Anna Mäki-Petäjä-Leinonen

Director of the Center

Anna Mäki-Petäjä-Leinonen (LL.D., Title of Docent) is professor of Law and Ageing. Her research has focused on Elder Law combining jurisprudence (Civil Law and Social- and Medical Law) with social and medical sciences.

Mäki-Petäjä-Leinonen is sub-consortium PI in an international research project focusing on the specific issues concerning people who develop dementia or mild cognitive impairment while still working (MCI@work). She is also sub-consortium PI in national research project scrutinizing home-based palliative care of the elderly (MeRela).

Mäki-Petäjä-Leinonen teaches Elder and Guardianship law and is a teacher in course “Social Law Clinic”., 040 511 8841, @Annamakipetaja


Heidi Vanjusov

Responsible for the welfare law and social law major

Heidi Vanjusov (LL.D.) works as a University Lecturer of social law. Vanjusov is responsible for the educational package of welfare law and teaches social law in several courses not only at the Law School, but also at the Department of Social Sciences.

Vanjusov’s dissertation examined the equal accessibility of substance abuse services. Currently, Vanjusov’s research interests are related to the realization of the rights of clients of substance abuse services and other clients in a vulnerable position. He is particularly interested in assessing the need for services in accordance with the Social Welfare Act., 046 921 5510, @HeidiVanjusov




Mikko Aaltonen

Mikko Aaltonen (D.Soc.Sc.) is professor of criminology at UEF Law School. He teaches quantitative research methods in criminology, and supervises statistically orientated master’s and doctoral theses in the fields of criminal justice, criminology and empirical legal research. His recent research has focused on the associations between social disadvantage, crime and criminal sanctions, and on the effectiveness of crime prevention programs. Prior to starting work at the University of Eastern Finland, Mikko has worked at the Ministry of Justice and the Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy., 0505722121, @aaltmik


Kaijus Ervasti

Kaijus Ervasti  (LL.D.) is working as a professor of Law and Society in the Center of Law and Welfare and Neuro Science Research Community. His research fields are socio-legal studies and procedural law. He has done research e.g. on ADR and mediation, access to justice, procedural justice, civil procedure, the effects of laws and quality of law drafting. Currently, his research topics are rights and access to justice of older people and vulnerable groups., @kaijusE


Sanna Mustasaari

Sanna Mustasaari (LL.D., Title of Docent) is Associate Professor of Family Law. She has studied transnational family life and transnational child protection and welfare in her research projects, including Children Abroad: A Relational Analysis of Finnish Child Protection and Welfare in Transnational Contexts [CARELA], Finnish Research Council, 2020-2024), NOS-HS exploratory workshop series: Transnational Childhoods, Transnational Rights and transnational child welfare consortium project SUOJATIE.

Her research interests include intersections of law and religion, regulation and recognition of family relationships, human rights, children’s rights, transrights and queer legal theory, international family and child law, migration law, and feminist legal theory. She is a member of the Borders, Mobilities and Cultural Encounters (BOMOCULT) -research community., @SMustasaari


Eeva Nykänen

Eeva Nykänen (PhD) is a professor in Law and Welfare and Legislative Studies. Her research interests include the legal aspects of the social and health care reform and social and health care system, social rights as fundamental and human rights as well as refugee law and immigration law.

Nykänen teaches social law and immigration law. She is a member of the human rights delegation appointed by the Ombudsman., 029 524 7901, @EevaNyka


Marjo Ylhäinen

Marjo Ylhäinen (PhD) is an associate professor in labour law. She takes part in international projects such as MCI@work which focuses on the specific issues concerning people who develop dementia or mild cognitive impairment while still working and also in The Future of Work project, which concentrates on the Nordic labor market model and changes in work.

Ylhäinen teaches labour law and private law. She is also a member of the Doctoral Programme in Law., 050 324 7589, @MYlhainen




Maija Aalto-Heinilä

Maija Aalto-Heinilä has since the defense of her doctoral thesis (“The Concept of Showing in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus”, 2007) focused on philosophy of law. She is particularly interested in theories of rights and how they relate to moral and political philosophy. Her second field of research is legal interpretation., 050 442 0611, 050 329 9393 (personal)


Katja Karjalainen

Katja Karjalainen (PhD) is a postdoctoral researcher in private international law and comparative law. She has focused on cross-border family law and differences in national legal systems. Karjalainen works as a researcher in the MCI@work. Furthermore, she teaches private international law., @katja_lainen


Matti Muukkonen

Matti Muukkonen (Dr. Adm.Sc., M.Soc.Sc., M.A. in Law) is a Senior Lecturer in Administrative Law and also holds a title of docent of public law at the University of Lapland . His specialties are self-governing communities, especially municipalities and associations. As part of the postdoc study of municipal law, Muukkonen’s research topics concern municipalities as institutions, as local government organizes its administration and finances, and the activities of municipalities. The approach also highlights links to norms on municipal service production, the most recent causes of the crisis in elderly care.

