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Why doing research in Romania is a brilliant idea

Sergiu Moroianu
Toulouse, France

 

Upon finishing my PhD, I took a research position at the Institute of Mathematics in Bucharest. I found the atmosphere at the Institute somewhat inspiring, the right mixture of pressure to publish, interdisciplinary interaction and pragmatic attitude towards mathematics. The last notion deserves some explanation. It happens only too often that people in a research group become too focused on their narrow subject to be able to objectively measure how relevant their work compared to other topics in the same field. At IMAR, I was confronted to an environment in which my work was not accepted on a priori grounds, but needed to be linked to what other mathematicians were interested in. I was thus directed towards seeking links with other domains, which resulted in (hopefully) more interesting papers.

After two years at the Institute, I took a post-doc position in Germany for a year. Now I am in France for another year. However, I still view myself as being based primarily in Romania. This is an important aspect of contemporary research: we are really part of an international research community, where the physical location plays a minor role compared to the position inside our field of study.

In my opinion, doing research in Romania does not have a capital influence on the research itself. It clearly does have some implications on the accessory material conditions, which sometimes need to be complemented by one's own means. Again, this has good and bad sides. For instance, travel resources may be scarce at many western institutions, while special funds earmarked for Eastern European scientists make it generally easy to get travel grants and fee waivers as a Romanian researcher.

My salary in Romania is not incredibly high; but compared to the average standard of living I am relatively advantaged. One positive aspect (for me) is that money earned abroad has a much higher purchasing power (by some estimates by a factor of four) in Bucharest. Therefore, although it might seem hard to believe, living as a researcher is possible if one considers regular visits abroad. Being in this way forced to travel clearly has a positive side effect on our scientific activity.

There is of course place for improvements. We all hope that the brain-drain phenomenon will diminish and that some day we will have better choices for good PhD students. We hope that teaching and research will be done simultaneously, as it is done with good results in most places in the world. We hope that Romania will spend a more significant part of the GDP on research, with tangible effects on our paychecks and working conditions. At the sometime, it is primarily our mission as Romanian scientists to fight for these improvements. I believe that working in Romania is the best way to make working in Romania a good choice.


Ad Astra • Volume 2, Issue 1, 2003 • Viewpoint
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