Tartu University News

Waste water analysis map is turning red

2 days 21 hours ago
22.10.2021

The most recent results of the waste water analysis led by the University of Tartu show that the number of people infected with coronavirus continues to grow rapidly in the coming weeks. The situation is becoming particularly serious in Ida-Viru County, where the virus levels have risen to a record high.

The number of samples indicating a very wide spread of the virus is the highest than ever. According to the lead researcher of the study, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds of the University of Tartu Tanel Tenson, the map of waste water surveillance shows that the centre of gravity of the spread of the virus is shifting to Ida-Viru County. "The situation has become pretty bad rather quickly. If the data of the Health Board show that Ida-Viru County has reached the level of Tartu County this week in terms of the number of infections, we can expect an even sharper rise in the coming weeks, as such a large amount of virus has not been found in samples before," said Tenson. The coming weeks will not bring relief to southern Estonia, either, where the virus levels have increased again compared to the last few weeks. The situation is somewhat calmer only in western Estonia and the islands.

"The current spread of the virus reflects the aggressive nature of the Delta strain. The virus is spreading fast because a substantial share of the population does not have antibodies. The fastest way to stop this attack is vaccination," emphasised Tenson.

How are the samples collected?


Waste water samples are collected at the beginning of every week in all county centres, cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants and, if necessary, in smaller settlements.  Samples taken from larger cities reflect the situation of waste water passing through the treatment plant over 24 hours, giving a reliable overview of the infection level in the city.  The spot samples taken in smaller places show the situation at the moment of sampling. Spot samples are more easily affected by various factors and should therefore be used in comparison over several weeks to estimate the trend, rather than get a definitive picture of the current situation.

The study is a tool helping the Health Board monitor changes in the outbreak dynamics and discover hidden outbreaks. It gives early information for estimating the spread of the virus before clinical cases are detected. The Health Board is regularly informed of the results.

In the collection of samples, the University of Tartu cooperates with the Estonian Environmental Research Centre and water companies operating the water treatment plants of Estonian cities. The samples are analysed at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.

For more information about the previous results of the study, see the home page of the study "Detecting coronavirus in waste water”.
 

Further information: Tanel Tenson, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds of the University of Tartu, tanel.tenson [ät] ut.ee, 5344 5202,

Category: Research
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

Andrey Makarychev’s inaugural lecture on biopolitics and regionalism

5 days 19 hours ago
19.10.2021

Andrey Makarychev, Professor of Regional Political Studies of the University of Tartu, will deliver his inaugural lecture “Regionalism: a Biopolitical Perspective” in the White Hall of the UT Museum on 21 October at 16:15.

The discipline of regional studies has been traditionally known for its focus on geographic and geopolitical factors shaping and delineating political spaces. Within this framework, the concepts of region-making / building, regional integration, and bordering / debordering have been developed and widely applied as research tools. In the meantime, in recent years, the discipline opened up to a variety of other approaches and research vistas, from security to cultural studies.

In his inaugural lecture, Professor Makarychev will discuss how different schools of biopolitical scholarship can be integrated into the academic realm of regional studies. He will explain how the concepts of biopolitics and biopower might be innovatively used for studying the politics of spatiality and territoriality, and for analysing the socially constructed geographic spaces. This approach allows looking at human bodies and their lives in conjunction with territorial (geopolitical/geo-cultural/geo-economic) identities, connections and distinctions. References to the author’s empirical research in Ukraine, Estonia, Russia and other countries will illustrate and unpack this argument.

Andrey Makarychev is Professor of Regional Political Studies at the University of Tartu Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies since 2020. He was Guest Professor at Center for Global Politics, Free University in Berlin, and Senior Associate Researcher with CIDOB think tank in Barcelona. His previous institutional affiliations include George Mason University (US), Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research (ETH Zurich), and Danish Institute for International Studies. In recent years he co-authored three monographs: Celebrating Borderlands in a Wider Europe: Nations and Identities in Ukraine, Georgia and Estonia (Nomos, 2016), Lotman's Cultural Semiotics and the Political (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017), and Critical Biopolitics of the Post-Soviet: from Populations to Nations (Lexington Books, 2020).

This event is organised following the national instructions and the infection safety of participants is checked. Participants must be ready to present a valid health certificate to prove they have been fully vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or received a negative test result (a PCR test made by a medical specialist up to 72 hours before the event), along with their ID document.

There will be a live webcast of the lecture, which can be viewed on the university’s video portal www.uttv.ee.

Further information: Andrey Makarychev, Professor of Regional Political Studies, University of Tartu, andrey.makarychev [ät] ut.ee

Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Saar (sandra27)

University of Tartu celebrates 30 years of diplomatic relations between Estonia and Mongolia with an exhibition about Buddhist culture

6 days ago
19.10.2021

On 20 October at 11, the exhibition “Hundred glances at Mongolia. Mandala – the Temple of Secret Tantra” is opened in the White Hall of the University of Tartu Museum, dedicated to the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Estonia and Mongolia.

The exhibition features more than 50 photos of the treasures of Buddhist ritual arts – statues, icons, texts, musical instruments, masks and costumes – from the Choijin Lama Temple in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar and of the beautiful architecture of this historical complex. The exhibition also exposes thangkas – Buddhist religious paintings – and ritual instruments from the personal collection of Peeter Vähi.

The exhibition will be opened by Rector of the University of Tartu Professor Toomas Asser and Ambassador of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Sweden Janabazar Tuvdendorj. Honorary Consul of Mongolia in Estonia Liisi Karindi and Head of the University of Tartu Centre for Oriental Studies Alevtina Solovyeva also give a speech.

The opening will be followed by academic presentations: President of the Estonian Oriental Society Märt Läänemets speaks about the symbols of Buddhist sacral art and Mungunchimeg Batmunkh, Researcher at the University of Bern Institute for the Science of Religion, about the new traditions of the Mongolian Tsam ritual (mask dance). Also, the documentaries “Visiting Genghis Khan” (by Peeter Vähi) and “Mongolia” are shown.

The exhibition reached the University of Tartu Museum thanks to the Embassy of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Sweden, the Estonian Oriental Society, the Orient Festival and the University of Tartu Institute of Cultural Research.

The exhibition will remain open at the University of Tartu Museum until 20 November 2021.

Further information:
Sirje Üprus, Head of International Protocol, University of Tartu, 509 7117, sirje.uprus [ät] ut.ee
Alevtina Solovyeva, Head of the University of Tartu Centre for Oriental Studies, 5828 5869, alevtina.solovyeva [ät] ut.ee

Category: Culture and sportsPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Waste water study: Ida-Viru County experienced the fastest increase in coronavirus level

1 week 2 days ago
15.10.2021

This week’s results of the waste water monitoring study led by the University of Tartu confirm a continuing increase in coronavirus amounts all over Estonia. Over the week, the largest increase in the number of viruses was observed in the waste water of Ida-Viru County. Virus amounts are predominantly high or very high everywhere in Estonia. 

