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19.10.2015 13:15

Academic of the Year – Senior Researcher Mari K. Niemi



Academic of the Year – Senior Researcher Mari K. Niemi

The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers has nominated Senior Researcher and Doctor of Social Sciences Mari K. Niemi as the Academic of the Year. Niemi is a Senior Researcher in the Centre for Parliamentary Studies at the University of Turku and is currently a Visiting Scholar in the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland (2013–16).

Mari K Niemi-11
Academic of the Year: Senior Researcher Mari K. Niemi (Photo: Veikko Somerpuro)

The nomination of the Academic of the Year is not based on a single discovery or publication but on the promotion of the culture of scientific research. Academics of the Year are persons who act in an exemplary manner to promote and make familiar science in its different forms. With this year’s nomination, the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers emphasised social influence and participation in current discussion.

The union feels that Mari K. Niemi is an excellent example of the new kind of researcher who is not afraid to take a stand on topical political discussion. Niemi is a very active user and influencer on social media. In her blogs and other writings she encourages researchers to talk about their own studies and participate in public discussion.

“Under the pressure of cost cuts directed at education, science and research, it is increasingly important that the voice of researchers is heard. We must defend the role of science, critical thinking, learning and innovations in society.”

“Very few jobs come with as good a possibility to accumulate profound expert knowledge as acting as a researcher. In addition, very few tasks come with the same freedom to take part in social discussion.”

“Both concrete political decisions and the broader discussion about the direction of society need the input of researchers. There is also demand in the media for the expertise and bold, critical statements of researchers.”

Mari K. Niemi writes the Ylämaan kettu blog for the magazine Suomen Kuvalehti. She has acted as a radio columnist at Yle Radio 1 Ykkösaamu and as the permanent columnist for the newspaper Turun Sanomat as well as appeared in several radio and television programmes focusing on politics and society. Niemi commented on the results of the most recent Finnish parliamentary election to international media and was, once again, the election expert for the Finnish news on Swedish television in Stockholm. She provided analysis to the Finnish media regarding the Scottish independence referendum and the parliamentary election in Great Britain last spring.

Niemi’s research focuses on political leadership and campaigning, the media strategies of populist parties, the breakthrough of women into party leaders, the relationship between media and politics and the expert publicity of journalism. In addition to numerous referee articles and book chapters, Niemi has edited several publications, including books that popularise science, and written dozens of columns and numerous book reviews and newspaper articles regarding, for instance, the politics, election campaigns and party leader elections in the USA and Great Britain for publications such as Kanava, Helsingin Sanomat and Turun Sanomat.

Her doctoral dissertation completed last year was titled Kaksi tietä huipulle. Media ja puoluejohtajuus Suomessa naisten noususta populismin aaltoon [Pathways to the Top. Media and Party Leadership in Finland from Women's Breakthrough to the Wave of Populism.] After the dissertation, Niemi has studied the expert practices in media (the Helsingin Sanomain Säätiö foundation) and her current project focuses on the history of parliamentary election campaigns (the Emil Aaltosen säätiö foundation). In addition, Niemi works as an expert in the Extremism and Europe’s external relations project coordinated by the European Policy Center and is participating in two book projects handling political power.

When she can spare time from her research, she makes frequent visits to the campaign events of political parties, political events and party conferences both in Finland and in Great Britain. This year, she has shared the atmosphere via her tweets, blog and interviews to media from, for instance, the party conference of the Finns Party in Turku and the British Labour party’s Annual Conference in Brighton.


On Twitter: #Tieteentekijä15



Senior Researcher Mari K. Niemi, + 44 7453 5850 69 (, Twitter: @MariKNiemi; Homepage:

Grounds for the selection: Chairman of the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers Petri Koikkalainen, +358 (0)50 544 7442 Twitter: @PKoikkalainen;

Communications Manager Kirsi Sintonen, +358 (0)40 5622 965, Twitter: @KirstiSintonen;

images: Communications Assistant Milla Talassalo, +358 (0)50 337 0551, email:

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