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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape 2 Individual Exchanges With regard to Eastern Europe, for many years exchange visits of individual scientists were the backbone of the program sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). During the 1970s, the funding was at a level of up to $750,000 per year. By the 2000s, the level had fallen to about $200,000 per year. When taking into account the declining value of the dollar, this was a very significant decrease. Initially, from the Washington vantage point, these visits were intended primarily to open doors into a closed region of the world for American participants and to provide opportunities for Eastern European colleagues to become familiar with developments in the United States. In some cases, there had been earlier exchange visits between colleagues under other auspices. But in the majority of interacademy exchanges, the visitors and their hosts were acquainted only through correspondence. In some instances, there had been no contacts of any type between visitors and hosts until the receiving academy identified appropriate colleagues to serve as hosts for the visits. In later years, the program participants were generally acquainted with one another. They often knew about the scientific work of the colleagues through the scientific literature and subsequent correspondence. Thus, visits were increasingly justified on the basis of likely contributions to scientific advances, with less emphasis on the door-opening aspects of the visits.
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape THE QUOTA SYSTEM At the outset of interacademy exchanges during the 1960s and 1970s, each of the interacademy agreements noted in Chapter 1 was based on negotiated quotas, expressed in person-months of visits in each direction. In most cases, these quota limitations constrained the number of scientists who traveled in each direction because the number of months requested by qualified applicants interested in traveling in either direction usually exceeded the quota allocations. The quotas were often adjusted due to the availability of funds and changing application pressures in the United States and in the Eastern European countries. This quota system was patterned after the quota systems that were in wide use by academies in the USSR and Eastern Europe. This approach enabled the academies to control the funds and, of course, the selection of candidates for the programs from their countries and the acceptance of candidates proposed by counterpart academies. There were many exchanges among the countries of Eastern Europe outside the framework of the quota systems of the academies. But the academy systems were widely recognized in Eastern Europe as a good, although tightly controlled, international route for research scientists to follow in order to help ensure availability of funding and to avoid at least some potential political and security problems. The requirements for American participants in the interacademy programs in the early days, which changed very little over the years, were as follows: Any American citizen who possesses a doctoral degree (or its equivalent) in the natural, mathematical, fundamental medical (non-patient oriented), engineering, or quantitatively oriented behavioral sciences, or who is now a candidate for the doctorate and expects to receive it prior to the time of the exchange visits is eligible.1 At that time, American applicants were considered for 1-month familiarization visits and 3- to 12-month research visits. Visits of 5 to 12 months were encouraged. Placements in Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) were limited to institutes of the counterpart academies, with greater flexibility in the other countries. Applicants from Eastern Europe also chose between short- and long-term visits to the United States. For many years, most participants were interested in research in the natural sciences. Almost all successful applicants from the region were placed in U.S. universities. 1 NRC. 1978. Study and Research in the USSR and Eastern Europe, 1979-80 (program announcement).
