The Finnish Colour Association celebrates International Colour Day 2023 by awarding the Association’s Iiris Prize to Professor Markku Hauta-Kasari for his work in the field of colour science. Dr Hauta-Kasari’s first contact with colour research happened in 1989–94 at the University of Kuopio, Finland, while he was studying for a master’s degree in computer science. As a member of the colour research team he was able to utilize spectrometric data taken from colour samples in the Munsell Book of Color to complete his specialisation studies in computer science. Hauta-Kasari’s interest in colour research remained strong and he completed his doctoral research and postgraduate studies at Lappeenranta University of Technology in the spring of 1995. The colour research group of which Hauta-Kasari was a member had good contacts with Japanese research groups. Thus, he completed half of his doctoral thesis at Saitama University in Japan, and after returning home in autumn 1998, finished the research part of his thesis in Finland. 

Hauta-Kasari received his doctorate in “Computational Techniques for Spectral Image Analysis” in May 1999. The thesis combined spectral imaging photonics and computer science, with a key sub-study on spectrally tunable light sources. After obtaining his doctorate, Hauta-Kasari was appointed assistant professor at the University of Joensuu in autumn 1999. At this stage, Hauta-Kasari’s colour research group was concentrated in Joensuu in Eastern Finland. Its research infrastructure was one of the most important research laboratories in its field, even by international standards. 

Dr Hauta-Kasari’s career progressed from senior assistant professor and research director to professor of computational colour science in 2013. Hauta-Kasari was Head of the Department of Computer Science in 2014-21 and from 2022, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Science and Forestry, with responsibility for undergraduate education. Dr Hauta-Kasari has also been a researcher and responsible director in several research projects on supplementary funding. His teaching activities have been in the field of computer science, in particular in the Erasmus Mundus Computational Colour and Spectral Imaging (COSI) joint master’s programme, which started in 2008. In this Erasmus Mundus programme around 20 colour professionals graduate each year and are employed in the colour research industry. Dr Hauta-Kasari has supervised 15 doctoral theses and has been involved in more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications. In addition, Hauta-Kasari has been involved in a large number of research projects in collaboration with other universities and industry. Currently, the Biocolour STN project, funded by the Academy of Finland, and the Academy of Finland’s Profi6 project in the field of photonics are ongoing. The Profi6 project focuses on spectral imaging of the fundus (the eyeground, the interior surface of the back of the eye).

This was the eleventh time the Finnish Colour Association awarded the Iiris Prize. The Prize is awarded annually on 21st March to a person or persons whose work or deed has created an outstanding colour experience or has noticeably improved the aesthetic appreciation, functionality or safety of people’s daily lives or environment or whose research has markedly increased knowledge about colour.