Professor of the Year 2019 – Professor Helmi Järviluoma-Mäkelä


The Finnish Union of University Professors has named Helmi Järviluoma-Mäkelä, Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Eastern Finland, as Professor of the Year 2019. The honour was announced on Friday, 11 January, at the seminar entitled “Professor’s work – continuities, changes and critical points” as part of the Science Forum held in Helsinki. The Professor of the Year title comes with an award of 20,000 euro.

Helmi Järviluoma-Mäkelä (58) has worked as a Professor on the Joensuu campus of the University of Eastern Finland since 2005. She completed her Doctor of Philosophy degree in the field of Ethnomusicology at the University of Tampere in 1997. She is also an Adjunct Professor in Musicology at the University of Turku. In 2018, Järviluoma-Mäkelä became a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. 

Järviluoma-Mäkelä focuses on research in soundscapes and sensory environments, music and culture. Interdisciplinarity is strongly visible in her research topics, which combine aspects of sociology, musicology and sensory environment studies. Järviluoma-Mäkelä is a recognised pioneer in Finland, who, from the end of the 1980s, has worked to establish soundscape research that combines science and art. During the period of 1998–2013, she headed many international projects in the field, which were funded by the Academy of Finland.

In recent years, Järviluoma-Mäkelä’s research interests have expanded to include sensory environments and transgenerational environmental relationships and changes thereto. The European Research Council awarded her with an Advanced Grant of 1.9 million euro to fund this research during the years 2016–2021. The receipt of an ERC Advanced Grant speaks volumes about the extremely high scientific level of this research within the international sphere. Only two other Finnish researchers in the field of Humanities have received similar funding.

Under Järviluoma-Mäkelä’s leadership, the ERC project will examine transformations in sensory environmental relationships as experienced by residents of three medium-sized European cities. Researchers from four EU countries are involved in the project. As proof of her international recognition and active engagement, one need look no further than Järviluoma-Mäkelä’s history as a visiting fellow and professor at many foreign universities, including Shanghai, Nanjing, Liverpool, London and Alcalá. She has advanced collaborative research through leadership positions in multiple international networks, contributed for years to the activities of Finnish scientific associations and been involved in establishing new associations.

In addition to her scientific merits, Professor Järviluoma-Mäkelä is an inspiring teacher, who has created innovative, interdisciplinary teaching methods. She participated in establishing and served as Director of the Doctoral Programme in Social and Cultural Encounters at the University of Eastern Finland. Järviluoma-Mäkelä has served as the supervisor for 20 completed doctoral dissertations.  

Social engagement and stakeholder co-operation are clearly visible within Järviluoma-Mäkelä’s work. She highly values the popularisation of research. A maker of radio features, Järviluoma-Mäkelä was involved in founding the “Night of sounds” format for a radio channel of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE in 2012. Two years ago, she also published a collection of short stories.



Helmi Järviluoma-Mäkelä, Professor, +358 (0)50 4422 520;

Jouni Kivistö-Rahnasto, Chair of the Finnish Union of University Professors, +358 (0)45 6575 757;

Kirsti Sintonen, Communications Manager, +358 (0)40 5622 965;

Photos: Milla Talassalo, Communications Assistant, +358 (0)50 337 0551 or