While last week, the map reflecting the results of the waste water study showed a few cities where no or only few coronaviruses had been found in waste water, this week there are no such places. According to Tanel Tenson, lead researcher of the study and Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds at the University of Tartu, coronavirus amounts have grown almost everywhere in Estonia, but the biggest change occured in Ida-Viru County where the virus readings were ten times the index representing the average situation in Estonia. “Over the week, we have come yet another step closer to the peak of the previous wave of infections. Our results reveal that in addition to Ida-Viru County, the number of new infections will significantly increase also in Harju County and in central and western Estonia. In southern Estonia, the amount has stabilised at quite a high level,” said Tenson.

How and where are the samples collected?


Waste water samples are collected at the beginning of every week in all Estonian county centres, cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants and, if necessary, in smaller settlements. Samples taken from larger cities reflect the situation of waste water passing through the treatment plant over 24 hours, giving a reliable overview of the infection level in the city. In smaller places, spot samples are taken, showing the virus level in waste water at the moment of sampling. Spot samples are more easily affected by various factors and should therefore be used over several weeks to estimate the trend rather than get a definitive picture of the current situation.

The study is a tool helping the Health Board monitor changes in the outbreak dynamics and discover hidden outbreaks. It gives early information to estimate the spread of the virus before clinical cases are detected. The Health Board is regularly informed of the results.

In collecting the samples, the University of Tartu cooperates with the Estonian Environmental Research Centre and water companies operating the waste water treatment plants of Estonian cities. The samples are analysed at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.

For more information about the previous results of the study, see the home page of the study “Detecting coronavirus in waste water”.

Further information: Tanel Tenson, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds, University of Tartu, 5344 5202, tanel.tenson [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

Study gives an overview of the prevalence of coronavirus and its antibodies by 26 October

1 week 3 days ago
14.10.2021

On 13 October, a new stage in the coronavirus prevalence study led by the University of Tartu started. It will give an overview of the prevalence of coronavirus and its antibodies in the adult population by 26 October.

The previous stage took place a month ago, and the virus situation in Estonia has significantly changed since then. Both the daily infection rate and the number of patients needing hospitalisation are rapidly increasing. “Vaccination rate has slowed down lately and, according to the previous stage of the prevalence study, a quarter of our adult population has not received protection from the virus either by vaccination or recovery from the disease. Monitoring changes in the prevalence of coronavirus and its antibodies is important as it allows us to revise the rules required for keeping the situation under control,” said the leader of the study, Professor of Family Medicine of the University of Tartu Ruth Kalda.

Participation in the study

In the next ten days, about 2,500 random-sampled adults are invited to participate in the survey. The survey company Kantar Emor carries out phone interviews with participants. After the interview, participants get a web link for registration to testing or a call from the Medicum and Synlab call centre to make an appointment for testing at a suitable testing site. Taking the sample takes about 10 minutes. Disabled people, older people and persons with reduced mobility can request to be visited by a test team at home.

The participant will be informed of the test results within three days. The results will be entered in the patient portal. Persons who receive a positive test result will be contacted by the study team during two to four weeks to monitor the progress of the disease.

The study is carried out by a broad-based research group of the University of Tartu in cooperation with Synlab Eesti, Medicum and Kantar Emor.

For more information about the detection of Covid-19 antibodies, see the home page of coronavirus testing. For more information about the coronavirus prevalence study, see the University of Tartu web page.

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

Category: Research
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

University of Tartu invites students to apply to the Global Engagement Module

1 week 4 days ago
13.10.2021

The University of Tartu invites 2nd and 3rd-year bachelor’s students of all curricula to apply to the Global Engagement Module, which offers great opportunities for internationalisation and teamwork.

The Global Engagement Module has been developed within the ENLIGHT project for students of all nine ENLIGHT partner universities. The first edition of the module aims for students to acquire generic competences, and to foster global engagement. The module focuses on real-world challenges and cultural diversity, and inclusion of various stakeholders. There is an emphasis on intercultural bridging skills, communication and effective teamwork. Active learning methods and personalised feedback are used.

The module is a blended intensive programme, which combines on-site and online learning. The period of online studies is from 1 March to 13 May 2022, and on-site studies from 23 to 30 April 2022. Completion of the module gives 5 credits.

Application is open from 27 September to 24 October.

  • Write a short motivation letter, in which you also mention your preferred study module
    • Public Health (University of Groningen)
    • Migration and Society (Ghent University)
    • Climate Change (University of Göttingen)
  • Add your average grade (weighted average over all learning outcomes) to the end of the motivation letter.
  • Submit your application in the University of Tartu mobility system.
    • Use the UT user ID to log in to the system. When entering the system, select “Outgoing student mobility” and the competition called ENLIGHT GEM.

From all the applicants of the University of Tartu, five students are selected to participate in the pilot project of the module in the spring of 2022. The selected students will be announced on 1 November.

Find the application requirements on the university’s website. More information about the module is available on Enlight website.

Further information: Tiina Jaksman, Enlight Project Manager, 737 6167, tiina.jaksman [ät] ut.ee

Category: Studies
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Olaf Mertelsmann will speak about Eastern Europe in the coronavirus crisis in his inaugural lecture

1 week 5 days ago
12.10.2021

Olaf Mertelsmann, Professor of Eastern European History of the University of Tartu, will deliver his inaugural lecture “Eastern European “Backwardness” and the Coronavirus Pandemic” in the White Hall of the UT Museum on 14 October at 16:15.

The “backwardness” of Eastern Europe seems to be a long-standing historical fact, although the region is extremely diverse today and definitions of backwardness are plenty. The coronavirus pandemic might be interpreted as something like a stress test for the state, institutions, and society. To a certain degree, success and failure in this crisis are measurable. Because of several factors including the assumed superiority of western institutions, one might expect the eastern half of the continent to struggle more with the pandemic than the western half. However, up to today, the outcome is mixed.

The lecturer is a historian and will not present anything new about the medical or epidemiological aspects of this pandemic.

Olaf Mertelsmann studied history, German, pedagogics and Finno-Ugristics at the University of Hamburg in 1990–1995 and received his PhD in Modern History in 2000. His research interests include Eastern European, especially Baltic and Soviet history, Stalinism, social and economic history, and both world wars. He has authored or co-authored five monographs, numerous articles and has edited or co-edited nine volumes. He is currently working on the Baltic Soviet republics in the 1950s–1960s, Stalinist economics, Estonian transport history and the economic development of the Baltic states since 1920.

This event is organised following the national instructions and the infection safety of participants is checked. Participants must be ready to present a valid health certificate to prove they have been fully vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or received a negative test result (a PCR test made by a medical specialist up to 72 hours before the event), along with their ID document.

