Sent: Sun, 12 December, 2010 12:42:37
Subject: Science in Bulgaria, specifically earth sciences

Respected Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Boiko Borissov,
Respected Chairwoman of the Bulgarian Parliament, Mrs. Tsetska Tsacheva,

After some hesitation, I have just signed the petition “No to the financial strangulation of science in Bulgaria” ( Please let me add a personal specification for your attention.

For the last 12 years I have collaborated continually with some of the most active geology professors at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” (P. M., I. P., P. P., Z. I, the late I. Bonev and others), on geological investigations of the rich mineral resources in your country. These scientists and their graduate students have together spent several work-years in my laboratory at ETH Zurich, whereas my collaborators and I worked were hosted for field studies in your country. This cooperation led to internationally published results of industrial importance, and to the investment into major new lab facilities in your country. It also built some strong personal friendships among young people in Bulgaria and Switzerland.

I was hesitating to sign the petition because I also believe, as you seem to believe, that significant reorganisation is probably required. This might well lead to the disappearance of the Academy as a separate research institution, even though it presently hosts the strongest scientists in your country, whom you cannot afford to lose. Dismantling the Academy is, in my personal opinion, a viable option ONLY IF the reorganisation leads to the building of ONE STRONG RESEARCH CENTER IN EARTH SCIENCES that also includes the EDUCATION OF FUTURE TALENTS FOR BULGARIAN SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY. I am a strong believer in the combined teaching and research role of UNIVERSITIES. But university departments can only be successful if they are given the financial support AND academic freedom to use their funds to select the ACTIVE Academy scientists and additional young professors into attractive new positions. I know several scientific leaders of Bulgarian nationality, who presently work abroad because their home country does not offer them any possibility to return and build an influential research and teaching group in Bulgaria. Attracting some of the them back would be a prime indicator for the success of any reform that you are planning.

In conclusion: reform yes, but as part of a well-funded, long-term plan to retain and build essential talent in science and technology for Bulgaria.

Thanking you for your attention, yours respectfully,

Christoph Heinrich
Professor of Economic Geology

Prof. Christoph A. Heinrich
Institut für Geochemie und Petrologie
Departement Erdwissenschaften
ETH Zurich
Clausiusstr. 25,  8092 Zurich,  Switzerland