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape International travel costs plus stipends of $1,400 per month (in the 1970s) for American participants were covered by the National Research Council (NRC). The level of financial support changed several times over the years. Financial responsibility for local travel was determined on a case-by-case basis, with participation in local scientific meetings encouraged by the sending academies. The academies of Eastern Europe were required to cover international travel costs for their participants and presumably continued paying the base salaries of the participants. The receiving side covered costs of lodging, per diem, medical requirements, and limited research support. Americans traveling for more than 5 months could be reimbursed for the travel costs of immediate family members. Also, for the Americans, pre-departure language training was provided. Sometimes families accompanied the visitors from Eastern Europe, but the details of financing for their travel were unknown to the NRC. In any event, when they arrived in the United States, living allowances were provided by the NRC for the entire families. As examples of the substance of the programs, during the 1980s the following topics associated with visits were highlighted in the Newsletter of the NRC as areas that were of significant scientific interest (see Newsletters from 1985 to 1991 for reports of these and other visits). Visits to the United States and Countries of Origin of Visitors Muscle regeneration in excitable tissues (Yugoslavia) Insect pathology (Czechoslovakia) Siloxane polymers (Poland) Computer education in secondary schools (Bulgaria) Ecology of deltas (Romania) Salinity of agricultural soils (Hungary) Visits to Eastern Europe by Americans Laser wood cutting (Bulgaria) Calcium uptake (Poland) Wheat gene varieties (GDR) Neuropeptide mechanisms in invertebrates (Hungary) Fauna and flora in caves (Romania) Membrane biophysics (Czechoslovakia) Psycholinguistics (Yugoslavia)
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape EVALUATION OF THE HUNGARIAN EXCHANGE PROGRAM Each year the staff of the NRC presented reports on the program to an advisory committee established by the NAS for overseeing the overall quota program and to the funder of the program, the National Science Foundation (NSF). These reports cited accomplishments, problems, and future opportunities and formed the basis for budgetary requests to NSF. Only on one occasion was an extensive effort undertaken to evaluate the impact of the program directed to Eastern Europe. This evaluation was conducted in cooperation with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1989. Although the findings were unique to the Hungarian program, they indicated the types of impacts the program was probably having in other areas of Eastern Europe as well.2 Two Hungarian and two American scientists with substantial research responsibilities were selected for each of three topical panels that reviewed scientific exchanges. They reviewed responses to questionnaires completed by hosts and visitors from both countries over a 10-year period (312 questionnaires were sent, with a 73 percent return rate). They examined lists of publications attributable to the exchanges, interviewed 37 exchangees and hosts in Hungary, and reviewed many trip reports by American travelers. Two senior research administrators from each country then joined the 12 scientists from the topical panels in an overall evaluation committee. In general the exchanges were considered highly successful in serving the interests of both countries. According to the committee, significant research experience was shared and diffused. An impressive number of substantial research papers and books resulted from the visits. Many visits led to establishing or strengthening personal contacts. These contacts subsequently led to further collaborative activities that often were conducted outside the framework and resources of the interacademy program, which served as a catalyst for investigators from both countries. A summary of findings of the three panels is as follows: Chemistry Set the stage for cooperative research projects Allowed wider inputs from collaborators who normally were not accessible Introduced excellent researchers at small American universities 2 See Schweitzer, Glenn, and David Berrien. 1990. Scientific Cooperation between the1990. Scientific Cooperation between the United States and Eastern Europe. Technology in Society 12(1):1-9.