There will be a live webcast of the lecture, which can be viewed on the university’s video portal www.uttv.ee

Further information: Olaf Mertelsmann, Professor of Eastern European History, University of Tartu, olaf.mertelsmann [ät] ut.ee

Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Saar (sandra27)

Coronavirus amounts in waste water are increasing everywhere in Estonia

2 weeks 2 days ago
08.10.2021

This week’s results of the waste water study led by the University of Tartu show the continued spread of the coronavirus. The virus is most prevalent in Ida-Viru county and southern Estonia. Compared to earlier weeks, the virus concentration in waste water has also grown in western Estonia.

Last week, the researchers noted the biggest increase in the virus amount in samples collected from Harju county, Ida-Viru county and southern Estonia. This week, the situation has slightly improved in these places, but in Ida-Viru county and southern Estonia, the virus content is much higher than the index representing the average in Estonia. There, the biggest increase in the number of infections can be predicted in the upcoming weeks, according to the lead researcher of the study, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds of the University of Tartu Tanel Tenson.

“This week, we can see that coronavirus is found in predominantly large quantities throughout Estonia. Even the smaller settlements have not remained intact. The virus has now also reached the island of Hiiumaa, which remained virus-free for a long time,” said Tenson. “In the current wave of coronavirus, we have seen a constant growth in virus amounts since mid-August. There haven’t been any major upsurges, but the figures have crept up quite close to the level we had in February, when both the number of infections and the virus amounts approached their peak," he explained.

How and where are the samples collected?


Waste water samples are collected at the beginning of every week in all Estonian county centres, cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants and, if necessary, in smaller settlements. Samples taken from larger cities reflect the situation of waste water passing through the treatment plant over 24 hours, giving a reliable overview of the infection level in the city. In smaller places, spot samples are taken, showing the virus level in waste water at the moment of sampling. Spot samples are more easily affected by various factors and should therefore be used over several weeks to estimate the trend rather than get a definitive picture of the current situation.

The study is a tool helping the Health Board monitor changes in the outbreak dynamics and discover hidden outbreaks. It gives early information to estimate the spread of the virus before clinical cases are detected. The Health Board is regularly informed of the results.

In collecting the samples, the University of Tartu cooperates with the Estonian Environmental Research Centre and water companies operating the waste water treatment plants of Estonian cities. The samples are analysed at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.

For more information about the previous results of the study, see the home page of the study “Detecting coronavirus in waste water”.

Further information: Tanel Tenson, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds, University of Tartu, 5344 5202, tanel.tenson [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

University of Bordeaux invites students to participate in virtual intercultural exchange

2 weeks 3 days ago
07.10.2021

This year, the University of Bordeaux is organising the second edition of the ENLIVE virtual intercultural exchanges, which are aimed to promote the participants’ communication skills and are open to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral students of all the ENLIGHT partner universities.

Students from across the ENLIGHT network will meet regularly online to discuss a range of current issues like gender and education, disability in society, body image in social media, or, for example, science denial and anti-science movements. Supported by facilitators’, the students will design a social media campaign and deliver it to the target group.

The ENLIVE virtual exchanges will take place over six consecutive weeks from 8 November to 17 December. Students will meet virtually in groups of 8–12 for weekly conversations via Zoom. They can select the suitable dates and times at the time of registration.

To participate, students must apply by 19 October by sending the respective request to enlight [ät] ut.ee. Five students of the University of Tartu will be able to participate in the ENLIVE meetings.

ENLIVE was developed within the ENLIGHT project and it is open for students of all nine ENLIGHT partner universities (Ghent University, University of Göttingen, University of Tartu, University of the Basque Country, University of Bordeaux, National University Ireland Galway, University of Groningen, Uppsala University, Comenius University Bratislava). 

For more information about the virtual exchange and the topics discussed, see ENLIGHT web.

Further information: Tiina Jaksman, ENLIGHT Project Manager, 737 6167, tiina.jaksman [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Skydivers have adventurous spirit in their genes, but it is hard to detect

2 weeks 4 days ago
06.10.2021

People take all sorts of risks every day: dangerous overtaking on roads, investing, eating new and interesting foods, and so on. But the need for excitement and adventure varies from person to person. Researchers from the University of Tartu Institute of Psychology collaborated with their colleagues from the Estonian Genome Centre to study people’s risk-taking behaviour which is oriented toward feeling excitement.

A research team led by Anu Realo, currently a Professor at the University of Warwick and member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, examined in depth the people’s detailed personality profiles and studied whether excitement-oriented risk-taking is somehow linked to genes. The study had two main objectives: to find a set of personality traits most strongly associated with risk-taking behaviour, and find out whether genes determine the extent to which people seek excitement in their life.

The sample of the study included people who had made at least one solo parachute jump. Liisi Ausmees, Research Fellow in Personality and Social Psychology at the University of Tartu, says that the study of skydivers is a good way to learn about the causes and links of adventurousness and risky behaviour. 

The sample consisted of 298 Estonian skydivers of 16–69 years of age, 35% of them were women. The skydivers’ genetic and personality data were compared with those of the 298 members in the control group, who matched in terms of age, gender, and educational level. These data were obtained from the biobank. 

Comparing a group of people with a disease or an extreme trait with a control group who does not have the same disease or trait is a common practice in genetic research, as it allows to compare the frequency of genetic variants.

In this study, researchers looked in the skydivers’ DNA samples for gene combinations that would explain their urge to jump out of the airplane. Also, the involvement of the control group enabled to more accurately identify the skydivers’ personal traits, as both the skydrivers and the control group had completed a comprehensive personality questionnaire.

The comparison of skydivers and the control group revealed that the former had a distinctive personality profile – in addition to higher adventurousness the skydivers were more active, liberal and open to different experiences. They were also more stable emotionally, i.e. less anxious and less vulnerable than members of the control group. As an interesting finding, Ausmees pointed out that although the skydivers were not more impulsive than the control group, they were still somewhat prone to do things without careful consideration. “This suggests that skydivers are spontaneous but they do not have problems with self-control,” she said.

However, not everyone who is emotionally stable, open, active and enjoys excitement will go skydiving. To get to the really deep reasons for people to skydive, the researchers analysed the differences in personality profiles between the members of the two groups at the most detailed level, across 240 items of the personality questionnaire.

The researchers compared the responses to identify the specific statements or personality traits that most differentiated the skydivers from the control group. These eight most important traits were referred to as skydiving-related personality markers (SPM) and were grouped into SPM score. In this score, the best predictors of willingness to skydive are the enjoyment of risky and exciting situations, the ability to resist one’s cravings, the tendency of letting imaginagion fly, being liberal in moral principles and not feeling helpless.

The same score was later used by the researchers in the second part of the study, where they analysed the personality and genetic data from more than 3,000 gene donors who were not known to have skydived. They found that people with higher skydiving personality scores were more active physically and, to some extent, also psychologically healthier than people with lower scores. “However, people with higher SPM scores were more likely to suffer from traumatic injuries, which may indirectly indicate an adventurous and active lifestyle,” said Liisi Ausmees.

