Tuija wants freedom to be crazy

Tuija Aronen, coordinator (Centre of Advanced Research in Forest Health and Forest Genetics to Enhance Bioeconomy)


SNS Nordic Forest Research Meet the researchers tuija aaronen

Photo: Teijo Nikkanen

Age: 50.
Job: Principal Research Scientist at Luke, Natural Resources Institute Finland, where I work as a leader of ”Forest tree breeding and genetic resources” -team.
Location: I live in the countryside, in a lake district rather close to the Russian border in South-Eastern Finland, in a wooden house surrounded by a big garden.
Family: I share my home with my husband, a 17 year old daugher and a cat. My 21 year old son already has his own student flat.
Hobby: I enjoy gardening and wine-making from our own fruit and berries, as well as outdoor activities. During winter time I do cross-country skiing and tour skating, and when lakes are free of ice cover, we go for boating and stand up paddling.
Last read book: An ecothriller ”Haudattu uhka” from one of my favourite authors, Risto Isomäki.
Unexpected talent: Unexpectedly (?), I’m talented in darning woolen socks!


Climate change the most important issue

Tuija Aronen dreams about a space for academic freedom. A place to test crazy ideas with no obligations – an opportunity to be just creative and, maybe, come up with something truly novel and genius. During the meantime she tests her own ideas at Luke in Finland.


Tuija tries to find ways to effectively propagate spruce with a tissue culture procedure. If she and her group can make it work, it would mean mass-propagation of genetically perfect material for silviculture and wood production. Another part of her research is to refine the method of storaging living material deep-froozen. There is also a more theoretical part of her days, when she studies genetic factors affecting tree ageing and propagation ability.

Wants to walk new paths
The passion about her work is partly, of course, about finding out something new and undiscovered. But there is more to make her love what she is doing.
– It doesn’t have to be a big issue, but it feels very rewarding when you get an idea that proves right or functional. I guess I also enjoy nursing my plants – and animals, and kids… I like to see them prosper.
– My dream is to learn to propagate mature trees, especially conifers, vegetatively – or at least find explanations for them being so recalcitrant in this sense.
The reason for wanting that so bad is that if we were able to efficiently propagate mature conifers with known characteristics, that would make a big difference for tailored raw material production.

Climate the most important issue
If there is one important area of research in Tuijas sense, it would be climate change. And it’s not only considering genetic potential of trees for better or inferior performance in future climate, but it’s about the interactions between species like trees, pests and pathogenes.
– I believe that there is a lot to learn in genetics, and that wise use of this information can help us to keep our forests healthy and productive in the future, too.

When it comes to research, Tuija seems to be eager to collaborate. To meet, to share, to be curious and to be generous with knowledge and ideas. This is something she wants to encourage in young researchers.
– And enjoy your results and findings! You have done your share and increased our common understanding.
Tuija thinks research is a key issue for the future. And when it comes to forest research, it can take time – a long time! Politicians, who is often the ones with the money, needs to understand that. But she also gives SNS tribute for our contribution.
– It is good to have various instruments for financing research efforts and international collaboration, from network support to small seed money, and finally, up to large multi-national research consortia performing several-year studies.

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