Tallinn University of Technology

On the 8th of March, we are turning the spotlight on women in science – here is a look at some of the varied research being carried out by TalTech’s natural scientists

Naised loodusteaduses

The instrumental analysis research group is engaged in the development and application of modern analytical methods for solving essential socio-economic problems. The range of topics include food and environmental safety, identification of prohibited chemicals, drug residues in various matrices, detection of bioactive substances in food and medicinal plants and their effect on tissues, as well as the valorization of biomass etc.

The main focus of the team is the study of plant phytochemicals to elucidate, identify and evaluate their antioxidative and antibacterial properties. The aim is to extract new lead compounds from Estonian herbs against chronic Lyme disease. Previously the research group has determined phytochemicals from D. fullonum L. show anti-cancer and anti-borrelia activity.

Women scientists of the research group: Merike Vaher, Maria Kuhtinskaja, Maria Kulp, Piret Saar-Reismaa, Jekaterina Mazina-Šinkar, Jelena Gorbatšova, Olga Bragina, Piia Jõul, Pille-Riin Laanet, Kristiina Leiman, Tran Ho.

Reproductive biology group investigates, how different cells in the ovary are involved in the process of oocyte maturation that is one of the main prerequisites for female fertility. In collaboration with international partners, the research team works to understand the effect of such environmental chemicals on ovary that mimic sex steroid hormones and can thus evoke imbalance in the whole organism. The scientists also study the possibilities of growing oocytes in the laboratory, outside of the female body. This would give an opportunity to preserve ovarian tissue and have children for cancer patients whose oocytes would otherwise deteriorate in the course of treatment.

Women scientists of the research group: Agne Velthut-Meikas, Inge Varik, Kristine Roos.

Biomedicine research group investigates the role of human pathogen Helicobacter pylori on the gastric and gut microbiota and on liver. The team is characterizing the Helicobacters circulating in Estonia, their pathogenic properties and antibiotic resistance. In addition, the team is aiming to develop faster and more specific diagnostic tests that could be used for determining the infection as well as the properties of Helicobacters.

Women scientists of the research group: Pirjo Spuul, Kaisa Roots, Olga Smirnova (on a maternity leave), Sadia Khalid, Johanna Kristina Tamm, Liisa Truu.

Laboratory of DNA replication and genome stability studies how normal and cancer cells duplicate their DNA at the molecular level.  Since cancer cells divide faster, many cancer drugs are designed to disrupt their DNA replication. Studying DNA replication will help improve existing cancer treatments and develop new ones.

Women scientists of the research group: Tatiana Moiseeva, Sameera Vipat, Pille Leesmäe.

Plant-pathogen interactions research group is focused on genetic, molecular and cellular aspects of plant-pathogen interactions. The team identifies and characterizes, using next-generation sequencing techniques, viruses infecting cereal crops in Estonia and neighbouring countries. Using CRISPR-based editing the scientists validate perennial ryegrass candidate genes involved in freezing tolerance and biomass growth under water deficit.  

Women scientists of the research group: Cecilia Sarmiento, Merike Sõmera, Jelena Mõttus, Kairi Kärblane, Lenne Nigul.  

Immunology research group focuses on the biology of leukocyte activation and its regulation that strongly affect the efficiency of defence against pathogens and development of auto-inflammatory and auto-immune diseases. The team selected two families of regulators of which functions remain poorly understood, the RGS (Regulator of G protein Signalling; main gene target rgs16) and the purinergic receptors (P2X main targets p2x4 and p2x7) that the scientists study in melanoma and multiple sclerosis models.

Women scientists of the research group: Sirje Rüütel Boudinot, Airi Rump, Kadri Orro, Emilia Di Giovanni

Supramolecular chemistry group researchers are developing molecular container molecules and synthetic receptors and explore their potential for sensing and isolation of different hazardous compounds (pesticides, toxic compounds etc). The group is also working on sustainable and efficient solvent-free synthesis methods to develop for example benign methods for producing pharmaceuticals. 

Women scientists of the research group: Riina Aav, Karin Valmsen, Marina Kudrjašova, Elena Progorchenko (on a maternity leave), Kamini A. Mishra, Nele Konrad, Tatsiana Dalidovich, Tatsiana Shalima, Mari-Liis Ludvig (on a maternity leave), Jevgenija Martõnova, Elina Suut,. Ngan T. T. Nguyen 

The Mineral Resources and Applied Geology Research Group is engaged in exploring Estonian mineral resources, including the genesis of phosphorite and potential metal ores, and finding novel valorization technologies for those rocks. Numerous other problems in the geosciences and raw material sector, from paleovolcanism to the circular economy of mining waste, find their way into the research group's geochemistry and mineralogy lab.

Women scientists of the research group: Rutt Hints, Sophie Graul, Sigrid Hade