Alex Jung is an assistant professor for Machine Learning at Aalto university, and active member in FUURT’s member association ATTE. He is also active on social media, with around 26 000 followers on LinkedIn. Alex makes daily walks in the forest, which helps him to avoid homesickness due to missing his home country Austria and the Alps.
1. Who are you and what is your task within FUURT?
My name is Alexander (call me Alex) Jung and I am from Austria. I obtained a Ph.D. (with sub auspiciis) in electrical engineering in 2012 from Technical University Vienna. Since 2015, I am an assistant professor at the Department of Computer Science of Aalto University where I lead the group “Machine Learning for Big Data”. We study and develop GDPR compliant machine learning methods for important application domains such as social networks or the internet of things. I am also passionate about teaching machine learning and have been selected as the department’s Teacher of the Year in 2018. My research efforts so far will be culminated in the upcoming textbook “Machine Learning: The Basics”.
Since 2019 I am a member of the board of ATTE (Aalto University of University Researchers) and in 2021 I represent ATTE also in the FUURT board. On both local and national level, I participate in the preparation of different activities and decision-making. The board’s role is also to prepare matters for joint decision-making in union meetings. On both local and national level, union meetings are the highest decision-making bodies in our organisation.
2. How do you view the activities of the Union from your own perspective?
I view the union as a strong partner and service provider for the employees at Finnish universities. The union provides agency for fixed-term employees, such as early-stage tenure track researchers, that are exposed to immense pressure due the highly competitive nature of the modern tenure track systems. We junior tenure tracker have to compete with senior (tenured) professors in extremely competitive funding calls. Moreover, in contrast to tenured professors, non-tenured professors are pressured to contribute significantly to teaching as it is a central part of their promotion evaluations.
3. What topical issues are currently on your desk?
The general collective agreement of the universities will terminate on 31 March 2022. A main issue will be the preparation for the bargaining that starts during autumn 2021.
4. What does it mean to you to have an active role in FUURT/ATTE and of which aspects of your work are you especially proud?
I am passionate about making our union and its offerings more visible to employees at universities. For example, I regularly post about our union in my social media channels, mostly on LinkedIn where I have around 26000 followers. I was also happy to have ATTE organizing a casual Pizza event at Aalto University as a new form of outreach to attract new members. The role of unions is crucial for ensuring healthy and productive workplaces at Finnish universities. My mission is to offer a low-threshold contact point for early-stage tenure track researchers who are not aware of the existence and offerings of FUURT.
5. What do you do during your free time?
I enjoy hiking in the beautiful Finnish nature such as in Nuuksio or around my home in Vuosaari. A daily walk up the Vuosaari hippo helps to avoid homesickness due to missing Alps. Much of my free time is also devoted to my three kids who grow up way too fast.
The Five questions article series takes a peek at the everyday operation of the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers through Union personnel and member association activists.