Libmonster ID: VN-809
Author(s) of the publication: Nikolai DOBRETSOV

In 1957 ground was broken for Akademgorodok (Science Town) in Novosibirsk, the headquarters of the new-founded Siberian Branch of the national Academy of Sciences (SB), and its first regional branch. Today SB is running a ramified network of science centers all over Siberia - at Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Yakutsk, Ulan Ude, Kemerovo and Tyumen, not counting in research institutes at Barnaul, Chita and Kyzyl. In this issue of our magazine we have opened a series of stories with updates on SB, one of the largest divisions of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and its record over the past 50 years.

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by Acad. Nikolai DOBRETSOV, RAS Vice-President, head of the RAS Siberian Branch

In May 1957 the national government passed a decision on setting up a Siberian Branch (SB) of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR-this country's first academic institution formed by the territorial (regional) principle. Fifty years does not look like a very long stretch of time, but this is a jubilee date-a proper occasion to look back and cast up a balance. An opportune chance, too, in this age of all-out change when present events are opening up a new dimension to our past.


First, a few words about the background situation and events preceding the birth of our Siberian Branch of the Science Academy. In the mid-1950s as much as two-thirds of the research bodies of the USSR Academy of Sciences was concentrated in Moscow and Leningrad. But the intensive development of Siberia launched in those years-exploration of its mineral wealth as well as the development of industries and agriculture in eastern regions-brought our scientific community face to face with a jumble of problems calling for fresh, nontrivial decisions. All that plus the felt need of research decentralization were the main imperatives for the establishment of the Academy's Siberian Branch four thousand kilometers east of the capital city. The initiative originally came from Mikhail Lavrentiev (researching in physics and mathematics) and Sergei Khristianovich (mechanics) joined by Sergei Sobolev (mathematics). All three were members of the national Academy of Sciences, and their names were well known the world over. Acad.

Andrei Trofimuk (geology) was another "founding father". Their tally revolutionary proposal, however, was not hailed with "hurray" enthusiasm because a new center threatened to "drain" part of the Academy's resources. So Lavrentiev and his fellow thinkers made a bold move in sheer disregard of all canons of subordination and without any prior consultations with the presiding body of the USSR Academy of Sciences: they appealed directly to the country's political leadership and won its unequivocal support.

With the government decision signed, the General Meeting of the Science Academy approved the underlying principles for SB. The fundamental ideas were backed by the flower of this country's scientific community - Acads. Igor Kurchatov (nuclear physicist), Pyotr Kapitsa (physicist, Nobel Prize 1978), Nikolai Semenov (Nobel Prize in chemistry, 1956), Lev Artsimovich (nuclear physicist), Alexander Vinogradov (geochemist), and other prominent men of science. The underlying principles-the famous "Lavrentiev triangle" - are for-

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mulated this way: the first "side of the triangle"-comprehensiveness (multidisciplinary approach); the second side-integration of science and education based on a broad use of research know-how and wherewithal of academic institutes, and on a multilevel system of selection, instruction and reproduction of highly skilled specialists (starting up from secondary school pupils); and the third "leg of the triangle" provides for active efforts towards assimilation of scientific achievements in production.

The government (Council of Ministers of the USSR) endorsed a number of follow-up documents: on a university at Novosibirsk, on the handover of the State Scientific-Technical Library to our SB now granted a priority right of enlising college graduates and of a free transfer of Moscow and Leningrad research scientists who wished to work in Siberia. A building company, Sibakademstroi, got down to the construction of the Novosibirsk Akademgorodok (Science Town) at crash rates.

Simultaneously, a new structure of academic science was taking shape. The Siberian Branch had vacancies allotted to it for membership in the national Academy of Sciences. Syndicated academic (learned) councils set up at the SB presiding body (Presidium) were assigned an important role in decision making. Under the SB Statute all regional research centers, divisions and

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other institutions of the USSR Academy of Sciences were to be affiliated with the Siberian Branch. In addition, SB was accountable both to the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences and to the government (Council of Ministers) of the Russian Federation-an important consideration, for it meant that SB was to be financed directly from the federal budget.

In the 1960s the SB of the Academy of Sciences kept developing by leaps and bounds. Novosibirsk Akademgorodok was growing apace, attracting swarms of talented youth and veteran researchers from Moscow, Leningrad and other cities. New interdisciplinary lines of research and schools came into being. New research centers, setups, and residential houses were springing up. Both interdisciplinary and international ties were being forged.

