Tartu University News

International conference on educational technology focuses on the impact of the corona crisis on teaching and learning

4 hours 17 minutes ago

On 17 and 18 August, the Institute of Education of the University of Tartu together with Riga Technical University and Utrecht University organises an online conference entitled “How to Re-imagine Teaching and Learning in Uncertain Times?”. It is open to everybody interested in new developments in educational technology and teaching in a world affected by COVID-19: parents, teachers, lecturers, researchers, politicians, technology entrepreneurs, etc. 

The event gives a chance to discuss the experience of two partially web-based master’s programmes, one at the University of Tartu and one at Riga Technical University. Stemming from these examples, the discussions focus on designing web-based study, its challenges and opportunities as well as finding a balance between online and classroom study. Speakers include alumni of such programmes, who have been in two roles at the same time: developers and implementers of educational technology at their workplace and the users of new technology as students. During the coronavirus outbreak, such a two-sided view gave rise to experiences worth sharing at the conference. 

The keynote speaker is a recognised expert in education technology, Professor of Utrecht University Bert Slof. Representatives of Tallinn International School, Tartu International School and Rocca al Mare School share the viewpoints of general education schools. In addition, researchers and lecturers from Riga Technical University share the experiences of our neighbours. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of turmoil in the world. Students and teachers had to adapt to rapid and major changes. Our conference that stems from the experience of two partly web-based master’s programmes in educational technology provides a chance to share ideas and perspectives as to what has been done and how to imagine education in a post-COVID-19 world,” said the main organiser of the conference, Senior Research Fellow in Educational Technology of the University of Tartu and director of the master’s programme Emanuele Bardone. 

The conference takes place online on Zoom and is free of charge. Registered participants will receive guidelines for joining the conference and the presentations will be recorded. The working language of the conference is English. 

Registration is already open. For more information, see https://edutech.mii.lv/?p=5978

The conference is part of the Erasmus+ Project “MA in Educational Technology: A New Online Blended Learning Program for New Member States”. 

Further information:
Marje Johanson, Project Coordinator at the Institute of Education of the University of Tartu, 737 6456, marje.johanson [ät] ut.ee
Emanuele Bardone, Senior Research Fellow in Educational Technology of the University of Tartu and director of the master’s programme, 737 6022, emanuele.bardone [ät] ut.ee

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


Category: Continuing CoursesResearchPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu researchers continue the study on the point prevalence of coronavirus

1 day 6 hours ago

On Thursday, 6 August, the University of Tartu invites 2,400 residents of Estonia to participate in the fifth wave of the study on the prevalence of coronavirus to understand the impact of the recent weeks’ outbreaks on the wider spread of the virus.

Head of the monitoring survey and UT Professor of Family Medicine Ruth Kalda said that researchers have kept an eye on the daily infection statistics throughout summer to come back to collecting data about the point prevalence of the virus across the country as the number of infections increases. “Cases related to the outbreak in Tartu have reached elsewhere, so we need more detailed information on whether and to what extent the virus has spread to other Estonian regions,” said Kalda. She added that while people were generally more careful in the spring, the summer inevitably brought along more active communication as well as holidays abroad. “Nobody wants the country wide restrictions to come back, so we must study whether the outbreak that started in Tartu is merely local or has become more widespread.”

According to Kalda, we should also be cautious given the results of the study on coronavirus antibodies KoroSero-EST-1 led by the University of Tartu. According to the study, only a fifth of people who have suffered from coronavirus exhibited a symptom of a viral disease. “This confirms the existing belief that a virus transmitter might not even be aware of being infectious. This is why we cannot condemn all the infected but can do a lot ourselves to minimise the spread of the virus,” said Kalda. “It is wise to avoid crowded events and parties where keeping distance is not possible, or wear a mask in such places. We should not go to parties even with the slightest symptoms of illness.”

On 6 August, the research company Emor sends an email or SMS invitation to participate in the study to people included in the random statistical sample based on the data of the population register. After the participants fill in the questionnaire, the time and place for taking the nasal swab will be agreed with them. Participation in the study is voluntary for all who receive the invitation. After analysing the data, the University of Tartu presents the findings to the Government of the Republic.

“We have been cooperating with the government to find evidence-based solutions for curbing the spread of the virus and coping with the crisis since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said UT Vice Rector for Research Kristjan Vassil.

In addition to monitoring the point prevalence of COVID-19 and the study Koro-Sero-EST, the University of Tartu is about to start two more studies in which researchers collect data on the spread and nature of the virus. In the coming weeks, the study KoroGeno-Est will be launched in which the genetic sequences of the COVID-19-causing virus spreading in Estonia will be examined to determine the source of unknown infections. Also, a monitoring system of COVID-19 based on wastewater analysis will be started to help detect broader virus spread at the earliest possible stage.

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: ResearchPress release
Mari-Liis Pintson (pintson)

Coronavirus is ten times more prevalent than previously thought

1 day 8 hours ago

The results of the study on coronavirus antibodies KoroSero-EST-1 led by the University of Tartu indicate that the prevalence of the virus notably exceeded the national statistics based on nasal swab testing: by ten times in Tallinn and three and a half times in Saaremaa. Only 20% of people who had coronavirus antibodies in their blood had had a symptom of a viral disease. The population-based study on coronavirus antibodies KoroSero-EST-2 has already started.

From 11 May to 29 July, the University of Tartu in cooperation with Kuressaare and Järveotsa family practitioners’ offices invited 3,608 people to take part in the study on coronavirus antibodies KoroSero‑EST-1. Of those invited, 1,006 people from the practice list of Järveotsa family practitioners’ office in Tallinn and 954 from that of Kuressaare family practitioners’ office in Saaremaa agreed to participate, give a venous blood sample and fill in a questionnaire.

The researchers aimed to detect the presence of coronavirus antibodies in the blood of people invited to the study based on a randomised sample compiled by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. Antibodies were measured at SYBLAB using the ELISA method. The presence of antibodies indicates that a person has been exposed to the coronavirus. The researchers hypothesised that the number of people who have had COVID-19 in Estonia is larger than indicated by national statistics based on nasopharyngeal swab testing.

