Roope Tolvanen, Chemistry, University of Eastern Finland
What do you study and where? How did you end up studying this field?
I’m studying chemistry for the fourth year at the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu. I became interested in chemistry, in particular, in upper secondary school when a lot of new interesting things were discussed, albeit superficially. So, it was the thirst for knowledge that attracted me to university. Thanks to my good exam results, I was accepted to study natural sciences.
What is it about your studies that excites you?
The best thing is that chemistry is, in my view, the most visible natural science. It is the study of matter and how it can change. Chemistry is everywhere and it can be used to explain both natural phenomena and everyday things. Complex chemistry can be behind things that seem obvious, and understanding it is rewarding.
If the sky was the limit, where would you like to work in the future?
I would like to be able to work in an area that allows me to contribute to the sustainable development of humanity and to the environmental situation globally, even on a historically significant scale. It could be, for example, research into the use of renewable materials instead of materials that are currently burdening the environment, or solutions for more efficient material reuse. I would also like to make breakthroughs in the field of energy technology.
Which global or everyday challenge would you like to solve with the help of chemistry/your work?
Mobile devices are an integral part of modern human life, but the energy technology related to them has so far been almost invariably environmentally harmful. I would like to develop more environmentally friendly methods of energy storage and, for example, study some biological technology that would even allow the human body to be harnessed to produce energy for mobile devices.
What do you think is an interesting innovation in the field of chemistry?
I think that one very important, and hopefully also fast-growing, innovation are environmentally friendly packaging materials made of natural fibres, including wood, especially to replace plastic packaging materials.