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape to high-quality Hungarian coworkers and provided an opportunity for long-term collaboration Agriculture Encouraged young Hungarian scientists to continue in agriculture Facilitated interaction between basic and applied science in both countries Allowed exchange of materials not otherwise available Biomedical Fostered the close scientific contact necessary to determine appropriate placement of young scientists in other countries Facilitated the transfer of specialized techniques that are mastered only through “hands-on” experience Reduced need, through long-term research visits, to duplicate expensive laboratory equipment In considering the reports of the three panels, the review committee singled out the following types of positive impacts. Stimulating fresh scientific perspectives Exchanging experience on theoretical and experimental techniques Planning and carrying out joint research projects extending beyond the period of exchange Starting or completing joint papers for publication Enhancing teaching materials with updated research data Facilitating interactions between basic and applied researchers Deepening understanding of relationships among national research priorities, national programs, and international scientific and social trends Criticisms of the program were surprisingly few: Qualifications of a few exchangees were not as strong as might be expected; older scientists tended to dominate exchanges; and the small size of the program inhibited flexibility in the selection of exchangees. THE SPECIAL CASE OF THE GDR During the 1980s, very few East-West scientific exchange programs involving scientists from the GDR were in place. The limited contacts were usually through mechanisms established by international organizations, and particularly conferences in Europe. Under private auspices,
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape BOX 2-1 Examples of U.S.-GDR Linkages (1985) University of Utah: artificial heart Brown University: pediatrics Johns Hopkins University: biomedical engineering University of Illinois: biocatalysis and nuclear magnetic resonance in zeolites University of Massachusetts: peptide chemistry Polytechnic Institute of New York: simplex formation of polyelectrolytes North Texas State University: quantum electronics Carnegie Mellon University: electron microscopy SOURCE: Schweitzer, Glenn E., and David A. Berrien. 1991. The Future of Scientific Research in Eastern Germany. Technology in Society 13(3):255-265. a few GDR scientists would visit the United States for several days to 2 weeks each year. Examples of American institutions that were able to develop limited linkages with GDR institutions under these constrained conditions are set forth in Box 2-1. In 1990, the staff of the NRC queried the American exchangees and hosts who had participated in the interacademy program with the GDR concerning their scientific activities. The Americans generally felt that they had gained scientifically from the program (see Box 2-2). Additional comments by American scientists close to the program indicated that they were particularly impressed by the high degree of technical competence of the East German participants, who were thus able to bring important perspectives to collaborative activities.3 After analysis of the results of the survey and a review of the situation developing with the demise of the GDR, the NRC staff reached the following conclusions concerning the limited interactions with scientists in the GDR: American scientists were not well acquainted with the majority of colleagues conducting similar research, and a familiarization period would be needed to match interests and capabilities. East German scientists were preoccupied with putting their own 3 Schweitzer, Glenn E., and David A. Berrien. 1991. The Future of Scientific Research in Eastern Germany. Technology in Society 13(3):255-265.
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape BOX 2-2 Survey of Participants in Exchanges with GDR Former U.S. exchangees to GDR (29 respondents to 42 queries) Influenced priorities Significant methodologies brought back New access to people Results achieved Physical sciences 63% 61% 39% 33% Biological sciences 44% 66% 55% 22% Social sciences 50% 0% 50% 50% Examples of other benefits attributable to exchange program: Set stage for further cooperative research Permitted longer visits to research laboratories than otherwise available Provided a window into East German science and scientists Former U.S. hosts of GDR exchangees (62 respondents from 95 queries): One publication resulted from exchange visit (15%) More than one joint publication from exchange visit (7%) Benefits to U.S. science of visit were very good or excellent (55%) Host and visitor shared research interests and collaborated after visit (60%) SOURCE: Schweitzer, Glenn E., and David A. Berrien. 1991. The Future of Scientific Research in Eastern Germany. Technology in Society 13(3):255-265. houses in order and ensuring the security of their own personal positions. They had little time to consider international networking. Few colleagues in the GDR had the financial means necessary to travel internationally, and for the time being they had to be content communicating with Americans through the scientific literature.4 A NEW MODEL FOR EXCHANGES With the political opening of Eastern Europe and the collapse of the former Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s, the approach to 4 Schweitzer, Glenn E., and David A. Berrien. 1991. The Future of Scientific Research in Eastern Germany. Technology in Society 13(3):255-265.