Even at that initial stage many research institutes had major accomplishments to their credit. Meeting at its plenary session on the occasion of the tenth birthday of our SB, the Academy of Sciences of the USSR praised our record: in the scope of research and achievements SB was quite on a par with the world's largest centers. In those years the "Lavrentiev" system of scientific personnel coaching was born in the form of all-Siberia competitions (olympiads), and instruction in a physics and mathematics school and university, where students were taught by best instructors with the use of the latest technology. Members of the Science Academy and other eminent scientists were acting as scientific advisers of budding researchers qualifying for academic degrees. SB research centers were striking up direct contacts with industrial bodies and enterprises; the first design offices grew up at SB.

Akademgorodok brimmed with energy and elation. Young scientists set up councils of their own, and their Scientific Contacts Club at the Scientists' House debated hot problems of science and society. They socialized in a youth cafe dubbed "Under the Integral".

In 1975 Acad. Guri Marchuk (physicist and mathematician) succeeded Mikhail Lavrentiev as head of the SB of the USSR Academy of Sciences (acting as his deputy before). The following five years saw further expansion of a network of research institutions throughout Siberia. This growth went hand in hand with our vigorous collaboration with local bodies of government to promote further economic development. Long-term cooperative programs were launched, with our research scientists cooperating with head national ministries and being involved in other R&D projects with direct "access" to a particular branch or industry. Acads. Andrei Trofimuk and Abel Aganbegian worked out a comprehensive program, Sibir (Siberia), targeted at the all-out exploration and development of the productive forces of this vast region; though in modified forms, this program had been implemented up until the year 2000.

Special mention should be made of Guri Marchuk's great contribution in the computerization of SB research activities. Computer centers were built in Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk. Marchuk launched a crusade for a broad use of computers in all fields of science.

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From 1980 to 1997 the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences was headed by Acad. Valentin Koptiug, a talented organic chemist and manager. The SB Presidium he was heading pushed ahead with a strategy of priority development of basic research at faster rates, and active support for research trends vital to technological progress. In that period the territorial network of research centers was further expanded: in addition to the six older centers - at Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, and in Buryatia and Yakutia - another three, at Tyumen, Omsk and Kemerovo, received an official status. New research centers were opened at Barnaul, Kyzyl and Chita.

I must say that the curve of capital investments into our SB had two "peaks" - the "Lavrentiev peak" largely connected with the construction of Akademgorodok at Novosibirsk, and the "Koptiug peak" characterized by busy construction at research centers, above all at Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Tomsk.

Under Valentin Koptiug the SB Presidium initiated the passage of three government enactments bearing on the Siberian Branch. This occurred in a period still favorable for domestic science (1980s). For one, the regional program Sibir (Siberia) was awarded an official status of national significance (1984). The USSR State Planning Committee (Gosplan) recommended about 200 major R&D projects developed by our scientists for practical assimilation. In 1990 the central government issued a decision on the further development of SB bodies up until the year 2000. Among other things, the government approved proposals to set up amalgamated research institutions in the region, international centers, new colleges, schools and hospitals. The enactment provided for a design and experimental base to be established as early as possible. Although the Soviet Union's breakup was but about a year away and the scheduled financing of research projects was cut to the bone, some of those plans were realized in the 1990s at the cost of huge efforts.

The deep economic crisis had a negative effect on science, too. And yet the underlying principles conceived by the "founding fathers" enabled the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences to survive and even move ahead. Great credit is due to Valentin Koptiug who as SB head bore the brunt of the work after the breakdown of the Soviet body politic. He got down to a job of SB restructuring against the heaviest odds and, chartering a new strategy of development, succeeded in its partial realization. The key element of his program was to reduce the number of research organizations and reinforce the most viable ones with can-do research personnel. Another element envisaged mergers of kindred research centers into large integrated bodies backed by design and production divisions. Yet another element was comprehensive interdisciplinary research. Koptiug pressed for instituting research-study and international centers on the basis of the leading research centers to operate as open laboratories. Holdings and technoparks set up on the groundwork of research centers were part and parcel of the Koptiug-initiated streamlining.

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The Koptiug strategy was also targeted at setting up analytical, informational and multiuser computer centers servicing several research bodies; it provided for a contract system of labor relations and ratings for assessing the performance of research organizations, laboratories and individuals on a merit basis. Democratization of the scientific community was in that package, too. Material incentives were likewise envisaged, housing including, for young research scientists. All that was to be coupled with broad educational activities on the contemporary and historical record of science; analytical estimates, forecasts and recommendations were to be brought within reach of the government and broad public.

The last document signed by Valentin Koptiug summed up proposals on urgent measures for saving Russian science tabled to a forthcoming meeting of Russia's government. In it Acad. Koptiug validated and specified the heart of the matter: vigorous steps to save domestic science should be implemented in a two-pronged attack, both by the government and by the scientific community. It was his testament actually, and it affected in many ways the future of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


In January 1997, soon after Acad. Koptiug's demise, I succeeded him as SB head. We felt our duty to carry on the pioneering ideas of Valentin Afanasyevich Koptiug. In May 1997 the SB General Meeting endorsed a conceptual program for SB adaptation to new conditions and reformation. Drawn up in keeping with Koptiug's ideas, this program envisaged certain practical steps. This program is still on-every five years it is updated for another term of five years.