The results of the test-study in two regions confirmed this hypothesis. According to Piia Jõgi, the head of the research group of KoroSero-EST-1, Assistant of Paediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Tartu and Teaching Physician in Paediatrics at Tartu University Hospital, the prevalence of coronavirus was 1.4% among the patients of Järveotsa family practitioners’ office and 6% among the patients of Kuressaare family practitioners’ office. This means that three people out of 200 in Tallinn and six people out of 100 in Saaremaa have been exposed to the coronavirus. The analysis of the data revealed that the prevalence of coronavirus exceeded the national statistics by ten times in Tallinn and three and a half times in Saaremaa.

“For instance, the official registered number of coronavirus infections in Saaremaa is 167 cases per 10,000 residents, but based on the study on antibodies, it is 597 cases per 10,000 residents,” explained Jõgi. It should be noted that officially, cases of infection are registered based on PCR testing of the nasopharyngeal swab, which allows detecting persons currently infected with the virus. Serological tests indicate whether a person has been exposed to coronavirus some time ago and, as a result, has developed antibodies.

The study showed that 80% of seropositive people (those with antibodies) did not have any symptoms and 56% of seropositive people had not had any known contact with a COVID-19 patient. Thus only 20% of people with coronavirus antibodies reported having had a symptom of COVID-19, such as high fever, runny nose, nausea, sore throat, diarrhoea or chest pain.

Risk of the second wave of the virus

According to Jõgi, the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in Estonia is low, similarly to many other European countries. “A large proportion of our population is still susceptible to SARS-CoV-2. This means that if we do not follow the general rules such as to properly wash our hands, keep distance, stay home when ill and after returning from abroad if required to, we are at great risk of a new wave of the virus, which can lead to new restrictions,” said Jõgi.

Population-based study

KoroSero-EST-1 was a test-study, helping to plan the population-based study on coronavirus antibodies KoroSero-EST-2 as efficiently as possible. This study is led by Marje Oona, Associate Professor in Family Medicine of the University of Tartu, and the collection of blood samples for the study has already started. KoroSero-EST-2 is easier to organise: instead of family physicians inviting people to participate in the study, the surplus of blood samples sent to SYNLAB are used for the detection of antibodies. The lab provides the researchers with anonymous samples for analysis. The researchers will only know the region where the blood was taken and the age of the patient. The first results of KoroSero-EST-2 can be expected already at the end of September.

Study on coronavirus prevalence

The University of Tartu is also conducting a study on the prevalence of coronavirus, in which the prevalence and progress of the pandemic in Estonia is determined by PCR test of nasopharyngeal swab sample. A random statistical sample of 16,000 to 20,000 people will be interviewed and tested across Estonia to give the state evidence-based data for making decisions related to COVID-19.

For more information on KoroSero-EST, see the home page of the study. The study is financed by the Government of the Republic.

Further information:
Piia Jõgi
Assistant of Paediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Tartu, Teaching Physician in Paediatrics at Tartu University Hospital, head of the seroepidemiologic study KoroSero-EST-1
piia.jogi [ät] ut.ee

To arrange an interview, contact Virge Ratasepp (+372 5815 5392, virge.ratasepp [ät] ut.ee). Category: ResearchPress release
Virge Ratasepp (a73579)

Rector: acting responsibly helps us maintain as normal a way of life as possible

2 days 6 hours ago

Dear members of the university,

To recover from the extraordinary situation that hit the world in spring, a summer holiday is vital for all of us. However, we must remember to exercise caution when returning to work to make sure our life at the university and in the country as a whole could continue as normally as possible.

We want the upcoming academic year at the University of Tartu to be as normal as possible and keep distant working and distant learning rather as exceptions to the rule. Below, I want to outline three basic truths that each employee and student of the University of Tartu must follow, so that we could considerately continue our everyday activities in the corona era:

  • when returning from countries with a high coronavirus infection rate, adhere to the movement restrictions laid down by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • in the work and study environment, maintain the required distance with other people and comply with hygiene rules to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading;
  • stay home even with mild symptoms of a viral disease.

If you travelled abroad, make sure to consult the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the list of countries arriving from which you must stay in self-isolation for 14 days. As the epidemiological situation may change rapidly, plan all trips abroad with the consideration that you might be subject to movement restrictions when returning to Estonia. This could mean working from home and, for students, being absent from classes.

Coronavirus continues to spread in Estonia and the whole world and the best strategy to avoid infection is still to act responsibly. This means that we must accept new social norms and avoid contact with others when having mild symptoms of illness that did not affect our everyday life before. Even with the slightest symptoms of common cold, take time off and stay home. Staying at home with minor symptoms of illness should not make the employee feel ashamed nor lead to disapproval by the superiors and colleagues. We should embrace the principle not to come to work when ill. The university and its executives of all levels must ensure a safe working environment for all employees.

Each structural unit must think ahead whether and how employees of different positions could work from home. If this is not possible due to the nature of your position, use the health improvement days or take a sick leave. The University of Tartu pays its employees sickness benefit of 100% of the average salary for the 2nd to the 8th day of illness. The university decided to do that exactly to encourage its employees to address their health at the onset of the first symptoms of illness, instead of coming to work and spreading the disease to colleagues.
It is up to each of us to avoid being forced to work from home for months on end, to study only in front of the screen and to be concerned about the capacity of our medical system and the health of our more vulnerable fellow citizens.

May the upcoming academic year be safe for all of us!

Toomas Asser
Rector, Professor

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu welcomes all admitted international students to Estonia in autumn

2 weeks 1 day ago

The Rector’s Office of the University of Tartu decided on Tuesday that all international students may come to study in Estonia in autumn. The same applies to employees arriving from foreign countries. The decision concerns both new international students who were admitted this year and new staff members, as well as the existing international students and staff of the University of Tartu who are returning to Estonia in the coming months.

At the beginning of July, the government of Estonia decided that people may come to Estonia for the purpose of work and study from all countries, but to citizens and residents of third countries with a higher number of infections, certain requirements will apply, and the responsibility for compliance with the requirements lies on both the arriving students or employees and the university who invited them.

The University of Tartu will notify citizens of third countries of the requirements that apply to them during the first two weeks after their arrival in Estonia. The arrivals must confirm by signature that they have been informed of the requirements, stay in self-isolation for 14 days, and travel by separate means of transport during that period. They must pass a COVID-19 test immediately after arrival and a repeat test at the end of the isolation period, i.e. on the 14th day. In case symptoms characteristic of COVID-19 develop, a family physician must be consulted immediately. If necessary, the University of Tartu can help arrange transport and testing.

