PI perustanut Johan Gullichsen -palkintorahaston nuorten tutkijoiden ja opiskelijoiden tukemiseksi


Johan “Jussi” Gullichsen, Professor Emeritus of Pulping Technology, Honorary Doctor in Technology and long-time Chairman of the Board of Directors of the A. Ahlström companies, passed away on Saturday 13 May 2023 in Somero, Finland.

Gullichsen was born in Pihlava on 28 June 1936 to the Ahlström industrial family and spent his childhood at Villa Mairea in Noormarkku. In 1958, he married Anna Ramsay, and they got three children. Jussi graduated as a Master of Science from Åbo Akademi University in 1962 and was granted an honorary doctorate in 1988.

Internationally esteemed developer of wood processing and iconic professor

At the start of his career, Gullichsen was focused on process and factory design and founded a consulting firm together with Bengt Arhippainen. The most significant innovation of his career is the medium consistency (MC) technology that enables the operating of large and efficient pulp mills. In total, he registered over 60 patents and published over 180 scientific articles. Among his great achievements was also acting as one of the two editors-in-chief for a 19-volume international textbook series.

Gullichsen worked in education since the 1970s, for example introducing pulp technology students to using computer simulations in factory design. Since Jussi joined as a professor at the Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University) in 1989, pulp technology became considerably more attractive as a major subject. Having an interest in students, he participated in guild activities and, for example, several study trips abroad. Supporting young researchers was close to his heart, and so the research colloquium and research award bearing his name were initiated.

Johan Gullichsen was rewarded with many accolades during his distinguished career. In 1986, he was given the most prestigious international award in the forest industry, the Marcus Wallenberg Prize. In addition, he has received awards such as the Finnish Engineering Prize of the Year (1984) and the Lampén Medal (2004), as well as been invited to the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame (2005). The Finnish Forest Products Engineers’ Association invited Johan Gullichsen to become its honorary member in 2014.

An awarded sailor in his father’s footsteps

Jussi Gullichsen’s favourite pastime was sailing. His father Harry was a renowned racing sailor, giving his son a good starting point. Jussi’s first boat was a wing type dinghy, which he started his racing career with in the waters of Pori’s yacht club. Already at the age of 12, Jussi sailed his first cruise from Pori around the Åland Islands with a group of friends of the same age.

School brought Jussi to Helsinki, and, in the mid-1950s, his mother Maire got the sons a 5.5 boat. The boat was named after the North Star and it began the successful racing career that did not end for him until over 50 years later.

In 1964, Jussi participated in the Tokyo Olympics in the 5.5 class, placing 6th. In 1986, he returned to competitive sailing, founding the crew of Tre Gubbar with members Peter Fazer and Robert Mattson in the 5.5 class. The boat had great success, winning that summer the King Olav’s Cup in Norway, taking silver in the European Championship in Helsinki and then victory again in the Gold Cup. Jussi’s accomplishments in the 5.5 class continued, for example in winning silver in the 2005 Sydney World Championships. 

As a quick-witted and demanding skipper, Jussi always managed to steer the boat through the waves. Still, the atmosphere on the boat was always relaxed and spiced with good humour. Jussi got along with everyone, inspired them and gained their trust. He was a central figure in his wide circle of friends who remained close through all stages of life.

A life-long researcher and unifying force of the family

At family estate in Palikainen, Jussi experimented with all manner of things. With fields dammed from the coasts of Painiojärvi, he grew, for example, reed canary grass for the fibre research of the Helsinki University of Technology. The successful farming of these fields led the astonished locals to promote them to the “Professor’s fields”, having initially called them humorously and a bit mockingly the “Engineer’s fields”. Jussi also boasted about having been Finland’s largest cannabis farmer when the university’s fields in Viikki were used to grow fibre hemp for technological research purposes of Helsinki University of Technology.

He never fully retired, even though he relinquished most of his duties. At his farm, he always took part in the timber trade, although he had stepped down from the position of main business responsibility twenty years earlier. He was passionate about his farm’s wood chip heating centre, as well as his small-scale power plant based on wood chip gasification. He was active in supporting the plant’s technical development, wanting to use it to prove that local energy raw materials can be used to produce electricity and heat efficiently around the clock for the needs of the village around the estate.

Jussi’s favourite way to spend his free time was in the outer archipelago of Kemiö. Even there, he cultivated personal relationships and made friends with the local islanders. These friendships were also highly important to him, and he often liked telling the stories and legends passed to him by the islanders.

To the Ahlström family, Jussi was an important unifying force, and his expertise and judgment were held in high regard. He strongly represented the family’s values and worked on the boards of the family company and different foundations for almost four decades.

Panu Tikka
Pirkko Molkentin-Matilainen
Antti Lindqvist
Robert Mattson
Johannes Gullichsen