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Most outstanding theses of 2011 recognised by the School of Chemical Technology

16.03.2012

Out of theses accepted in 2011, the School of Chemical Technology has granted awards for one Master’s thesis from each of the school’s degree programmes and one doctoral dissertation. The dissertation award was presented to Outi Toikkanen, and the authors of the prize-winning Master’s theses were Ville Pihlajaniemi (Chemical Technology), Juha Erkkilä (Material Science and Engineering) and Valtteri Schildt (Forest Product Technology). The awards were presented at a graduation ceremony held at the School of Chemical Technology on 14 March 2012.

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In the picture Outi Toikkanen, Juha Erkkilä and Ville Pihlajaniemi

The dissertation award was granted based on scientific level of the dissertation, time spent on the completion of the doctoral degree and success in studies. The school’s Doctoral Programme Committee decided to grant the award to Outi Toikkanen, D. Sc. (Tech.) for her dissertation "Synthesis, Surface Assembly, Characterization and Electrochemistry of Gold Nanoparticles". The experimental part  of the thesis was very challenging. The author demonstrated her ability to synthetize and work with clusters of only  dozens of  atoms  applying them  to discover and study new phenomena. The doctoral research was supervised by Professor Kyösti Kontturi.

Scientific level highlighted as criterion in the assessment of Master’s theses

With the Master’s theses, the evaluation criteria consisted of the assessment statement for the thesis, time in which the degree was completed and success in studies. Degree programme heads submitted their proposals, based on which a decision was made by Chairman of the school committee, Professor Tapani Vuorinen. The assessment statements of the prize-winning Master’s theses highlighted the high scientific quality or industrial significance of the studies, comprehensive understanding of the topic and clear and grammatical language.

The aim of Ville Pihlajaniemi’s thesis "New acidic fungal cutinases from Sirococcus conigenus and Aspergillus niger" was to purify, identify, clone, produce, characterise new acidic cutinases. Cutinases are enzymes that break down the wax-like substance of the membrane covering plant surfaces. The results of the study are scientifically significant, as the study was able to demonstrate for the first time the existence of cutinases operating in acidic environments. The author plans to report the findings in the form of a scientific publication. In the assessment, Pihlajaniemi’s study was characterised as a high quality scientific effort in terms of both design and implementation. The preparation of the Master’s thesis was supervised by Professor Matti Leisola.

The goal of Juha Erkkilä’s thesis "Hardenability and tempering resistance of direct-quenched abrasion-resistant steels" was to explore the properties of wear-resistant steels and the factors affecting these phenomena. Erkkilä has successfully limited his broad subject matter to create a functional entity. The comprehensive literature survey explores the manufacture of direct-quenched steels and their properties. In addition, the work presents a notably large number of empirical results that have been consistently reported and presented in relation to the information provided in the literature review. The results of the study have industrial significance.

The objective of Valtteri Schildt’s study "The effect of converting parameters on final product properties" was to determine optimal parameters for the unit operations used in converting of tissue products in order to improve the functional properties of the product. In his work, Schildt determined the factors that influence the functional properties of the end product and showed their impact and reliability, which promotes the guiding of development in the field in the right direction through systematic research. The starting points for the study were challenging, as very little theoretical information and literature on applied research is available on the manufacture and converting of tissue products as a branch of industry. The preparation of the Master’s thesis was supervised by Professor Jouni Paltakari.

Picture by Tuike Lehko

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