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Separated by coma

War in Ukraine: Solidarity in research

Pause, the Emergency Support Programme for Scientists in Exile, enables Ukrainian researchers Iryna Goncharova and Nataliya Plyuta to continue their research at the University of Angers. Meet the researchers.


[Nataliya Plyuta and Iryna Goncharova, Ukrainian researchers, work in the Moltech Anjou laboratory.]
Nataliya Plyuta and Iryna Goncharova, Ukrainian researchers, work in the Moltech Anjou laboratory. They met in mid-December in a meeting room at the Faculty of Science on the Belle-Beille campus. Iryna arrived first. With a PhD in chemistry, she was working at the State University of Trade and Economics in Kyiv as an associate professor until the war broke out.

She left Ukraine a month later with her mother and 12-year-old daughter. The family went to Poland and then to Nice by bus, where they stayed for two months in a friend's flat. Iryna continued to work remotely for her university. At the same time, she applied for the Pause programme with the help of Bouchta Sahraoui, a professor at UA's Photonics Laboratory (Lphia), with whom she had collaborated during a previous scientific project.

The request was accepted a month and a half later and Iryna and her family reached Angers by bus at the end of May. "Since September, my research, supervised by the Pause-ANR Ukraine programme within the Moltech Anjou and Lphia laboratories, has focused on monitoring water quality using breakdown spectroscopy induced by a high-energy laser pulse as an excitation source (LIBS)," she explains. Her contract runs until February and should be extended for a further six months.

A single wish: to return home

Nataliya then took the floor. The young researcher was working at the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, a partner institution of UA, where she obtained her PhD in chemistry in 2020 following a joint thesis between the two universities. She left Ukraine at the beginning of March, alone. "After a month in Germany, I arrived in Angers in April 2022 at the Moltech laboratory to study the coordination chemistry of benzothiadiazole-based ligands with transition metals or lanthanides in order to obtain luminescent or magnetic derivatives," she explains.

The two researchers - who are taking French lessons to learn the French language - feel that they have been very well received in Angers and are very grateful to the staff at UA (the international office, Moltech Anjou and Lphia laboratories). While they like it here in Angers, they have also noticed several differences from their pre-war life. Here, the facilities are of a high standard, and there are many research opportunities," they say. People are also very relaxed at weekends to enjoy leisure activities, which was not necessarily a habit in Ukraine. On the other hand, there are a lot of administrative procedures, and it is very complicated to find a general practitioner!

Iryna and Nataliya are regularly in contact with their former colleagues, still in Ukraine or in exile in other European countries. Today, they only hope to return to Ukraine as soon as possible. "My mother misses the country very much," adds Iryna. "My daughter is enrolled in a secondary school in Angers but continues to take Ukrainian courses online". Nataliya decided to give a nice Christmas present to her parents and sister, who were still in the country: she went to Ukraine for ten days at the end of December to spend the holidays with her family.

Extra information

A third Ukrainian researcher, Svitlana Plotnytska, joined the Granem laboratory (Groupe de recherche angevin en économie et management) in March 2022.  

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