James J. Kadiri rarely needs to venture out of his laboratory, thanks to the facilities offered by the University of Turku for doctoral researchers like him. Lately, however, the work hype has been curbed by something more important: a six-month-old baby at home.

Despite his hectic schedule, James J. Kadiri, a doctoral researcher at the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Turku, finds time for this interview on a weekday in late 2022. We meet at the recently renovated Teutori Library, a place James is very familiar with for its medical materials.

James, who moved to Finland in 2015 from Nottingham in the UK, came to Turku for his second Master’s degree, the first degree having been completed at Nottingham’s Trent University.

“I had heard good things about Finland and how it is to study here, and my brother lives in Kajaani, so it seemed like a natural choice to come here to further my studies,” James says.

James first started his studies in the medical faculty in his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria. He became interested in medicine early on in his childhood, as he was impressed by the friendly and calm demeanor of his childhood doctor.

“Especially when treating children, it is very important to create a safe atmosphere during the appointment and to make contact with the child, maybe even play with them,” says James.

The University of Turku has made major investments in its medical research facilities. Pictured is the interior of the new Medisiina D building. Photo: Wellu Hämäläinen

The UNICOM period offered new challenges

James’ studies are focused on drug research and development. Once he received word of the UNICOM application period through the university, James decided to apply. He felt his research could benefit from an industry placement period in a company in the field.

James was recruited for an industry placement period at Hidex, a local company that manufactures, among other things, radioactivity measurement devices for the bioscience industry. One of James’ tasks was to measure the biocarbon concentrations of customer-provided samples of plastics, oil, and cement.

As part of a larger process, the goals of these international clients include the development of future biofuels.

“My responsibilities at Hidex were not directly in my core areas of expertise, but I felt that the tasks were both challenging and interesting enough, and that I could apply my skills and educational background in performing them,” says James.

Hidex’s Product Line Manager Ari Lehmusvuori agrees that James brought both competency and a fresh set of eyes to the project. James worked in the company’s research and development department, testing samples with the 600 OX Oxidizer developed by Hidex.

“James had previously used another analysis device of ours during his studies, which was a great advantage during the application process. He already knew the methodology.”

The demand for Hidex devices has increased over the past couple of years, alongside the demand and need for new biofuels. There is considerable competition in the field, but Hidex has its advantages.

“Our methods are capable of measuring very precise concentrations, at a level of accuracy the competition has not yet reached,” Ari explains.

A traditional Finnish winter activity: running out of a hot sauna into the cold snow. Photo: Harri Tarvainen

Appreciation for the sauna culture

Both James and Ari are happy with the UNICOM industry placement period. Ari Praises James for being hard-working and self-motivated. He says James was rarely seen outside of the lab.

James finds this description accurate. He truly enjoys focusing on his doctoral research on the processes involved in the treatment and prevention of the vascular disease – atherosclerosis.

He has also found a partner in Turku and the family’s baby was born in mid-2022. Apart from work and the baby, there is not much else going on in life at the moment.

“For example, I don’t particularly like travelling, so a quiet lifestyle suits me well. Although I could do with a bit more sleep, maybe there will be more time for that again in the near future,” James says with a smile.

During the summer months, sleep has been somewhat disturbed by the round-the-clock sunshine, which James is still not used to. But there’s a Finnish cultural habit that stands out for him above all others, namely traditional sauna bathing and the associated ice swimming.

With a group of friends and colleagues, James tours the various ice swimming spots in the Turku region.

“I like challenges and pushing myself. Going into the icy water seemed impossible at first, but you do get used to it pretty quickly.”

James is fascinated by the Finnish sauna culture. Traditionally, the sauna has been a private place for the family to relax, unwind, and perhaps above all, be silent. But there is a different etiquette in place in the public saunas.

“That’s where people are talking and laughing. This seems to suit most Finns as well and has a fun atmosphere.”

The compact city centre of Turku is great for walking.

Nice and cool, with just the right amount of everything

James appreciates the long Finnish winter season, as he is not a big fan of hot climates. His hobbies include martial arts and football, and he thinks Turku offers good opportunities for these activities, allowing him to lead a healthy lifestyle. As a city, Turku is just the right size for James. The safe city offers reasonable prices and close proximity to the sea and nature.

“I hope to be employed in the corporate world when I finish my PhD, but I am also interested in the science community. Either way, I can see myself settling down with my family in Turku and staying here,” James concludes on a positive note.

Text: Heidi Horila
Translation: Turku Business Region

UNICOM’s 2023 call is now open!

The call for applications for Uniting Companies and International University Talents (UNICOM) industry placements for international doctoral and postdoctoral researchers at the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University is now open! The call is open from 31 January to 21 February 2023.