Oksen Vasyliovych, what, in your opinion, is the current state of Ukrainian science?
It is difficult to evaluate science in general, because each industry has its own peculiarities. However, I would note one common point: it is a problem of “ageing” of our science, which, in particular, directly affects the ability to generate innovative ideas. In my opinion, this phenomenon is mainly caused by the lack of attractiveness and prestige of scientific work, low pay and lack of support programs for young scientists, who are forced to give their preference to other fields of activities.
What steps need to be taken to enable talented young people to unlock their scientific potential?
It is appropriate to distinguish three main areas: children’s interest in science, comprehensive support programs for young scientists and the concept “Citizen science”.
First, in the context of decentralization, local authorities should allocate sufficient funds for extracurricular education programs aimed at involving students in scientific activities. Second, Ukraine desperately needs a comprehensive support program for young scientists that will address a number of key issues: problem of housing, decent wages, etc. In addition, domestic scientific institutions should be able to network with world research centres, because science is borderless!
The concept “Citizen science” is not least important. People use a lot of habitual things every day, without even thinking about the fact that they have this opportunity due to numerous studies and inventions of scientists. The concept “Citizen science” consists of the involvement of amateur volunteers who do not necessarily have a special scientific education in research. Such measures are aimed at society’s understanding of the practical importance of science and the government’s awareness of the need for sufficient funding of current scientific developments.
What opportunities do the students of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine you lead have to influence the domestic science development?
The Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, which is subordinated to the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, ensures the organization of research work of students, enables their professional self-determination. Thus, the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine takes the actions to prevent the mentioned “ageing” of science. Recently, the state has sufficiently financed the activities of our Academy. However, it is impossible to cover all talented young Ukrainians by the organization only. Today, the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine unites up to 250,000 students. Only 90,000 of them attend after-school classes and sections on a regular basis, which is less than 20% of the Ukrainian students.
JSC Farmak and NC “JASU” signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. What is its purpose and why did the pharmaceutical company become your partner?
The successful knowledge-intensive companies are interested in cooperating with qualified young scientists, so they should assist to “seed fields” in advance. For example, in Germany, companies such as Volkswagen and Bayer create special children’s laboratories. Representatives of the Ukrainian business usually recruit experienced specialists, while students almost blindly choose EIT (external independent testing) subjects not earlier than in the tenth grade. Where do they get their motivation and love for the profession? This is when support from the knowledge-intensive business is needed. Thus, supporting talented young people, companies stimulate intellectual development, assist to build the scientific potential of the country, and thereby they will get qualified professionals in the future.
In addition, it is important to develop a culture of scientific entrepreneurship in Ukraine. We often observe how a student spends several years on his/her project, which, unfortunately, cannot be implemented, because the niche he/she claims is completely occupied, or the proposed solutions are not effective in practice. Support from the business sector will help to guide in the project relevance. Farmak is one of the few companies that are ready to invest in the scientific future – both of the Company and the country as a whole.
What is your cooperation with the Company?
Today we are interested in three areas: examination, career guidance and joint implementation of educational projects in chemistry, pharmacology and medicine. We recently organized a career guidance webinar: held a dialogue with children on various aspects in pharmacology. In the future, we expect an expert evaluation of our students’ work from the specialists of the research divisions of the Company and assistance with the implementation of educational projects in pharmacology. The cooperation with Farmak makes it easier to guide in relevance of new topics and developments, in which the students of our Academy engage, and the Company’s support of our young researchers inspires the rise of domestic science.