Sarhimaa got her Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Helsinki in 1999 and was nominated a Docent (Germ. Privatdozentin) in Finnic languages and linguistics at the Faculty of Humanities of the Helsinki University in 2002. She has studied and worked in Finland, Russia, the Netherlands and Germany, and has broad international academic experience and wide cooperation networks within and outside of Europe.
Sarhimaa’s linguistic expertise lies in the fields of empirical and contact linguistics, (with the focus on languages of northwestern Russia), areal linguistics and sociolinguistics (with the focus on the Circum-Baltic area), European, Nordic and Baltic language policies, discourse linguistics and critical discourse analysis (esp. minority identities, their discursive construction and linguistic manifestation), and literary linguistics.