About us

That’s us, from left to right: Annika, Katri and Mariana. 2018/07/26 Oulu, Finland


Katri Tolonen

“I am a biologist with current research emphasis on stream ecology. In my thesis, I studied how the macroinvertebrate communities (a.k.a. stream bugs etc.) in northern streams are structured and how the communities vary along varying environmental variables. I had a special focus on the macroinvertebrates’ functional traits.  However, although I find streams to be a great model system to study even large scale ecological questions, I am keen to expand my research on other types of ecosystems also.  I believe there is something big to be discovered, in terms of biodiversity conservation for instance, if we could reliably relate species’ functional traits (in any kind of environments) to their favourite habitats.

In my free time I enjoy gym training (although there haven’t been much progress in the weights lately), reading good books and walking outside in the nature trying desperately to identify the birds I see.”

Mariana Perez Rocha

“I’m a crazy-cat-lady-biologist/ecologist born in Brazil and currently living my PhD journey in Finland. Back in 2014, I was finishing my Masters in Brazil and had the opportunity to apply for a grant to cover my four years PhD stuff abroad. And now here I am! Very close to end this journey (not really, I’ll probably graduate in October) and already looking for my next one (postdoc invitations are very welcome from all over the globe!). Since I was very young, I had this passion for biology stuff. My favorite play back then was chasing butterflies and digging the soil to find different kinds of worms 😀

Clearly, my passion for biodiversity-related stuff was always present in my life. Currently, I’m a grown-up investigating macro-scale patterns of biodiversity of aquatic communities at high-latitude streams. I’m very interested in all kinds of aquatic organisms, but right now I’m having a great time working with diatoms and macroinvetebrates. Apart from biodiversity, I have other passions too. My cat Mustikka (her name means blueberry in Finnish) is one of them! We have been each others partners in crime since I came to Finland, and of course, she will continue to be wherever we go. Also, I love cooking, in special, baking sweet stuff. In this vein, I’m forced to like sweat (one of Annika’s passion) otherwise I would get enormous!”

Annika Vilmi

“I’m a geographer/ecologist from Finland. In May 2018 I started as a PostDoc at Professor Jianjun Wang’s lab at Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology (Chinese Academy of Sciences), in China. During summer 2019 I also work for the Finnish Environment Institute (can’t beat the Finnish summer!), which I have a long-term relationship with (on and off since 2010).

So far my research has focused on freshwater biological communities, and how and why the communities are structured the way they are. Tough questions, and especially tough, when using non-experimental field data. My taxonomic expertise is on diatoms, but I’ve also worked with bacteria, macroinvertebrates and macrophytes. In order to better understand the impacts of the ongoing global change, it’s important to find out which patterns in biodiversity are results of anthropogenic actions, and which are products of natural processes.

Research isn’t my whole life though. I’m all about sweat, due to two things: exercise and eating. I’m a big fan of LesMills BodyJam classes. They are dance classes with nicely challenging house/hiphop/dancehall/etc. choreographies. I’ve conditioned myself to produce endorphins when I hear those tracklists, so consequently I listen to that kind of music when I’m in the zone, analyzing data with R. (Although, I have to add, since this is a science-related blog, that me conditioning myself to produce endorphins is not scientifically proven.) And to keep everything in balance, I enjoy cooking and eating. I especially love the Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines.”