Riina Kuuselo researches cancer cells at the Institute of Medical Technology, University of Tampere. Her forthcoming doctoral dissertation is on the genetics of pancreatic cancer. Over and above her postgraduate studies she is also at the top level in Finnish orienteering.
“As a child I had many sporting hobbies, and I started orienteering when I was ten. It was really only in upper secondary school that it became my main sport. I attended the Sampo Sports-Oriented Upper Secondary School, with orienteering in my application, and since then it has been my main sport. Of course there are all kinds of ways of practising, running, skiing, cycling, swimming, quite a wide range of options in winter.”
Kuuselo took a master’s degree in biomedicine at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Her present orienteering club is Tampereen Pyrintö, but as a student she also attended a Swedish club.
“There was less snow there in winter so that you could do orienteering all year round, which is not really possible in Tampere.”
Kuuselo participated in the Venla Relay and the World Cup Relay. Last year in the Venla Relay she ran third in the Tampere Pyrintö team.
“It was such a big event, it was absolutely marvellous. It felt good to be back among the prizewinners after an interval of a few years.”
Kuuselo holds several personal medals from Finnish championships. Next summer she will be competing at the World Championships in Trondheim, where she hopes to be in the first ten.
“It I do well in the Finnish championships, I should have some hope in the world championships, if only everything goes well.”
In the Tampere sport academy Kuuselo represents the postgraduate minority. The sport academy arranges training among other things, maintenance and medial and massage services.
“It’s a major advantage, because these things are costly and indispensable.”
“There is also an individual study programme, and for students doing basic degrees this must really be a very good thing. I remember that when I was studying for my master’s there was nothing like that, and it was difficult to attend association camps and then try to keep up with my studies on the side. When your are in some winter sport with the competition season and all the travelling falls in term-time, there’s quite a lot of fitting in to be done in order to achieve anything.”
Working on the Kauppi campus is extremely good for someone in orienteering as the tracks for skiing and forest for running are right on the doorstep. There a challenge in fitting together research and sport, but it is also an opportunity.
“It has indeed been challenging, but on the other hand being a postgraduate has given me the opportunity to practice on the side and my supervisor has been very understanding. Of course at times the work is heavier, but I try to group things so that before the competition season I can put more into sport and I winter more into research.
Text by Silja Hjerppe
Photo Touko Hujanen