Presenting NeIC’s Executive team

NeIC is an organisational unit under NordForsk, a Nordic organisation that funds and facilitates Nordic research cooperation and research infrastructure. NeIC was established as part of NordForsk in 2012. To consolidate its sustainability, a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between NordForsk and the five national research councils in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. In 2020, Estonia also joined the agreement and has since been a member of the collaboration.

While NeIC’s office is technically speaking located within NordForsk’s headquarters in Oslo, the actual management structure of NeIC is distributed. NeIC has a board that consists of representatives from DeiC, ETAIS, CSC, RHnet, Sigma2 and SNIC – the national e-infrastructure provider organisations in Nordic countries and Estonia – and has been given the mandate to make strategic decisions over NeIC. The board usually meets four times a year, and their meeting minutes are public. The everyday management, project office and implementation of the strategy is handled by the executive team.

NeIC’s executive team consists of seven specialists coming from Norway, Finland and the US. The team meets on a weekly basis and discusses current issues, activities in NeIC’s project portfolio, the strategy and ways to implement it, and upcoming opportunities.

Photo: Mikael Kanerva, CSC - IT Center for Science

Gudmund Høst, Director

Gudmund Høst took the position as NeIC’s director in 2012. He previously worked as a special advisor on research infrastructure for the Research Council of Norway and has a M.Sc. in applied mathematics and PhD in statistics.

– Working with engaged and talented people across the Nordic-Baltic region is a wonderful experience. The community is continuously growing and deepening, always eager to tackle new opportunities of common interest, Høst says.

Mari Arnesen, Administrative coordinator

Mari Arnesen joined NeIC and NordForsk in January 2022. As the administrative coordinator of NeIC she is the connection point between NeIC and the many partner organisations. Supporting the projects and activities as well as overseeing the diverse administrative tasks are essential in running the everyday work in NeIC.

Arnesen’s background is in psychology, and she has previously worked with research in developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

– Having worked within research and using services like services for sensitive data (TSD), I know how important good infrastructure services are for researchers. I really appreciate having colleagues from all over the Nordics and learning more about the Nordic Region, she says.

Tomasz Malkiewicz, Executive manager & project portfolio manager

Tomasz Malkiewicz joined NeIC as an executive manager in 2017. Between 2017 and 2019, he has been in charge of the Resource Sharing focus area, and the broader area of ensuring strong Nordic collaboration projects in the current strategy.

Malkiewicz coordinates NeIC’s project portfolio, including activities related to EuroHPC, EOSC, sensitive data and pandemic research, and works on initiating new projects in partnership with national e-infrastructure providers and research communities. He has been instrumental in developing and implementing NeIC’s system for benefits realisation management.

Malkiewicz has been a member of the management group of CSC - IT Center for Science since 2016. He is a former project manager for the Finnish Grid and Cloud Infrastructure and the Good Utilization of Finnish Supercomputing Resources projects.

Rob Pennington, Special advisor & project owner

Rob Pennington joined NeIC as a special advisor in 2015 and is working as project owner. He has also worked in the areas of strategy, funding applications, and the annual open calls. Each of these involves a different aspect of collaborations and networks for developing e-infrastructure to support researchers in a range of domains, and has been an opportunity to see different approaches and ideas.

Pennington’s background is in astronomy, high performance computing and administration. Being part of NeIC has been a chance for him to learn from people who are working on topics that have benefits to researchers and to the larger society.

Abdulrahman Azab, Senior advisor & project owner

Abdulrahman Azab works as a Chief Engineer at the Department for Research Infrastructure Services, University Centre for Information Technology (USIT) at the University of Oslo. He joined NeIC in 2014 as a sensitive data infrastructure specialist in the Nordic sensitive data services project, Tryggve. In 2017, he joined Tryggve2 as a sub-project manager, then as a project manager in 2020. He started as a project manager for the project for Nordic Pandemic Research Infrastructure (PaRI) in 2020 and joined the executive team after the project ended in 2021.

Azab is a member of NeIC’s project management office and works as project owner for the Nordic WLCG Tier-1 facility, NICEST2, EOSC-Nordic, PaRI-affiliate, and the FAIR data activity. In collaboration with Jesse Oikarinen, Azab is the technical coordinator of the Nordic Expert Network on EU collaboration. In addition to his work in NeIC, Azab is a member of the EuroHPC LUMI User Support Team (LUST) where he leads the HPC containers work, and coordinates the EuroHPC containers forum. He is also contributing to multiple EOSC projects.

Azab’s background is in electronics, automatic control systems, high-performance computing, grid computing, cloud computing, and cyber security. His work with NeIC has been a great chance for him to gain a lot of technical, management, collaboration, and communication skills in addition to building a strong network of exports and scientists. He says he really enjoys working with the wonderful and committed team of experts in NeIC.

Jesse Oikarinen, Senior advisor

Oikarinen joined NeIC in May 2022 as senior advisor supporting the executive team in investigating different collaboration opportunities to expand the Nordic e-infrastructure collaboration in new directions. He has a background in Social Sciences and a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Tampere. He has worked in different positions at CSC since 2017.

He points out that working in NeIC offers a great opportunity to utilise existing knowledge related to RDI (Research, Development and Innovation) funding and projects to support NeIC in its ambitions regarding new collaborations. It also enables further development of collaboration between NeIC and CSC.

– The time at CSC has given a great chance to support Finnish research, and I find the possibility to support research beyond national efforts through NeIC very motivating, Oikarinen says.

Vilma Häkkinen, Communications advisor

Since 2019, NeIC has had a communications advisor whose primary job is to support the administration, project office and activities in increasing awareness of NeIC and its impact. The communications advisor is in charge of the production of NeIC’s annual reports, news articles, social media posts and many events and presentations. The communications advisor also oversees parts of NeIC’s strategic implementation, such as activities related to strategic communication and building the work culture.

Vilma Häkkinen studied Finnish language at the University of Tampere in Finland and specialised in organisational communication. She started working first at CSC’s and then, during her exchange period in Oslo, NeIC’s communications before getting her MA in 2020. For her, working with topics related to e-infrastructure is very interesting and most of all educational, and she highly appreciates the culture of openness and transparency that NeIC nurtures.

– Working in NeIC has taught me so much about things I don’t think I would have otherwise even encountered. In addition, this job has always felt like I’m doing something meaningful and contributing to a greater, common good, Häkkinen says.