Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

WHO? I am geographer and professor of geoinformatics based at the Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki. I lead the Digital Geography Lab. I acted as the Director of the Geography Degree Programmes during 2020-2022. After receiving the ERC Consolidator Grant in 2022, I continue as the vice-director of the Degree Programmes. I spent the academic year 2019-2020 at the University of Cambridge, U.K., and am now a proud life member of the Clare Hall college. I defended my PhD in 2006 at the University of Turku, Finland. Before starting my academic career, I worked in the geospatial industry for several years. 

MY RESEARCH: My research focuses on understanding dynamics of people and places, and their interactions, in both urban and natural areas. Most often, my research examines the mobility and accessibility of people from different perspectives and in different environments. Open/big data, spatial analytics and machine learning approaches play an important role in my research. In addition to applied geoinformatics, my work contributes to urban geography, land use and transport planning, sustainability science and conservation geography.

OUR DIGITAL GEOGRAPHY LAB: I lead the transdisciplinary research group Digital Geography Lab. The lab hosts some 15 researchers working together with spatial big data analytics on a human scale for fair and sustainable societies. We carry out research in collaborative projects ranging from Mobile Big Data for Understanding People in Nature to Green Travel Environments and from Cross-border mobilities to equities of urban accessibility among old people. Our team is an active member of the Helsinki Institute for Sustainability Science HELSUS and the Urban and Regional Research Institute URBARIA.

LEADERSHIP AND TEACHING: As a lab leader, I think a lot about how to support creativity, openness, kindness, and respect towards others in academic working life. In 2023, I completed a Specialist Vocational Qualification in Leadership and Business Management degree. On the teaching side, I strive to develop MSc and PhD students’ expertise in geoinformatics and spatial analytics, as well as their capacity for critical thinking. I’m responsible, together with colleagues, for the geoinformatics specialisation in the MSc programme in Geography and for teaching several courses from Introduction to Advanced Geoinformatics to more applied analysis courses such as Accessibility and Mobility of People and Conservation Planning. I'm keen on advancing good doctoral education, and acted several years as the vice-chair of DENVI doctoral programme

FOR A QUICK INTRO IN FINNISH / MUUTAMA VIDEO SUOMEKSI: My inaugural speech from November 2020 is online! Following the tradition, it's in my native Finnish, but you can turn on the subtitles! I am a great fan of open data and open science and interested in the implications of openness for education, research and society. For some of my thoughts on this (in Finnish), please see this one minute video. For more talks, just go to YouTube!

FOLLOW US! You can follow our work on Twitter: @TuuliToivonen – @DigiGeoLab or in our Digital Geography Lab Blog

Fields of Science

  • 1171 Geosciences
  • Geography
  • 1172 Environmental sciences
  • 519 Social and economic geography