Tallinn University of Technology

Members

Agne Velthut-Meikas

I am a molecular biologist with an education in gene technology. In order to seek answers to questions in reproductive biology I tend to use a selection of tools from the field of bioinformatics.
I’ve always been interested in how cells can sense the environment, communicate with each other and as a result make the organism function. As a part of my work, I’ve gained experience in virology, neurobiology, in vitro fertilization and acquired skills in various experimental methods. The symbiosis of laboratory work and data science still fascinates me as it is full of things to uncover and learn.

I love teaching through seminars, exercises and practical work to create a sense of continuity for the students as they are picking up knowledge. I believe the skills to find and interpret information are more relevant than just a dry repetition of facts.

Outside of work I enjoy the outdoors and different forms of culture. I love to dabble in diverse hobbies – I’ve been into singing, playing the guitar, figure skating etc. Also, recommendations for great theatre, films or books are welcome.

E-mail: agne.velthut@taltech.ee

Google Scholar

Nataliia Volkova

I am a biologist with an education in biophysics and cryobiology. I work in the field of cultivation and cryopreservation of monolayer (2D and 3D) and organ cultures of various origins. The area of scientific interests is the study of the properties of cell cultures, which include stem cells, and the development of new areas of cell therapy. I have experience in clinics of regenerative and reproductive medicine.

Currently, my scientific activity in the Reproductive Biology group is related to the isolation, cultivation, cryopreservation, morphological and immunofluorescence analysis of primary granulosa cells.

In my free time I enjoy hiking, jogging, travelling and archeological research. 

Kristine Roos

I am an industrial PhD student sharing my time between the science at the Reproductive Research group and working as an embryologist at Nova Vita Clinic. During my studies I have been mostly interested in female (in)fertility. Currently my main object of study is the follicular fluid of IVf patients. My aim is to describe the follicular somatic cell populations, their gene expression differences and the follicular contents of endocrine disruptive chemicals to understand associations between factors leading to infertility.

I like to play badminton, read crime fiction and walk the dogs in my spare time.

Inge Varik

​My scientific career began in the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Tartu. During my four years there I had the opportunity to participate in studying aryl hydrocarbon receptors (AHR). I did that during my master’s studies concentrating on the role of dioxin toxicity mediated by AHR-s in early embryonic development.

While studying at Tartu, as a member of the Bioscience Students’ Association (BSA – or BÜS in Estonian) I was actively involved with popularizing science. Together we started the annual Genetics Study Days where high school students get to try their hand as scientists. In 2019 the Genetics Study Days won the Nationally recognized Science Communicator award.

At the end of my master’s studies, I started work as a laboratory specialist at the Competence Centre on Health Technologies (Tervisetehnoloogiate Arenduskeskus). There I was involved daily in testing the endometrial receptivity of the uterus and doing NIPT tests. Since the results of my work had a great impact on women’s reproductive health, my interest in reproductive biology deepened. Since the fall of 2021 I am a member of the Research Group for Reproductive Biology at TalTech. I’m studying the role of RNA-s in the molecular intercellular communication of human ovaries under the supervision of Agne Velthut-Meikas, Olli-Pekka Smolander and Paolo Guazzi.

For my free time I like to slow down a bit – enjoy time with my close ones, play the piano and crochet lovely toy animals.

Laura Luhari

I started to have a deep interest in health, nature, and medicine during high school years, which led me to studies in the field of gene technology. Curiosity toward difficult to treat diseases, such as cancer, guided me to the Cancer Research and Development Center investigating expression and regulation of human Plexin-B3 gene in the course of bachelor studies. During the master’s program I joined TalTech Bioinformatics group to study lung cancer recurrence via whole exome sequencing data analysis. Hopefully nice collaboration with North Estonia Medical Center oncologists and focused research will lead to novel discoveries in predicting prognosis and outcome of recurrent lung cancer patients.

Outside of studies, I work as a personal and group trainer in the gym. I enjoy very much going outside for walks in the nature, especially in the beautiful Estonian bogs. 

...

