Emma graduated from the University of Helsinki with a Masters in Theoretical Physics at the age of 22. Part of her studies she completed at Freie University in Berlin, and there she was introduced to biophysics. She continued her research degree at the Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University) earning a DSc (PhD) in Computational Biophysics in 2007. Part of the research was carried out at UC Davis. She has minors in Chemistry and Biochemistry.
During her studies she was active in civil society, volunteering for Finnish UNICEF. Towards the end of her PhD she was vice-chair and later chair of the Helsinki volunteers (some 100 members). This engaged her in questions about sustainable development , women’s and children’s rights, as well as hands-on experience in fundraising, awareness-building, educational, business and media events. She was also co-founder of the graphical design consulting firm Terama Oy.
In 2007 she was awarded a 18 month mobility grant by the Academy of Finland to pursue a new line of research in Demography. She chose IIASA as the location because of the excellence in Sustainable Population and Environment research carried out there. She was also chair of the Staff Association in 2008. Emma’s work at IIASA propelled her to a 3-year fellowship to develop her own thinking around combining quantitative Population and Environment research. This period she spent initially at University of Amsterdam AISSR with an affiliation with the Finnish Environment Institute, and later on at the UCL Environment Institute led by Prof Rydin. In Amsterdam she was involved in teaching Introduction to Development Studies (IDS) and did field work in Mumbai.
In the UK she has consulted for BIS on the Future of Cities and Corpra (now part of Concerto) for an Engineering & Technology learned society View of the Future project. She has worked on EU & Academy funded projects around Urban and Climate issues. She held a project with PI Prof Collins funded by the EPSRC on Impact of Science on Public Policy in 2013 and was awarded a Kone foundation personal grant in December 2013 to advance her research in socio-environmental modelling.