The most important “candidate genes”, i.e. genetic polymorphisms that have been previously related to adventurousness, in the skydivers and controls were compared. Although some genetic differences could be detected, the associations were not strong enough to suggest a causal effect of a particular gene. In the case of personality traits, which are multifaceted by nature, the genetic background is likely to be highly complex. Probably many genes and their interaction also play a role in adventurousness.

Anu Realo said that parachute jumping is just one possible way to satisfy one’s thirst for experience. The results of the study show that people who go skydiving rather tend to be emotionally more stable, less impulsive and more opened to new experiences.

The research study grew out of a master’s thesis written at the University of Tartu Institute of Psychology by Maie Talts.  She is an experienced skydiver, who made her first jump 21 years ago.

Both Talts’ mother and brother have made one parachute jump. “Therefore, it is possible that genes have some influence on my sense of adventure,” she admitted. However, her mother and brother jumped only after Maie had already started skydiving. So, it is also possible that they took up the activity mainly under Maie’s influence or following her example.

Environment has its influence

Tõnu Esko, Professor of Human Genomics at the University of Tartu, said that actually it is not that simple that if parents are excitement-seeking, the child would inevitably inherit the same trait. Beside the genes, also the environment in which you grow plays a big role. “How much does genetics influence us and how much environment, however, is hard to say,” Esko said.

“As children, we are like our parents for many reasons: on the one hand, we have our parents’ genes, but on the other, we get our attitude to life from home. If the parents are constantly trying out new things, like skydiving, for example – as children, we take on the same habits from home.” This is only true, however, if no deep trauma is involved, which could make the person consciously avoid the activity.
                
Professor Esko said, as an example, that intelligence is also seen as inherited, but no one will get to the university or become a professor without schooling. Thus, an environment that supports learning is definitely a big influence.
                
The overall message of this research, according to Esko, is that people are different – both in terms of where and how they grew up, and because of the combination of their genes. “If your life partner is a sensation-seeking person, there is not much chance that he or she would change, so you just have to put up with it,” he said.

The research article was published in the European Journal of Personality, the authors were Liisi Ausmees, Maie Talts, Jüri Allik, Uku Vainik, Timo Tõnis Sikka, Tiit Nikopensius, Tõnu Esko and Anu Realo.

Category: Research
Sandra Saar (sandra27)

Researchers from reputable European universities discuss the role of social sciences in tackling global challenges

2 weeks 4 days ago
06.10.2021

On 7 and 8 October, the ENLIGHT online conference “Social Responsibility in Challenging Times” will take place, where renowned European researchers discuss the importance of social sciences in the changing times.

The conference brings together sociologists, political scientists, economists, educationalists, lawyers and psychologists from the ENLIGHT universities, as well as representatives of different disciplines and socio-scientific fields, to discuss the situation of democracy in Europe, the issues of migration and segregation, and the challenges of the welfare state.

According to the organisers of the conference, social sciences have a responsibility to understand the functioning of changing societies, support their adaptation and changes in human behaviour.

“The green transition, the health transition and digitalisation will not only change our living environment but also involve significant adaptation to change. For the transitions to be successful, we need to actively reshape our behaviour and mindset," said the chief organiser of the conference Lenno Uusküla, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Tartu.

At the conference, the changes we have to face in the 21st century and the importance of the role of social sciences will be discussed by Maive Rute, Deputy Director-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs at the European Commission, Hetan Shah, Chief Executive of the British Academy, and Margit Keller, Associate Professor in Social Communication at the University of Tartu. Numerous panels and presentations focus among other topics on the issues of digital governance, the welfare state, gender, personality, productivity and segregation.

The ENLIGHT network universities are the University of Tartu, Ghent University, Uppsala University, the University of Groningen, the University of the Basque Country, the University of Bordeaux, National University Ireland Galway and Comenius University Bratislava.

More information is available on the conference website.

Further information: Lenno Uusküla, Chief Organiser, Vice Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tartu, +372 509 7756, lenno.uuskula [ät] ut.ee

Category: ResearchPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Join the new e-course "Common Challenges of Competing Regionalisms"

2 weeks 4 days ago
06.10.2021

Are you interested to widen your knowledge about comparative regionalism and integration processes in Europe and Eurasia? Would you like to know more about the dimensions of comparative regionalism in the European and Eurasian context in the light of emergence, transformation, and consolidation of integration processes in the EU and in the former Soviet space?

Join our brand-new e-course "Common Challenges of Competing Regionalisms" and meet our lecturers in the virtual classroom! The MOOC is worth 2 ECTS and runs from 18.10.2021 to 28.11.2021.

What will you learn during the course?

  • During the course you are going to learn about:
  • The multifaceted nature of regionalism in different geo-territorial and geo-political contexts in Europe and Eurasia
  • Conceptual and theoretical definition of regionalism by looking at the relevant cleavages in contemporary societies
  • Post-WWII regionalism in Europe
  • Eurasian integration as a spin-off of the EU
  • Deviation from the supranational model and longitudinal comparisons with the EU
  • Case studies and policy issues
  • Comparative regionalism: between integration and hegemony

Why should you take this course?

By enrolling to the course, you will have access to:

  • short videos on basic definitions and concepts (between 10-15 minutes per each), aimed at providing a general overview of key concepts related to comparative regionalism, actors and factors related to integration processes in Europe and Eurasia;
  • video lectures with interventions from academic experts intended to provide a more in-depth and critical overview of integration process and comparative dimension between EU and EEU in terms of regional integration. The video lectures are between 20-30 minutes in length;
  • short video interviews aimed at providing specific perspectives on different case studies in the context of competing regional integration projects. The interviews will include academic representatives from the region;
  • readings, course supporting and interactive materials (course syllabus, tips for studying online and completing the course successfully, video clip on navigating through Moodle for external participants) as well as communication platform in the form of Moodle forum;
  • short multiple-choice quizzes aimed at testing basic knowledge and understanding of learning material;
  • brief written assignments emphasizing the comparison between the EU and EEU and allowing the participants to apply their knowledge and reflect on the future trends of regionalism;
  • contribution to forum discussion (comment in regard to the case study);
  • vibrant and international online community of peers with whom you can learn together and interact throughout the course.

Do you need any prior knowledge?

Basic knowledge of comparative regionalism and integration processes in Europe and Eurasia are suggested. However, the course will provide useful background material to any participant, who is interested in comparative regionalism and international affairs in general.

Register here (before October 14th, 2021)

Video of NearEU MOOC

For additional information: please contact Anna Beitane, anna.beitane [ät] ut.ee

The course is developed within the framework of the Jean Monnet Module ‘Neighbourhood, Enlargement, and Regionalism in Europe’ (NearEU) with the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

Category: Studies
Risto Lehiste (ristol)

EMBL strengthens links with Estonia

2 weeks 6 days ago
04.10.2021

EMBL and the University of Tartu have signed a memorandum of understanding to foster scientific collaboration in the life sciences.

Since June 2019, Estonia has been a prospect member state of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has now been signed between EMBL and the University of Tartu, a leading centre of research and training. The MoU aims to strengthen cooperation between EMBL and the life science research community in Estonia, building on the very successful links in the context of the prospect membership.