Today our Siberian Branch is a major association of R&D and production bodies of RAS taking in infrastruc-tural subdivisions located in Siberia within three federal districts. SB comprises 76 institutes: of physics and mathematics, technology, chemistry, biology, earth sciences, humanities and economics. Just above half of this potential is concentrated at the Novosibirsk Science Center.

SB is running a far-flung network of geo- and biosphere research stations, including those involved with seismicity, permafrost, solar and space studies, many of them equipped with unique setups of national and global significance. Deployed in an area making up over half of this country's territory, they are an important element of the global system supplying data collected over many years of observations.

Working with much success on the basis of our leading institutes are sixteen research centers co-sponsored by SB RAS as well as by research bodies and universities of Europe, USA, China and Japan. They are operating either on unique natural and culturological districts, such as Lake Baikal*, permafrost, boreal woodlands of Siberia**, and at archeological monuments of Altai, or at our innovational technocenters (Tomography Center,

See: G. Ufimtsev, "Baikal Studies", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2001; Id., "Enigma of the Proval Bay", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2004. - Ed.

** Ye. Titov, "The Future of Siberian Cedar", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2004; Id., "Cedar Gardens of Russia", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2005. - Ed.

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Catalysts Testing Center, and elsewhere), at our major national setups (a solar radioscope, synchrotron radiation sources, wind tunnels, and the like).

In 2006 our staff topped 32,000, among them 9,100 research workers and nearly 7,000 degree-holding scientists (1,800 Drs. Sc. and 5,000 Cands. Sc), and 144 RAS members. As shown by our labor staff dynamics, since 2000 the SB personnel has stabilized in numbers, though the proportion of academic degree holders is up. Research scientists under 33 years of age account for 20 to 40 percent at our affiliated institutes. Over 2,600 are taking a post-graduate course.

Scientific schools of the world level are proof positive of our high performance. Indeed, in the past five years alone as many as 31 works of SB RAS have merited Russian Federation's prizes, including 12 State Prizes, two National Prizes (Acad. Vyacheslav Molodin and Dr. of History Natalia Polosmak, for the discovery and study of the ancient Pyzyryk culture*; and Acad. Alexander Skrinsky, for fundamental works on high-energy physics). Besides, fourteen works have been awarded RF Government Prizes in science and engineering.

The main targets of our further development provide for competitive projects in basic research, broader participation in integration-oriented programs of the RAS Presidium and RAS local branches, and closer integration with the RAS Far Eastern and Ural Branches, and the academies of sciences in former Soviet republics, now members of Commonwealth of Independent States, CIS. We aim to take part in programs of international research centers, reinforce the material and technical base of our institutes, and promote innovational activities, also by setting aside innovational development territories.

The competitive financing scheme formed over these past nine years has been streamlined after the model of interdisciplinary integrational projects. In 2004 our institute shifted to goal-oriented methods of research planning. Accordingly, we have managed to do away with small, puny projects (of the earlier 1,500 only 514 have been approved) and concentrate the SB personnel and financial potential in priority areas of research and thus score impressive results. Since 2004 the sum of competitive financing made up 82 to 86 percent of the total bill.

By and large we are through with the restructuring of the network of our research bodies which will keep on in their present shape without any substantial changes in the next ten years. But we have just got down to reforming our subsidiary organizations catering to our research institutes and centers.

According to our estimates of 2002, we had to find around 280 mln USD for a complete renewal of our research equipment in 5 to 7 years. Setting up an integral network of multiuser centers providing access to unique instruments and aids, we halved the bill. On the other hand, we had to shell out more and more for retooling and upgrading, so that in the last two years we have been spending 25 to 30 mln USD and this year, in 2007, we aim to fulfill the renovation program launched six years ago. SB institutes and small enterprises of the region have come up with 169 equipment units already available to users to replace foreign-made hardware and instruments; here, too, we have been able to cut equipment costs.

* Also see "From the Depths of the Millennia" in the present issue of our magazine. - Ed.

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We are attaching great significance to developing large setups of national significance, such as a laser unit on free electrons at the G.I. Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics and the Chemical Kinetics and Combustion Institute, both at Novosibirsk (the first part of this unit went onstream in 2005, and the second one is to be completed in 2007); an accelerator mass spectrometer for measuring isotopes of light elements, carbon in the first place, which is an important thing to geologists, archeologists and biologists. The unique set of units at the Irkutsk - based Institute of Solar and Earth Physics has got a welcome addition-an incoherent scattering radar and an infrared telescope.