Self-isolation is required for all international students and employees who arrive in Estonia

  • from or through a third country not listed on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
  • from or through a country in which the number of COVID-19 positive test results per 100,000 people over the last two weeks exceeds 16,
  • from or through a country for which there are no above data available and where the risk of virus spread is high.

During self-isolation, international students and staff must stay in their place of residence or accommodation and refrain from unnecessary contacts. They are allowed to leave their place of residence only to see a doctor, shop for food, essentials and medicines, and in an emergency.   

According to the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu, Aune Valk, the decision was made in consultation with Professor of Medical Microbiology Irja Lutsar, who says we must learn to live with the virus. “Coming to study at the university is a long-term decision – considering that the studies last for at least two years, a two-week self-isolation period is not an unrealistic effort. As the university is ready to start with e-learning in autumn, students have more time for travelling to Estonia, and the university has more time to prepare for their arrival. We cannot be fully sure that nothing happens, because the virus may as well spread among Estonian students, but I believe that the Raatuse dormitory case in spring taught us well how to locally control the spread of the virus by imposing clear rules and making systematic arrangements,” Valk said.

According to Ülle Tensing, Head of the Study Abroad Centre of the University of Tartu, more than 500 international students were admitted this year. “However, considering the situation in the world, probably a third or a half of the admitted students will actually arrive. It is difficult to say how many students will be required to self-isolate, because the university also expects the existing students to return,” Tensing explained.

Ülle Tensing regards it important that as many international students as possible could start their studies in autumn at the same time as the Estonian students. “Organising the testing and isolation is an extra workload for the university, but it is very important to maintain openness also in challenging times. International students and staff are a valuable part of the university community,” said Tensing.

Read also the address of the rector of the University of Tartu to all new international students.

Further information: Ülle Tensing, Head of Study Abroad Centre, University of Tartu, +372 5568 3533, ulle.tensing [ät] ut.ee

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


Category: AdmissionPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Rector: University of Tartu welcomes all international students

2 weeks 1 day ago

Dear students,

Estonia has been successful in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus so far. To keep it this way, there are strict requirements in place for many who arrive here. Every university who invites people from other countries, shares the responsibility with the arrivals to prevent new spread of the virus.

At the University of Tartu, international students make up an important part of the university community, and despite the complicated situation in the world, we make our best to ensure that all international students, regardless of their country of residence, can start their studies at the University of Tartu in autumn.

To ensure safe arrival and start of studies for all international students, both we and all the arriving students need to make an effort and follow the rules. The testing and self-isolation requirement may cause inconveniences, yet it is in the best interests of maintaining virus circulation at a low level. This way we can keep ourselves and our peers safe.

We look forward to your joining us at the University of Tartu.

See you soon!

Toomas Asser
Rector of the University of Tartu


Read also the press release about University of Tartu welcoming all admitted international students in autumn.


Category: Admission
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

One gene affects ratio of boys and girls born

2 weeks 4 days ago

A joint research study involving Estonian scientists has been published which describes in detail the delicate balance between the paternal and maternal genes during pregnancy. Due to the paternal contribution, the embryo is genetically foreign to the mother’s body, but is nevertheless perfectly capable of developing in the womb and normally does not suffer from any maternal immune attacks. However, this balance is not always ideal and may prove fatal for both the embryo and the mother.

Most expectant mothers are healthy but may still experience miscarriage, premature labour or pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is an increase in blood pressure (hypertension) during pregnancy which affects 2–8% of expectant mothers. It significantly increases the health risks and complications associated with pregnancy, such as damage to the kidneys, liver or other organs. The researchers sought to find a correlation between pregnancy hypertension and foetal histocompatibility complex gene (HLA-G) variants. The task of HLA-G is to protect the developing foetus, which is essentially a foreign organism, from attacks by maternal immune cells.

The research study, which was published in the journal EBiomedicine, initially examined Finnish birth statistics based on 1.79 million children and found that hypertension was considerably more common in mothers expecting a girl compared to those expecting a boy. In addition, it was found that pregnancy hypertension was far more common in mothers expecting a girl compared to those expecting a boy if the infant was born prematurely or with a low birth weight. Subsequent laboratory analysis involving a smaller group of patients revealed that some HLA-G variants contribute to foetal death and pre-eclampsia. This means that in the event of a genetic conflict causing pregnancy hypertension, male foetuses perish in the early stage of pregnancy. Female foetuses are more resistant, but this leads to maternal pre-eclampsia.

On the other hand, it was noted with interest that although the oldest HLA-G variant in evolutionary terms does increase the risk of pre-eclampsia and stillbirth, it also provides protection for the foetus from infections during pregnancy such as malaria, which may have been an aspect of crucial importance in earlier times.

The researcher responsible for the laboratory analysis was Kaarel Krjutškov, senior researcher in molecular medicine at the University of Tartu and the head of the Precision Medicine Laboratory of the Competence Centre on Health Technologies. “This is the first known study in the world which not only identifies the genetic cause of pre-eclampsia, but also proves the fact that the ratio of girls and boys born is regulated not just by sex chromosomes, but also by the histocompatibility complex HLA-G gene,” he said, explaining the relevance of the study.

Laboratory DNA analysis covered 163 patients, some of whom were healthy and constituted the control group. The key genes were discovered with the help of bioinformatics software developed by University of Tartu PhD student Hindrek Teder and the TAC-seq DNA analysis method, which was used to identify the HLA-G variants and their rate of expression in placental tissue in the patients under study.

“The medical value of the study lies in the information we have obtained, which encourages us to test whether medicines for autoimmune disorders would be suitable in pre-eclampsia treatment by controlling the maternal immune response and preventing pregnancy hypertension,” Krjutškov explained. “The expression of HLA-G is low in pre-eclamptic placentas, which in turn leads to a higher expression of the IFNA1 gene, a marker for autoimmune disease and rejection reaction. If we could keep the IFNA1 level down, pre-eclampsia should not develop.”

