Interviewing supervisor

As I already wrote to me working environment is incredibly important. And the most important thing to me – is trust and respect of the supervisor.

So today I want to tell you about the leader of our research group prof. Matti Haukka. Actually in our group nobody uses “professor” talking to Matti. Only for official cases. But the atmosphere within group is so that we don’t use official titles. But let me tell you more about my supervisor.


First of all, he doesn’t like when somebody says he’s a group leader. However, he is one of the best supervisors I ever had. Secondly, Matti is wise, honest, and always open to discussion. He is very creative and he generates new ideas for research very fast. But the best quality of my supervisor is the ability to inspire. He knows the key to every group member and knows right words to ignite back extinct sparkle of inspiration.

So I decided to stop by and ask Matti several non-scientific questions, so you would get a hint what kind of person my supervisor is.


Where are you from and when did you become a professor?

I am from Imatra and I live in Jyväskylä around 6 years already. I became a professor in 2008 in the University of Joensuu, which now is the University of Eastern Finland.

– What was the weirdest food you have tried?

– A thousand-year egg in Taiwan. It’s berried in the ground for some time. It looks like black and transparent. It tasted exactly as an egg though.

– What are 5 important things in life?

– That’s a difficult one! Family, of course, is first. Next… Well. It’s difficult! Maybe work goes after that. I like to work. But is there anything else? I don’t have hobbies, I don’t like travelling and anything like that.  I have to, because of work though.

– How would you describe science in 3 words?

– Way to see the world.

– What’s your motto?

– Nothing is THAT important.

– What do you think is your biggest achievement?

– Family. (He was very fast answering this question)

– What advice would you give to a person who is just deciding to become a scientist?

– Be honest to what you are really interested in.

– Why did you become chemist?

– Accidentally. It just happened. It was never my goal. But I never had a certain one… It’s not unusual I think. From the daycare time kids have been asked who do they want to become. But usually they answer just something to  make adults happy. I didn’t have any strong feeling about chemistry or science in general. I liked history, biology and just some practical things. I think it’s possible to learn to like things. And if you are curious then you look deep and deeper. If you look deep enough you can find all kind of interesting stuff.  For me it just happened to be chemistry. It was just easy. I couldn’t get to study history or biology, but chemistry was easy.

– What are the best and the worst things in research?

– Well, the best is when research is rewarding. But what could be the worst thing? If you don’t learn anything. Errors are fine by me, you still can learn with that. But learning nothing – it’s boring! It’s useless.

Matti is a simple man – he doesn’t care about expensive toys, and I really like his office, because it feels very cosy and welcome in there, even though it’s an office.

I don’t know what is it: samples and books on the shells,




or his kids photos (even the group picture is there with the sign whoosh),


or toys around the place.



It’s just a spirit of research you will feel the minute you step in his office.

And what is your supervisor like?