This MoU also formalises previous exchanges and research collaborations between the two institutions. In February 2021, EMBL and the Estonian Research Council organised a joint workshop in which many Estonian researchers were actively involved, including participants and speakers from the University of Tartu. On this occasion, EMBL Director General Edith Heard presented the next EMBL Programme, Molecules to Ecosystems, which has the aim of understanding life in its natural context. EMBL’s scientific plans for the next five years (2022–2026) is the first pan-European molecular biology programme for environmental and human health and has collaboration across disciplines and sectors at its core.

“Confronted with global challenges and urgent societal and environmental needs, fostering cooperation and integrating European life science have become essential endeavours. Estonia has been a very engaged prospect member of EMBL since 2019, and I view the signing of the MoU with the University of Tartu as a catalyst for collaboration between the two organisations,” says Edith Heard. “The MoU stands as a firm commitment to enhancing cutting-edge scientific research, knowledge sharing, and training, especially in the context of the new EMBL Programme. This will benefit Estonia’s life science landscape as we prepare for the country’s accession to EMBL as a full member state.”

During the workshop in February, EMBL Deputy Director General Ewan Birney highlighted the work of EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in human genetics and personalised medicine. Other talks by EMBL Heads of Faculty touched upon bioinformatics training opportunities and some of the themes in the new EMBL Programme. Possibilities for joint collaboration were also discussed, particularly on several of the programme’s new transversal themes, such as Human Ecosystems, Planetary Biology, Microbial Ecosystems, and Data Science.

“Estonia has shown great success in attracting talent, so we really look forward to collaborating with all those excellent researchers. I’m thrilled to see what discoveries come from this exciting new alliance” says Ewan Birney.

This formalised collaboration between EMBL and the University of Tartu is already helping to forge stronger links between EMBL and the science landscape in Estonia. “Estonian researchers have had individual contacts with EMBL, but through the MoU we are now committed to advance the joint undertakings at more systematic and strategic levels to help to boost the career of young Estonian talent, further the development of joint scientific infrastructures and increase the overall volume of interactions and activities both in experimental biology as well as biological data management and analysis,” says Jaak Vilo, one of the EMBL Council delegates from Estonia and current Head of the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Tartu.

Toivo Maimets, Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Tartu and former president of the European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC)*  of which Estonia has been a member since 2006, sees the MoU between the University of Tartu and EMBL as the next important step to carry on the rapid developments of Estonian science. “Tighter collaboration between the EMBL and our university will accelerate our full membership in EMBL and bring even more possibilities to gain from these top-level international professional networks,” says Maimets.

*The European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC) is an intergovernmental organisation that provides a framework for European cooperation in the field of molecular biology and closely-related research areas.

Further information:

Jaak Vilo, Head of the Institute of Computer Science, University of Tartu, jaak.vilo [ät] ut.ee
Mylène André, EMBL Communications officer, mandre [ät] embl.fr

Category: Research
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

Orienteering month follows Lotman's footsteps

2 weeks 6 days ago
04.10.2021

October is orienteering month at the university. This time it is dedicated to the upcoming 100th anniversary of world-famous semiotician, Professor of Russian Literature at the University of Tartu Juri Lotman (1922–1993).

Lotman was born and raised in St. Petersburg, but after graduating from the university, he could not find a job in his birth town. However, as Tartu Teachers Institute needed a teacher, Lotman arrived in Tartu at the age of 28. Tartu became his beloved hometown and he worked at the University of Tartu from 1954 until the end of his life.

The university’s orienteering course passes places that were important for Lotman at the university and in the city of Tartu. To provide a cultural experience, Lecturer in Semiotics Silvi Salupere and Junior Lecturer in Semiotics Katre Pärn have supplemented the website of the orienteering course with Lotman’s and his companions’ personal memories as well as exciting photos and videos.

After completing the course, register your participation in the registration form. In the form, you can also write down your thoughts about the symbols of Tartu. A number of nice gifts will be raffled between all registered participants who have shared their thoughts.

You are also most welcome to share photos of nice moments on the course on the Facebook event page.

How to start orienteering?

  • Get the map from the front desk of the main building (Ülikooli 18), the Delta academic and research building (Narva 18), Biomedicum (Ravila 19), the university library (W. Struve 1) or the academic building at Vanemuise 46. You can also download the map to your smartphone.
  • Before you start, make sure you know the map symbols.
  • In total, there are 20 checkpoints, which you may take in any order.
  • When you arrive at a checkpoint, scan the QR code with your phone. For that, install a QR code reader app in your phone or check whether your phone camera already has that function.
  • The course passes residential areas, streets, green areas and other public places. Be careful in traffic! Beware that there are several objects on the course that you are not allowed to cross, such as fences, walls, flowerbeds or hedges. Similarly, do not enter private yards that are marked respectively. On the map, “no entry” areas are marked by the thick black line (fence, wall) and moss green colour.

Enjoy your autumnal walk with Lotman in Tartu!

Further information: Sirli Urbas, University of Tartu Staff Training Specialist, 737 5194, sirli.urbas [ät] ut.ee

Category: Culture and sports
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Waste water study confirms high prevalence of coronavirus also in north eastern Estonia

3 weeks 2 days ago
01.10.2021

This week’s results of the waste water study led by the University of Tartu predict that the number of coronavirus infections will increase in the coming weeks not only in Harju County and southern Estonia, but also in Ida-Viru County. Waste water samples from western Estonia show somewhat lower virus concentrations.

According to the lead researcher of the study, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds of the University of Tartu Tanel Tenson, the percentage of samples with very high virus content has grown steadily for a month already. “Virus amounts have increased significantly above the Estonian average in Harju Country, southern Estonia, as well as in Ida-Viru County. Among settlements, the largest increase in viruses has been recorded in Viljandi, Sillamäe, and the Jõhvi-Ahtme region,” said Tenson. Of the larger settlements in southern Estonia, the map does not contain the data for Valga, because researchers were unable to determine the coronavirus amounts there due to the high concentration of additives in the water sampled from the treatment plant.

How and where are the samples collected?


Waste water samples are collected at the beginning of every week in all Estonian county centres, cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants and, if necessary, in smaller settlements. Samples taken from larger cities reflect the situation of waste water passing through the treatment plant over 24 hours, giving a reliable overview of the infection level in the city. In smaller places, spot samples are taken, showing the virus level in waste water at the moment of sampling. Spot samples are more easily affected by various factors and should therefore be used over several weeks to estimate the trend rather than get a definitive picture of the current situation.

The study is a tool helping the Health Board monitor changes in the outbreak dynamics and discover hidden outbreaks. It gives early information to estimate the spread of the virus before clinical cases are detected. The Health Board is regularly informed of the results.

In collecting the samples, the University of Tartu cooperates with the Estonian Environmental Research Centre and water companies operating the waste water treatment plants of Estonian cities. The samples are analysed at the laboratories of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology.

For more information about the previous results of the study, see the home page of the study “Detecting coronavirus in waste water”.

