Professor Paula Vanninen

Professor Vanninen is the director of VERIFIN (Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention), an institute at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Helsinki. VERIFIN is dedicated to developing analysis methods for hazardous chemicals, including toxic chemicals, chemical warfare agents (CWAs), their precursors, and degradation products from variety of environmental, biomedical, and biota matrices. NMR, liquid chromatography- and gas chromatography- high resolution or tandem mass spectrometry are used in structure elucidation of unknown studied chemicals. Structure of these chemicals is verified either by own synthesis or reference spectra. Internationally developed and tested recommended operating procedures (ROPs) for verification analysis of chemical disarmament were published in 2011 and 2017, coordinated by Professor Vanninen. These ROPs are the basis for accreditation and analysis of CWAs in laboratories worldwide. Professor Vanninen has served as an expert in the Scientific Advisory Board of the OPCW (2010-2016) and its temporary working groups (2005-2019). She completed her PhD in the University of Oulu after doctoral research at TNO-CIVO Institute and Leiden University, the Netherlands, in 1988-1990. Her doctoral thesis in 1992 covered methods of organic mass spectrometry, providing a good basis for developing her expertise in the CWA analytics. Prof. Vanninen’s research has focused on sea dumped chemical weapons to explore the environmental and marine biota effects of CWAs leaking in the Baltic Sea and on chemical attribution analysis.

In addition to her research and administrative activities, professor Vanninen has trained international specialists in the identification and analysis of CWAs. In addition, she has supervised numerous PhD and MSc students. Prof. Vanninen holds an honorary PhD degree in National Defence University of Finland and in 2022 she is granted an honorary PhD degree in University of Oulu.