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Samu Nyström

Samu Matias Nyström
Born 5 June, 1975, Helsinki.

Master of Arts 2004 and Doctor of Philosophy (Finnish and Nordic History) 2013

Independent scholar, 2013-
Postgraduate, University of Helsinki, 2004–13
Entrepreneur and non-fiction author 2004–
City of Helsinki’s History of Emergency medical service of Helsinki project, researcher, 2004–2005
Finnish Medical Association’s Doctors in Finnish Society project, Project Head, 2007–2010
History of Helsinki’s Rescue Department project, Researcher, 2010
History of Finnish Civil Defence project (SPEK), writer
University of Helsinki’s Historical material, Co-ordinator 2007–2012
Medi-Heli ry’s  (Helicopter Emergency medical service) History of Medi-Heli project, researcher 2013
History of Helsinki’s Finnish Adult Education Centre of the City of Helsinki project, researcher 2013–2014

Research interests
In general: Urban history, history of local administration, history of healthcare, history of education
In particular: Urban communities and urban life during crisis, history of medical profession, history of civil defence and emergency services, history of adult education

Awards and special accomplishments
University of Helsinki’s Koskimies Foundation Award for best Doctoral thesis, 2014

Photo: Pekka Lähteenmäki
Written by Samu Nyström and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

The byways of postgraduate research – and finally a completed doctoral thesis

For Samu Nyström, becoming a history researcher was a combination of clearly-established goals and coincidences.

– The topic for my postgraduate research emerged out of my master's thesis, which dealt with two working communities in Helsinki during the crisis facing society in 1917-1918. There was a hole the size of a metropolitan community in what was an otherwise much-researched period, so the topic for my thesis became the period of crisis in urban life in Helsinki during the First World War and Finnish Civil War.

Nyström’s aim was to complete his postgraduate studies quickly - the topic was already familiar and he managed to secure funding for the project relatively early. But then one thing led to another, and soon Nyström found himself sidetracked when he was commissioned to research the history of the capital's emergency care system.

And next on the list was the Lääkärit suomalaisessa yhteiskunnassa ('A history of the medical profession in Finnish Society') history project for the Finnish Medical Association in 2007; Nyström was chosen to run and edit this extensive piece of research. The project, carried out by Nyström and a team of three young researchers (Ilkka Levä PhD, Sari Aalto MA, and Oona Ilmolahti MA), was both educational and inspiring. Nyström is extremely proud of the resulting study, Vapaus, terveys, toveruus. Lääkärit Suomessa 1910–2010 ('Freedom, health, camaraderie. Physicians in Finland in 1910-2010').

– Our community of four young researchers found, at least in our opinion, many new angles on the topic, one which has also attracted international interest.

In addition to completing his doctoral thesis, over the next few years Nyström also conducted research on, among other things, the rescue services and civil defence. Thus the idea of quickly completed postgraduate studies was, partially by chance, traded for a variety of projects on the margins. But even though his was not a textbook example of how to get a doctorate, Nyström is happy with the outcome.

– When I eventually completed my thesis in 2013, I already had plenty of experience in researching and  writing non-fiction books. And since I had made given loads of presentations and taught at the University during those years, defending my thesis turned out to be not such a nerve-wracking event.

Photo: Samu Nyström​

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