Further information: Tanel Tenson, Professor of Technology of Antimicrobial Compounds, University of Tartu, 5344 5202, tanel.tenson [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Piret Ehrenpreis (piretehr)

University of Tartu invites students to Teaching and Learning Conference in Ghent

3 weeks 2 days ago
01.10.2021

On 18 and 19 November, the first ENLIGHT Teaching and Learning Conference takes place in Ghent, Belgium, focusing on peer learning at the university. The University of Tartu offers five students the opportunity to attend the conference free of charge.

The topics of the conference “Learning from and with each other — peer learning across all levels of the university” will be challenge-based teaching, general and global skills, inclusive and green mobility and flexible learning, interaction with local stakeholders and quality assurance in education.

Check out the conference programme on the ENLIGHT website.

Students can register for the conference until 7 October by writing an email to enlight [ät] ut.ee. Write a few sentences about why you want to attend the conference and indicate your curriculum. Five participants to the conference will be announced on 8 October.

The University of Tartu covers the travel and accommodation expenses of the five chosen participating students.

Further information: Tiina Jaksman, ENLIGHT Project Manager at the University of Tartu, 737 6167, tiina.jaksman [ät] ut.ee

Category: Studies
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

UT coronavirus info

3 weeks 2 days ago
01.10.2021

Last update on 1 October

Coronavirus continues to spread in Estonia and globally and the best way to prevent it is getting vaccinated and acting responsibly. In order to keep the working and learning environment as normal as possible in the new academic year, the general rule of conduct applies that staff and students who work and study in the university buildings have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or wear masks.

Find the university's recommendations and guidelines by topic below.
 

Vaccination

  • In order to protect health and maintain face-to-face learning, we set the target that 90% of all university members are vaccinated by the end of October.
  •  
  • See the list of places where you can get vaccinated without prior booking as well as pharmacies and vaccination centres where you can get vaccinated with prior booking.
  • All international employees and students can also get vaccinated in Estonia. National health insurance is not required and vaccination is free of charge. There are a number of places where you can get vaccinated without prior booking, but it is also possible to book a time slot by calling 1247, making an appointment on www.digiregistratuur.ee or by calling your local hospital or private medical centre. 
  • For vaccination, an Estonian ID code is needed. The students staying in Tartu can get their Estonian ID code at the Tartu Welcome Centre. However, one should keep in mind that visiting offices is allowed once self-isolation period, if needed, has been completed.
  • The EU digital Covid-19 immunisation certificate can be viewed, printed and downloaded in the patient portal www.digilugu.ee under "EU digital Covid certificates". An ID card, mobile-ID or Smart-ID is required for logging into the patient portal.
  • Estonians and all foreign residents who have the Estonian personal identification code but cannot access the Patient Portal (digilugu.ee) to create their digital COVID certificate can now apply for the certificate at the customer services of the Social Insurance Board across Estonia. Foreigners who want to get the certificate at the Social Insurance Board must have the Estonian personal identification code and an identity document. It is possible to fill in and print the application beforehand. The service is free of charge for everybody.

Further information about vaccination:
https://vaktsineeri.ee/en/
https://kkk.kriis.ee/en/faq/covid-19-vaccination/vaccination-in-estonia

Covid questions

Below, we have gathered frequently asked questions about COVID-related aspects of the organisation of teaching and studies this academic year, answered by Academic Secretary Tõnis Karki.

Legal basis
  • Who has established these rules?
    • These are not rules, i.e. not a prohibition, order or punishment imposed by someone, but a guideline or a code of conduct the university members should follow to allow the university to continue its activities, in particular teaching and studies, in as usual way as possible in the context of the spread of the coronavirus. The guidelines aim to clarify the recommended rules of conduct and do not include any measures or sanctions the university would apply if the guidelines were not followed.
  • Do the university’s guidelines apply to degree studies only?
    • Yes, the guidelines apply to degree studies only. In continuing education and when organising events, the rules established in the government order apply: the COVID certificate must be checked, but the person responsible for activities is prohibited from retaining any personal data, unless the relevant person gives their consent to that. Although the order gives the right to retain data based on the person’s consent, using this opportunity is not advisable, as in that case, the organiser also needs to be ready to prove the existence of the consent and all relevant rules rules arising from the General Data Protection Regulation apply to the processing of data. To make it clear: checking the existence of the certificate is establishing the fact, but storing this fact without the person’s consent is prohibited.
Wearing masks 
  • Since the teaching staff do not have an obligation to check the COVID certificates, does it mean that everybody in the lecture hall must wear the mask, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated?
    • In our guidelines, we said that those who have not been vaccinated or do not want to disclose their health data to the teaching staff member must wear a mask during studies in university buildings. Vaccinated students may take off their mask in the lecture hall, but must then be prepared to present their COVID certificate. 
  • If the mask is mandatory for everyone indoors, as decided by the government, is it still necessary to check the vaccination/test result?
    • The mask is mandatory in public indoor spaces, i.e. rooms where anyone can enter. Therefore, the mask requirement in the public spaces of the university partly proceeds from the government order (in spaces open for the public), but is also a recommended code of conduct (in spaces not strictly open for the public but where many people gather, for instance, between lectures).
      It is important to emphasise that even in rooms where the mask must be worn, this requirement does not apply to people who cannot do it for health reasons. The person does not have to prove the contraindication to mask wearing.
      Generally, a vaccinated person's immune response to coronavirus is at least one order of magnitude more effective than a mask. Testing is relatively ineffective – today's negative test can turn out to be positive tomorrow.

