Aalto University: New Academy projects will investigate drug development, superconductivity and emotional game experience

Professors Sami Kaski and Vikas Garg develop machine learning methods that enable reviving drug development. It has currently been significantly slowed down due to a huge increase of development costs. The researchers develop new methods, with which drug design can take into account both the enlarging measurement databases and expertise of the drug developers. The research will be carried out in the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI), and the methods will be taken into use widely in other fields as well.

Professor Pertti Hakonen investigates helium-carbon nanotube systems, which aim to bring a new understanding to superconductivity. The focus of the research is on topologically protected spaces created in carbon nanotubes, the understanding and management of which will also open the door to new future technology applications.

In the project of Professor Ari Koskelainen a novel regulation mechanism of phosphodiesterase found in the mouse rod photoreceptor cells is characterized. The research is conducted with electrophysiological recording from isolated mouse retinas.

The project of Professor Elisa Mekler studies how games can create emotionally impactful and thought-provoking experiences. It will also provide new theoretical tools and methods to study and design aesthetic game experiences. Video games are a significant cultural and aesthetic medium, with increasing artistic ambition and expressive potential. The project approaches games from the perspective of Empirical Aesthetics, the study of how people experience art.

Professors Robin Ras and Heikki Nieminen aim to quantify fast mechanical phenomena taking place in interactions of thin gas layers in liquid and ultrasound. The researchers aim to broaden the understanding and develop models to better control the phenomena. In the future, this approach may enable development of novel industrial and medical applications in microscale.

Professor Risto Rajala analyses the digital servitization towards autonomous product-service systems by using the institutional theory and the practice theory as the main theoretical lenses. The project is led by Marko Kohtamäki from the University of Vaasa.

The project of Research Fellow Jani Oksanen aims at developing the thermal insulation, charge spreading and light extraction solutions needed to demonstrate electroluminescent cooling.

Professor Patrick Rinke will develop a new green and cost-efficient biorefinery concept for a range of high-value applications like carbon fibers, thermoplastics and 3D objects. The research results will establish a roadmap for adoption of wood-derived products in these advanced applications. Artificial intelligence (AI) methods will be used for the optimal processing conditions and thus, to identify promising new investigation routes. The project is led by Mikhail Balakshin from Aalto University.

Professor Juho Rousu aims to develop new tools for finding better treatments for complex diseases such a cancer, by finding combinations of drugs that work better than the drugs in isolation, both in terms of the efficacy of the combination therapy in treating the disease and the side-effects. The project will develop and and apply advanced machine learning and optimisation tools to achieve the results. Consortium partners are Aalto, the University of Helsinki and the University of Turku.

Assistant Professor Jaakko Timonen aims to improve the current understanding of the complicated physical and chemical behaviours of oil-based colloids in electric fields. Dispersions of small particulates in liquids are examples of colloidal matter. Colloids are very important and ubiquitous around us, including many food items (milk, cream), paints and even biological fluids (such as blood). Timonen will develop and use a new, powerful, scientific methodology for studying electric phenomena in oil-based colloids by combining electric measurements with direct imaging using advanced optical microscopy techniques.

Staff scientist Jouni Tuominen is part of a consortium of humanists and computer science researchers, aiming to interrogate an unused treasure in the major Finnish cultural heritage institutions, namely the registered epistolary metadata in the collections of archives, libraries, and museums, from the period of the Grand Duchy of Finland (1809–1917). The main computational research themes are metadata harmonisation, semantic reconciliation, and metadata enrichment, social network analysis, and knowledge discovery. The main end-results will be a Linked Open Data publication and an online semantic portal with data analysis tooling. The project is led by Ilona Pikkanen from the Finnish Literature Society.

Professor Aki Vehtari will formalize and develop theory and diagnostics for safe iterative Bayesian model building. Vehtari will show that when the iterative model building is done carefully, the difference to the theoretically optimal result is negligible. By making applied scientific research and data analysis in private and public sectors more reliable and reproducible, our understanding of the world and decision-making will be improved. Thus, the project will have a long lasting positive impact on society.

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