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape individual exchanges through the interacademy program changed dramatically. The quota system was quickly abandoned as both NSF and the National Academies wanted to move toward “more normal” scientific relations based on interests of individual investigators and merit review. Beginning in 1993, the program operated on the basis of an open regional competition among American scientists who wanted to work with colleagues in Eastern Europe. The bureaucracies of the Eastern European academies were not pleased with this change, having used the quota system for several decades in dealing with many countries. In particular, some academy leaders were concerned that they would no longer have control over the selection of participants from their countries. This critical aspect became the responsibility of the U.S. side. At the same time, a number of researchers in the region welcomed the change, which they correctly believed would give them a better chance to participate in the program. The announcement of the NAS in 1991 concerning the future of the exchange program was as follows: American scientists interested in visiting the USSR or Eastern Europe may apply for travel grants to help defray the costs of visits. The size of the grant will depend on the length of stay and distance from the scientist’s residence to the country of interest. Also, American scientists interested in receiving scientific colleagues from the USSR or Eastern Europe may apply for travel grants to help support the visitors. The size of the grant will depend on the length of stay and the distance of the site of the proposed research to the East Coast of the United States. Applicants are expected to make all logistical and administrative arrangements for the visits since the National Academy of Sciences will no longer organize exchange programs through counterpart academies of sciences.5 This program, known as Cooperation in Basic Science and Engineering (COBASE), continued until NSF terminated funding for exchanges in 2003, with the final exchangees finishing their programs in 2007. At that time, NSF decided to emphasize global programs and terminate most of its region-specific programs. There were minor variations of the program during this decade of activity as discussed below. The number of exchangees to and from Eastern Europe during this period was more than 200. They covered a wide variety of scientific disciplines and involved dozens of institutions in the United States and Eastern Europe. Examples of the fields of interest and the Eastern European countries represented are the following: 5 NRC Office of Soviet and East European Affairs. 1991. Dramatic Changes in USSR and Eastern Europe Lead to New Approaches to Exchanges in 1993. Newsletter (Fall 1991), p. 1.
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape Romania: high temperature superconductors; seismic retrofit of masonry structures Czech Republic: congruence lattice representation in mathematics; evaluation of wood materials for use in specialized engineered products Poland: constraint solving, unification, and automated reasoning in computer science; public policy on alcohol consumption Hungary: Rutherford back-scattering spectroscopy; high-pressure, high-temperature reaction between diamond and silicon Bulgaria: transformation of small molecules in zeolites and other porous materials; Yamabe equation on the quaternionic sphere Former Yugoslavia: Universal Menger spaces and local connectivity properties of symmetric products (Slovenia); phonons in novel electronic and magnetic materials (Croatia) Twinning Programs Twinning programs were introduced in 1988 and continued for 19 years. These programs allowed the collaborating scientists to make two and sometimes more visits in both directions (to and from the United States) within the framework of a single project. This innovation was introduced to enable busy scientists to be abroad for shorter periods of time. Also, it was intended to encourage sustainability of joint efforts. Initially scientists at institutions in Romania and Bulgaria and their partners in the United States were selected as twins. NSF was concerned over the small level of exchange activity with these two countries and correctly assumed that a twinning program would be an attraction for more applicants. As an example of the overall program, the organizations that housed the twins selected in 1995-1996 were as follows: Michigan Technological University, and in Bulgaria the Institute of Mathematics, the Technical University in Gabrovo, and the University of Shoumen: boundary of the theory of combinatorial designs and the theory of error-correcting codes University of Virginia, and in Bulgaria the Institute of Solid State Physics: photoexcitation of autoionizing resonances from intermediate excited states Cornell University, and in Bulgaria the Institute of Polymers: synthesis and characterization of novel amphiphilic polymers University of Delaware, and in Bulgaria Sofia University: relationship between monetary policy and development of financial institutions in Bulgaria
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape Syracuse University, and in Romania the Institute of Physical Chemistry: carbon as a catalyst for environmental applications George Mason University, and in Romania the Center for Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and Conceptual Modeling: multistrategy learning as a framework for knowledge-based systems Lehigh University, and in Romania the University of Bucharest: in-situ crack tip plastic zones using image analysis enhanced moiré interferometry Johns Hopkins University, and in Romania the University of Bucharest: Late Cretaceous island biogeography of Europe International Research Experiences for U.S. Undergraduates In 2004 NSF added a new aspect to the NRC program under a component entitled International Research Experiences for U.S. Undergraduates Visiting Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States, or INTREU. U.S. university faculty members were invited to apply for grants that would enable them to take a team of undergraduate students abroad for short-term international research experiences. Two of the selected teams, both from Oregon State University, traveled to Eastern Europe. One team visited the University of Debrecen in Hungary to work on a cross-continental study of controls on soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics. The other team visited the American University in Bulgaria to undertake a comparative analysis of environmental policies in Bulgaria and the United States. These initial efforts seemed quite interesting, but the overall program was terminated after only one year because of a shift in programmatic focus by NSF. Nationality, Discipline, Gender, and Age Diversity During the process of selecting the best qualified applicants for the program, special efforts were made to include projects involving a diverse range of different countries (particularly beyond Russia) and fields of science (such as social science and environmental science). These requirements were generally not difficult to satisfy, although in some cases it was necessary to take second-tier applicants in the interest of diversity. During some application cycles, special calls for proposals were issued that limited applications to those involving cooperation with specific countries, particularly Romania and Bulgaria, or research on specific topics. NSF was pleased with this flexibility, and the overall funding level was not affected by the adjustment. As to the percentage of qualified applicants who received funding, there was a steady trend over the years from less than 25 percent to more than 50 percent.
