Maria Filioglou wants to forecast the microclimate of a city with the help of the PoDoCo programme

Maria Filioglou

The application period for the Postdocs in Companies (PoDoCo) programme is open from 1.3. to 14.5.2020. Maria Filioglou will be putting her academic knowledge of remote sensing into practice at Vaisala Oy to create safer future cities. In her view, the PoDoCo programme benefits companies, researchers and the whole society.

Read more about the PoDoCo programme here.

PhD student Maria Filioglou’s keen interest in forecasting changes in the weather and climate has driven her from Greece to Finland for her studies, and will soon be taking her to Vaisala Oy. She uses remote sensing to study changes in the climate that could not otherwise be detected. 

Maria’s PhD research focuses on using lidars to detect tiny aerosol particles and clouds in the atmosphere. Lidar is a remote-sensing technique that shoots light into the air. Researchers can then analyse the atmosphere by observing how light travels through the air. 

Maria Filioglou

“After finishing my master’s studies in Greece, I saw an opening at the Finnish Meteorological Institute that would allow me to continue my work on aerosol research while working on a PhD thesis at the University of Eastern Finland. I immediately became interested, because Finland is known for its relatively clean air. I wanted to know what kind of aerosols could be found in the pristine environment of Kuopio and how well lidars could address this challenge”, Maria says.

Now at Vaisala, Maria will be expanding her research to address microscale winds. “I will be working on microscale winds and how they can be forecasted better in the urban environment. Since cities have very varying landscapes, microclimates can differ even from one neighbourhood to another. We are basically working towards weather predictions with block accuracy”, she explains.

Self-driven air taxis and extreme weather conditions – reality or sci-fi?

At Vaisala, Maria will be making use of her expertise to help plan future smart cities. Forecasting microscale winds in cities is becoming an increasingly important part of this process.

“Our future climate is predicted to have more extreme weather phenomena. We need to be able to predict these extreme weather conditions in order to create a warning system and plan resilient urban structures”, Maria says.

In addition, Vaisala’s vision is to create future services for urban residents such as air taxis and transporting goods using drones. The ability to predict changes in the weather will make these future applications more reliable and safer to operate.

Maria is delighted to see her research subject being applied outside the academic world. “I want to use lidars to respond to societal needs”, she says. “At the moment, applications such as self-driven air taxis may sound futuristic, but it is definitely the direction we are headed towards.”


PoDoCo helps researchers put their knowledge into action

PoDoCo connects theoretical knowledge with practical challenges. For Maria, choosing Vaisala as her workplace was practically a no-brainer. “Working at Vaisala will give me an opportunity to work with established researchers and address real-life problems with the tools I have gained from my research”, she explains. 

Researchers working at companies benefit both the companies and the research community. The researchers get to apply their knowledge to real-life applications while the companies can reach their goals with the help of science. The end goal for Maria is clear, however: to benefit society as a whole. “PoDoCo brings all the actors together and makes this possible”, Maria concludes. 

The PoDoCo programme’s application period is open between 1.3.–15.4.2020. The Nessling Foundation is funding the programme along with 11 other foundations. Each year, the Nessling Foundation supports two postdocs who seek to solve environmental challenges with their research.

Read also about Henna Fabritius‘s and Claudio Carletti‘s PoDoCo journey.