This is a community initiative borne from informal discussions with active researchers on the future of science in Ukraine. A feeling of imminent crisis in science management and funding systems is in the air. Can scientific community take responsibility of its own course or should it submit itself to the government-appointed crisis managers? Many fellow scientists ­ at different levels of the academic hierarchy ­ either do not know about the forthcoming reform or are not serious about it. We believe that without active involvement of scientific community the planned reform is doomed and will be choked to death by the skilled hands of politicians and bureaucrats.

Our goal is to propose a platform that could be used to inform the community on the processes behind the ongoing science reform, and to monitor the actions of the state structures responsible for its implementation. Our current focus is on elections to the “National Council of Ukraine on Science and Technology”. We would like to explain the nature of this opportunity and encourage our readers to get involved.

New Law on Science in Ukraine: A chance for a change

It is no secret that for many years there was no state strategy in Ukraine in the field of science. Various politicians announced various "national priority programs", but they remained just declarations due to the lack of understanding the problem by policymakers, lack of political will, chronic underfunding, and corruption. Proliferation of corruption, most pronounced in pedagogical and social sciences, has led to drastic image losses for all science activities. The public opinion about scientists is currently as low as the public opinion on politicians. As a most alarming sign, several state leaders have openly expressed their opinion that "Ukraine can't afford any fundamental science". In such a situation, science in Ukraine is faced with an alternative: reform itself or perish, and time is certainly not on its side.

The new Law of Ukraine “On Scientific and Technical Activity” was enacted on January 16, 2016. One of the most important innovations of this document is the establishment of a permanent advisory body, the National Council of Ukraine on Science and Technology under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the main purpose of which is to ensure an effective interaction between representatives of the scientific community, governmental agencies, and industry, to help develop and implement the state policy in the field of science and technology. The National Council of Ukraine on Science and Technology will consist of two parts: the Scientific and Administrative Committees.

The Scientific Committee will include 24 leading scholars who represent the entire scientific community of Ukraine, and the Administrative Committee is formed of 24 representatives of the central executive bodies (the minimal level of representation – deputy Ministers), the National Academy of Science of Ukraine as well as National specialized academies (the minimal level of representation – the vice­presidents), oblast (city) state administrations of the regions with considerable scientific potential (their level of representation will not be lower than deputy heads of the state administrations), the state executive bodies responsible for science policy, large high­tech enterprises, scientific institutions, universities, academies, institutes and innovative structures.

In accordance with the Law, the members of the Scientific Committee will be appointed by the Identification Committee on Science, members of which will be chosen through the open competitive procedure among the domestic and foreign scholars who have significant scientific achievements, impeccable reputation and credibility in the scientific community.

The Identification Committee on Science: Nine wise men for Ukraine

With the new structure of science management, as established in the new law, we get a chance to make an important change that can redefine the Ukrainian scientific landscape. It is vitally important to select our best scientists for the future National Council of Ukraine on Science and Technology. This selection will be in the hands of the nine members of the Identification Committee. Thus, it becomes an equally important task to ensure that those nine jurors are able to perform their task solely on the grounds of merit, not yielding to any political pressure.

There is a tricky question, however: who will choose those nine sages? According to the law, the nine members of the Identification Committee (IC) have to be chosen by the so-called "Special Search Commission" (SSC) that should be "mechanically" composed of the 25 Ukrainian scientists with the highest h-index. One can argue whether this is the best procedure, but one has to start somewhere, and this "mechanical" approach at least tries to be impartial. At the time when we write this, the list of the Commission members is still not announced by the Ministry of Education and Science, although according to the law that had to be done by March 16, 2016.

It is clear that the IC members should be maximally independent and there should be no conflict of interests with respect to the SSC members, as well as with respect to the candidates to the National Council. Choosing a Ukrainian scientist as a member of the IC would mean that the way to the National Council for this person as well as for their close scientific partners is barred. For that reason, to our opinion, the best strategy is to ensure that the IC members are foreign scientists with a solid experience of working in international evaluation commissions. A crucial point is a complete independence of the foreign scientists on Ukraine's academic and political establishment. Sure enough, foreign scientists are generally not very well acquainted with the Ukrainian scientific community, but this is not so important since they will only have a one­time task of selecting the candidates to the National Council. They should be able to do so basing their decisions on the scale and quality of the candidates' research accomplishments. Furthermore, the scientific specialization of the IC members is not very important, since the criteria of good research are fairly similar across the fields.