Further information: Kaarel Krjutškov, Senior Research Fellow in Molecular Medicine, University of Tartu; Head of the Precision Medicine Laboratory, Competence Centre on Health Technologies, +372 512 6416, kaarel.krjutshkov [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)

The University of Tartu Museum is opening a science-themed adventure town on Toome Hill

3 weeks ago

As of Saturday, 18 July, the University of Tartu Museum invites everyone to Toome Hill to participate in its Science Town game—take the opportunity to learn new things and get to know Toome Hill. During the opening weekend, the museum offers a refreshing gift to the 50 first people who complete the track.

“Where better to participate in an educational game than at the heart of the university city and the historical campus,” says Külli Lupkin, project manager of the University of Tartu Museum. “It’s fun to complete the tasks alone, but much more fun with one’s friends or family. The game offers the added value of being outdoors and in the nature,” she adds.

Science Town is made up of eight stops on Toome Hill. The players can easily find them since each stop includes a map of the town. The subjects covered in the town include archaeology, medicine, economy, musicology, IT and astronomy. Each stop introduces the scientific background of a narrow topic and players get to solve a task. The starting point of the game is next to the university museum.

Science Town was created by the University of Tartu Museum’s curators Lea Leppik and Tiiu Kreegipuu, and project managers Karoliina Kalda and Külli Lupkin. The authors of the town’s visual design are artist Liina Tepand and master builder Tanel Nõmmik from the University of Tartu Museum. The construction of Science Town was supported by the Estonian Research Council and the city of Tartu. The game can be played in Estonian and English.

The players who complete the track during the opening weekend get a gift when they present their completed answer sheet. Both answer sheets and gifts can be collected from the University of Tartu Museum’s souvenir shop in the historical Tartu Cathedral. On Saturdays and Sundays, the museum shop is open during the opening hours of the museum from 10 to 18.

The University of Tartu Museum has been organising Science Town events during the Tartu Hanseatic Days. Since the Hanseatic Days have been cancelled this year, the museum decided to adopt a different approach towards the subject.

Science Town remains open on Toome Hill until the end of the museum’s summer season on 30 September. Visiting Science Town is free of charge.

Additional information: Külli Lupkin, University of Tartu Museum project manager, +372 5554 2357, kulli.lupkin [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Consortium whose members include University of Tartu awarded European Commission funding

3 weeks ago

Last week, the ENLIGHT consortium, one of whose members is the University of Tartu, was one of 24 consortiums chosen as international unions of institutions of higher education of the European Union to be funded by the European Commission, of which there are now 41 in total. The European Commission has allocated 287 million euros to the work of the consortiums.

These consortiums of European universities represent cross-border unions that promote European values and identity and boost competition. With the financial support of the European Commission, the consortiums will be helping to improve the quality, inclusivity, digitalisation and attractiveness of higher education in Europe.

University of Tartu Vice-Rector for Development Erik Puura says he is proud that the University of Tartu is a member of a network of such strong European universities. “We have a lot to learn from our partners, but at the same time, as the leading university in New Europe, there’s a lot we ourselves can contribute as well,” he said.

Puura added that working with the consortium will lead to a new era in the internationalisation of the University of Tartu, opening up new international study opportunities for students, supporting collaboration in research and forging a much stronger bond between the university and the three regions of Northern, Central and Western Europe.

The University of Tartu is a member of ENLIGHT (the European University Network to Promote Quality of Life, Sustainability & Global Engagement through Higher Education Transformation) alongside eight partner universities based in Ghent, Göttingen, the Basque Country, Bordeaux, Galway, Groningen, Uppsala and Bratislava. The consortium’s mission is to transform European higher education so as that its students become global citizens with the drive to tackle the complex challenges facing society and promote quality of life and sustainability in cities and communities.

Through close interaction with local socio-economic environments, ENLIGHT will be looking to develop flexible, forward-looking study programmes throughout its network that are based on the latest scientific studies and focus on innovation.

Further information: Erik Puura, University of Tartu Vice-Rector for Development, 506 9882, erik.puura [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Doctoral thesis helps better understand and predict carbon nanostructure and capacitance relationships in energy storage devices

3 weeks 3 days ago
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    In a doctoral dissertation defended in the Institute of Chemistry of the University of Tartu, experimental and cheminformatics methods were used to study methods for producing nanoporous carbon materials and their capacitance characteristics. For the first time, the authors were able to predict an application-relevant property of heterostructural carbon by using experiment-derived structure descriptors.

    Increasingly topical environmental issues force us to pay more attention to alternative energy storage devices and the green materials used in them. Such materials also include nanoporous carbon. In addition to its ability to store electrical energy, nanoporous carbon has a great potential to be used as molecular sieves for the purification and adsorption of gases and liquids, in the selective separation of ions, and as a catalyst support in low-temperature fuel-cells.

“All these applications require the optimal specific nanostructure for the carbon material, so it is crucial to be able to purposefully influence the formation and porosity of nanostructures in carbon synthesis,” said Maike Käärik, Research Fellow at the Institute of Chemistry of the University of Tartu, and author of the doctoral thesis.

The prevailing topic in the dissertation is finding relationships between the electrical double-layer capacitance of carbide-derived carbon (CDC) and the experiment-derived structure descriptors, using the quantitative nano-structure-property relationship (QnSPR) approach. More than 200 different micro- and macrostructured carbon materials were synthesised, and all data were pooled into a unique database of nanoporous carbons. The doctoral thesis thoroughly analyses the relationships between the synthesis conditions and the porous structure of carbon, and gives a comprehensive overview of effect of pore size distribution, measured by gas adsorption analysis, on the electrical double-layer capacitance of carbon.

“The results of this research help to gain a broader understanding of the role of ultra-small pores in achieving high capacitance in energy storage devices,” explained the supervisor Jaan Leis, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Chemistry of the University of Tartu.

As a result of the research, it was possible for the first time to construct multiparametric regression models for describing and predicting the electrical capacitance of porous carbon, using experiment-derived structure descriptors. “The importance of this work consists primarily in the fact that a mathematical model was found, which enables predicting the properties of carbon materials with difficult-to-describe structures,” Maike Käärik said.

“Attempts to describe and predict the quantitative structure-property relationships of nanomaterials have been made over the last decades. The problem has been the lack of datasets of nanomaterials suitable for modelling, and the calculating or measuring of appropriate parameters describing the molecular structure. Maike Käärik in her dissertation has overcome both obstacles and achieved an excellent modelling result,” added Uko Maran, co-supervisor of the thesis, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Chemistry of the University of Tartu.

