“I believe that the long-term Country Project should be the Development of Romania through Knowledge”

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Interview with prof. univ. dr. eng. Adrian Badea, President of the Academy of Romanian Scientists

Mr President, what does the Academy of Romanian Scientists represent? How do you define this institution?

In March 1935, at the initiative of Professor Dr. Constantin Angelescu, an illustrious academic personality, prestigious doctor and important politician, a group of scientists founded the Romanian Academy of Sciences. The new academic structure obtained legal personality on 29 March 1935, which remained its birthday. In line with the founders’ intention and its mission, the role of the SAA was to participate in supporting scientific creation, “to help, encourage, guide and foster it”. Since its foundation, recognizing the role of the Romanian Academy as the supreme forum of science and culture, the new institution has aimed to have a collaborative relationship with the Romanian Academy, in a relationship of complementarity, towards the development of the academic movement in Romania and the development efforts through education, science and culture of Romanian civilization. It is worth quoting an excerpt from the feature article in No. 1 of the FAOA Bulletin, published in 1936, which clearly expresses this position: “Likewise, its coexistence with the Romanian Academy does not constitute any obstacle for either of the two institutions. The scientific section of the Romanian Academy, made up of a limited number of members, will be able to continue its role of coordinating scientific activity with that which is carried out in the literary and historical field, within the general framework of the national cultural efforts of the Romanian nation.” The ASR’s structure has been joined by leading personalities of Romanian science and research, as well as foreign scholars, including seven Nobel laureates. This evolution confirmed the vision of the founders, regarding the need to develop the academic movement, to create a wider framework for the development and consecration of scientific creation.

Following the dictates of history, in 1948, the Romanian Academy of Sciences was disbanded and assimilated, with 49 members, into the Romanian Academy, which in turn became the Academy of the Romanian People’s Republic. In 1956, on March 23, at the initiative of Academician Traian Săvulescu, President of the Romanian Academy, the Association of Romanian Scientists was founded, as a gesture of reparation for its dissolution and against the background of the need for a broader institutional framework for the activity of scientists.

After Romania’s return to democracy, 40 years after the founding of the Romanian Association of Scientists, the first congress of the Romanian Association of Scientists was held at the Palace of Parliament on 22-24 May 1996. At the proposal of General Prof. Dr. Vasile Cândea, the illustrious medical scientist and prestigious pioneer of cardiovascular surgery, President of the AOSR and the second founder of the institution, the General Assembly, in the presence of many members of the Romanian Academy, unanimously approved the return to the original title of “Academy”. By Law no. 31/2007, the AOSR became an institution of public interest, main authorizing officer, being defined as “a national forum, of scientific consecration, which gathers representative personalities of science” and as “the successor and sole legatee of the Romanian Academy of Sciences”.

Today, the AOSR is a complex institution with 13 sections and eight national branches, plus the US branch based in New York and the Chisinau branch. ADOR develops scientific research activities specific to each field, through its sections, carries out research programmes and projects, some dedicated to young researchers, organizes national and international scientific events, conferences, symposia, colloquia, round tables, debates. Today, the Academy of Romanian Scientists is an academic institution of excellence, which participates in the process of development of science and knowledge and, through this, in the development of Romania through knowledge. The scientific status of the AOSR, its value and positioning in the Romanian academic and scientific framework are attested, moreover, by the large number of citations of the works of its members, by its international visibility and by its constant position in the prestigious international SCIMAGO-Elsevier ranking, which evaluates and ranks the world’s universities and research institutes in terms of performance. According to SCIMAGO-Elsevier, The Academy of Romanian Scientists ranks 8th among research institutions in Romania. Only two institutions in the country feature in the top 800 places: The Romanian Academy, ranked 676th, and the Academy of Romanian Scientists, ranked 794th.

What is the work of a Academy of Romanian Scientists?

First of all, it must be said, according to our Statutes, the members of the AOSR do not bear the title of “academician”, a title to which only full members of the Romanian Academy are entitled. We make this clarification in order to avoid any confusion and to combat unfounded allegations that have appeared in the media, probably with the sole purpose of generating false tensions in the collaboration between the institutions.

To come to your question., AOSR members are academics, researchers and scientists, PhD supervisors, who have a complex activity, carried out in universities and research institutes. Our Academy is made up of leading university professors, prestigious researchers, nationally and internationally recognized personalities of academic education, science and knowledge. This recognition is also reflected in the high number of citations, which indicates the value of their scientific work and the international visibility they enjoy. In addition to the basic teaching and scientific work, our members are involved in the activities of our Academy, at the level of the sections and branches and at the central level, in programmes, projects and scientific events of national and international scope, covering a wide range of topics, in fundamental areas and in cutting-edge fields such as digitisation and Artificial Intelligence. In the recent ranking of the 2% most cited researchers in the world, 24 are members of our Academy. I don’t think many academic or research institutions in the country have such a performance.