After a long break we have resumed the building of new objects to house our institutions. These are a laboratory-and-experimental block of the Institute of Water and Ecological Problems (Barnaul), the first section of the ground-based astronomical complex of the Sayany Observatory (Mondy, Buryatia) run by the Institute of Solar and Earth Physics... The Institute of Coal and Petrochemistry in Kemerovo was in for house-warming too. Meanwhile Novosibirsk has rebuilt its exhibition center. The Laser Physics Institute will soon move into new premises. An up-to-date vivarium is under construction on the grounds of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics (SB RAS), among many other projects.

The financing of research bodies is steadily up. In the past few years SB has been drawing only half of the funds from the federal budget, with the rest coming from customers or goal-oriented projects sponsored by central bodies of government.


They are manifold covering analysis and prognosis of development strategies for regions and industries; ecological-economic examinations of large projects; output of unique scientific and technological setups; transfer of science-intensive products for series production on the shop-floor level, with proper scientific and technological backing; sale of licences; R&D works for government ministries, defense enterprises and big companies; ground-breaking for technoparks and advanced technology promotional zones set up on the basis of akademgorodoks (science towns).

One such high-tech promotional zone is taking shape next to the Tomsk Akademgorodok. It comprises nanotechnologies and new materials, electronic instrument making as well as bio- and catalytical technologies. A similar technopark is taking body and form at the Novosibirsk Akademgorodok where specialized incubators are slated for construction along with laboratory-production modules for information technologies, power electronics, biotechnology and instrument engineering. Two R&D Tomsk products were demonstrated to President Vladimir Putin in the fall of 2006.

These are composite filter materials developed at the Tomsk - based Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science: using such materials, one can eliminate even bacteria and viruses from the medium. The rated output of water purification units alone will be above 50 mln dollars' worth a year. Another novelty-superhigh-molecular polyethylene-is a material capable of resisting even extreme operational conditions. A corresponding pilot - scale setup is on at Tomsk to the technology of the Novosibirsk - based G.K. Boreskov Institute of Catalysis that took a direct part in the project.

The Novosibirsk Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine has innovated in a method of obtaining an antiflu vaccine with the aid of chemical ribonucleases. Tested on animals, this preparation of inactivated viral particles has proved to be of extraordinary efficiency.

Amendments made to the Federal Law on Science and Scientific-Technical Policy (2006) confronted the Russian Academy of Sciences and its Siberian Branch

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with certain problems, such as amending their Statutes, changing the system of financing and other matters. However, the 50-year record of our SB, when we have managed to overcome a system crisis and adjust to market conditions, inspires hope: we are ready to meet new challenges. The first steps towards an integral program for RAS basic research demonstrate that RAS regional branches are good experimental ranges for testing many ideas on the Academy's reformation as a whole.

We have raised salaries of RAS personnel; and in keeping with our long-standing tradition, we seek to enroll a younger generation as a crucial factor for the viability of our world-standard research schools. We offer a variety of incentives, such as grants for students enrolled in the Scientific-and Educational Center of Novosibirsk State University (Physics and Mathematics School); higher quotas for graduate students, and higher scholarships to post-graduates and undergraduates working for our affiliated institutes... SB and Novosibirsk University offer problem-oriented M. Sc. courses to institutes and technoparks, and arrange competitions among brilliant scientists. The package of incentives also provides for cut-rate mortgage credits for housing and hotel-type dormitory accommodations. We aim to tackle some of these issues within the framework of the Federal Target-Oriented Program "Scientific and Scientific-Teaching Cadres of Innovational Russia" initialed by President Putin.

It is important to have Novosibirsk State University affiliated dejure with SB as both a research and an educational institution simultaneously (that is legalize the de facto situation - a move that will certainly help boost educational standards.

Marking the 50th jubilee of SB, we see that its ground breaking was quite timely, impacting in many ways the future of our science and finding a positive response in the world. The underlying principles of Acads. Lavrentiev, Khristianovich and Sobolev had stood the test of time and remain a solid groundwork for the Far Eastern and Ural Branches of the RAS.

Siberian akademgorodoks have evolved into cores of basic science, with twin science towns like that cropping up in France, Korea, Japan and Brazil.

The growing science potential of the region has revitalized the productive forces of Siberia and of the nation. Suffice it we name such projects as the West-Siberian oil-and-gas and Kansk-Achinsk fuel-and-energy complexes, exploration of the diamond wealth of Yakutia, the Baikal-Amur trunk railroad line, the tapping of huge new type oil and gas deposits in Eastern Siberia, and other accomplishments.

SB research schools of world renown underpin our work. Moving ahead on the cutting edge of innovational progress, SB forges the future of Russia.


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