Further information: Maike Käärik, Research Fellow in Molecular Technology, Institute of Chemistry, University of Tartu, +372 737 5279, maike.kaarik [ät] ut.ee

Category: ResearchPress release
Imbi Rauk (imbu)

University of Tartu continues as the most reputable higher education institution in Estonia, survey says

3 weeks 3 days ago

According to a Kantar Emor survey conducted in May this year among Estonian residents aged 15–74, representatives of all age groups consider the University of Tartu to be Estonia’s most reputable higher education institution. In addition, 65% of the respondents pointed out the University of Tartu’s contribution to fighting the coronavirus, primarily research studies.

Estonian residents consider the University of Tartu – the university with the longest history – to be the most reputable university in Estonia: so said 84% of the nearly 1200 respondents. 92% of the respondents spontaneously mentioned the University of Tartu most frequently; for six people out of ten, it was the first choice.

Responses to the survey show that the University of Tartu’s reputation relies, above all, on high-level education and research, and the high value of diploma in the labour market. In addition, respondents regard the University of Tartu as trustworthy, because the education it offers meets their expectations. Internationalisation and active student exchange are seen as the university’s great, although less perceived, advantages.

According to Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu, good reputation is very important for the university. “I’m pleased that young people have given particularly high evaluation to the University of Tartu compared to other higher education institutions in the survey. In education, and schools more broadly, reputation and satisfaction are closely connected – it is important what the university can do to provide good education, and also how these efforts are perceived,” Valk said.

The vice rector for academic affairs added that knowing your weaknesses is certainly also helpful. “The practicality of university education was rated lower than other aspects in the survey. I can assure you that from the autumn semester, all the university’s curricula will contain a practical training module and hopefully we move in the right direction. The university also needs to further clarify the issue of graduates’ salaries; for example, in which specialisations taught by the University of Tartu the salary is either considerably higher or at the same level as that of other higher education institutions,” the vice rector explained.

In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s reputation survey also inquired how Estonian higher education institutions helped to fight the pandemic. In the responses, once again the University of Tartu stood out the most – 65% of the respondents pointed out the COVID-19 studies and research of the University of Tartu.

The goal of the universities’ reputation survey by Kantar Emor was to identify the general reputation of Estonian higher education institutions among the population. For the first time, the survey included questions about the role of universities in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further information: Karl Vetemaa, Head for Marketing, University of Tartu, +372 5880 4541, karl.vetemaa [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Book project on Japanese-Estonian relations achieves unexpected success

1 month ago

Japanese and Estonian historians plan to write a book about the relations between Japan and Estonia throughout history. The joint book project sought funding via the Japanese crowdfunding platform Academist, where the target amount was raised in just three days.

Masunaga Shingo (Turku University) and Ene Selart (University of Tartu) plan to write a book about the Japanese-Estonian relations throughout history. The book plans to cover the relations between the two nations from the earliest contacts to the present day: from the naval circumnavigation of the globe by the Baltic German admiral and explorer A. J. von Krusenstern in 1803–1806, which also reached Japan, to the visit of the Estonian President to the enthronement ceremony of His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito last year.

To support the writing and publishing of the book, the authors started a crowdfunding project at the Japanese website Academist (https://academist-cf.com), which specialises in raising funds for scientific research and publishing. We are delighted to announce that with the kind help of Japanese supporters, the target amount was gathered already within the first three days of the campaign. Those interested can follow the book project and read interesting facts about the mutual history of Japan and Estonia on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ESTJPNproject).

The authors would like to express their deepest gratitude and respect for all the well-wishers and supporters. The project is also supported by the University of Tartu Asia Centre, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Japan in Estonia. 

More information:
Heidi Maiberg; Head of Communication
University of Tartu Asia Centre

Category: Research
Heidi Maiberg (heidimai)

University of Tartu scientists are developing bioplastics to replace fossil-based materials

1 month ago

Scientists at the University of Tartu have started work on an international project aiming to develop a novel technology to produce eco-friendly plastics. Finding an alternative to oil-based plastics is one of the greatest challenges for scientists in the 21st century.

Widely used plastics are largely based on fossil fuels. This has caused significant environmental pollution and contributed to climate change. Furthermore, the recycling of plastic packaging is complicated as most packages are made from a mixture of different types of polymers. This crucial problem provides ample material for research to scientists all over the world.

The BioStyrene project, led by the University of Tartu, strives to work out options to replace the fossil-based styrene, which is widely used as a source material for plastics, by materials derived from wood biomass. As one solution, a part of the fossil styrene is replaced with wood-based lignin, which currently does not have many uses. The research also opens up new prospects for the timber industry, finding more use for lower-quality material or the residual product, lignin.

“Using wood for the production of novel materials considerably reduces the industry’s dependence on fossil-based plastics. For this reason, we have set the goal to find a solution that is also applicable in large-scale industry. To ensure comprehensive expertise, we have involved not only international researchers but also three private enterprises in the project,” said Lauri Vares, Senior Research Fellow in Organic Chemistry at the Institute of Technology, University of Tartu. “We have also reached the first important results – we have established that in paints, styrene can be successfully replaced by an alternative produced from biomass. Furthemore, such bio-paints, could even have better properties than the currently used paints,” Vares added.

The BioStyrene project (ER30) is co-financed by the Estonia–Russia cross-border cooperation programme 2014–2020. Other participants in the project led by the Institute of Technology of the University of Tartu are St Petersburg State Forest Technical University, and the enterprises Vapa, Plastpolymer (Russia) and TBD Biodiscovery (Estonia). The total cost of the project is €586,987, incl. funding from the Estonia–Russia cross-border cooperation programme, €437,617.

The Estonia–Russia cross-border cooperation programme 2014–2020 aims to foster cross-border cooperation between the Republic of Estonia and the Russian Federation to promote socio-economic development in the regions on both sides of the border. The programme website can be found at www.estoniarussia.eu.

