Europe is losing its science stars

Figures on the exodus towards America of highly qualified scientists, lacking opportunities in Europe, are worrying, if not alarming, according to Dr. Jean-Pierre Henriet, Ghent University, speaking at EurOCEAN European Conference on Marine Science & Ocean Technology in Galway today. “Historically, no country has been better able to turn the tide emigration than Ireland. Perhaps Ireland can set an example for Europe during the Irish Presidency in an effort to turn the tide on the exodus of scientists from Europe.” said Dr. Henriet. 

“Europe will lose its strategic position at the frontline of ocean exploration - vital for European science & industry - if we neglect human resource management. Important pools of pre-doctoral and post-doctoral young researchers have been created. However, the top of the career pyramid still has to be shaped, as a horizon for “the best of” our trainees, and as a pool of senior expertise for recruitment by universities, governments and industry.”

This afternoon, the Conference will focus on the contribution of the young generations for the future of the European Marine Research Area and the role that the European Commission’s Marie Curie Fellowship Programme has played in the professional careers and personal development of young scientist involved in Marine Research.  Demand for Marie Curie Fellowship is strong. With a budget increase of  60 per cent in the 6th Framework Programme, only 20 per cent of proposals in 2003 were successful in receiving funding with the number of applicants still growing in 2004. Gaining experience abroad is seen as a key stepping stone in a scientist’s career path. However, the need for job security for scientists is addressed more generally by the European Commission, in particular, through the initiative to develop a Mobility Charter for Researchers to ensure best practice.

Some of the Marie Curie Fellows who will speak at the conference include Dr. Krishna Das, from Belgium, on the impact of pollutants, such as chemicals and heavy metals, on marine mammals; Dr. Konrad Ocalewicz, from Poland, on the dependency of fish on vitamin C; and Dr. Irina Popescu, from Romania, on Gas and hydrates in the Black Sea as a contributor to the greenhouse effect, their impact on seafloor stability, and as a potential fuel resource.

The EurOCEAN Conference concludes tomorrow with an address by Mr. Dermot Ahern TD., Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. Rapporteurs from six parallel and plenary sessions will highlight future challenges and priorities identified during the three day Conference at the Radisson Hotel, Galway. EurOCEAN 2004 is a European Presidency event sponsored by the European Commission, the Marine Institute, and the European Science Foundation Marine Board (ESF-MB).