What can you tell us about the AOSR Debates Project?

The “AOSR DEBATES” project was initiated by Academy of Romanian Scientists in 2017 and consists of a series of discussions on topics of priority interest for Romania today and for the future of the country, involving education, research, science and knowledge. These meetings are attended by representatives of academic and educational circles, scientists, researchers, experts, policy-makers, decision-makers, PhD students, Masters students, students, members of civil society, etc. Through the “AOSR Debates” project, the organizing institution creates an agora of personalities of academic and public life, representatives of Romanian society in its diversity, a space for dialogue on major issues, ideas and solutions and, last but not least, a framework for dialogue between generations. The fundamental objective of the Project is to create an academic, scientific, cultural and civic forum in which to identify and promote solutions for the development and affirmation of Romania in the European Union and the world.

Among the topics that were addressed at the AOSR Debates were: “Identity and national affirmation in the world of globalization”, “The role of small and medium enterprises in the development of the Romanian economy”, “Good governance, a way to increase resilience against hybrid threats”, “The Union of Bessarabia with Romania – an act of historical justice, a fundamental step towards the achievement of the Great Union”, “School, Church, Army – institutions with a fundamental role in the achievement of the Great Union”, “The exodus of young people – a threat to the future of Romania”, “The internal and external framework of the defence of Romania as a whole in 1919”, “Education, science and research – vectors of modernisation and development of Romania”., “The role of education and research in the European development of Romania” and others.

We have noticed from your activities that young people are important for the AOSR. What can you tell us about this?

Young people are very important for the Academy of Romanian Scientists and for Romanian society as a whole. For the simple reason that they represent the future of the country and the future in general. The important thing is to be aware of this truth and to take it on board in what we do. It is not enough just to share such a perspective, but we must act programmatically, at national level, as part of a broader vision, through public policies, initiatives and programmes, to create optimal conditions for the development of young people through quality education, for their integration and development in top careers in research, science, education and all fundamental fields, with a focus on the cutting edge areas of digital technology.

In the framework of this vision, the Academy of Romanian Scientists runs the annual research programme for young researchers at postdoctoral level. A substantial part of the budget of the Academy of Romanian Scientists is dedicated to this Program of fundamental importance for our Academy. In the 2023 selection process, more than 200 scientific projects were in competition at national level, from which we selected 26… Currently, 50 projects are underway involving diverse fields and themes, covering fundamental and cutting-edge areas of advanced research.

I should point out that the structures of the AOSR include many young and talented researchers, recommended by their scientific research achievements, as associate members, corresponding members or even full members, if we take the notion of “young” in a broader sense, above the age of 40.

Romania is a country rich in natural and human resources. One of the most important natural resources, so to speak, is intelligence. Our country has a great potential of intelligence in general and especially through the young generations. Through special programmes dedicated to young people, we aim to encourage and support this extraordinary potential for the benefit of science, education, research and development through knowledge.

In this context, one issue that concerns us at AOSR, and I think it should concern us all, is the exodus of exceptional young people, the migration of intelligence, the so-called “brain drain” phenomenon. This is a worrying phenomenon with serious medium and long-term effects for the future of the country. By these young people choosing not to return, integrating into successful careers abroad, Romania loses bright minds who could contribute to the country’s development process. This is why I believe that we should make it a priority to attract young people back, by integrating them into attractive professions and careers, by creating very good material and development conditions. A National Program dedicated to exceptional young people from abroad in order to reintegrate them into Romanian society would be, in our opinion, a national priority.

How do you see the role of science in Romania’s development?

For me, as a man who has dedicated my life to teaching, science and research, and for the Academy of Romanian Scientists, science, research, education and knowledge are the vector of development. We live in the Knowledge Society, we are in the age of Information Technology and AI, we are already talking about the 5th Industrial Revolution, of Artificial Intelligence. The European Union and today’s world conceive their development and evolution through Knowledge.

That is why I believe that the long-term Country Project should be “Development of Romania through Knowledge”. I am revealing that the Academy of Romanian Scientists is working on a project in this regard, which will be launched in the first months of the year, during the Congress of our Academy in 2024. To tie things in with the previous theme, I believe that the National Programme to attract young people to Romania should be a component of this Country Project.