  • Are cloth masks acceptable? Or covering one's nose and mouth with a scarf? Is the face shield still acceptable, especially for teaching staff?
    • The explanatory memorandum to the government order reads as follows:  "Personal protective equipment (incl. face shields), medical masks and consumer face covers (incl. commercial or home-made reusable masks) are considered to be masks. In the absence of these, the requirement can be met by the simultaneous covering of the mouth and nose, provided the material and design of the item used for covering allow using it as a face cover without using hands during the necessary time, such as tube scarfs that stay in front of the nose and mouth when pulled up. It is important to use and care for the mask according to the user instructions.“
COVID-certificate
  • Does the university’s guideline which allows a teaching staff member to ask a student for a COVID certificate if the student does not wear the mask comply with the the position of the Data Protection Inspectorate which says that the university cannot ask the COVID certificate from degree students to check their infection safety even with their consent?
    • Since the government order which lays down the measures necessary for preventing the spread of COVID-19 does not specify the rules about adults in degree studies, the university has no legal basis for checking the COVID certificates of all students. However, a code of conduct has been agreed at the university, which gives the student a choice whether to wear a mask during studies or to show the COVID certificate to the teaching staff member to be allowed not to wear the mask. Wearing the mask gives the student the opportunity to refrain from disclosing his or her health data (i.e. not to say if he or she has been vaccinated). It must be noted that this is a code of conduct and not a rector’s decree. Therefore, all university members are expected to use common sense, not to organise their work merely on the basis of orders and prohibitions.
      The Data Protection Inspectorate has explained that the university cannot ask degree students for the COVID certificate based on the person’s consent only if it is not voluntary. In its guidelines, the university does not make participation in studies dependent either a COVID certificate or wearing a mask, so the student may present a certificate or wear a mask, but does not have to.
  • Can a degree student’s COVID certificate or the fact of wearing the mask be recorded in writing?
    • The collection of personal data must have a specific purpose and legal basis (Article 6 of GDPR).
      A COVID certificate can only be requested from a student not wearing the mask for the purpose of preventing infection, but at the same time the student is not obliged to present it, nor does the student need to justify for what health reason they cannot wear a mask. No data on the presenting or not presenting a certificate may be recorded.
      Wearing a mask is one measure to reduce the spread of the virus (government order). Since the fact of wearing a mask does not provide information about the vaccination status or the infection safety of a person, it is difficult to see the purpose of recording the fact of wearing a mask in relation to preventing the spread of the virus. The general principles governing the processing of personal data are set out in Article 5 of the GDPR and, based on that, storing any obvious fact relating to a person without any purpose or legal basis is not permitted.
Vaccination
  • What is the position on unvaccinated teaching staff? Currently, the employer (e.g. head of institute) does not even know how many of the teaching staff have not been vaccinated and who they are. Do they have to be regularly tested and submit the test result to teach?
    • According to the Ministry of Education and Research, the level of vaccination among UT staff is very good – over 90% –, thus the majority of employees have been vaccinated. We have to understand that a vaccination level of 100% is unachievable.
      The university does not stigmatise its staff or students based on vaccination. I also want to remind you that an unvaccinated person does not equal an infected person. The head of institute cannot know who has been vaccinated and who has not. The university doesn't have that data. Such data can and may generally be disclosed only by the employee or student him- or herself.
      The employer’s right to process the employees’ health data proceeds from the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the need for testing must be based on the risk analysis of each team.

      Nevertheless, we're trying to make do without testing or only do it if absolutely necessary. Testing once a week as suggested in the guidelines of the Ministry of Education and Research might not be very efficient – the negative test taken on Monday can already be positive on Tuesday. The Ministry of Education and Research has allocated 4,000 rapid antigen tests to the University of Tartu for the screening of unvaccinated employees until the end of 2021, that is for 17 weeks. As these rapid tests are meant for professional use, they can be carried out only by a healthcare professional, a person who has completed the corresponding training or the tested person him- or herself under the guidance and in presence of one of the first two.

  • Are you considering collecting data from international staff to specify the statistics of vaccinated staff members?
    • The accuracy of statistics is not that important. The university does not and must not collect personalised data on vaccinations. It is the general level we are interested in – more than 90% of UT staff have been vaccinated. 
Distancing and room occupancy
  • In which cases is the 50% occupancy limit applied? And what happens to the 50% occupancy limit if the 90% vaccination rate is reached at the university: are masks still to be worn in large groups where the 50% occupancy limit cannot be met?  Or will the 50% occupancy limit also disappear?
    • We shouldn't get stuck in numbers and percentages. No one will prescribe the exact number of people, square meters, etc. We assume that teaching staff understand that ensuring distancing is essential in the case of sufficiently large groups of students. Whether this is achieved by filling 30, 50 or 70% of seats depends more on the size and layout of the room. The teaching staff member should generally be able to assess the risks and numerical values of risk mitigation.
      Why do we emphasise large study groups of more than one hundred participants? If someone happens to spread the virus in a crowded lecture hall, there will be many people who might be infected and need to self-isolate. This risk can be reduced by recording a lecture or holding it online. Thanks to vaccination, the risk of infection has now been reduced and is likely to decrease further. Thus, I hope the teaching staff, the institute and the faculty use their common sense to find out where to draw the line between large, medium and small groups and in which rooms the risk of the virus spreading is the highest.
      Here, we could also reflect on lectures as such in general. Perhaps the pandemic gives us the reason to consider how useful as a learning method is a lecture with more than a hundred participants, where the lecturer delivers a monologue – perhaps with almost the same content and form each year – and the people in the lecture hall listen passively or scroll their smart devices. If the lecture has been pre-recorded, the student can listen to it at a convenient time, and the teaching staff member has more time to prepare an interactive seminar or to conduct a research experiment. 

Organisation of studies

  • New! Read more closely about the start of teaching and studies in the autumn of 2021.
  • The new academic year starts with face-to-face studies and we will do everything we can to continue with face-to-face learning. We recommend holding lectures with one hundred or more participants online, if possible, and organising studies in small groups, if it is reasonable and if safe distancing cannot be ensured in the lecture hall. The teaching staff do not have the obligation to offer hybrid learning options. 
  • Access to studies is guaranteed to everyone but students who have not been vaccinated or do not wish to reveal their health data to teaching staff must wear a mask during studies in the university buildings. Teaching staff have the right to ask unmasked students to present the digital Covid certificate.
  • Vaccination guarantees participation in face-to-face classes. This means that in case of close contact with a coronavirus carrier, vaccinated students without symptoms of the viral disease do not have to isolate and miss studies. The university does not have to ensure online learning opportunities to unvaccinated students who are absent from classes due to illness or safe-isolation rules.
  • All changes will be immediately communicated to students and made available in the SIS.
  • International students and staff arriving in Estonia from third countries are required to present a negative coronavirus test. Read more from University of Tartu website.
  • Until reaching the target of having 90% of the university members vaccinated, everyone must wear a mask in the public rooms of study buildings (corridors, lobbies, etc.) and at crowded gatherings.
  • If you have a question about the organisation of studies, submit it here.

Organisation of work

  • 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.
  • Until reaching the target of having 90% of the university members vaccinated, everyone must wear a mask in the public rooms of study buildings (corridors, lobbies, etc.) and at crowded gatherings.
  • Prefer paperless procedures and forward documents via electronic channels.
  • International students and staff arriving in Estonia from third countries are required to present a negative coronavirus test. Read more from University of Tartu website. 
  • For more detailed guidelines on the organisation of work in the context of COVID-19, see the university's intranet.

Organisation of public events

Please follow national guidelines for organising public events.


Travelling

  • If you travelled abroad, make sure to consult the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the movement restrictions for people arriving in Estonia. As the epidemiological situation may change rapidly, plan any trips abroad with the consideration that you may be subject to movement restrictions upon returning to Estonia.
  • International students and staff arriving in Estonia from third countries are required to present a negative coronavirus test. Read more from University of Tartu website.

 

Possible infection

  • If you suspect infection with coronavirus, call your family doctor or the family doctor’s advice line 1220 for advice. 
  • To prevent further spread of the virus, stay at home while waiting for the test results and when tested positive. 
  • 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 have been in close contact with university staff or students. Rapid exchange of information helps us prevent the spread of the virus at the university. If an employee turns out to be a virus carrier or a close contact, we recommend informing his or her immediate supervisor. If a student turns out to be a virus carrier or a close contact, we recommend him or her to inform the academic affairs specialist.

