NEWS
Prince William has awarded a TSU scientist for the study of the Arctic
Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, has awarded the Order of St. Michael and St. George to Terence V. Callaghan, Professor at TSU and the University of Sheffield and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. His cavaliers are outstanding figures in art, science, business, politics, and security. Dr. Callaghan received this award for his contribution to international collaboration and the development of Arctic science. The ceremony took place at Buckingham Palace, where the scientist received the sign of the Knight Commander from the hands of Prince William. For almost 50 years, Professor Callaghan has worked in the area of the Arctic environment. His research interest is the relationship between the environment, plants, and animals, including the reaction of Arctic ecosystems to climate change, carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, and UV radiation. Professor Callaghan played a crucial role in the formation of the British research base on the island of Spitsbergen in the high Arctic. One of the largest and most successful European network projects on the study of climatic changes in the Arctic - INTERACT, which brings together about 80 ground and high research stations - came about thanks to his initiative, supported by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 2016, it included three scientific bases of TSU - Aktru, Khanymey, and Kaybasovo. Since 2013, Professor Callaghan has headed the International Academic Council of TSU, taking an active part in promoting the University in the world. In 2016, with his direct participation under the auspices of TSSW (Trans-Siberian Scientific Way), the international network SecNET was established. Its purpose is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary understanding of environmental changes in Siberia and their social impact on the national and global scale. During the award ceremony, Prince William asked why Professor Callaghan had chosen the Arctic for exploration and what particularly valuable it has that distinguishes it from other regions. - I love the Arctic - its wildlife, landscapes, and inhabitants. All of them are now subject to change. The events that take place in the Arctic today affect people living not only in this region, but all over the world, - says Terry Callaghan. - In fact, the more I study the Arctic ecology, the more questions arise, especially questions related to the future of this part of the planet. During the award ceremony, I briefly told the prince about the INTERACT program and about the fact that thanks to it, almost a thousand scientists can conduct their research every year in different places on Earth. As Terry Callaghan notes, this award is also has a TSU contribution, because without the University there would not be any new INTERACT projects in Russia. Tomsk State University enables him to work with other Russian scientific centers, providing an opportunity to create and implement new projects. During the ceremony that took place in St. Peter's Cathedral in honor of the awardees, there was a surprise. In the chapel, built in honor of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, there are plaques showing the names of everyone who has ever been awarded. Among them, Professor Callaghan found his own namesake. - But I thought that I’m the one who’s so great, the scientist jokes. - In fact, I'm very interested in who this man was, what he did. I will try to figure this out, it may turn out that he is my distant relative. In addition to science, Terry Callaghan pays great attention to educational programs. So, for example, a large-scale international educational project – the creation of the virtual Arctic – is being implemented under the guidance of the professor, based at TSU. The interactive resource will contain the largest amount of text information, video, and computer graphics about this unique region. Currently, Terry Callaghan is at the high-altitude station Aktru, where TSU is conducting its summer school devoted to the transformation of the environment in Siberia and the Arctic, which he traditionally participates in. As a part of the educational course, he will read lectures to students from South Africa, the United States, Italy, Japan, France, and the Netherlands who have come to Siberia to learn to understand the Arctic.
