I am a postdoctoral researcher interested in studying human past from an interdisciplinary perspective. My current project is about contacts among Finnic languages (funded by Emil Aaltonen Foundation) at the University of Turku. I am also the PI in the new Kinura work group funded by Kone Foundation (at the University of Helsinki) where we study the evolution of kinship in Uralic speaking populations.
So how did I end up with projects like this? I was working on my master’s degree in evolutionary genetics at the University of Jyväskylä in 2009, when I heard that a recently founded interdisciplinary BEDLAN project funded by the Kone Foundation was looking for PhD students to work with Finnish dialects using quantitative methods. “This is the coolest thing ever” I thought, applied and got in, and so my multidisciplinary life in Turku started at the beginning of 2010.
Since then I have learned a lot about – for example – linguistics, history, archeology, and GIS-methods, which suits me well because I have always been interested in different fields. During my year in Bristol I learnt a lot more also about anthropology. What a joy! I have presented my work to a variety of audiences and become an expert in multidisciplinary discussions, as that has been part of my everyday life when working with this topic.
In 2016 I defended my thesis, titled ‘Macro- and microevolution of languages: Exploring linguistic divergence with approaches from evolutionary biology’. In my thesis, I applied the framework of evolutionary biology and Bayesian model-based methods for the first time on Uralic languages and the dialects of Finnish. I also emphasized the connection between humans and their natural environment and its possible influences on spatial patterns of linguistic variation.
I spent the academic year 2017-2018 at the Institute of Estonian and General linguistics, University of Tartu, Estonia where I began my project with the Finnic languages and utilized the vast dialect atlas of Finnic languages to study the linguistic past of the Finnic area. From October 2019-December 2020 I was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Bristol, UK where I worked in the Varikin-Evolution subproject and focused on borrowings in kinship terminology.