Previously, he has worked as a researcher and senior assistant in both administrative law and European law. Outside the university, he has worked as a chief municipal officer of three municipalities among other things., +358 50 352 2394 , @mattimuukkonen


Pauli Rautiainen

Pauli Rautiainen (Ph.D., MA, M.Soc.Sc.) holds a title of docent of law and welfare at the University of Eastern Finland. He works as a Senior Lecturer of Social Law in Department of Social Sciences and Law School. His main area of expertise is constitutional law and the general doctrines of human and constitutional rights. Rautiainen has completed twice an external review of Finnish National Human Rights Action Plans). Rautiainen’s current research focus is on law and society., @PauliRautiainen


Elisa Silvennoinen

Elisa Silvennoinen (LL.D.) is a University Lecturer in Procedural Law. Elisa teaches in the forensic psychology module on the status and rights of victims of crime. She is also a lecturer in various courses in criminal law and procedural law.

Her research interests include issues related to the child´s rights in criminal justice system, the procedural rights of vulnerable victims and child´s autonomy and informed consent.

In addition to legal research, Elisa is interested in data-based research and likes to use qualitative research methods.

Elisa is currently working in research projects examining the role of minors in criminal proceedings and the scope of protection by Finnish criminal law, as well as on children’s rights in AI-based systems., @ElisaSilvennoi1




Karoliina Ahonen, @KaroliinaAhonen


Katri Gadd

Katri Gadd (FT) is a human geographer by background, whose research interests focus especially on people’s spatiotemporal experiences. In 2016, she wrote her dissertation at the University of Turku on the topic of street children in Brazil and their relationship with their environment. After her doctoral research, Gadd has participated in migration research and examined e.g. undocumented in Finland and studied the legal concepts of Iraqi women living in Iraq and access to these rights. Currently, Gadd is involved in a research project funded by the Kone Foundation that maps the well-being of people with dementia and their access to rights., @KGadd3


Mervi Issakainen

Mervi Issakainen (DSocSci) is a social psychologist whose research interests focus particularly on health and well-being among different age groups. She received her PhD in 2016. The topic of her doctoral dissertation was young people’s distress in relation to cultural conceptions of depression.

Issakainen works as a University Researcher in an international multidisciplinary research project (MCI@work; WoLMI) focusing on the experiences, life situations and realisation of rights among people living with early onset dementia (at Department of Social Sciences), as well as in a multidisciplinary project (WELGO) exploring how to safeguard welfare in times of pandemics (at UEF Law School)., @MerIssakainen


Johanna Korkeamäki

Johanna Korkeamäki (DSocSci) is a sociologist and she works as a researcher in the project Disability and Dignity. Her research interests include health, disability and rehabilitation studies, equity in education and sociological research on agency and the capability approach., @johannakorkea


Jenni Savonen

Jenni Savonen is a social psychologist (DSocSci), who works as a researcher in the project Shadows in Paradise? The Rights of People Living with Dementia in a Welfare State. The project studies the wellbeing and (legal) challenges of people living with dementia in their everyday lives and aims to find solutions to the challenges that are identified. The topic of Jenni’s doctoral thesis was the social representations related to illicit drug use. Her overall research interests are in studying vulnerable groups of people through qualitative research methods., @jenni_savonen




Alex Berg

Alex Berg, M.Sc (cand.soc) works as a doctoral researcher in welfare law (UEF Law School). His PhD dissertation tackles the legal rights and access to justice for older immigrants and immigrants with dementia in Finland. The research employs qualitative approach in its quest for analyzing the challenges that older immigrants and immigrants with dementia might face when they seek care and support, their autonomy and self-determination, and the effects of stigma on their rights and welfare.

Alex’s research interests focus on human rights, the rights of vulnerable people, and equality. He studied the effects of laws and social habitus on the vulnerable people’s lives and wellbeing. Some of his previous qualitative research involved refugees, stateless people, and victims of female genital mutilation., +358 50 562 9464, @exalberg


Niina Gråsten

Niina Gråsten, KTM, on sosiaalioikeuden Niina Gråsten (M.Sc. Econ. & Bus. Adm.) is a Ph.D. student in social law. She is interested in the rights of persons with disabilities as fundamental and human rights and individuals´ access to their rights. In her thinking people with disabilities are holder of rights and equal members of society. Gråsten´s dissertation is about defining the status of disability as a legal concept. Her research interest is also how disability service act is interpreted in the level of municipal social services. The empirical part of the research focuses on people with autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disabilities., @GrastenNiina


Rahma Hersi

Rahma  Hersi

Rahma Hersi is a legal scholar whose research interests lie in equal access to education & labour opportunities, religion and culture and feminist theory and questions of integration of immigrants in Finland., +358 50 475 0614


Mia Kilpeläinen

Mia Kilpeläinen (M.Sc. Econ. & Bus. Adm.) is a lecturer in criminal law and criminal procedure law, a doctoral candidate and coordinator of international affairs in Law School.

