Event Report: Days of Ukraine in Berlin and Brandenburg, 16-17 September 2021

Days of Ukraine in Berlin and Brandenburg were held in Berlin on 16-17 September 2021 under the motto “Fostering German-Ukrainian Academic Cooperation and Building a Stronger Europe Together”. With this event we marked the 30th Anniversary of the Independence of Ukraine and the 70th Anniversary of the Institute for Eastern European Studies at Freie Universität Berlin.

© CeDiS/ FU Berlin

This event brought together some fostered the German-Ukrainian academic exchange and cooperation. It was organized by the FU Berlin and chaired by Prof. Theocharis Grigoriadis, Institute for East European Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, in cooperation with the German-Ukrainian Academic Society and is supported by the DAAD with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Find out more about DAAD GoEast Program here.

Photo on the right: Prof. Theocharis Grigoriadis (FU Berlin), Dr. Tetiana Rodionova & Prof. Serhiy Yakubovskiy (both: Odesa I. I. Mechnikov National University). © CeDiS/ FU Berlin

This scientific networking conference over two days brought together over 100 researchers, students, higher education professionals and members of the interested general public from Berlin, Frankfurt (Oder), Potsdam and many other German cities and Ukraine gathered in Berlin. Welcome addresses were delivered by:

  • Professor Dr. Verena Blechinger-Talcott (Vice President of FU Berlin).
  • Maksym Yemelianov (Counsellor of the Ukrainian Embassy),
  • Johann Saathoff (Member of the German Bundestag and Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries, as a video-address),
  • Gabriele Hermani (Head of the Division 212 – Cooperation with Eastern Partnership Countries, Russia and Central Asia, Federal Ministry of Education and Research/ BMBF),
  • Professor Dr. Olga Garaschuk (University of Tübingen and President of the German-Ukrainian Academic Society).
From left to right: Maryna Bondas; Keynote Speaker Prof. Serhii Plokhii; Maksym Yemelianov. © CeDiS/ FU Berlin

A selection of outstanding speakers offered cooperation highlights as testimonials on their successful academic collaboration – in economics and mathematics, public health and molecular medicine. Furthermore, diverse insights into a broad range of Ukrainian studies research in the region were presented. The Keynote Lecture “Beyond the Gates of Europe: Placing Ukraine in the Framework of European History” was delivered per live stream by Prof. Serhii Plokhii, Mykhailo S. Hrushevs’kyi Professor of Ukrainian History/ Director, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University. Maryna Bondas, Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin/ NGO “Heart for Ukraine” (see more here) offered a very moving musical interlude.

On the second day of the conference, representatives of funding agencies provided a comprehensive overview of relevant funding opportunities from both German and EU funders with a view of stimulating future funding applications for new German-Ukrainian and international projects in higher education and research. All conference presentations were also live-streamed and recorded for the digital brochure of the event, which will be made available shortly.

The winners and the UKRAINET PhD Contest Jury members (left to right): Prof. Olga Garaschuk, Kseniia Kravchenko – the 1st place, Nataliya Yadzhak – the 2nd place, Pavlo Burdiak – the 3rd place, Prof. Matthias Epple, Prof. Theocharis Grigoriadis, Dr. Olesia Lazarenko © CeDiS/ FU Berlin

The highlight of the event was the 2021 Final of the annual UKRAINET PhD Thesis Presentation Contest, org

anized by the German-Ukrainian Academic Society for the fifth time, supported by the Embassy of Ukraine in Germany and sponsored by Nomad Bioscience GmbH. With this contest, the Society promotes aspiring PhD candidates and fosters academic cooperation with Ukraine. The contestants are either Ukrainians carrying out their PhD research abroad, or, irrespective of nationality, PhD students whose research is related to Ukraine and/or is carried out in collaboration with Ukrainian scientists.

This year 17 candidates applied from Germany, Hungary, the UK and Ukraine, and after a peer review by independent experts eight PhD students were invited to the Final, with a challenge to introduce themselves and present their PhD research in just five minutes.

Neuroscientist Prof. Olga Garaschuk (University of Tübingen/DUAG President), economist Prof. Theocharis Grigoriadis (HU Berlin), chemist Prof. Matthias Epple (University of Duisburg-Essen/ DUAG Vice-president) and linguist Dr. Olesia Lazarenko (European University Viadrina/ DUAG member) judged the Contest.

The PhD Contest winners 2021 are:

  • The 1st place: Kseniia Kravchenko, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife research (IZW), FU Berlin, Germany (Population Biology), for the talk “: Migratory bats and Global climate change: climate-driven changes in migratory behaviour and distribution of the common noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula)”
  • The 2nd place: Nataliya Yadzhak, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv/ Ukraine & University of Clermont Auvergne/ France (Material Sciences), for the talk “Development of the model for short crack growth in metallic materials under long-term loading and operation environments”
  • The 3rd place: Pavlo Burdiak, University of Szeged, Hungary (International Law), for the talk “Interaction of states and social media platforms in preserving the freedom of expression on social media”

In addition to book prizes – personally signed copies kindly provided by the conference keynote speaker Prof. Serhii Plokhii, the winners received the monetary award of €300 for the first, €200 for the second and €100 for the third place, which has been endowed by the Contest’s long-standing supporter Nomad Bioscience GmbH.

Photo in the center: Gabriele Hermani (BMBF) with the conference participants. © CeDiS/ FU Berlin

Conference participants were able to learn more about Ukraine through two exhibitions, which were shown during the event. 50 Inventions bestowed by Ukraine to the world exhibition highlighted the outstanding discoveries and inventions, from WhatsApp to the Big Bang theory, that arose from the ingenuity of researchers and engineers born in Ukraine, whereas “The science is her/ Наука – це вона” focussed on the contribution of Ukrainian female researchers to the world science. This educational art project was organized by STEM is FEM with the support of the international UN organizations “Women in Ukraine” and the United Nations Children’s Fund in Ukraine (UNICEF). The project is part of UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign to promote gender parity among youth and ensure women’s leadership in technology and innovation. STEM is FEM is a non-profit educational project that promotes technical fields among Ukrainian female high school students.