Further information: Lauri Vares, Senior Research Fellow in Organic Chemistry, Institute of Technology, University of Tartu, 737 4808, lauri.vares [ät] ut.ee

BioStryne grant no ER30

The Project is co-financed by the Estonia-Russia CBC Programme 2014-2020

Implemented by the “Lead Beneficiary/Beneficiary”

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


Category: ResearchPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

The Starter programme strengthens the startup mindset

1 month ago

We all have ideas how one or another situation could be improved. Often we do not think beyond the idea or even if we do, we immediately run into obstacles. But there are always people who have an irresistible desire to find out whether the idea creates value for many and is also a business opportunity. They differ from dreamers in their determination and willingness to risk, and confidence in their success. All these qualities combined form the startup mindset, which is discussed below by Maret Ahonen, Manager of the UT Startup Lab and leader of Starter Tartu programme.

Although the emergency situation slowed down our usual activities, it also immediately triggered new approaches in both business and education. At times, there was no time to think about alternatives, as the speed of offering new solutions became important. A number of new services and products appeared on the market. Good examples of quick response were also Hack the Crisis and The Global Hack, led by Garage48. These hackathons resulted in a number of prototypes and technological solutions for coping with the new reality. While not all solutions may prove sustainable, the practical experience and the lessons learned are still valuable.

All who joined the Starter Tartu programme this spring got a unique learning experience. The participants had just been inspired by each other’s ideas and set up their teams, when the emergency situation was announced. The emergency situation struck the teams while they were conducting interviews and surveys with potential customers and trying to formulate their initial value proposition. The university switched to distance learning and many foreign students returned to their home countries. For some teams, it meant communicating in different time zones.

The new team leaders learned amazingly fast to keep their teams stick to the goal, however vague, through online communication. They had to get to know their team members and deal with differences of opinion. At the same time, they had their everyday studies, which meant that the teams often worked on weekends, in the evenings and sometimes at night. This was a great challenge, but belief in the business opportunity of their idea and the desire to follow a path that no one had taken before made the teams work.

I think that the belief in success and the enthusiasm to test out your idea is an expression of the mindset characteristic to creators of high-flying business ideas. And this spring, it stood out particularly clearly. Even if some participants felt a slight decrease in motivation, there was no confusion. The teams continued to test their ideas with extraordinary enthusiasm. In most cases, isolation was perceived as a challenge to strengthen communication between team members in validating their idea. In the limited external environment, teams quickly understood what they can do and what they cannot. Mentors’ support was crucial at this point and helped the teams to find focus in the critical situation. In addition to the Starter thematic webinars, the participants had free access to global expertise, and they actively made use of this opportunity.

Within a few months, each member of the Starter programme experienced in their own way the magic and the pain of starting a business. In addition, they gained a lot of contacts and confidence, as well as the courage to act quickly, regardless of the situation and the vagueness of the idea. It is pleasant that according to the participants’ feedback, the gained experience of learning and success were very important for them. The bright eyes of the students are the best feedback for the Startup Lab of the University of Tartu as the leader of the programme. Also the participants’ words that now they know how the startup world works and if they fail with implementing one idea, they will have the courage to start work on another.

Courage to act and willingness to take risks
In my opinion, the startup mindset is expressed, besides curiosity, in the courage to act and not wait for the better times. The courage to start realising the dream of a product or service that does not yet exist requires the willingness to deal with setbacks and vulnerability. Vulnerability is not a manifestation of weakness, but rather showing one's real face and taking off the mask of a superhero. The courage to act, take risks and be who you really are will be useful in every situation, even if the university degree does not immediately secure the job of your dreams. Not everyone is a risk-taker by nature and wants to work under pressure, but every organisation welcomes warm and genuine people who can come up with innovative ideas and solutions and take action to implement them.

Before entering work life, it is worth experiencing to what extent you can apply the startup mindset and actually do something in cooperation with others, during your university studies already. In the Starter programme, participants learn to act:

  • in a situation of uncertainty, which is characteristic of almost every startup business who is still looking for its business model;
  • in a turnaround situation; for example, if in the course of product development it turns out that no one but the author of the idea needs the planned product, and it is reasonable to quickly work out a new idea;
  • in a team of people with different skills and knowledge, where you have to respect different opinions and communicate with different personalities.

The Starter programme starts again in the autumn. You are welcome to join the programme in Tartu, Tallinn, Narva and Pärnu. The opening events take place:
in Tartu on 17 September,
in Tallinn on 18 September,
in Pärnu on 23 September, and
in Narva on 25 September.

Take note of ideas and opportunities during the summer, and come and see in the autumn how to get from idea to solution!

Read more on www.starteridea.ee and www.startuplab.ut.ee.

Category: Entrepreneurship
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Human mobility researchers gather at virtual conference organised by the University of Tartu

1 month 1 week ago

The 7th mobility research conference Mobile Tartu will be held today on 30 June, bringing together leading human mobility researchers from around the world. More than 240 participants from 48 countries have registered already. This year’s event is a virtual conference, and participation is free.

The need to analyse people’s location and mobility is very important in today’s society. This was the case before the coronavirus outbreak when people travelled a lot, and this is the case in the situation of limited mobility. There are increasingly more data sources that help analyse people’s everyday spatial location.

The conference Mobile Tartu 2020, organised by the Mobility Lab and the Institute of Computer Science of the University of Tartu, focuses on the theoretical and methodological aspects of the use of various mobility data (for example, mobile positioning and social media data), and the application of these data in statistics, in smart city and transportation development, and human mobility research.

According to Siiri Silm, Senior Research Fellow in Human Geography at the University of Tartu and the main organiser of the conference, human mobility analysis is useful for many fields of research, from the currently topical modelling of virus spread and research on changes in mobility habits, to smarter planning of cities and the whole society, and compiling more up-to-date statistics. “People are increasingly mobile, although the opportunities for movement were reduced for some time because of restrictions imposed due to the virus and the emergency situation. There are many fields that need the latest mobility information, and this is where new data collection methods, such as mobile positioning, smartphone-based GPS tracking and geo-tagged social media data, can be useful. In order to use the data and actually say something about what is going on in society, we have to do much preliminary work and develop the methodology,” Silm explained.

The conference focuses on different stages of mobility research. The keynote speakers, Professor Georg Gartner of the Vienna University of Technology, and Professor Haosheng Huang of Ghent University discuss the methodological aspects of using location-based data, Professor Rob Kitchin of Maynooth University speaks about compiling official statistics (incl. in the context of COVID-19), and Professor Esteban Moro of the Carlos III University of Madrid, about inequality in cities. Separate sessions deal with the use of big data for official statistics and for developing mobility opportunities and transportation.

