Hannu Koskinen: Candidacy for CODATA Executive Committee

This is the fifth in the series of short statements from candidates in the forthcoming CODATA Elections. Hannu Koskinen is a new candidate for the CODATA Executive Committee as an Ordinary Member.  He was nominated by the Finnish CODATA National Committee.

Koskinen HannuPersonal background and expertise

I am currently the Head of the Department of Physics at the University of Helsinki (UH/PHYS). It is a large physics department (about 300 employees, 35 professors). Our staff is deeply involved in CODATA-related research in elementary particle physics (in collaboration with Helsinki Institute of Physics, which is responsible for the Finnish CERN-activities), in space sciences (ESA and ESO activities), in atmospheric research and climate change (in collaboration with the Finnish Meteorological Institute) as well as in materials research (e.g., simulations of surface phenomena).

My scientific background is in theoretical and experimental space plasma physics. During my professional career of more than 35 years I have participated in about dozen scientific instruments onboard ESA, Swedish and Russian spacecraft to the near-Earth space, Mars, Venus, and comet Churymov-Gerasimenko as well as in the future ESA mission to Mercury. In addition, I have had administrative roles in other missions: of particular relevance to CODATA is my membership of the Steering Committee of ESA’s upcoming dark-energy mission EUCLID. My institute has the responsibility for one of the data centres that will be located in Finland. As a space scientist I have witnessed the evolution from the modest data volumes in the 1980s to the explosion of present-day data sets.

While I have no previous involvement in CODATA activities, I have long experience in national committees of ICSU-related organizations COSPAR, IUGG and URSI, having served 12 years (2000 – 2011) as the Chairman of the COSPAR National Committee and the Finnish COSPAR Council Delegate. Furthermore, I have wide experience in various committees of ESA (e.g., 13 years as the national Delegate in the Science Programme Committee and 3 years as the Chair of the Programme Board of the Space Situational Awareness Programme) where big data issues, including data quality and policy, have often been dealt with.


The explosion of the data volumes is a key challenge in today’s and future scientific research practically in all fields of research. This requires clear and efficient data policies and practices and significant intellectual investments at the frontiers of data science. These two priorities in the CODATA strategy must not be seen as separate issues, as data management and distribution are useless without novel methods in dealing with data and, vice versa, the grand scientific challenges cannot be met without access to the best data sets. The third priority, to mobilize the data capacity to low and medium income countries is of utmost importance and urgent to deal with due to the major societal grand challenges (climate change, megacities, etc.) these countries are facing.

A central issue in all these segments is open data and how the openness and strict requirements of data quality and reliability can be fit together. If elected to the Executive Committee I would emphasize in particular the questions of open data.  As the first Executive Committee member from Finland, I would work in close collaboration with the newly established National Committee for Research Data that is representing my country in CODATA on behalf of the Council of Finnish Academies.

Hannu Koskinen
University of Helsinki, Department of Physics