A microscope that could make things happen

International collaborations in Ukraine during the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: Scientific research in the Donetsk people’s Republic, or The Birth of the Kingdom of Ukraine

This week marks the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We discuss how science has performed in Ukraine over the past year and how international collaborations are shaping the future of research in the country.

My colleagues and I didn’t want to become an institution of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic”. We moved to Mariupol, 100 or so kilometres south in unoccupied Ukraine, and restarted work.

The new home and the building in which my colleagues and I rented apartments were completely destroyed in March 2022, just after the full Russian invasion. Some of us managed to escape the city within days. Others, in particular those unable to leave elderly parents who had moved with them, stayed back in their basements waiting for help. We were in a state of uncertainty over their fate.

Once again, we survived all the adversities. Our centre might have gone, but our knowledge and experience wasn’t captured. Some colleagues with children moved abroad and some settled in friendly institutions in western Ukraine to collaborate remotely. Our centre in Kyiv conducts many types of genetic testing.

The National Research Foundation of Ukraine and the Science and Technology Development of the Republic of Ukraine: a crucial role for research, development, reconstruction and reconstruction

When the full-scale war started, it was the first and only moment in my life when I regretted I was no longer young and could not be among those scientists who joined the army fighting for fundamental values most readers of this journal take for granted: freedom and independence. I donated my car to volunteers, among whom there are many scientists, in particular my close friend physicist Anton Senenko.

The international scientific community’s support of Ukrainian scientists has been strong. But current programmes, aimed primarily at researchers who fled Ukraine, should be complemented by a greater focus on those who stayed. There are hopeful signs. In February, the European Commission announced that it would open an office in Kyiv for Horizon Europe, the EU’s key research-funding programme. The National Research Foundation of Ukraine, launched in 2018, has administered seven calls for research and development proposals, two of them during wartime, and has partnerships with the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Dutch Research Council and the University of Cambridge, UK. The initiatives that have been supported should now be supported by other institutions and universities, as well as attracting people who are abroad to return to the country. Слава Україні!

The courage that Ukrainian people are demonstrating is beyond words, and not only those on the battlefields. Suffering the grief of losing family members, staying in basements without water and food, living now often without light and heat, the whole Ukrainian people is enduring severe deprivation with dignity and unbroken spirit.

The importance of science, technology and innovation to this future is paramount. Ukraine has many excellent researchers whose work is appreciated by the global scientific community. We must receive a clear signal from our politicians that we are needed, and that science will have a proper place in our national reconstruction.

The Scientific Committee of the National Council of Ukraine for Science and Technology Development, of which I am a member, advises the Ukrainian government, and has already developed proposals for the revival of science. The first priority should be assessing the state of the educational and scientific infrastructure and partnering with international partners to restore what has been destroyed.

Nature Briefing: Quantum Twisting Microscopy and the Quantum Gravitational Tunneling Experiment to Investigate the Magic Angles of Materials

To better visualise how electrons are ‘moving’ in materials, a team have developed the Quantum Twisting Microscope. This instrument puts two 2D layers of atoms into close contact, allowing them to interact, which can give useful information about their properties. The microscope can also rotate one of the layers, helping researchers look for so-called ‘magic angles’, where 2D materials like graphene can exhibit extraordinary properties.

How an extinct insect larvae’s prodigiously long ‘neck’ may have helped it hunt, and surveying the levels at which coastal cities are converting water into land.

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. The US Food and Drug Administration has requirements for greater diversity in clinical trials and research shows that snakes are smarter than previously thought.

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