| I spent Fall semester of 2004 in the lab of Dr. Timo Kuuluvainen in the Dept. of Forest
Ecology, University of Helsinki. This was a great opportunity to gain some firsthand
knowledge of northern European boreal forests, a forest type that is quite different from
the northern hardwoods and tropical wet forests with which I was most familiar. Also, it
was a chance to absorb the perspectives and outlooks of forest ecologists that might have
a slightly different vantage point than we do in America. And of course, it was a great
time to experience life in one of the world's great cities, Helsinki, Finland. I was pleased
that Timo could stop in here at UGA for a few days in March of 2005, and that I was able to
also return to Helsinki for a few days in October 2005.
During the summer and fall of 2004, I was able to visit a number other places from my base in Helsinki, including the Disturbance in Boreal Forests conference in Dubna, north of Moscow, Russia. I also made trips to Switzerland, Sweden, and Estonia.
The Dept. of Forest Ecology is located on the Viiki campus along the outskirts of Helsinki. It is a very modern and comprehensive department, with research on forest soils, vegetation, ecophysiology, etc. The staff concentrate on Finnish forests, but have global interests. There are numerous collaborations with researchers in the Finnish Forest Research Institute. The University of Helsinki is located partly in central Helsinki, where the original campus and older buildings are found, and partly on the Viiki campus.
Helsinki is simultaneously a major Scandinavian urban area (combining Helsinki proper with surrounding municipalities), an important port, and center of culture, government, and learning for Finland. Helsinki proper is home to about 500,000 people, but the urban area is somewhat more than 1 million strong. It is located along Finland's southern coast, and has a beautiful harbor that greatly enhances many aspects of life in Helsinki. The city is not as old as some of the other major European cities, but is elegant, clean, and easy to get around. Finns are particularly proud of the art scene in Helsinki, which is home to the world-renowned Sibelius Institute of music. A folksy delight in the downtown area is the South Harbor open-air waterfront market.