The conference offers an excellent opportunity to get an overview of mobility research and developments in mobility data in the world, and meet the leading scientists of this field. The initiator of the Mobile Tartu conferences was Rein Ahas, Professor of Human Geography, who also laid the foundation for big-data-based mobility research at the University of Tartu and for a special community of mobility researchers.

The conference is organised with the support of the Doctoral School of Earth Sciences and Ecology, financed by the EU European Regional Development Fund (University of Tartu’s ASTRA project PER ASPERA). The Network on European Communications and Transport Activity Research (NECTAR) and the Jean Monnet Network on “Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility: EU and Australasian Innovations” (CCAMEU) participate in organising the sessions dealing with mobility, transportation and the smart city.The session “Big data for official statistics" is supported by the United Nations Big Data Global Working Group, the University of Tartu’s spin-off Positium, and the Bank of Estonia.

Further information: Siiri Silm, Senior Research Fellow in Human Geography, University of Tartu, +372 521 1646, siiri.silm [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)

University of Tartu awarded Badge of Distinction and letter of appreciation to Professor Irja Lutsar

1 month 2 weeks ago

Today, on 19 June, Rector Toomas Asser handed over the Badge of Distinction and letter of appreciation of the University of Tartu to Professor of Medical Microbiology Irja Lutsar. The university appreciates her commitment to evidence-based counselling of the university and state leaders during the emergency situation.

According to the rector, Irja Lutsar with her constructive and supporting cooperation contributed to ensuring the welfare of the university during the emergency situation, and her advice was of great help to the Rector’s Office during the complex epidemiological situation.

At the end of March, the government emergency committee appointed Professor Lutsar the head of the COVID-19 science council. The science council made recommendations to the government committee to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and collected and analysed expert information.

The Badge of Distinction and the letter of appreciation were handed to Professor Lutsar at the senate meeting today.

The rector also handed over the Skytte Medal to Tanel Kiik, Minister of Social Affairs. The university recognised Kiik for his substantial contribution to promoting evidence-based governance in Estonia and involving the University of Tartu and its researchers in the management of the emergency situation.

Further information: Tõnis Karki, Academic Secretary, University of Tartu, + 372 529 7917, tonis.karki [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)

Startup Lab recommends: how to make a good video presentation

1 month 2 weeks ago

For the first time, the top 10 teams to compete in the Kaleidoskoop finals were selected based on video pitches. The teams were given a free hand in producing and editing their three-minute video, and as a result, a remarkable number of interesting and engaging videos were submitted. Since As the presentation of an idea in the form of a video pitch is a necessary skill in both studies and at work, Maret Ahonen, the Leader of Starter programme and Startup Lab at the University of Tartu, gives some useful tips for a convincing video pitch.

Students were very smart and creative in producing their videos and each video could be seen as a work of art. Kaleidoskoop received videos with rapid scene changes and inspiring individuals talking about their product value and market potential. There were also videos with a white background where presenter looked directly into camera and delivered a carefully structured text, with just few visuals.

What all the presentations had in common was the passion for introducing the solution, and the commitment to producing the video – none of the videos was hasty or superficial; each was like a work of art. Of course, it was a competition and all teams wanted their product to attract attention and progress to the finals. Video pitching does not allow giving additional explanations and therefore, you need a convincing presentation and excellent video implementation, as well as a clear storyboard to pitch the product or service.

The following six tips can be useful for creating a great pitch video.

  1. Create interest.
    Three minutes is long enough to give a simple explanation of your product or service, how it works and how you are going to make money with it. The overall aim is to create interest and make the audience want to know more about the product or ask when it is launched.
  2. Tell a story that has a beginning, body and end.
    You may start with a story why the problem you are solving is important to you, talk about your solution, market and money. Do not forget to sum up the main facts and future plans in the development.
  3. Show your prototype.
    Definitely show your product prototype and present strong arguments about its value and novelty.
  4. Keep your arguments balanced.
    In a persuasive pitch, the emotional and rational arguments are balanced. For example, emotional arguments about the problem help listeners to identify with the pain the product will alleviate, but without facts and numbers, they do not build credibility. Moreover, if you appeal to emotion, you will not have enough time to talk about the product, its potential customers or the business model. On the other hand, if a pitch is filled with data and technical specifications, it is boring for listeners and does not give a full picture of your idea.
  5. Memorise the text; do not read from the paper.
    A good presenter does not read out the text but speaks naturally, as if introducing the idea to a person who knows nothing of the product or your team.
  6. Ensure simple and correct technical implementation.
    The technical implementation and graphics of the video should support the message, and not confuse the viewers. Remember that it is not a product commercial but a presentation targeted to the judges or potential investors. The use of appropriate light, minimalistic background and clean graphics is recommended when presenting your prototype.

Excellence requires time. Invest time and patience in the production of your pitch video – you might not get the desired result with the first try. But the latter, perhaps,  is common knowledge to all people with a start-up mindset.

The Kaleidoskoop winning teams Sorter and SoulCare share two useful tips.

Record, analyse, improve.
When you view the video you will immediately see its good aspects and what needs improvement. By changing the text, adding pauses, altering the volume of your voice or video composition, you will eventually obtain a satisfying result. Ask feedback from your teammates and mentors.

Do not rush.
Emotions are high and you may want to talk a lot but that is not the goal. The goal is to deliver the most essential information and do it by heart. Smaller proportion of text allows you to make your presentation more interesting and understandable for the audience. Long sentences, even if you speak slowly, can confuse listeners. The key is to use short and sense-making sentences.

Be open to new ideas and problems that need solutions. Join the Starter programme in autumn to turn ideas into reality. For more information, see startuplab.ut.ee.

Category: Entrepreneurship
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu awards Skytte Medal to Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik

1 month 2 weeks ago

On 29 May, the senate of the University of Tartu made a decision to award the Skytte Medal to the Minister of Social Affairs, Tanel Kiik. The university recognises Kiik for his substantial contribution to promoting evidence-based governance in Estonia and involving the University of Tartu and its researchers in the management of the emergency situation.

The Skytte Medal may be awarded to a statesperson or public figure who, in the opinion of the senate of the University of Tartu, has greatly contributed to the development of the University of Tartu and higher education in Estonia in the recent years.

