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”
(http://www.science.nauka2010.com). 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
Thanking you for your attention,
Professor of Economic Geology
Prof. Christoph A. Heinrich
Institut für Geochemie und Petrologie
Clausiusstr. 25, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland