innovation missions. The missions will be part of Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation programme (2021-2027). Head of Estonian Biobank, Andres Metspalu was selected as a member of the Mission board for Cancer.

Each mission board consists of 15 experts, including the chair. Over 350 individuals from across the EU and beyond applied to become member of Mission Board of Cancer.

Andres Metspalu said: Europe has an excellent opportunity to become world-leading expert in cancer prevention and early diagnostic methods. Due to new breakthroughs in genomics, cell biology and data science, Europe biobanks have a unique possibilty to create Europe-wide platform for genetic and patient data, which creates substantial increase in cancer prevention and effective treatment options.

Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Non-operative treatment of displaced proximal humerus fractures yields corresponding results to surgery

2 months ago

The results of a recent Nordic collaboration study showed that there is no difference in functional results between operative and non-operative treatment in persons aged 60 or more with displaced proximal humerus fractures.

Proximal humerus fractures are more common in older persons than in younger adults. This fracture usually occurs as a result of falling, usually at home, directly on to the shoulder. In the proximal humerus, the bone is more fragile than lower in the forearm. The healing potential in the proximal humerus is, however, better than lower in the forearm.

In the study, published in Plos Medicine journal, only fractures with a significant displacement between bone fragments were included. Traditionally, humerus fractures have been operatively treated using a metal plate and screws. In the non-operative treatment group, patients used a collar and cuff sling for three weeks and underwent instructed physiotherapy.

The trial included 88 patients who were followed for two years, and was conducted as a multinational, multicenter study in six trauma centers.

The findings of the study are novel and challenge current treatment protocols. “Moreover the result had a positive impact on both the lives of the patients as well as on the economic cost of treatment,” says Aare Märtson, Professor in Orthopedics at the University of Tartu Institute of Clinical Medicine.

Abandoning those procedures that offer no benefit to the patient could result in savings of up to one million euros per year. Furthermore, patient recovery will be as successful as previously but without the surgery-related pain and complications.

The leading center was Tampere University Hospital, Finland. Other centers included Jyväskylä Central Hospital, Finland, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm and Uppsala University Hospital from Sweden, Viborg Hospital from Denmark, and Tartu University Hospital from Estonia.

Next object for the NITEP study group is to assess whether older adults would benefit from surgery after distal radius fracture.

The results of this trial have been published in the Plos Medicine journal.

Further information:
Aare Märtson
Professor in Orthopedics at the University of Tartu Institute of Clinical Medicine
aare.martson [ät] ut.ee Category: Research
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

University of Tartu has announced admission decisions

2 months ago

On Monday the University of Tartu sent admission decisions to 2,850 people who had applied for Estonian-taught programmes of the first level of higher education. Now they have to confirm acceptance of the student place within two days, i.e. no later than Wednesday, 17 July. Student places that remain vacant will be filled on a rolling basis until 19 August and those who get the admission decision will also need to confirm it within two days.

Before this week 1,384 people had already secured a student place at the University of Tartu for meeting the threshold score. Among others who could be sure of getting a place at the university were the 634 applicants who met certain special admission requirements: for example, had passed the academic aptitude test in spring with a score of 65 points or higher, or achieved an excellent result in a national or international Olympiad. This year admission decisions were also sent to 642 persons who graduated from the upper secondary school with a medal.

Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Aune Valk congratulates all new students and thanks them for choosing the University of Tartu. “Relying on the opinions of former students I dare say you will not regret this choice,” said Valk. “You have taken a step that will affect you for the rest of your lives; even after graduation the university and the city of Tartu will always be with you.”

The vice rector for academic affairs pointed out that the new students would start their studies in a special year. “It is the year of the 100th anniversary of the Estonian-language university and this is why we hold the opening ceremony of the academic year at Kassitoome valley,” Valk said about the opening event.

Head of Student Admissions Tuuli Kaldma asks applicants not to forget to confirm their student places. “If a person who has received the admission decision does not confirm acceptance of the student place by the prescribed date, we will offer the place to the next applicant in the ranking list,” she explained.

Admission decisions for master’s and doctoral studies have been made on a rolling basis. Currently 1,102 persons have received the decision and 813 of them have confirmed.

