- How did you come to the idea of creating a new Thematic Network?
- The idea appeared in Yakutsk, during our meeting with partners from the "Center for Strategic Studies of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)" in November 2014. By that time we already had experience of work in multi-disciplinary teams and cooperation with international partners, so we decided to send an application to create a network.
- Where did you meet the network partners?
- We met them working in frames of an international project. NArFU representatives are members of the ISO/TC 67/SC 8 Arctic operations working group, which develops international standards for materials, equipment and offshore structures in the petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries. The work within the group was not easy, we had to overcome a double barrier and find common language with representatives of other countries and other professions. But we learned to understand each other, got huge experience in the multidisciplinary group of researchers. During meetings and discussions an idea of further joint studies appeared, new topics were offered. In the process of working on this project we met our partners from the business company "Meridian", who are now members of our Thematic Network. The International Symposium in Vienna "Contemporary issues in long-distance commute work in the extractive industries" enabled further development of collaboration. There we met Gertrude Eilmsteiner-Saxinger, our Austrian partner. Participation in such events, especially in interdisciplinary conferences covering a wide range of issues and bringing together specialists from different branches of science, has a lot of advantages. There is an opportunity to meet and discuss joint projects with partners, to look at the ideas and experiences of colleagues from various countries. Reports at major forums and conferences are usually published in reviewed journals. In addition, grant support is also focused on participation in international conferences.
- Have you already achieved any results within the network?
- We have either plans or results. Last fall we started working on the application to the Kolarctic programme. We also invited Arya Rautio, the leader of Thematic Network "Health and well-being in the Arctic" to participate in. "Growth points" are formed at the confluence of several fields of knowledge; they are very advantageous for each side in terms of new visions to the old topics of research or suggestions regarding new ones. Now we are working on the joint application to the FIRST program to get funding for international summer school for graduate students. The summer school will be organized together with our Finnish colleagues from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Together we prepare one of scientific sessions within UArctic Congress in Saint Petersburg in September 2016; the speakers list is under development at this stage. Another direction of our TN activities is expeditions and field work. In a month we will go to Noviy Urengoy, where among other things we will test the new clothing and conduct a research on working conditions and their impact on the shift workers’ health. A similar study was conducted in Norway and Finland; common results will serve as a basis for the joint publication within our Thematic Network. The planned expedition to the mining field is only one example of mutually beneficial cooperation with business. In this regard, we successfully collaborate with "Arkhangelskoe Geologodobychnoe Predpriyatie", Joint Stock Company working in extractive industry. In the nearest future we are going to conduct research in field camps at the diamond deposit near Arkhangelsk.
- What would you advise to new Thematic Networks’ members recently involved into their activities?
- The importance of participation in international projects, seminars and conferences is an experience, which is hard to overestimate. Not less important is to think “out of the box”, do something beyond your main specialization and be flexible enough by choice of projects’ topics and communication with partners. Scientists have to find a common language with a wide range of people and tell about their ideas with simple and understandable terms. We advise to start negotiations regarding future initiatives with interested researchers, not heads of units and institutions. Only researchers can inspire their superiors to participate in various projects. Do not be afraid of initiative, original ideas as a basis for common discussion should come from you. After common discussion you have to take responsibility for the future idea development. Besides, it is necessary to reserve time for responses to your e-mails. Do not be discouraged if your first letter has no answer. Be flexible in dealing with partners and take their interests into account. In this case, your joint efforts will bring a desired result.