In September of 2010, Florin Albeanu traveled from New York, home of his neuroscience lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, to Bucharest, Romania, the city where he lived the first 19 years of his life, for an unusual scientific meeting.
The Romanian government had invited Albeanu and many other Romanian scientists working abroad to the meeting, called Diaspora in Scientific Research and Higher Education in Romania, to discuss the problems facing the country’s scientific enterprise (or lack of it). Corruption, incompetence and cheating is rampant in Romanian universities and government agencies. This has led to a dearth of funding and training opportunities, impeding researchers from doing any science at all, let alone publishing their results internationally recognized journals. Like Florin Ţibu, the subject of last week’s post, Florin Albeanu had seen this problem firsthand.
Albeanu grew up in Bucharest, in a culture of fear and economic hardship created by communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Albeanu vividly remembers the omnipresent political propaganda — not only the state-controlled television and radio, but ceremonies where his family, friends or neighbors gathered, begrudgingly, to sing songs about the greatness of Romania and Ceaușescu. Albeanu was 11 years old when Ceaușescu was executed, in 1989. Immediately after it happened, “there was a lot of hope for a drastic and very rapid change,” he says. “But in the following five to ten years, things changed very, very slowly.”
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