17.07.2018 Read More
A student believes that photography helps to know people better
Nanna Heitmann studies at the Faculty of Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the University of Hannover in Germany, and has come at TSU for a six-month exchange program. The young woman told us why a photographer should work on a sheep farm, how to make friends in different countries, and what is interesting in Siberia.   Nanna speaks good Russian. It’s heredity: her mother is from Russia, and her grandmother still lives in Moscow and has worked all her life as an interpreter.  “From childhood, my mother tried to talk with me in Russian, but I often resisted, answered her in German. Now I'm sorry, I want to make up for lost time - to learn Russian as well as possible”, she says with a smile. Studying the language is not the only reason Nanna Heitmann came to Tomsk: here she has an internship in photo and photo design at the Faculty of Journalism. The faculty has long been collaborating with the University of Hanover, the exchange of students and teachers has become a tradition, and Nanna decided to take advantage of this opportunity. Moreover, Siberia is the motherland of her ancestors, in particular, her grandfather. Traveling to a distant unfamiliar Siberia is not her first adventure. Nanna has already been in Nepal, India, Indonesia, and Israel, and hitchhiked almost the whole of Europe. Sometimes it was necessary to spend the night in a tent, although she often stopped at friends or in cheap hotels. And everywhere she was primarily interested not in famous sights, but the way of life, work, and cultural traditions of ordinary people. “If you travel like an ordinary tourist, it's hard to see people in their daily lives,”- Nanna says. “We need some time to live among them, to understand, to feel how people live, to see what cannot be seen with a third-party glance.” So, once she helped to care for sheep on one of the ecological farms in Norway, for almost a month. Nanna found the owners through the Internet and wrote to them. She was not paid for the work, but was given shelter, food, and the opportunity to make a wonderful photo essay about the life of Norwegian farmers. “Once we made banana wine there. At that time, there was a marathon in that area, bananas were provided for the athletes, and there are many of them left. We didn’t know what to do with them and grandfather - the owner of the farm - decided to try to make a wine from them. It turned out even better than we expected” - laughs Nanna. Another “epic work experience” was in Nepal, where Nanna spent a month cultivating rice. For the heroes of her reports, she even descended even into the mine for 1,700 meters. “For me, it was a discovery, I did not imagine that such work still exists in Germany - old and very heavy, even despite modern technologies” – Nanna shares her impressions. She sends her reports to various magazines, with which she collaborates. Sometimes they give her tasks themselves, for example, she went with a journalist to Israel to report on refugees. In Siberia, Nanna also wants to realize a project - to make a photo essay about the lives of people who inhabit the area along the Yenisei. “I have an idea to make story photos in the style of fairytale illustrations of Bilibin. As a child, I loved reading Russian fairytales, and I want to create such a modern fairytale in photographs - about the life of people in those places, about their traditions, and about shamans.” Nanna is planning to sail along the Yenisei by postal boat, stopping in the settlements. And if it works out, visit Baikal. On the question of whether it’s scary for her to travel alone here in remote places, she shakes her head negatively. “Not yet. In India, I also traveled mostly alone, it was more terrible there - the culture is different, and the attitude to woman is different. But on the road, she often meets different fellow travelers or just like her, travelers with whom it is interesting to share the road for a while. Now she already has many acquaintances in different countries, including Russia. In Barnaul, for example, a young woman with whom she was traveling along Nepal is waiting for her. “The photo opens a lot of doors. I want to see how the world is arranged. When you understand people better, there is no prejudice, no fear of other nationalities, religions. And the world is constantly changing, and the pictures remember it the way it will never be again” - Nanna thinks. 
17.07.2018 Read More
Ximena Calderon from Ecuador tells about her study
Ximena Calderon is from Ecuador, and a native speaker of Spanish. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the Technical University of Loja, and then she went to another part of the world to continue her education at Tomsk State University as a postgraduate.   With a guarantee of quality    “I was looking for a Master's program that would be the most complete in terms of diverse areas of knowledge and contain the courses I needed” - says Ximena. “But even more important for me was the presence of professionals with experience in designing and developing research projects and conservation plans in the community. These are the main research tools that interest me.” Ximena chose the international Master's program in Biodiversity that was recently opened at TSU. This Master’s program is in English and directed by the Italian researcher Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, who has a great deal of experience in biodiversity and ecology. “I took his course on ecology and biodiversity on Coursera, and I really liked it. The content of the program seemed rich and diverse...”   From Ecuador to the Arctic   Before beginning her Master’s studies, Ximena was collaborating on different projects focused on sustainable development and environmental issues in her region. But after her experience at the Charles Darwin Research Foundation in Galapagos, where she worked with the ecology and behavior of land birds, she decided to enter this exciting field. Here at TSU, she analyzes the results of Arctic research. “We are completing a database about the different Arctic researchers in recent years. We study their different approaches to analysis, in particular. At the same time, we have a real interest in studying the snow leopard. Snow leopards are found in 12 countries—including China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, and Mongolia—but their population is declining. We have special interest in studying their behavior and ecology to implement conservation strategies here in Russia.” Moreover, Ximena wants to work in the Altai. She hopes to visit the TSU research station there and take part in an international summer school that the university conducts every year.   Stereotypes are not confirmed    The Siberian frosts did not frighten the Master’s student, although in Ecuador the temperature does not drop below +8. And she really likes Tomsk. “It seems to me a safe city. We have a stereotype that Russians are closed and unresponsive people. But this is not so. People here are always kind.”
