Hi everyone!

Kirsti and I are the newest additions to this wonderful group of talented researchers. Kirsti will tell about herself later on 🙂

My name is Marja Lindholm and I’m a biogeographer at the very end of my PhD thesis project. Now I’m working at the Geography Research Unit at the University of Oulu, Finland.

My background is in geography, as is also Annika’s, but with the difference that after completing my Master’s degree, I continued with geography also in my PhD studies. However, even though I’m a geographer in my heart, my research interests have moved quite far from my first passion, geomorphology, to study biodiversity patterns in freshwater communities. One course about diatoms totally changed the direction of my career. I fell in love with those tiny creatures with their beautiful valves, and when I saw an academic internship position related to subarctic streams and DIATOMS, that was it… I got that internship in a project focusing on metacommunity structure and patterns in stream communities led by Jani Heino in Finnish Environment Institute. That took me over the edge of biodiversity of aquatic communities. I ended up doing my Master’s thesis related to that project (you can find the paper based on my thesis published in Hydrobiologia here), and I was lucky to continue to work with Jani also in my PhD studies.

I started to do my PhD in the Physical Geography research group in Oulu in 2015. My son was one year and two months old at that time.  My PhD journey has been full of sleepless nights, flu and laryngitis but also happiness and kisses. Family life has been a good counterbalance to the sometimes-frustrating academic world, even though sometimes reconciling work and family has been a challenge. But in Finland, it is quite easy to combine these two (more about this in the near future). Other good counterbalancing things in my life are trips to nature and cabin life at the shore of the Baltic Sea. My newest passion is gardening and especially kitchen gardening. Doing tasks in our small yard makes me calm and I forget everything else. And there is so much to learn, and I have so many plans for my garden that I can spend several forthcoming springs and summers implementing those plans.

My main research interests are temporal biodiversity patterns in freshwater environments. I’m intrigued by all kinds of freshwater environments and organisms, but in my PhD thesis, I’m focusing on spatial and temporal patterns of macrophyte communities in small boreal lakes. So, I have moved from microscopic organisms to macroscopic ones. And right now, I cannot say which group is the cooler one. Fortunately, I don’t have to choose, but I do enjoy taking pics of macrophytes.

I have been fortunate to work with great people and my PhD thesis is based on three papers focusing on a cool temporal aquatic macrophyte data covering 70 years (those papers in here, here and here). Even though, I enjoy doing research, I must admit that the most enjoyable moments have been teaching. I have taught quantitative research methods in geography, geomorphology (yippee) and I have been a teacher in the field course of physical geography. In addition, I’m responsible for one essay course on biodiversity conservation from the geographical point of view and I’m also a tutor teacher. Especially teaching geomorphology at the field was superb, and it has been most rewarding in my career so far seeing student’s faces turning from blank to enthusiastic.

Right now, my PhD thesis has been sent to the pre-examiners and I’m at a crossroads again. What to do next? Several different options, but nothing certain yet. I have a problem common to geographers: I’m interested in so many different things that sometimes I have no clue what to do with my future. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing where I will end up next year after my PhD defence 🙂

-Marja-

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