Currently, 62 persons have been nominated for the Identification Committee, and 13 of them are foreign scholars.
Here is the full official list of the nominees, augmented with some background information on the candidates obtained via open sources, including the publication data.

Even a quick glance shows that Ukrainian nominees are a motley group, ranging from respected researchers (some of them being really world-class ones) to police academy professors, functionaries and politicians (whose association with science is probably restricted to their PhD degree). The list of foreign candidates (see below) includes a member of the Nobel Committee, presidents of two European science academies (ALLEA and Euro-CASE), leaders of large laboratories and institutes, holders of numerous prestigious international awards who have made seminal contributions to their fields of research. It would be a shame to miss an opportunity to enlist help from such a distinguished community, and we are convinced that prominent Ukrainian scholars should be "spared" so that they can be elected to the Scientific Committee.

Full list of nominees (partly in Ukrainian) can be found here

Foreign nominees to the Identification Committee on Science:

Name of the nominee

Samuel D. Bader

Nominated by the Argonne National Laboratory, USA

Associate Division Director and Group Leader, Argonne National Laboratory, USA

Recent papers

Fellow: American Physical Society, American Vacuum Society

Awards: DOE Award for outstanding achievements in solid state physics (1992), AVS John A. Thornton Memorial Award (2001)

Google Scholar

Gregory Falkovich

Bertrand Halperin

Nominated by Harvard University, USA

Professor at Harvard University, USA (CV, Papers)

Member: National Academy of Sciences (USA); American Philosophical Society. Fellow: American Physical Society; American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Awards: Lars Onsager Medal and Lecture, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (2009); Dannie Heineman Prize of the Göttingen Akademie der Wissenschaften (2007); Wolf Prize in Physics (2003); Lars Onsager Prize, American Physical Society (2001); Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize, American Physical Society (1982)


    Google Scholar

Mats L. Larsson

Nominated by the Institute of Condensed Matter Physics (Lviv, Ukraine)

Professor at Stockholm University, Member of the Royal Swedish Academy, Sweden's CERN representative (1999-2004), Head of the Sweden Research Council on Natural Sciences

Member of the Nobel Committe on Physics 2016-2018

Remi G. M. Chauvin

Nominated by the Institute for Single Crystals, Natl. Acad. Sci. Ukraine

Professor at Universite de Toulouse

Alexander Kusenko

Rostislav Grigorchuk

Nominated by the Institute of Mathematics and Kiev Mathematical Society , Ukraine

Professor, Texas A&M University


Andrey Varlamov

Nominated by the Institute of Superconductivity and Innovative Materials (CNR-SPIN) Rome, Italy

Short bio

Professor, Institute of Superconductivity and Innovative Materials (CNR-SPIN) Rome, Italy

Google Scholar

Günter Stock

Nominated by Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany


President of the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA)

Carlo W.J. Beenakker

Nominated by the University of Leiden, Netherlands

Professor, Leiden University


Google Scholar

Kirby Kemper

Nominated by the Institute for Nuclear Research, Ukraine

Professor emeritus, Florida State University


Alexandre Varnek

University of Strasbourg

Nominated by the Institute of monocrystals, Ukraine


Web of Science Core Collection: 136 papers, 2207 times cited, h-index =27

Scopus: 121 papers, 2177 times cited, h-index=27

Google Scholar: 3004 citations, h-index=32

Alexei S. Kondrashov

U of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Nominated by the Institute of zoology, Ukraine

Personal webpage - U of Michigan

Lab of evolutionary genomics in Moscow


Web of Science Core Collection: 133 papers, 9887 times cited, h-index =41

Scopus: 127 papers, 9867 times cited, h-index=41

George Gamota

U Michigan (emeritus)

Nominated by the Institute of scintillation materials, Ukraine

Biografy (narrative - style)


Web of Science Core Collection: 19 papers, 95 times cited, h-index =7