Introducing: team super mentors!

SGT Studio 2022 has been kicked off! While we wait for the team introductions, it is time to meet the mentors. In SGT Studio, students take ownership and lead the process of developing real-life projects in collaboration with our partners from Africa, Latin America and South Asia. In this process, mentors play an important role:  they offer guidance, support and encouragement throughout the learning journey. Additionally to our core mentors, the student teams receive expert support from development cooperation specialist Veera Pensala, design thinking expert Anni Hapuoja, and many others within the context of the projects.


Kristjana “Ice WomanAdalgeirsdóttir is an architect and emergency response team member with various deployments in disaster and crises. Her focus is on cultural sustainability in displacements In 2016 Kristjana travelled to Lesvos, Greece with the SGT team working on refugee cases and has since then enjoyed mentoring the SGT teams on humanitarian issues, in camps and reconstruction. Kristjana wishes to support the multidisciplinary teams in respectful cooperation with all stakeholders, aiming at positive impact, while enjoying the learning process    

Daniel “Strategic Dancer” Chrisendo is a food and agricultural economist. His research interests include sustainable food systems, nutrition, gender equality, and the wellbeing of people in rural areas. He has extensive fieldwork experience in developing nations. One that motivates him to become a mentor in SGT is his time in rural Jordan, where he worked with Syrian refugees who fled due to civil war. Daniel believes that SGT is an excellent experience for students to deal with multifold real-world problems. He encourages his team to practice bottom-up approaches and avoid being a white savior. 

Anahita “Wildlife Whisperer” Rashidfarokhi is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Built Environment. She participated in SGT in 2012 first and since 2018 has become a mentor. Anahita’s background is in sustainable built environment field. The scope of her research includes corporate performance, urban planning and built environment policies. Anahita finds mentoring a two-way learning process and in mentoring she tries to help students to identify their strengths and find possibilities to contribute to the project. 

Julia “Bird Nerd” Renko participated for the first time in SGT in 2017 and has since stayed in the team as a mentor and course coordinator. Julia’s background is in international business and development studies. She is especially interested in issues related to sustainability in education and global development and wishes to further her teaching and research competences combining these two themes. When mentoring, Julia focuses on the relationship between the teams and building good foundations for collaborative and self-directed learning. 

Matleena “Snow Maestro” Muhonen got involved in SGT Programme in 2007 and has since been coordinating and developing the programme, its courses, and methods. Matleena holds a position as a lecturer in Landscape Architecture. Currently she works as part of the Aalto Global Impact team and newly founded EDUCase Network. Matleena has specialized in university pedagogy focusing on teaching multicultural and multidisciplinary groups. She believes that teaching is continuous learning where continual reflection, experiences and observations become the heart of the whole process. 

Olli “Fireman” Varis is a professor on water and initiated SGT in 2006. With a tripod educational background of engineering, environmental ecology, and systems science, he likes linking and combining disciplines, approaches, and mindsets in often unconventional ways, with mutual learning, enhanced impact and lowering of various tensions in mind. His Water and Development team comprises today of 30 researchers and is active globally with sustainability issues of water, food, energy, environment, technology, and economy interactions.