The Team

Nice that you came to see who we are! We are real academics and a mix of burners, future burners and artists.

Project lead Dr. Jukka-Pekka Heikkilä from Aalto University is a hands-on scholar who focuses on entrepreneurship in extreme settings and situations. He holds Royal Society Newton Fellowship (UK), British Academy Fellow and Academy of Finland post-doctoral Fellowship positions. He has been involved with Burning Man since 2013 and recently as a co-creator in Finnish Burning Man projects Koulu The School and Space on Fire. On the other end of extreme settings, Jukka-Pekka has taught entrepreneurship courses and organized science diplomacy events in North Korea 2012 - 2017 and recently launched WTSUP! initiative to foster equality in the Middle East via entrepreneurship education. In Finland, he works with The Shortcut initiative, an organization that promotes immigrant integration to the society via entrepreneurship education. His work has been published in the Journal of World Business, Environment Planning A and Journal of Strategic Information Systems. In Burning Stories, Jukka-Pekka aims to bridge the wisdom of academia and the wisdom of the Burner community and co-create new ways of disseminating high-quality research. Academic interest is simply on understanding more of Burning Man´s impact on individuals and society.

Dr. Myrto Chliova has been working as an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Aalto University School of Business since 2015. Her research focuses on how entrepreneurship and emergent organizations can help tackle grand social challenges such as poverty, inequality, and the refugee crisis. Her work on developing and scaling ventures in the base of the pyramid and on the impact of microloans on entrepreneurs’ quality of life has been published in the Journal of Business Venturing and the Academy of Management Perspectives, and received the Journal of Small Business Management Award for the best paper on the topic of Public Policy. In current research projects she is exploring the emergence of social entrepreneurship, the evolution of grassroots organizations addressing refugee integration challenges, as well as the outcomes of prosociality among mainstream entrepreneurs. She has held visiting scholar positions at the Wharton Business School in the United States and Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. Her academic interest in Burning Man is related to the power of inspiration and identification that the event, movement, and idea of Burning Man generate in Burners, despite their sometimes wide personal differences.

Dr. Ewald Kibler is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Aalto University Business School and holds an Academy of Finland Fellowship position. Ewald’s research is pronouncedly multi-disciplinary, applying theories from psychology, sociology, and geography. His main research interests are at the intersection of entrepreneurship, sustainability, culture and wellbeing. His research has been published in outlets such as the Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Economic Geography, and Environment & Planning A. He collaborates with policy-makers and practitioners, including advising the OECD, the European Commission and Eurostat on entrepreneurship matters. Ewald’s passion for doing research on the Burning Man community relates to the importance of developing our understanding of how (entrepreneurial) communities evolve, organize themselves and help people contribute to their own and societal wellbeing.

Dr. Farah Kodeih is currently a visiting Assistant Professor at Aalto University School of Business, department of Management Studies. Her research explores how organizations experience, respond to, and strategically leverage institutional pressures and disruptions, using a number of theoretical frameworks, which include various strands of institutional theory, organizational identity, categorization, and temporality. She has examined disruptive changes in various organizational fields, including internationalization of business schools, new demands for sustainability in the financial industry, and non-profit organizations that have mobilized to respond to the recent refugee crisis and counter the marginalization faced by individual refugees in their new host countries. Her work has been published in outlets such as Organization Studies, The Academy of Management Annals, Journal of Management Development. She is passionate about the Burning Man research opportunity. This multidisciplinary project can shed light on temporary organizing as a basis for identity work, identification dynamics and institutional change.

Dr. Frank Martela is a philosopher and researcher specialized in meaning in life, happiness, compassion, prosocial behavior, and how to organize in order to unleash human potential and flourishing. During 2012-2014 he was a visiting scholar at the Human Motivation Research Group of University of Rochester, looking at what makes human beings intrinsically motivated to help other people. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University, Finland. Frank is a popular speaker and writer, who has written three books for the general audience in Finland. He is also one of the founders and current chairman of the board of Filosofian Akatemia Oy, a company that specializes in measuring engagement and motivation at work, and consulting organizations on how to improve them. He has published in academic journals such as the Journal of Personality, Journal of Positive Psychology, Metaphilosophy and Organization Studies. He is interested in Burning Man as a place that allows humans to organize in ways that brings out the best in people: Their capacity for self-expression and connecting with others.

Dr. Virva Salmivaara is a postdoctoral researcher at the Entrepreneurship Research Group at Aalto University School of Business in Helsinki, Finland. Having a background in business studies as well as social sciences (communications, social psychology, ethics), her research interests focus on understanding the discourses, changes and challenges in societies at large, and the role of entrepreneurship as an element of wider societal contexts. In her doctoral thesis she explored the legitimacy of entrepreneurship in sustainable development debates, and currently she works with projects that, for instance, assess the ways through which migrants/refugees can engage in entrepreneurship. Virva has been involved in the Burning Stories project since early 2018, and she has become deeply enthusiastic about the experiences of the Burners since carrying out interviews within the Finnish community. Virva is part of studying the Space on Fire project.

Dr. Elina Koivisto has her PhD from Aalto University School of Business, Finland. Elina is specialized in branding and customer experience in creative contexts. Within Burning Man community, she has been one of the co-creators of Koulu School and Space on Fire projects. Elina´s interest is on Burning Man & brand discussion.

Terje Toomistu is a PhD Candidate at the University of Tartu, Department of Ethnology. She holds MA degrees (cum laude) in Ethnology and in Communication Studies from University of Tartu. In 2013-2014, she was a Fulbright fellow at the University of California Berkeley, US., and in 2017-2018 a visiting researcher at the University of Amsterdam, Department of Anthropology. Her current main areas of research are Indonesian gender and sexuality and the sub-cultural youth movements in late Soviet-era. She is also a documentary filmmaker with a filmography including Wariazone (2011), Archeology of Ayahuasca (2016) and her most recent award-winning Soviet Hippies (2017). Terje is part of Border Stories initiative, reflecting on the gathered stories, the project and the Burning Man as a phenomenological experience anthropologically, following her special fields of interest in subcultural movements, subjectivity and life stories.

Hugi Asgeirsson creates software tools and methods for creative and decentralized communities and leads projects in social innovation and community building. He is on the board of The Borderland, co-founder of Urban Burn, Director of Edgeryders Participio development lab and Edgeryders Nordic unit. Hugi is also part of the Border Stories initiative.

Peter Tapio is a product developer and maker at heart, with strong experience of practical development projects in an academic setting. He has a long history with Aalto University and has participated globally in events to teach and learn creative methods and product development. Peter is also an entrepreneur involved in several startups in a technical or strategic role. He took his passion for building new things to the next level by participating in art projects that allow for creative use of technology and is currently engaged in projects at University of Turku and CERN. Peter has been a co-creator, organiser and techie in projects, Pike, Koulu The School and Space on Fire that were brought to Burning Man from Finland 2015-2017. Peter is providing technical resources for the Burning Stories research project.

Kalle Oja is a carpenter-artist, who was the building lead in Space on Fire and has done installations for Helsinki Decompression. He works frequently with contemporary art museums in and around the Helsinki area. He recently worked with on an installation in Finnish Modern Museum Kiasma by the NY based Icelandic artist Shoplifter, see the piece here. In 2019 spring he was in involved in Venice Biennale, co-creating the Icelandic Pavilion by Shoplifter. Kalle gets inspired by blending traditional structures with arts and working with cross-disciplinary projects. Border Stories Story Sharing cubes are brought to you by this guy!

Burning Stories Team members
[down from right Farah & Ewald, up from right, Frank, Jukka-Pekka & Peter]