Top scientist Joy Wolfram is Finnish Expatriate of the Year 2021


Finland Society has selected top researcher Joy Wolfram as the Finnish Expatriate of the Year 2021. Wolfram, a US-based nanoscientist, is working to develop new treatments for cancer and other serious illnesses. Nanotechnology is also behind the COVID-19 RNA-vaccination. Joy Wolfram serves as an assistant professor at the Mayo Clinic in Florida.

Wolfram is a paragon of science. She has published about 60 scientific publications and received more than 30 scientific awards. The American business magazine Forbes selected her for the Forbes 30 under 30 in healthcare list in 2019.

”Finland Society wants to honor the Year of the Research-Based Knowledge 2021. We also want to pay attention to the diversity of the Finnish expatriatism and the role of the minorities. Joy Wolfram is also an excellent example of the high expertise and know-how among Finns living abroad”, praises Markus Aaltonen, Chairman of Finland Society.

The survey “Changing Nature of Being an Expatriate Finn” published by the Migration Institute of Finland in June 2021 indicates that as a group, expatriate Finns are very heterogenous. A relatively large proportion of expatriate Finns see themselves as being part of a minority on account of language or dual citizenship, for instance.

Wolfram has always been a minority in one way or another. In Finland she is part of the Swedish-speaking minority, in science a woman and in research teams abroad a foreigner.

“It’s an honor to be chosen to join such an impressive group and it’s also great that science is being recognized in this way by the Finland Society.

I think that my own experiences as part of a minority help me to see the importance of minorities. In science, we need above all a broad perspective on things”, Wolfram says.

Wolfram works with her scientific community to raise awareness about scientists in general. As she sees it, it’s important to talk about the accomplishments of and opportunities for young people, particularly those from various marginal groups. Now, for instance, they are working on a science app to introduce young people to science in an interesting way.

Wolfram praises the diversity of the Finnish science community. Here, a woman in a high-ranking position is not seen as an oddity. In the US, she constantly faces amazement about her position and her role. Few women become assistant professors before the age of 30. A young woman at the top echelon of science is a rare bird.

More information and interview requests: Finland Society, Executive Director Tina Strandberg, tel. +358 44 7129 230.

THE FINNISH EXPATRIATE OF THE YEAR honor has been presented since 1993 to a Finn living abroad or a descendent of Finnish emigrants who has been particularly successful in their field, cherished the Finnish cultural heritage and possibly advanced cultural exchanges, trade or other cooperation between Finland and their new homeland. The honor may also be given to an expatriate Finnish community or its representative.

Finnish Expatriates of the Year selected by the Finland Society:

  • 1993 Robert Selvala, founder of the Finnish American event FinnFest USA
  • 1994 Mirja Bolgár, Finnish French translator and author
  • 1995 Arvi Tervalampi, Finnish activist in Sweden
  • 1996 Karita Mattila, opera singer
  • 1997 Jari Litmanen, soccer player
  • 1998 Vieno Williams, Finnish-American representative of the great migration wave
  • 1999 Mika Häkkinen, Formula 1 driver
  • 2000 Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux user system
  • 2001 Matti Salminen, opera singer
  • 2002 Jacob Söderman, Parliamentary Ombudsman of Finland
  • 2003 Kaija Saariaho, composer
  • 2004 Erkki Toivanen, journalist
  • 2005 Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor and composer
  • 2006 Saku Koivu, hockey player
  • 2007 Richard Impola, Emeritus Professor, Finnish-American translator
  • 2008 Bengt Holmström, Professor of Economics
  • 2009 Leena Pasanen, missionary doctor
  • 2010 Helena Petäistö, journalist and author
  • 2011 Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs
  • 2012 Outi Hovatta, stem cell researcher
  • 2013 Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • 2014 Bonita Pietila, TV producer
  • 2015 Mark Levengood, journalist and author
  • 2016 Suvi Kauranen, entrepreneur
  • 2017 Suomi Schools around the world
  • 2018 Mika Keränen, author
  • 2019 Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
  • 2020 Eeva Lennon, journalist
  • 2021 Joy Wolfram, assistant professor, nanoscientist