On 12 March 2020, to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Estonia, the government declared emergency situation that lasted until 18 May. The fact that the outbreak subsided quickly and the worst risk scenarios did not actualise confirm the relevance of the government’s actions.

The University of Tartu was directly involved in the management of the emergency situation, both as a research institution and via university experts who participated in the work of the science council set up by the government. According to the Rector’s Office of the University of Tartu, Tanel Kiik had a significant role in introducing the science-based approach to the government’s activities.

Rector Toomas Asser said that Tanel Kiik has been a determined advocate of relying on the expertise of universities and scientists in decision-making processes. “This has brought about the government members and state officials’ informed and favourable attitude to the principles of science-based governance,” said Asser.

University members have worked out decision-making mechanisms and studies that meet objective criteria and, over a short period, collected science-based data necessary for the government to assess the emergency measures. “The shaping of evidence-based attitudes in governance will create better grounds for managing of potential future crises,” Asser added.

Tanel Kiik was born on 23 January 1989. He is a cum laude graduate from Pärnu College of the University of Tartu in Entrepreneurship and Project Management and is continuing his studies in the master’s programme of European Studies. As a representative of one of the founders of Tartu University Hospital Foundation, he has a major role in directing the development of the university hospital.

Earlier awardees of the Skytte Medal include Ene Ergma, Tõnis Lukas, Rein Taagepera, Dag Hartelius, Andres Lipstok, Jüri Raidla, Andrus Ansip, Lennart Meri, Katarina Brodina, Jacques Faure, Kai Lie, Svend Roed Nielsen, Mihkel Pärnoja, Marju Lauristin, Mart Laar, Katri Raik and Eva Åkesson.

Johan Skytte was a Swedish politician and statesman, under whose initiative Academia Gustaviana was founded in Tartu in 1632.

Further information: Tõnis Karki, Academic Secretary, University of Tartu, +372 529 7917, tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu physicists organise a teleconference on teleparallel gravity

1 month 3 weeks ago

On 15–19 June, the University of Tartu Institute of Physics will host an international online conference on teleparallel theories of gravity, where about 100 theoretical physicists and mathematicians from all continents have registered their interest to attend.

In mathematical terms Einstein's 1915 theory of general relativity describes the force of gravity by spacetime curvature. This explains many astronomical phenomena, and has recently received remarkable confirmation by the observations of gravitational waves as well as the black hole image. Yet the unresolved puzzles of dark matter and dark energy invite the researchers to think beyond general relativity. In fact, Einstein himself in his later years played with the alternative geometric notions of torsion and nonmetricity to model gravity. Such theories where the spacetime has no curvature are called "teleparallel" in the mathematical language.

These early ideas did not receive too much attention, as general relativity seemed to work well, but were later picked up and developed further by other researchers. "Currently we know several alternative formulations leading to the equivalent classical dynamics. The question arises whether the geometry of spacetime can be decided by experiments, or whether it is merely a matter of convention," Tomi Koivisto, Senior Research Fellow of Theoretical Physics at the University of Tartu and one of the conference organisers, explained the crux of the problem.

The conference is already the fourth consecutive international scientific meeting dedicated to the geometric foundations of gravity, organised by the University of Tartu Institute of Physics as a part of the activities of the Centre of Excellence The Dark Side of the Universe. "This conference was initially planned as a relatively small and specialised workshop to discuss some recent results and ponder the open problems, but as the travel restrictions forced the event to go online, the participation numbers tripled," said Laur Järv, Senior Research Fellow of Theoretical Physics and Assistant Director of the institute.

The conference talks and discussions are scheduled to take place in a narrow time frame from 12 to 18, to better accommodate participants from the distant time zones of Asia and America. The welcome event is replaced by a TeleQuiz, and instead of the conference excursion, the participants are invited to visit the virtual exhibition hall of the University of Tartu Museum.

On Tuesday, 16 June at 18, Professor Emmanuel Saridakis of the National Technical University of Athens and Hefei University of Technology, and Lead Researcher at the National Observatory of Athens, delivers a popular lecture describing the most recent insights and discoveries from the cosmos, "Black holes and gravitational waves: a new window to look at the universe". The lecture is held in English and is accessible online for free.

More details are available on the conference webpage.

Additional information: Laur Järv, Senior Research Fellow, Assistant Director of Institute of Physics, University of Tartu, +372 5341 6324, laur.jarv [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu makes a gift to graduates

1 month 3 weeks ago

This year, traditional graduation ceremonies bringing together hundreds of people are not held at the University of Tartu, but ceremonies take place online. The university also makes a gift to the graduates: they now have their own tree and a bench in Tartu city centre. Also, the university main building and the sculpture on the Town Hall Square will be decorated.

On Wednesday, a crabapple tree was planted in Pirogov Park in Tartu city centre in honour of this year’s graduates. In front of the mural of von Bock House, there is now a bench where they can rest their feet, think back on their study years and enjoy the view on Pirogov Park and the crabapple tree.

As large gatherings cannot be organised, the tree planting and the opening of the bench took place on 10 June in a small circle. Rector of the University of Tartu Toomas Asser and Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas gave a speech. Karl Gustav Adamsoo, graduate of master’s in Journalism and Communication, spoke on behalf of the graduates.

At the event, Rector of the University of Tartu Toomas Asser said that the memory of the graduation day is one of the most symbolic in a person’s life and it is a pity that this year’s graduates cannot receive their diploma in the assembly hall. “This spring leaves no doubt that we have to keep on educating ourselves to adapt to unexpected circumstances. Highly educated members of the society who continue improving their knowledge are the pillars of the society during difficult times like these,” said the rector in his speech.

In addition to the tree and the bench, the university has decorated its main building in the honour of graduates. On the week of online graduation ceremonies, the Kissing Students’ sculpture on the Town Hall Square will be wearing school caps.

The dedication gift has been wrapped in a video that will be sent to all graduates by email on the week of graduation ceremonies.

The graduation ceremonies of the University of Tartu are held online from 15 to 20 June and can be watched live in UTTV at the announced time.

See the photos of the planting of the crabapple tree and the opening of the bench.

Further information: Piret Normet, UT Head of Marketing, 512 2671, piret.normet [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)
07.08.2020 - 17:28
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