The Solidarity for mathematicians programme has this month reached its first full year of activity. To mark this occasion, we are taking the opportunity to look back on its successes, how it has affected those involved in its outreach, and what lies ahead for the programme in its second year and beyond.
The Solidarity programme is a joint venture between INI and the London Mathematical Society that was officially started in March 2022 following the 24 February start of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. The purpose of the programme is to offer refuge for research active mathematicians, including those who are working towards a doctoral degree, who have had to leave their country of residence due to unstable conditions.
There are currently two Solidarity schemes open to applications:
The aim is that applicants will apply with a possible academic host and host institution in mind. If successful, the applicant will then travel to the UK to be hosted at the agreed institution to continue their mathematical research in collaboration with their academic host for up to 12 months.
Whilst the Solidarity programme was instigated immediately following the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, the schemes are open to all that meet the criteria and INI has received several applications from around the world.
There are currently 16 applicants on the Solidarity programme, with 10 of those having already started at their host institutions in the UK. The remaining accepted applicants are in different stages of the application process, with many applying for visas and making travel plans for the future. There are currently 13 different institutions involved with the programme, with some having agreed to host two participants concurrently.
There have also been a further eight accepted applicants who have then withdrawn their applications due to securing longer-term positions elsewhere around the world; whilst one applicant gained visas for their family in a country other than Britain first. All of these applicants highlighted that the security offered by the Solidarity programme was a huge help to them during difficult times and thanked INI and LMS for their support.
On 10 March 2023, the Solidarity programme passed the one-year mark. INI is still receiving a steady flow of applications which shows the need for the continuation of the programme for research active mathematicians in difficult or dangerous situations. In recognition of this milestone, five current applicants have very kindly agreed to have a brief biography about themselves published below.
It should be highlighted that we have anonymised the two Scheme B (political refugees) applicants due to the possible risks involved in having their names publicised.
> Dr Olena Domanska was an Associate Professor at the Mechanics and Mathematics Department at Ivan Franko Lviv University before coming to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme with her four children and her grandmother in April 2022. INI made a connection to the University of Manchester on her behalf and Olena is now collaborating with Dr Yanghong Huang, where she is researching the well-posedness of boundary-value problems for nonlinear elliptic equations.
“I had to leave my country, my university and my research community as the war started on 24 February 2022. I’m truly grateful to the Solidarity programme for the possibility to continue my research work in a safe place among incredibly talented mathematicians at the University of Manchester. Many thanks to Professor Andrew Hazel for his help and support!”
> Anonymous: One Scheme B applicant had originally planned to complete their PhD at a Russian university. However, once the Russia-Ukraine war began, they decided they could no longer stay in Russia. The applicant successfully applied to continue their research at a London University, their research interests are algebraic and categorical logic. After the programme, the applicant plans to stay on at the university to complete their PhD and hopes to secure a scholarship for this in the future.
“The current political regime and its aggression (in Russia) made me carry on abroad. I would like to thank the Solidarity team for their support and work, they are doing a tremendous job helping those who’ve faced difficulties caused by the war and political repression.”
> Anonymous: One Scheme B applicant was an Associate Professor at a Middle Eastern university before deciding to leave late last year with their family. The applicant successfully applied to continue their research at a university in the North East.
““The environment, atmosphere, and other critical things, which are very important to make a safe home for living, do not exist here or are being destroyed. The Solidarity programme is an excellent opportunity for researchers to find their place in the UK”
> Professor Volodymyr Proshkin was a Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics, Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University. After leaving Ukraine with his wife and daughter, the three lived in Poland for five months whilst Volodymyr was part of a scientific project “Teacher profession – The development and implementation of the teacher’s educational programs”, at the University of Silesia in Katowice. Through the ScienceForUkraine website, Volodymyr found an academic mentoring scheme which connected him with Dr Colin Foster of Loughborough University due to similar research interests in Mathematics Education. Volodymyr successfully applied to continue their collaboration; he is now researching “How do we design effective educational resources based on an understanding of mathematical learning processes?”. Volodymyr also volunteers with the Digital Theme UK-Ukraine Twinning Initiative project with ScienceForUkraine, whose goal is to boost the development of the digital economy and IT sector in Ukraine by supporting Ukrainian researchers to find new research contacts in the UK for future collaboration.
“I am very happy that I managed to join the Solidarity Programme. Thanks to it, I can continue my research in a new country! I sincerely thank the organizers for the strong support of Ukrainian scientists!”
> Dr Yuriy Semenov was a Leading Scientist at the Department of Free Boundary Flows, Institute of Hydromechanics, The National Academy of Sciences before leaving Ukraine with his wife in June 2022. Yuriy already had a connection to the Univeristy of East Anglia and successfully applied to collaborate with Professor Alexander Korobkin. Whilst on the programme, Yuriy – in collaboration with his colleagues at UEA Prof A Korobkin and Dr T Khabakhpasheva – completed research on the nonlinear interaction between the flow over a semi-circular obstruction on the channel bottom and the broken ice covering the liquid, resulting in an accepted abstract submitted to the IWWWFB, which will be held at the University of Michigan in May this year. Yuriy and Prof Emilian Parau also plan to submit a paper in the next few months of the research they completed together whilst at UEA.
Whilst on the programme, Yuriy was also able to finish and publish a paper in the JFM: (Y.N. Savchenko, B.-Y. Ni, G.Y. Savchenko and Y.A. Semenov. Impulsive impact of a body fully submerged in an open container. J. Fluid Mech. (2023), vol. 955, A28, doi:10.1017/jfm.2022.1075).
After seven months on the Solidarity Programme, Yuriy secured a full time position at Harbin Engineering University in China.
“The situation in Ukraine still remains dangerous and uncertain, unfortunately. I would like to thank INI and LMS for their invaluable support which inspired me to start new research topics and facilitated establishing new scientific contacts.”