Professor Hanna Kokko was awarded an award for outstanding cultural achievement at Cultural Foundations Annual Gala on 27 February. The award was given to a researcher of courtship and evolution and the defender of the diversity of life.
Kokko specialises in theoretical ecology and evolutionary biology. She took her matriculation examination in the German School in Helsinki in 1990 and graduated as a Master of Science (tech.) from the Helsinki University of Technology. She continued her studies at the University of Helsinki, writing her doctoral dissertation on the evolution of sexual choice and courtship in 1997.
Hanna Kokko is truly cosmopolitan scientist. She has worked as a post doc researcher at the University of Cambridge and at the University of Glasgow and as senior assistant at the University of Jyväskylä. In 2004 she was appointed professor of animal ecology at the University of Helsinki. Then she was appointed as an Australian Laureate Fellow, considered to be the country’s most distinguished scientific post. Now she has returned to Europe, taking up the post of a professor in evolutionary biology at the University of Zurich.
Kokko has published more than 200 scientific articles, books and works that are also intended for the public at large. The book Kutistuva turska (Shrinking cod), written by Hanna Kokko and Katja Bargum in a lucid and informative style, received the State Award for Public Information in 2009. The articles and publications of Kokko are frequently cited and she often appears as a speaker at events around the world. This is because she is able to present complex mathematical formulas in a manner that all audiences can understand.
Hanna Kokko studies the interactive relationships between individuals and groups. She is particularly interested in situations in which the good of the individual is in conflict with the good of the population, species or a community. In economics, this is called the tragedy of the commons, but it also affects nearly all interactive biological relationships at cellular level and in communities alike. In recent years, Hanna Kokko has studied phenomena such as cancer from this perspective. Hanna Kokko emphasises that we can only save our planet by preserving the diversity of species and by ensuring the existence of differences in nature.