Kilpeläinen teaches execution of criminal sanctions, economics of criminal law and courses related to criminology.

Dissertation of Kilpeläinen is about executing unconditional imprisonment. Her research interest relate to sanction planning and equality in enforcement., +358 50 4422 631


Maija Moisio

Maija Moisio (M.Sc) works as a researcher in labour law and writes her doctoral thesis on individual participation within an employment framework and the employee protective principle. She also works as a teaching tutor and is involved with a project concerning persons with memory disorders within an employment framework. Moisio has educational responsibilities with basic and advanced labour law courses., 050 323 2241


Hanna-Maria Niemi

Hanna-Maria Niemi (Master of Social Sciences, Master of Administrative Sciences) works as a junior researcher at the Law School of the University of Eastern Finland. She is currently writing her PhD dissertation on human dignity as a legal concept. The thesis focuses on clarifying the content and the function of dignity as a legal concept. In addition, it includes the philosophical analysis of these legal conceptions. The perspective on the research relates to welfare law since the scope of dignity focuses on the requirements for a life of dignity in a positive sense. Niemi is especially interested in the philosophical understanding about human well-being and the practices of legally protecting this well-being.


Henna Nikumaa

Henna Nikumaa (Master of Social Services) works as a researcher in Disability&Dignity project and a Lecturer in Elder Law.

Nikumaa’s research has focused on autonomy and supporting the legal capacity of people with dementia, which also her doctoral thesis scrutinizes. In addition to the subjects of her doctoral thesis, Nikumaa is also interested in the equality of elderly and disabled people as well as challenges of autonomy and protection of people with dementia.

Nikumaa has worked for 20 years in various positions in the field of elder care. Especially she has led projects that developed and strengthened later life legal planning, equality and the rights of people with dementia. She has published, in particular, a large amount of articles and textbooks for social and health care professionals.

Nikumaa has completed a master’s degree in leadership and management and has many years of experience in management and supervision from different organizations as well as from different research and development projects. She is a member of the European Law and Ageing Network (ELAN) and of an European expert group that works on recommendations for an EU-wide dementia strategy. She is also a co-founder of the Finnish network of Elder Law Experts (VAASI)., 040 581 2151, @hennanikumaa


Kaisa Näkki

Kaisa Näkki (LL.M, attorney-at-law, trained on the bench) is a part time doctoral researcher. She writes her multidisciplinary, empirical doctoral thesis about ”The many faces of dementias – A research of assessing the need of legal guardians”.

Näkki is researching under what circumstances a person with dementia is considered legally incapable and needs a legal guardian – especially if he or she has other cognitive or neuropsychiatric symptoms or signs than classical memory deficits. An essential research question is how the perspectives of medical professionals and legal professionals differ on this matter. The aim of the research is to improve due process of people with dementia. The second aim is to clarify good practices of doctor’s certificates from legal point of view and harmonize how documents are evaluated in District Courts.

Näkki is also a member of the network of elder law experts VAASI. Furthermore, Näkki works as an attorney-at-law in a law firm., @kaisanakki


Kati Saurula


Virve Valtonen

Virve Valtonen, M.Sc. (Admin.) studies in her PhD dissertation what affects primary school teacher’s use of discretion during disciplinary actions and how the changes in regulation affect schools.

Virve’s research interest focuses on educational law, modern child law and social law from the point of view of how these rights have been fulfilled in practice., 050 512 4471, @VirveValtonen


Jenni Varis

Jenni Varis, M.Sc. (Admin) works as a part-time project researcher and a doctoral student in Labour Law. Her main task is a position of a head of human resources in University of Eastern Finland.

Varis’ doctoral research combines empirical and dogmatical law studies. The research focuses on employees in expert positions and how employee’s self-determination and employer’s directional power encounter in practice. Varis is interested about labour law practices and how they influence in everyday working life and well-being at work., +358 50 443 4783, @varis_jenni




Nea Hakulinen


Roosa Ikimeri, @ikiroosa


Enna Kujansuu


Katariina Mauranen

Katariina Mauranen studies welfare law and she works as a research trainee in a project which concerns legal problems of persons with dementia. Previously Mauranen has worked as a physiotherapist and she has work experience in geriatric rehabilitation. Mauranen is interested in rights of the elderly and she plans to achieve her master’s thesis about the rights of persons with dementia., @KataMauranen