 

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 
Viivika Eljand-Kärp, Head of Communication of the University of Tartu, 5354 0689, viivika.eljand-karp [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
ERR News regularly updated webpage with relevant informationCoronavirus in Estonia: All you need to know
Restrictions in force in Estonia  https://www.kriis.ee/en/restrictions-force-estonia

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Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Universities Estonia expresses disappointment at the government’s plan to increase the inequality between the funding of higher and general education in Estonia

3 weeks 3 days ago
30.09.2021

According to information available to the universities, the Estonian government plans to increase teachers’ salary fund by 7.3% and the activity support for higher education by 3.2% next year.

This plan aggravates the gap between the salaries of universities’ teaching staff and teachers’ salaries, as well as widens the gap between higher education and other spheres of life in Estonia.

At our universities there are 633 academic staff members, whose salary is below the minimum teacher’s salary (1,412 euros); 112 of them hold a doctoral degree.

The salary of a third (33%) of all academic employees is less  than the estimated average salary in general education schools (1,653 euros).

To maintain the motivation of teaching staff, the pressure to increase their salaries is very high – regardless of the amounts planned for the state budget.

Universities Estonia express disappointment at the government’s plan to increase the inequality between the funding of higher and general education in Estonia.

This will lead to a situation where universities are forced to withdraw from obligations stipulated in their administrative contracts, and begin to reduce tuition-free Estonian-taught studies.

Further information:
Mart Kalm, President of Universities Estonia, +372 513 6274, mart.kalm [ät] artun.ee
Hanna Kanep, Executive Secretary of Universities Estonia, +372 503 5403, hanna.kanep [ät] ern.ee

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu celebrates the 100th anniversary of relations between Estonia and Japan with a lecture, concert and conference

3 weeks 3 days ago
30.09.2021

The year 2021 marks 100 years from the beginning of official relations and friendship between Estonia and Japan. From 13–15 October, a lecture by the ambassador of Japan, a concert of Japanese music and the “Multidisciplinary conference on the economic relations and embedded cultural perspectives between the EU and Japan” will take place at the University of Tartu.

On 13 October, the Ambassador of Japan Hajime Kitaoka will hold a public lecture to mark the 100-year friendly relations in the assembly hall of the University of Tartu. The lecture is in English. The lecture is followed by a concert of Japanese acoustic music performed by the percussion ensemble Muteki TAIKO (Hele-Riin Uib, Marilin Kaprei) and Mizuki Shindo on the flute.

According to Elo Süld, Head of the Asia Centre at the University of Tartu, Japan is becoming an increasingly important partner for Estonia in the emerging Asian century. “Estonian researchers and entrepreneurs are realising more and more that they have a lot to gain from cooperating with their Japanese colleagues,” Süld explained. In her view, the cultural understanding of one other plays a crucial role in starting bilateral cooperation, regardless of the sector.

On 14 and 15 October, the multidisciplinary conference on the economic relations and embedded cultural perspectives between the EU and Japan takes place. The event organised by the University of Tartu and the Estonian Business School will focus on the economic relations of the European Union and Japan, and the role of culture in creating and successfully maintaining the relations. The speakers include doctoral students, researchers and practicians from the universities and enterprises of Estonia, Japan, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Hungary and Finland. Further information is available on the event website.

The lecture and concert that take place on 13 October can also be viewed via the UTTV video portal.

We check the infection safety of the participants at the event. Along with an identity document, be prepared to present a medical certificate about a completed vaccination series, recovery from COVID-19 or a negative test result (PCR test conducted by a health care professional up to 72 hours before the event).

Further information:
Karoliina Vilimaa-Pennarun, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation, University of Tartu, +372 5345 2565, karoliina.v.pennarun [ät] ut.ee 
Heidi Maiberg, Communication Manager, University of Tartu Asia Centre, +372 5199 1451, heidi.maiberg [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Research news: collaboration between enterprises and researchers, cancer metastasis, vocalisations and composition of clay

3 weeks 3 days ago
30.09.2021

Research news regularly informs you of interesting studies in various fields of research.

Social Sciences

Is there any hope for an enterprise inexperienced in innovation to effectively collaborate with academic researchers?

Most enterprises in Estonia are very small. Sigrid Rajalo and Maaja Vadi studied what enterprises with low innovative capabilities expected from collaboration with an academic partner. It appears that the motivation symmetry between partners is a crucial factor of effective collaboration. What is more surprising is the result suggesting that entrepreneurs expect researchers to contribute more motivation to the collaboration than the business practitioners themselves do. The prospects of enterprises with limited innovation capacities and experience are therefore not hopeless: the collaborating researcher’s motivation could help balance their limitations. Science policy measures should encourage this.

Read further in the article.

Further information:
Sigrid Rajalo, doctoral student, School of Economics and Business Administration, sigrid.rajalo [ät] ut.ee
Maaja Vadi, Professor of Management, maaja.vadi [ät] ut.ee

Medicine

Artificial intelligence helps detect cancer metastasis

Cancer metastasis is one of the most significant causes of cancer morbidity. The accurate identification of a cancer’s origin and the types of cancer cells it comprises is crucial for prescribing the best treatment options for patients. The research study used artificial intelligence to identify cancer cells and their origin. Artificial intelligence was shown to be able to determine the type of cancer cells with an accuracy of 99%.

Read more in the article.

Further information:
Andres Salumets,  Professor of Reproductive Genomics, andres.salumets [ät] ut.ee
Vijayachitra Modhukur, Research Fellow of Bioinformatics, vijayachitra.modhukur [ät] ut.ee

Arts and Humanities

Can people from different cultures understand each other with the use of non-linguistic vocalisations?
The answer is yes. A recent study published in Nature with the participation of the University of Tartu scientists found that the linguistic form (sequence of sounds) we use to denote a thing or phenomenon is not entirely random. We use iconicity to name living creatures and items – it means that their form is related to their linguistic representation and the relationship is understandable across languages. This has opened the door to the development of semantic breath in the evolution of language.

Read more in the article.

Further information: Pärtel Lippus, Associate Professor of Estonian Phonetics, partel.lippus [ät] ut.ee

Science and Technology

Novel method helps to determine the mineral components of clay

Studies of the composition of clay-based materials are valuable for the fields of cultural heritage and archaeology, geology, medicine and cosmetics, etc. A great advantage of the new quantitative method developed at the University of Tartu is that the method is quick and easy to use, and enables to analyse very small samples. The new method has already been used to analyse the quantitative composition of archaeological and cultural heritage objects that are significant for Estonia, for example the terracota sculptures of Tartu St John’s Church, the bricks of Tartu Cathedral and archaeological pottery fragmets from Narva Joaorg.

Read more in the article.

Further information: Signe Vahur, Research Fellow in Analytical and Physical Chemistry, signe.vahur [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Sandra Saar (sandra27)
Checked
25.10.2021 - 07:10
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