Katariina Johanna Saretok

I chose to study gene technology at TalTech because of the wide possibilities of the field. Genetics are closely concerned with the problems and interests of both the individual and society. I find our understanding of genetics is evolving at a truly rapid pace enabling us to solve problems in the future to which we currently have no answers to.
In addition to school I’ve been active in dance since one definitely should mix work and pleasure.

Andro Urb

​I began studying gene technology because I see it as a credible tool in diminishing the harmful effects humans can have on nature. I feel biotechnologies are right now on the verge of truly rapid development. I would like to play some small role in the shaping of the positive outcomes of said tech.

In addition to my studies, I’m employed by the Estonian National Opera as an audio engineer. What little off time I get usually belongs to music, friends, nature.

 Eva Katarina Tambets

During my elementary school years, I developed a keen interest in natural sciences. Chemistry was my favorite subject at that time and my fascination with it continued until the end of high school. Alongside chemistry, I also found a passion for medicine, making gene technology appear to be the perfect blend of my interests. Choosing my field of study at Tallinn University of Technology, which encompassed both chemistry and gene technology, seemed like the only logical choice.
In addition to my academic pursuits, I have a background in music having graduated music school and been singing since the age of 3. Consequently, a significant portion of my free time is dedicated to music. Furthermore, I am an avid sports enthusiast, committed to maintaining an active lifestyle. I also contribute my time as a volunteer at the Tallinn Animal Shelter, helping homeless animals find warmth and care in loving homes.

In high school, chemistry and biology weren't my strongest suits, but the field of applied chemistry and genetic engineering seemed very interesting, so that's the university path I chose. This decision initially surprised even me, but throughout my studies, I've discovered how right and fitting that choice truly was. At the end of the first year, I leaned towards applied chemistry, but as the second year began, I realized that my true calling lies in cellular biology and genetic technology. Working with these small biomachines feels like the realization of my dreams, and the idea that my contribution could have a positive impact on society at a larger scale makes the entire field even more fascinating.

Triin Sild

In high school the most fascinating subject for me was biology and how our bodies work. After some thought, gene technology seemed to be the right major for me.
In our group, I’ll be studying and analyzing how chemicals from plastic bottles affect our reproductive system, how they affect the cells and the processes inside.
In my free time I dance Estonian folk dance or wander around Estonian forests and bogs with my dog to keep the spirit up and stay healthy.

Former Members

Ilmatar Rooda

I defended my PhD thesis titled „Intercellular Signalling in the Human Pre-ovulatory Follicle: microRNA Expression in Granulosa Cells and Detection in the Follicular Fluid” in the Reproductive Biology research group. The goal of my studies was to understand the importance of microRNa expression in the granulosa cells of the pre-ovulatory follicle and their importance in inter-cellular molecular signalling. I found novel information about the malfunctions of signalling pathways in the ovaries of PCOS patients that may lead to new avenues towards PCOS treatment.

After defending my thesis, I continued as postdoc at Dr Pauliina Damdimopoulou´s lab at Karolinska Institute in Sweden. My projects here are related to developing a cell atlas of human ovary from birth to menopause and to understand the genetic markers underlying the speed of ovarian aging in humans.

Birgitta Kaselt

​I work for the Estonian Health Board, in the department of Public Health as a senior inspector (officially Specialist of Health Protection). My main tasks include the analysis and inspection of detail plans – whether the developers have followed health regulations as stated by the law (this includes sufficient daylight, low noise levels, radon safe environment indoors etc.) and processing noise complaints according to administrative proceeding laws.

Lately due to the corona virus crises I’ve found much use dealing with infection statistics and mapping close contacts (becoming friends with Excel during my time at the University has helped a lot there).

Robyn-Stefany Keif

I defended my master’s at the Research Group for Reproductive Biology. In my thesis I studied the various cell types found in the pre-ovulatory follicle of the human ovary and described their gene expression.

After my time at the university, I started work as an embryologist at the Centre of Infertility Treatment of the East Tallinn Central Hospital.

The job of an embryologist is rather multifaceted, involving the collecting of gametes and their preparation for in vitro fertilization. After the procedure we closely monitor the development of the growing embryos, conduct transplants and carry out  the freezing and unfreezing of gametes and embryos.