At the beginning of September those who have confirmed their place will be matriculated as students at the University of Tartu and they are welcome to attend the opening ceremony of the academic year at Kassitoome on 2 September.

The first level of higher education includes bachelor’s studies, professional higher education studies, and integrated bachelor’s and master’s studies. The second level of higher education is master’s studies and the third level is doctoral studies.

Further information: Tuuli Kaldma, UT Head of Student Admissions, 737 6391, tuuli.kaldma [ät] ut.ee

Category: AdmissionPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Insititute of Social Studies is hosting ECREA summer school

2 months 1 week ago

More than 40 PhD students gathered in Tartu for ECREA (European Communication Researchers and Education Association) summer school from 9th till 16th July. The aim of the summer school is to give young researchers an opportunity to debate contemporary issues in media, communication and cultural studies.

Summer school consists of different workshops, lectures and roundtables, which help PhD students to develop their research and methods. It is also a great place to broaden their professional network. One of the organizers of the event, professor of media studies Andra Siibak says: “ECREA summers school has been the main breeding environment for European media and communication researchers for almost three decades. I am very happy that this Year University of Tartu has the opportunity to host these young researchers who will be shaping the future of media and communication research in a few years.”

Participants of the summer school have a wonderful opportunity to meet some of the best researchers in the field. For example, Jessica Piotrowski from University of Amsterdam will be here to consult them on the topic of media effects on children; board member of ECREA, Irena Reifova from Charles University will talk about her research on TV shows etc. Great brainpower also comes from all of the PhD students themselves.

Read more about ECREA here.

More information: Karoli Noor, communication specialist, Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu  5905 7425, karoli.noor [ät] ut.ee

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


Category: Research
Karoli Noor (karoli96)

University of Tartu joined Bio-based Industries Consortium

2 months 1 week ago

On 19 June, the European Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) approved the University of Tartu as its associate member.

The BIC consists of large enterprises and clusters in the European bioeconomy sector and partner institutions, including universities, small businesses and regions. The main task of the consortium is to implement the research and development priorities of the European Union (EU) bioeconomy strategy as well as facilitate the sector’s competitiveness and cooperation between stakeholders.

From 2014–2020, the consortium is the European Commission’s partner in implementing the Bio-Based Industries (BBI) research and innovation programme: an industrial partnership between the public and private sectors. The programme’s budget is 3.7 billion euros, 800 million of which is the European Commission’s own contribution via the application rounds of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.

The bioeconomy partnership will continue in the 2021–2027 period with the Horizon Europe framework programme. This will focus on the creation of technologies and value chains that support the circular and climate-neutral economic model, incl. the development of production solutions based on local biomass and waste. Special emphasis is put on the synthesis of biofuels and new materials from local raw materials, which mostly means wood refining in the Estonian context.

The objectives of the University of Tartu’s membership in the consortium are to:

  • promote the entrepreneurial cooperation of the University of Tartu’s research groups and find new partners;
  • participate in the activities of BBI working groups, events and application rounds; and
  • increase investments in sustainable bioeconomy in Estonia.

Where research topics are concerned, the BBI objectives are the most compatible with the competencies of the University of Tartu Centre for Synthetic Biology. For instance, one of the objectives was the marketing of new mechanical pulp refining technologies in order to produce products, materials and chemicals with increased added value. The BBI research and innovation programme also includes prospects for projects related to green chemistry and gas fermentation production development. In April, the University of Tartu organised a seminar to introduce bioeconomy technologies in Brussels.

The BBI programme also supports the establishment of integrated biorefineries. For instance, last year, the EU’s biggest producer of wood pellets, Estonia-based Graanul Invest, received a grant of approximately 21 million euros for the establishment of a demo plant for the fractionation of the wood of deciduous trees.

The 2019 application round of the BBI programme is open until 5 September and its topics can be found on the BBI website and the Horizon 2020 participant portal. Additionally, the European Commission recently published the 2020 work programme, incl. the Horizon 2020 application rounds in the field of food and bioeconomy.

More information about opportunities for participating in the BIC: Vallo Mulk, Senior Specialist of International R&D Cooperation at the UT Grant Office, 737 6189, 5695 0955, vallo.mulk [ät] ut.ee



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


Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)
20.09.2019 - 08:15
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