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape Senior male scientists dominated the program at the beginning, and this domination continued until the end. Special quotas were established by which 25 percent of grants awarded were set aside for young investigators who had received their doctoral degrees not more than 7 years prior to submitting their applications. This quota was effective in lowering the average age of participants. However, given the low percentages of women working in many branches of sciences, a significant imbalance in favor of men was the usual outcome of the selection process. The Impacts of Exchanges Seeking to gauge the impact of the program, the NRC staff routinely contacted the American participants one year after their exchanges. The questions asked included the following: Have the U.S. and Eastern European specialists remained in contact after completing the exchange? Have the participants applied for and received funding from other sources to continue the collaboration? Have they published papers, made conference presentations, or taken other steps to enhance their careers or contributions to the scientific community as a result of experiences during the exchange? The answers varied from year to year, but in general the lasting impact of many exchanges was impressive. The limited duration of usually 2 weeks to 2 months of the visits of Eastern Europeans to the United States reduced the likelihood that the exchanges would encourage emigration. In this regard, families almost never accompanied short-term exchange visitors to the United States. The results from individual exchanges usually needed time to materialize, and they were manifested in various ways, such as joint publications, curriculum development, and follow-on visits by the participants or by their colleagues or students. Occasionally, however, results were evident almost immediately through presentations at international conferences. See Table 2-1 for the results of 3 years of surveys of participants in the COBASE Program. CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS Over the years, exchanges provided an important channel of communications between American scientists and their counterparts in Eastern Europe. In the 1960s and 1970s, they were at times the only dependable channel for communications between the scientific communities in the United States and in Eastern Europe. This channel was considered both scientifically and politically important, as evidenced by the financing of the exchanges by NSF for more than 40 years and the continuing interest
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape TABLE 2-1 Results of Surveys of American Participants in COBASE Program (percent) Outcome of exchange program Survey year FY 1998 FY 1999 FY 2000 Partners still in contact 95 94 95 American had publication or presentation based on program 69 67 58 American applied for follow-on grant 52 67 56 American received follow-on grant 24 33 28 NOTE: Surveys were conducted one year after completion of individual programs. Although these data cover exchanges involving countries throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the results were comparable for exchanges involving only Eastern European scientists. SOURCE: COBASE program data. Reprinted from Schweitzer, Glenn E. 2004. Scientists, Engineers, and Track-Two Diplomacy: A Half-Century of U.S.-Russian Interacademy Cooperation. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. of scientists on both sides of the ocean to participate. As the region opened its remaining closed doors during the early 1990s, the contacts being established through the program helped many isolated Eastern European scientists link more fully into the international scientific community. Then, with the expansion of other international programs, particularly those sponsored by the European Union, the impact of the smaller efforts of COBASE began to diminish. Finally, in the early 2000s, NSF terminated its regionally oriented activities as it decided to deemphasize programs targeted on specific geographical regions as previously noted. The evaluations by NSF of the effectiveness of the interacademy program were at the highest level. But NSF apparently considered that its resources could be more effectively used in a different manner without the need for the NAS as an intermediary.