For over a year now, ScienceOpen has been promoting research dedicated to Ukraine or coming from Ukrainian scholars in a dedicated research collection. This collection of research from Ukraine is generated automatically by a text field search in the affiliations section and displays a showcase of Ukrainian research in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
ScienceOpen remains committed to promoting scholarly outputs in our network and beyond, and facilitating the access of researchers and scholars from Ukraine to open science through its innovative digital infrastructure.
To commemorate the impact of Ukrainian research and the importance of initiatives like ours in supporting the work of researchers and Ukrainian scholars, we interviewed Oksana Shevchuk, Professor at the I.Horbachevsky Ternopil National Medical University, about the current situation for researchers, the challenges they face, and how researcher communities around the world can assist researchers or research institutions in Ukraine.
Hello Oksana and thank you for accepting to be part of this interview.
The collaboration between ScienceOpen and the I.Horbachevsky Ternopil National Medical University goes back in years, and we are very happy to be able to support with the promotion of Ukrainian scholarship despite the difficult circumstances.
Could you share with us how the war affected you professionally and what changed in the life of researchers and scholars in Ukraine?
First of all, let me express our sincere gratitude to ScienceOpen Team. Your support of collaboration with TNMU in these hard times is priceless.
A full-scale russian invasion launched on February 24, 2022, changed the lives of all Ukrainians completely. Just imagine, your cosy morning has been disrupted by air alarm sirens and you have no clue what to do, how to protect your children and your elderly parents, what to take from home, and what you need to flee. I remember how much I was terrified that morning. The real challenge was the international student’s evacuation at that time, but we did it quite fast. Today we all know what to do, and the nearest shelter addresses, we follow different telegram channels and have step-by-step algorithms.
First months, the world was impressed by the unexpected ferocity of Ukrainian resistance. But still, for more than one year, Ukrainians have been experiencing devastating and horrible active war outcomes, residential places bombing, and children and adults suffering. As of today, eastern and southern frontlines (e.g., the city of Bakhmut, Soledar) have been the focus of intense fighting for months. Kharkiv, Kherson, Nikopol, Mykolaiv are under everyday bomb shelling. Russians expect to exhaust the support of Western countries and hope for the “war fatigue” of our partners.
TNMU is located in western Ukraine, it is a relatively safe region near to the Polish border. University infrastructure is intact, fortunately. Our Ukrainian students and teachers are back home. We carried out the study process online first, then in the offline schedule later, but only for Ukrainian students.
We lost a large number of international students and experience a shrinking of the budget.
As of today approximately 300 international students are back in Ternopil and have in-presence classes. It is crucial question because some countries did not recognize online classes for medical students. The budget for research and different studies was allocated for military purposes. Due to the war, bank accounts of the university are active for salary payments only. So, as you may understand it affects the scientific processes flow a lot. We are searching for funding to support the research at the university.
The Volunteer Centre was organized at TNMU, which has been working since the first week of the invasion. These terrible times united Ukrainians very much. Everyone is trying to do their best to help the internally displaced persons (today around 200 persons from the east and south of Ukraine still live at the university’s hostels – they lost their homes and have no place to return), the Forced Army of Ukraine, to do all that we can maintain, support, restore and rebuild Ukraine.
However, this terrible situation also demonstrated the support of the whole civilized world for Ukraine and Ukrainians.
A lot of research institutions and universities opened their doors to women researchers from Ukraine. Our young researchers and PhD students continue their scientific work abroad – the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain), the University of Toulouse (France), Debrecen University (Hungary), the University of Osijek (Croatia), the University of Parma (Italy) and others.
What are some of the challenges that you encountered in this new situation?
We have to live, work, do research, to plan something during the war times. It is not an easy thing to do. The main challenge is to support the mental health of students and staff. We assist our students and provide psychological assistance. We are looking for funding for research and seeking joint collaboration with partners abroad.
One more challenge is genocide of Ukrainian people due to the war, both civilians and military people. TNMU started the social project “Save Ukrainian Nation”. Thanks to our donor “Eye Care for Ukraine” (USA) we may propose sperm cryopreservation to our soldiers to give them and their families the hope to be parents in future in case of casualties. People can donate for that purpose and we still looking for funding to support this project.
We do our best every day to keep provide high-quality learning and practical skills for our students, to maintain the research activities for our scholars.
How are you carrying out your usual research work? Do you get support from your students or other researchers that had to flee the country?
Unfortunately, we are short of money for research. The war disrupted our common research processes flow, as all funds for research were frozen. That is why we are looking for funding and possible collaborations. Our students and researchers who abroad now keep in touch and collect possible donation (lab plastic, consumables, devices) for our research laboratories.
It is very hard to be concentrated, accurate and precise due to the chronic stress caused by the war. It affected the publishing activities of our scholars too.
What research projects or studies where you working on that had to be halted due to the war?
A year since the full scale russian invasion we are trying to restore our research activities as much as possible. Almost all our projects were restored, and we do our best even in lack of money.
How can the scientific community of ScienceOpen help researchers or research institutions in Ukraine?
We appreciate a lot your support and assistance and support of our collaboration. We thank you for the separate page “Research from Ukraine” at your platform in solidarity of Ukrainian researchers. The promotion of research from Ukraine provides tangible help for researchers or research institutions in Ukraine. We thank you for promotion of TNMU all over your network.
What are some of the projects you are looking the most forward to resuming as soon as the situation changes for the better?
TNMU is a leader in Lyme borreliosis research in Ukraine, we will be happy to renew all activities to continue to study clinical features and molecular mechanism of diagnosis, treatment and prophylaxis of vector-borne diseases in Ukraine. We are looking to continue research to promote the folate fortification of the food products, because dure to folate deficiency we experience the high burden of neural tube defects the Ukraine. We will be happy to keep our studies with stem cells.
Support research from Ukraine!
ScienceOpen is actively supporting ways to promote and highlight contributions of Ukrainian researcher communities within its network and beyond.
Explore the interdisciplinary research featured in the Research from Ukraine collection, with over 11.000 articles featured in it from different universities and research institutions. If you want to support and promote the work of I.Horbachevsky Ternopil National Medical University, visit the International Journal of Medicine and Medical Research collection and don’t forget to follow them on Social Media.
If you are a researcher or scholar from Ukraine, keep in mind that ScienceOpen provides a wide range of tools to support your research.
- Post your most recent paper as a preprint on ScienceOpen Preprints to share your results with peer immediately, open and citable with a Crossref DOI. It’s only a few clicks to get published and enhance the visibility for your work and kick off an academic discourse with peers.
- Submit your poster to ScienceOpen Posters for free and let your peers comment and discuss your work — anywhere and at any time.
If you are a researcher institution or publisher from Ukraine, get in touch with Stuart Cooper and he will answer all your questions on how ScienceOpen can help promote your research in the digital publishing landscape.