Juha

Short bio

Juha Siitonen is an assistant professor of organic chemistry at the Department of Chemistry and Materials Science at Aalto University, Finland. He is the current holder of the prestigious Komppa-chair.

I was born and raised in the lush deciduous woodlands of the small South Karelian village of Parikkala, Finland. This is also where my interest in science sparked, leading to a youth surrounded with test-tubes and transistors in a DIY home laboratory. During my teenage years I was drawn to synthetic chemistry with its varied experimental techniques and logical nature. With my extensive home chemistry background I secured a research assistant position at the age of 14 at the nearby Lappeenranta University of Technology where I worked and trained my chemistry skills throughout my teenage years culminating in the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) and the Achievements in Natural Sciences medal at the age of 18.

In 2018 I completed my Ph.D. in organic chemistry in the Pihko group (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) on the organocatalytic total syntheses of azabicyclo[5.3.0]decane alkaloids. My PhD studies were complemented by a wonderful 4-month stay in the Somfai group (Lund University, Sweden) making headway in Cephalotaxus alkaloid chemistry. Having finished my studies in Scandinavia, I received the prestigious 2019 Wiess teaching postdoctoral fellowship from Rice University in Houston, Texas where I joined the Kürti group. After a year as a postdoc, in January 2020, I joined the Rice University faculty as a part-time and later a full-time lecturer of chemistry. After carrying out research and teaching in sunny Texas for three years, in 2022 I relocated back to Finland to join the faculty at Aalto University as an Assistant Professor in organic chemistry and was elected to the Young Academy Finland.

General

Full name: Juha Henrik Siitonen

E-mail: juha [dot] siitonen [at] aalto [dot] fi

Date of birth: 12.5.1990

Nationality: Finnish

Work address: Department of Chemistry and Materials Science, Kemistintie 1, FI-02150 Espoo, Finland

Office: C316

Lab: C334, C340, and C339.

Languages: English (C2), Swedish (C1), Finnish (Native)

Twitter: @juhesiit

Google scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=ReBEPCsAAAAJ

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juha-siitonen/

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9816-637X

Experience

Assistant Professor, Aalto University, 2022–

Leading a research group working on natural product total synthesis, method development, computational chemistry and software development. Teaching organic chemistry at undergraduate and graduate levels.

Aalto University, Espoo, Finland.

Lecturer, Rice University, 2020–2022

Teaching general and organic chemistry. Research in natural product total synthesis, method development, computational chemistry and chemistry education.

William Marsh Rice University, Houston, TX, USA.

Funding: Oskar Huttunen foundation.

Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow, Rice University, 2019–2020

Wiess fellowships are intended for exceptional candidates to facilitate launching independent academic careers by providing opportunities to engage in Rice University’s research (60%) and teaching (40%) missions in a mentored setting. Total synthesis of homotropane and oxindole alkaloids, method development, computational chemistry, and chemistry education research.

Group of prof. László Kürti, William Marsh Rice University, Houston, TX, USA.

Funding: Wiess Teaching Postdoctoral Fellowship.

PhD, University of Jyväskylä, 2014–2018

Total syntheses of scarcely available Stemona alkaloids utilizing organocatalytic strategies. Work towards Waltherione and Palmyrolide alkaloids. Computational studies on key step mechanisms.

Group of prof. Petri Pihko, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.

Funding: Academy of Finland, Alfred Kordelin foundation (Komppa trust), and Wihuri foundation.

Talks

2.9.2022 – “Total Synthesis of Racemic Polycylic Alkaloids Isatindigotindoline C and Setigerumine I”, Young Investigator Workshop 2021 2022 – EuChemS Division of Organic Chemistry, Lisbon, Portugal.

TBA, 2022 – “Inclusivity in Higher Chemistry Education”, Finlandssvenska Fysik- och kemidagarna, Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.

8.4.2022 “Unconventional Organocatalysts in Synthesis”, YSF2022 Finnish Young Scientist Forum for Catalysis, Turku, Finland.

15.12.2021 “Mechanism of the Aza-Quasi-Favorskii Reaction”, Computational Chemistry Days, Aalto University, Finland.

19.12.2021  “The Aza-quasi-Favorskii Rearrangement”, Pacifichem, Virtual conference, Hawaii, USA.

1.15.2020 – “Tools and Strategies for Total Synthesis of Alkaloids”, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland.

Past holders of the Komppa chair

  • 1848 1874 Anders Olivier Saelan
  • 1874 1898 Henrik Alfred Wahlfors
  • 1899 1937 Gustaf Komppa
  • 1941 1952 John Oscar Palmen
  • 1954 1972 Gustaf Arthur Nyman
  • 1972 1977 Jarl Mauritz Leonard Gripenberg
  • 1979 1998 Mauri Viktor Lounasmaa
  • 1999 2022 Ari Mauri Petri Koskinen
  • 2022 Juha Henrik Siitonen