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Vision and Integration Committee of the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences

Welcome to the homepage of the Vision and Integration Committee of the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences.
We are a group of researchers with a vision to promote and support a diverse and inclusive environment at the Institute. Specifically, we aim to:

  • facilitate inter-departmental cooperation in research and teaching activities;
  • encourage communication between graduate students, PhD students and researchers;
  • support the integration of international researchers and PhD students;
  • organize the annual conference of the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences;
  • promote environmentally friendly behaviour and actions.

Feel free to contact us with any enquiries or questions you have about our activities or upcoming events. You can find the contact details of all committee members below.

Who are we?

Chairman of the Committee
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Alexander Kmoch

Research Fellow in Geoinformatics 

Department of Geography

 

Alex completed his PhD in Geoinformatics in New Zealand and joined Tartu University in 2017 at the Department of Geography. His research interests include  geospatial data management and web- and cloud-based geoprocessing with a particular focus on land use, soils, hydrology, and water quality. He is also experienced in open data standards and web-services for location-based data sharing, modelling workflows, machine learning, and interactive geo-visualisation.  

 

Vanemuise 46

Email: alexander.kmoch@ut.ee 

ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4386-4450 

UT Lab/working group: https://landscape-geoinformatics.ut.ee  

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Robert B. Davis

Research Fellow in Entomology

Department of Zoology

 

Robert came straight from completing his PhD in Evolutionary Biology at the University of York to take up a research post in the Department of Zoology at the University of Tartu in 2010. His research currently focuses on the phylogeny, evolutionary ecology and comparative biology of insects, in particular Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), but his research interests extend into the realms of macroevolution and palaeobiology.

 

J. Liivi 2 (Oecologicum)

Email: robert.davis@ut.ee

ORCID: 0000-0002-0104-0747

UT Lab/working group: https://zooloogia.ut.ee/en/content/chair-of-entomology

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Polina Degtjarenko

Research Fellow in Lichenology

Department of Botany

 

Polina completed her PhD studies at the University of Tartu in 2016. Then she has been working as Postdoc in Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (ETH domain). Polina studies lichens, enigmatic organisms made up of an intimate symbiotic association of a fungus with microalgae and/or cyanobacteria. Her main research interests are population genetics, bioindication, lichen conservation, functional ecology of lichens, and biodiversity of lichens in general.

 

J. Liivi 2 (Oecologicum)

Email: polina.degtjarenko@ut.ee

UT Lichen Team: https://eseis.ut.ee/

Folia Cryptogamica Estonica: https://ojs.utlib.ee/index.php/FCE

ETIS: https://bit.ly/3pmw1VD

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Mikk Espenberg

Research Fellow in Ecotechnology

Department of Geography

 

Mikk Espenberg is a microbiologist whose main research interests include environmental microbiology, bioinformatics and metagenomics. His main research topics are related to the study of microbial activity and community structure in different natural habitats and engineered systems. Mikk completed his PhD at the University of Tartu in 2017. He works at the University of Tartu as a research fellow in ecotechnology and at the University of Aberdeen as a research fellow in biological sciences. Mikk leads the Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology Workgroup at the Department of Geography, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences of the University of Tartu.

 

Vanemuise 46

Email: mikk.espenberg@ut.ee

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0469-6394

UT Lab/working group: https://www.geograafia.ut.ee/en/microlab

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Liina Kinkar

Research Fellow in Molecular Parasitology

Department of Zoology

 

Liina Kinkar is currently a researcher in molecular parasitology at the University of Tartu (UT). She completed her PhD in 2018 in Zoology at UT and undertook post-doctoral training as a visiting scientist at the University of Melbourne from 2019 to 2021. Her research focuses on socio-economically important parasites (particularly cestodes and trematodes); current projects aim to unravel the extent and nature of nuclear genomic variation in some of these pathogens, to better understand their epidemiology, ecology and evolution.

 

J. Liivi 2 (Oecologicum)

Email: liina.kinkar@ut.ee

CV: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Liina_Kinkar/eng


 

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Kaarel Mänd

Research Fellow in Geochemistry

Department of Geology

 

Kaarel did his Geology MSc at the University of Tartu and a geochemistry PhD at University of Alberta, Canada, finished in 2021. Since then, he has been a Research Fellow at the Department of Geology in Tartu. His research focuses on reconstructing ancient environments in the Paleozoic and Precambrian times using chemical markers in sedimentary rocks, especially as they relate to the changing levels of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere and its coevolution with life.

 

Ravila 14a (Chemicum)

Email: kaarel.mand@ut.ee

Website: https://kaarelmand.github.io/

ORCID:  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1575-3710
 

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Helin Semilarski

Junior Research Fellow of Science Education

Centre for Science Education

 

Helin Semilarski is a junior research fellow of science education.  She is PhD student in Science Education at the University of Tartu. Her research focuses on biological literacy and biology learning.

 

Vanemuise 46

Email: helin.semilarski@ut.ee

ORCID: 0000-0001-6972-2069

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Siim-Kaarel Sepp

Research Fellow in Plant Ecology 

Department of Botany

 

After defending his thesis on plant-mycorrhizal interactions in 2020, Siim-Kaarel has been working in the Plant Ecology Lab in the Department of Botany on “all things soil microbiota”. His research currently spans from global macroecology to the effects of agricultural practices on soil microorganisms, with a particular interest in exploring different avenues to approach the questions from the data analysis side. 

 

J. Liivi 2 (Oecologicum)

Email: siim-kaarel.sepp@ut.ee 

ORCID: 0000-0003-2906-4609 

UT Lab/working group: plantecology.ut.ee 

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Peeter Somelar

Research Fellow in Geology

Department of Geology

 

Peeter Somelar defended his PhD in geology 2009 and is an expert in the field of clay mineralogy, geochemistry, diagenesis, weathering and soil formation studies. His research focus is in understanding the weathering processes as potential proxies to climate (temperature-precipitation) and atmosphere (pCO2, pO2) composition.

 

Ravila 14a (Chemicum)

Email: psomelar@ut.ee

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3188-0402

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Aurele Toussaint

Research Fellow in Macroecology

Department of Botany

 

My main research interest is investigating questions related to functional diversity of vertebrates and plants in a context of global change. More specifically, I am investigating the combined effect of loss of threatened species and introduction of non-native vertebrates at large scales. To this aim, I am developing statistical models, combining development of biodiversity indices in R software and its application on traits and spatial databases. During my PhD thesis, my scientific activity focused on the functional diversity of freshwater fish at the global scale and the role of human activities.

 

J. Liivi 2 (Oecologicum)

Email: aurele.toussaint@ut.ee

Website: https://aureletoussaint.github.io/website/index.html
 

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