A Study Trip to the Fields of Estonian Research

A path in a bog. (C) Siiri Kumari, visitestonia.com

Participants: 5 EUSJA science journalists
Topics: environmental science, information technology
Location: Estonia
Time: June 14–16, 2017
Application deadline: March 19

The Estonian Association of Science Journalists and the Estonian Research Council invite EUSJA journalists to explore the fields of Estonian research. You can select up to four field work or lab assignments to take part in and get a detailed look into a scientist’s day, work methods and routine. Most importantly, you will have an exclusive chance to be involved hands-on in field work and conduct interviews with the scientists.

You can choose between a number of activities to observe and participate in:

  • Watching autonomous devices for marine research (such as gliders and profiling instruments) at work to study the environmental problems of the eutrophied Baltic Sea. Measuring and analysing underwater ambient noise. On board the research vessel Salme on the Tallinn Bay, with Urmas Lips and Aleksander Klauson, Tallinn University of Technology.

  • Visiting a testing house for experiments on energy efficiency technologies. Visiting a building being renovated to meet near zero energy standards. In Tallinn’s Mustamäe district, with Jarek Kurnitski and Targo Kalamees, Tallinn University of Technology.

  • Assessing the effects of air humidity on foliage temperature, leaf growth, and photosynthesis in open-top, plastic-walled experimental cells in a forest where air humidity can be artificially increased. This helps to make scientific predictions on how forest ecosystems function and adapt. In the Järvselja Forest, Tartu County, South-East Estonia, with Priit Kupper, University of Tartu.

  • Measuring the dynamic interchange of greenhouse gases, atmospheric pollutants, particulate matter, and energy between the forest ecosystem and the atmosphere from a 130 metre mast. In the Järvselja Forest, Tartu County, South-East Estonia, with Steffen M. Noe, Estonian University of Life Sciences.

  • Taking blood samples from pied flycatchers and analysing immunological markers in the blood. Testing the behaviour of birds, e.g. their reaction to pictures of predators. At Kilingi-Nõmme, South-West Estonia, and Tartu, with Raivo Mänd and Marko Mägi, University of Tartu.

  • Measuring greenhouse gas emissions (such as methane) from the ground in wetlands and forests to study the impact of peat mining and logging. At Kolga-Jaani, Central Estonia, with Ülo Mander, University of Tartu.

  • Monitoring the recovery of biodiversity (including that of plants, spiders, carabid beetles, and bees) on alvar grasslands. In Western Estonia, with Aveliina Helm, University of Tartu.

  • Studying amphibians (newts and toads, including the common spadefoot) in ponds. Digging new breeding ponds for amphibians. On the Western Coast or in the deep South-East, with Asko Lõhmus and Riinu Rannap, University of Tartu.

  • Exploring the code behind quantum cryptography, secure online elections and blockchain technology. Exploring the data science behind e-health solutions and personal medicine. In Tartu, with Dominique Unruh and Jaak Vilo, University of Tartu.

  • Watching a pair of artificial neural networks learn from scratch to play the Pong video game with each other. In Tartu, with Raul Vicente Zafra, University of Tartu.

  • Gathering environmental data from a lake using autonomous buoy stations and a raft-mounted spectrophotometer. At Lake Võrtsjärv or Lake Saadjärv, Tartu County, with Tiina Nõges and Alo Laas, Estonian University of Life Sciences.

  • Examining algae and seaweed specimens in the lab. Watching and conducting a number of demonstration experiments (such as turning algal polysacharide solution into gel in seconds by just adding a pinch of salt, a discovery made at Tallinn University). In Tallinn, with Rando Tuvikene, Tallinn University.

When your participation on the trip has been confirmed, by April 3, we will ask you to rank your preferences in the field and lab works, so that we can arrange a schedule that best suits the needs of all participants. We will send out a more detailed programme by the end of February to help you consider your preferences.

The field and lab trips are scheduled for Days 2 and 3, with a number of activities going on simultaneously for small groups of participants. Day 1 will have presentations on Estonian science, and a meet-up with Estonian journalists.

The Study Trip starts at 10 am on June 14 in Tallinn. Conclusion times on June 16 will be set on an individual basis, depending on your desired departure day and time.

How to apply?

Please send your application through your Association, by March 19, 2017 at the latest, to priit.ennet@err.ee. The application should consist of a short CV, a Statement of Purpose (up to 250 words on why you think the Study Trip is for you), and samples of previously published work (up to 5 recent publications).

Five other journalists, apart from the EUSJA 5, will be invited by the Estonian Research Council.

The organisers will cover the costs of accommodation in Estonia for three nights between June 13–17, meals, and transportation during the Study Trip. You are responsible for your travel expenses to and from Estonia and for any additional accommodation.

For any inquiries please contact:

Priit Ennet (content)
+372 5145608

Liis Livin (logistics)
+372 55527605

Country background: Estonia tops global rankings on internet freedom; it is the country where Skype was created, and where the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence and the EU Agency for large-scale IT systems are based. The knowledge of science among 15 year old Estonian students is the best in Europe and third best in the world, according to the PISA study, a premier global metric for school education, compiled by the OECD in 2015. As for its nature, Estonia has a lot of biodiversity, with half of the land covered by forests and the sea coast dotted with 2,222 islands and islets. Biological sciences are the main driving force behind the growth of Estonian scientific excellence. Two thirds out of the 42 Estonian scientists who have reached the top 1% in the world by the number of article citations are biologists or ecologists.

The Study Trip to the Fields of Estonian Research is organised by the Estonian Research Council through the initiative Research in Estonia, and in cooperation with the Estonian Association of Science Journalists. The Study Trip is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

About Priit Ennet