17.07.2018 Read More
Quality of Life in Conditions of Global Transformation of Mankind
In the beginning of June 2018, the participants of the international interdisciplinary research seminar “Quality of Life in Conditions of Global Transformation of Mankind” gathered at the TSU’s Aktru International Research Station. The seminar was organized by the Laboratory for Comparative Research in Quality of Life of National Research Tomsk State University headed by professor Eduard Galazhinskiy and the International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation of the Higher School of Economics headed by Professor Dmitry Leontiev. Among the participants was Kennon Sheldon, one of the world’s most cited psychologists, professor at Missouri University (USA), an academic advisor at the International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation of the Higher School of Economics. He came to the Aktru station with his wife and colleague Professor Melanie Sheldon. After the seminar, we had an opportunity to conduct an interview with them in order to learn about their impressions of the event and the venue.   What professional and personal goals brought you here?   Kennon Sheldon: I am here for several reasons. One reason is that I am funded to help the research group, to conduct the collaboration between Russian psychologists at the Higher School of Economics and some American psychologists. Therefore, I am trying to help bring together western and Russian psychology, take the best of both, and make new research. That is a professional goal. However, I also have a personal goal of seeing beautiful places in the world. My wife and I travel together and it is very exotic and different for us to come to this place here. Our friends have never heard of this place and we had to get out a map and show them where we were going. They were afraid we would never come back alive. But we feel very good here so far! Melanie Sheldon: I am here mostly because Kennon is not happy traveling alone. But also it is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and to learn about new cultures, to experience new things, which I have valued all my life. Talking about work here, I will be giving a lecture on how the evolutionary psychology and natural selection shaped human behavior and human mind, and maybe I will give some insight into how we can think about quality of life from an evolved prospective.   Do you think it was a good idea to conduct such an event in this particular place? Do you think that if the seminar were held in some other place, it would have different outcomes?   К. Sh.: This has been a very good idea because it lets us all see a new place that we had never been before and it puts us all on common ground. I am also very happy to see people experience the wilderness for the first time. I have seen many mountains, and these are spectacular. I am glad I can enjoy them with other people. The results of the conference might be different if it was held some place else, but it is difficult to say how different, because it would be a completely different experience for all of us. We would have more of a focus on work, perhaps, here we are focusing both on work and enjoyment of the mountains around us. I think that enjoyment is helping us to think more clearly and creatively. M. Sh.: I think that the setting that we are in is actually contributing to the overall functioning of the seminar and it is adding an extra element to it. The way that it would be coming down would be different if we were in a different setting, but at the same time, being in all this experience together adds something to the group. It is helpful more than anything else. Being outside everyone’s comfort zone bonds people together. Finding a way to do that always facilitates finding common ground.   What has been the most unexpected and the most difficult thing for you so far?   K. Sh.: There are many unexpected things that occur to us, when we are in Russia. That is one of the reasons, why we like to come here. When we went to the Blue Lake yesterday, it surprised me very much. I was surprised that our guide would take us to a place that was that high and that dangerous. He just took us all up, showed us how to walk through the snow, and we all made it safely. There were some places where an accident could have happened that would have been difficult to deal with. M. Sh.: I expected that this experience would be typical of what we usually expect of Russia. People would be very nice and there would be very little English. I expected to see beautiful mountains and those expectations have been met. I expected that people would do their best to make us comfortable and that has been more than met. We have been very comfortable and very entertained and very amused and we are very thankful to Tomsk State University for that. The biggest challenge for me was the hike yesterday, which was much more demanding than we were expecting. But at the same time, everybody was helping each other and it was just a wonderful experience. I want say that it was the most demanding experience I have had in the wilderness or in the mountains, because it was not. However, I was not expecting to be part of a guided tour of people who had never hiked in the mountains before. And we went to such an extreme place.   