Meet the Mentors! – SGT Studio Course 2020

The 2020 SGT Studio Course started in January with 19 students and 5 mentors excited to start working on their respective projects.The project teams traveled to 4 different countries in 3 different continents: Bhutan (Studio SaJo, PBL South Asia); Uganda (Project Amaka, PBL East Africa); Mexico (ALM 2020) and Kenya (SUWAMA 2020) during the months of February and Early March.
Let’s meet this year’s mentor team that is working along with the teams by providing their expert guidance to the students.

SGT Mentors 2020 
Matias Heino 
Matias Heino is a doctoral student at the Water and Development Research Group in Aalto University. His research focuses on the relationship between extreme weather and food production. During his free time, he plays floorball and enjoys listening to rap music. He is mentoring the PL South Asia’s Bhutan team.
Julia Renko 
Julia Renko is mentoring this year’s ALM (Aalto Lab Mexico) team. She is a recent graduate of Creative Sustainability master’s programme (BIZ) and currently works as a project researcher in Aalto’s Water and Environmental Engineering Research Group. She participated in SGT (Mexico) for the first time in 2017 and has since then followed the development of the Aalto Lab Mexico project. On her free time, Julia enjoys board games, dancing and birdwatching. Mexico team is also being guided by Claudia Garduno, an expert and a partner in ALM projects since its inception in 2012.
Johanna Laaksonen
Johanna Laaksonen participated for the first time in SGT in Tanzania project 6 years ago. This year she is mentoring the PBL East Africa’s Uganda team. Johanna has MSc in Environmental Engineering and she has specialized in waste management and in circular economy. She also coordinated the making of the new national waste management plan together with the Ministry of the Environment and Finnish Environment Institute. She owns a yoga business and combines now two of her dream jobs.
Helena Sandman
Helena Sandman is an Architect specialised in emphatic design in resource-constrained environments. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the Department of Design as part of the New Global research group.Her research is on user engagement in the architectural design process striving for social sustainability.She is also teaching the course Interplay of Cultures at the department of Architecture at Aalto University since 2009. She is currently guiding the PBL East Africa, Uganda project along with Johanna and Matleena.
Venla Niva 
Venla Niva is a doctoral researcher at the Water and Development Research Group in Aalto University. Her research focuses on the interplay between resilience and urbanization in developing countries. On her free time, Venla enjoys outdoor life and good food, preferably as a combination. This year, Venla is mentoring the Kenya team.
Matleena Muhonen 
Matleena Muhonen is a Lecturer in Landscape Architecture in Aalto ARTS and Sustainable Global Technologies (SGT) Programme coordinator in Aalto ENG. Matleena has more than ten years of experience in organizing training and education in East Africa, South Asia and Latin America. She has furthered her studies in university pedagogy focusing on teaching multicultural and multidisciplinary teams. In her free time, she is either where there is snow, or on a horse.  Even though she is overseeing the whole SGT programme, she is also mentoring the PBL projects of East Africa (Uganda) and South Asia (Bhutan).
Olli Varis 
Olli Varis is a professor of Water Resources Management with a focus on water, environment and development research and consultation. His research concentrates on sustainable development and water resources management and their interrelations to sectors such as agriculture and energy, and in relation to drivers such as climate change, urbanization, poverty, environment and economic development in emerging economies, particularly in Asia.