Seven Estonian researchers among the world’s most influential scientists

Clarivate, a company that identifies the world’s most influential scientists, has published its 2021 list that includes seven researchers related to Estonia, five of whom work at the University of Tartu.

The company identifies the researchers who have shown notable influence in their field and have also published multiple papers that rank in the top one per cent by citations.

All the University of Tartu researchers who made it onto the list work at the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences. The researchers are Kessy Abarenkov, an associate professor in biodiversity informatics; Mohammad Bahram, an associate professor in molecular ecology; Leho Tedersoo, a professor of mycorrhizal studies; Martin Zobel, a professor of plant ecology; and Frank Witlox, a visiting professor at the chair of human geography and regional planning.

The University of Tartu scientists who made it in the Clarivate list, clockwise from left: Kessy Abarenkov, Frank Witlox, Mohammad Bahram, Martin Zobel and Leho Tedersoo. Image by the University of Tartu.

The list also includes Ülo Niinemets, a researcher and academic at the Estonian University of Life Sciences; and Linda Hollebeek, an adjunct professor at the Tallinn University of Technology.

Ülo Niinemets, a researcher and academic at the Estonian University of Life Sciences, is also in the list. Picture by the Estonian University of Life Sciences.

Three Estonian researchers less than in 2020

“Citations of research articles are an important measure of the international impact of a researcher’s work. The more an article has been cited by other researchers, the more impact the research has had in the development of new knowledge,” Kalmer Lauk, an analyst of research and development at the University of Tartu, said in a statement.

There were three Estonian scientists less in the 2021 list than a year before. According to Lauk, the reasons for this are “statistical”.

“For instance, a year that was successful for researchers in terms of citations may have been left out of the analysis and new publications may have not yet been sufficiently cited. Or perhaps the field-based thresholds have increased for some reason and reaching them has become more complicated. Fluctuations are perfectly normal in the case of such overviews and indicators,” Lauk stated.

Estonian Genome Centre at the University of Tartu. The image is illustrative; photo by Renee Altrov.

Estonia has more influential scientists than Russia

Clarivate’s database includes only natural and social sciences. “Unfortunately, it does not take into consideration the field of humanities, which uses different citation practices. Identifying influential researchers and publications is more complicated there,” Lauk noted.

From Estonia’s neighbouring countries in the region, the list includes two researchers from Lithuania and Russia, 20 from Finland and 49 from Sweden.

Clarivate, once a division of Thomson Reuters, is a Philadelphia, US, and London, UK-based public analytics company.

Cover: Estonian scientist Leho Tedersoo, who is in the Clarivate’s most influential researchers list, showing off his early spring mushroom haul. Private collection.

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