Career stories

Riitta Salmelin

Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, Aalto University
Riitta Salmelin

What have you studied and what influenced this choice back in the day?

At school, I loved physics and maths. The engineering physics department at the then Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) seemed like the perfect place where you didn't immediately have to decide what you wanted to do when you grew up. It was also difficult to get into, which was another attraction.

How did you become a professor?

I didn't plan my career path. I ended up doing a summer job at the Cold Laboratory of the Helsinki University of Technology during my studies, and I stayed on that path 

What is the best thing about your job?

Moments of discovery. When research results force you to change your perspective and your thinking. When students slowly develop into independent researchers.

What have been the highlights and key lessons of your career?

Above all, you have to follow your own feelings about which direction to take and what is important, even if it is not always easy. And sometimes it's also worth taking the plunge, even if you're not quite sure where you're going to land.

What are your plans and goals in the future?

The growth of wisdom. It's not usually noticed until much later, though.

What kind of person is suitable for your profession?

For someone who wants to understand the world and who is not afraid of uncertainty. In this work, there are no right answers behind the book.

Your greetings for young women in high school deliberating their future career?

Think about what you are really interested in. Don't worry about making the wrong career choice, because there really are many paths in life. And don't get discouraged too quickly. Study with full effort for a degree that you feel is at least fairly suitable, and you'll be on the right track.

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