This station is one of the TSU’s places where research is conducted and where we invite our colleagues to join us to work on projects or to participate in summer schools and seminars. Do you think it is important for TSU to hold on to these places and support them?   К. Sh.: This is a very special place and I very much hope that TSU will continue to maintain this location. I have been around the world in the mountains and these are special mountains. This is world class Alpine scenery. It reminds me of Chamonix in the French Alps. It is a venue unlike any other that I have ever been for conferences. It is kind of magic, it is uplifting, it is inspirational, it is an excellent facility for the university. М. Sh.: We have quite an experience as foreign tourists. We have not only been in Moscow, but Saint Petersburg, Golden Ring around Moscow, we have been to Kamchatka, Petropavlovsk, Vladivostok, and even Tomsk, we have been there both as scholars, collaborating, and as tourists. There has not been historically a lot of attention paid to how to make wonders of Russia accessible to foreign tourists. There is very little English, and many things that foreign tourists expect when they go to foreign travel is not part of the Russian infrastructure. In the last seven years, we have seen Russia make many efforts in that area. I think that a place like this, the research centre here is an excellent laboratory to think about how to make your amazing land more accessible to foreign tourists. This particular place is a place where people would come from all over the world, because the people who climb in mountains are the people who want to collect them all around the world. They go everywhere around the world to experience new mountain settings just because it is new and different. This particular place here is different in so many ways because it is Russia and it is equal to any other alpine area in the world in terms of drama and excitement. However, there are no foreign tourists here. Very few. It is inaccessible to them. In addition, anyone who is a scholar benefits from coming to a place where researches have been done and people have new experience.   Can you think of any situation when somebody helped you here?   K. Sh.: There have been many situations when we have been helped here by random people, as well as by our handler who has taken such good care of us. She has anticipated all of our needs and made sure we were happy and comfortable at all times. Here is one example. When we were coming down from the Blue Lake yesterday, the water had come up with the stream and became much higher. My wife was trying to cross the stream on the rocks, it was too bigger jump, and she did not know what to do. And there was a man, we did not know him, he got up and run over, and gave Melanie his hand. That is a good example of the hospitality of Russians that we see. M. Sh: I have been helped so many ways on this trip. I have a whole list of food that I cannot eat and that makes it really difficult for me to eat food that everybody else is eating, but somehow there always has been something that I can eat and enjoy. So that is the way that people have gone their way to help me. We have found that Russians in general, even though we do not speak a common language with them, they are very helpful to everyone. If they see a situation in which they can be helpful, they just reach out and help.   What will be the very first story you tell your family and friends when you get back home, your “must tell story”?   К. Sh: Probably, the first story that we will tell is the story of how we got up here in the giant vehicle, it was a box with huge tires and we were shaking in it for two hours. At first, the windows were all closed, but we found the button, we pushed it and the driver realized that there was something wrong. That is a good example of how things often go in Russia. There is not so much attention to comfort, but when you point out that something could be done to make things better, it is usually done. М. Sh: There are so many stories and it depends on who I will be telling the story to first. Probably, I will come home to my house and see my son who has been watching my cat. To him I will tell the story about the hike to the Blue Lake. When I meet with my friends, I will talk about the wonderful friends that we have made here and the things that I learnt about the people.   We know that you are very experienced backpackers, but still, people say that every new adventure adds something to personality. Have you found anything new in yourself here?   К. Sh: I cannot think of anything that I added to myself while I was here, I hope that I have lost some parts of myself, maybe about five pounds. The main thing that we have gotten here is new memories. We cherish our memories and our photographs, and it makes life richer to have these experiences that you can think about and talk about. М. Sh.: Every experience I have shapes me as a person. Professionally, actually, I have been surprised by the number of conversations that I have had. There have been a lots of ways that I have grown here.   Do you think that if you are invited in the future to come to some other extreme place TSU maintains, you will want to come?   К. Sh.: Yes, we would be very interested to find out more about the other research stations that TSU runs. М. Sh.: We like to see new places. And we would like to see new places in Russia. Of course, we would go back to some places. Tomsk is amazing as a town and we would go back there.
17.07.2018 Read More