Widen Your Horizons: Meet Our Scientists and Their Work

Did you know that our university’s scientists have their own Instagram account, which is managed only by them? Meet our researchers in their fieldwork, lab experiments, and discoveries! Photos are free for use by all – please indicate the author.  @unitartuscience

This is a unique project that introduces the achievements and daily activities of our university researchers through social media and through their own eyes in a way that inspires and increases interest among young people, the main users of Instagram, in science.


Today, approximately 20 scientists from different fields participate in the photo-blog project: geography, entomology, theology, robotics, plant genetics, ethnology, history, molecular biology, physics and electrochemia, evolutionary biology, philosophy, animal ecology, etc.

This project is unique because of the fact that nobody, apart from the University of Tartu researchers, participates in creating its content. Only researchers themselves share and describe the photos. According to the commonly agreed-upon good practice, photo bloggers will produce image captions in English and Estonian, which is why the content of the blog is open to a much broader audience than just Estonia.

In the posts, researchers have also chosen to avoid terminology that is understood only by a small group of specialists in order to be understandable and attractive to the wider circle of followers. The aim of image comments is to explain the picture and provide the context necessary to understand it.

Take a look at how researchers go about their science and, of course, follow #unitartu scientists on Instagram.

Beauty is in the details! In the floristics field course for biology students we turn our attention to details often missed in our day-to-day activities. Under magnification is the downey-fruited sedge Carex tomentosa’s velvety vesicles.

Photo by Tanel Vahter, PhD student, Department of Botany. Published by Aveliina Helm, senior researcher, Department of Botany

The Nenets tundra camp with a little snow, fog, and sunshine.

Photo by Laur Vallikivi. Posted by Art Leete

For this Christmas the #unitartu #phoneticslab received a shipment of new equipment. With our brand new articulograph and eye tracker we can study the full scope of phonetics, from articulation and acoustics to speech perception.

Photos from training sessions. Posted by Pärtel Lippus, Senior Research Fellow in Phonetics of the Estonian Language.

Field work in environmental biology – when the fieldsite becomes a lab. Here, studying plants and mycorrhizal fungi in Laelatu wooded meadow.

Posted by L. Neuenkamp

Plant scientists sometimes get their hands dirty as well as feet. Hanna Hõrak, research fellow in molecular plant biology in Tartu University and postdoc at the University of Sheffield (UK), is preparing a soil mixture for plants from compost and perlite. She will sow there the seeds of thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) – the favourite model organism of plant molecular biologists. In less than in a month these plants will help to explain the complicated relationships between Arabidopsis and the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae.

Photo by Hanna Hõrak. Posted by Liina Jakobson

How do biologists celebrate the #outofofficeday? With an educative stroll through nature!

Posted by L. Neuenkamp

What’s in the picture? Write it in the comments! Is it a sock animal or a very sad crocodile?

Karin Johansson, our post-doc from Sweden, gave her plants Monday blues, when she pipetted drops of toluidine blue on the leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana. That’s how she tested for their wax and cuticle layer integrity. If the waxy layer is not intact, water and the blue color will go into the leaf. This indicates that the plant is struggling not to lose too much water through those holes in the wax and cuticle layer.

Photo by Kaspar Koolmeister, master’s student. Posted by Liina Jakobson, research fellow in molecular plant biology

Professor Art Leete drives a Komi boat on the Kuk-yu River, attempting to reach a hunting cabin. Searching for knowledge presumes certain skills.

Photo by Art Leete

It’s raining cats and dogs over here in our lab! This happens when a company selling fertilizers wishes to know more about the effects of their newest product. We are studying the effect of this fertilizer on plant growth, both in dry and rainy conditions.

Photo by Kaspar Koolmeister. Posted by Liina Jakobson

Why so skinny? This is a good example of a herring (clupea harengus harengus) in good condition (left) and a herring that is starving (right). Although the summer season is here, we prefer the fish to be fat!

Photo by Kristi Källo, MSc student. Posted by Kristiina Hommik, PhD student


Karl Vetemaa is a social media specialist at the University of Tartu.

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