Dr Oksana Tananaiko from the Department of Analytical Chemistry, Professor Volodymyr Amirkhanov from the Department of Inorganic Chemistry, and Professor Ihor Komarov and Dr Halyna Hrabchuk from the Educational Scientific Institute of High Technologies, visited Edinburgh to establish new research links, and make plans for joint teaching initiatives between Kyiv and Edinburgh.
The delegation’s inbound flight was substantially delayed, but on the evening of Tuesday 4 July, the Ukrainians eventually arrived for a traditional Scottish welcome of whisky and food, including haggis, at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society on Queen Street. The whisky-tasting guide, Jeremy, did not anticipate that the attendees would have so much specialised chemical knowledge of peat, counterfeiting, and dilution effects, but he was not fazed, and a great evening was had by all.
The work for Wednesday 5 July was dedicated to teaching initiatives and project-student visits. Professor Komarov demonstrated a superb online resource for NMR problem solving, and the Kyiv team was shown around the School’s world-class analytical facilities, which will be used to boost the online resources for teaching NMR and many other techniques. Plans were made for continuing and expanding visits by Kyiv MSc students to Edinburgh, as well as the possibility of hosting visiting PhD students. During a tour of the King’s Buildings campus, including the new first-year teaching laboratories in the Nucleus, the Kyiv team bumped into the Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, HRH The Princess Royal, who was officially opening the building. The team was then taken to see the Crawford Collection at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. The librarian, Karen Moran, gave a great tour of both the collection (containing priceless documents dating from the 13th century) and the main telescope. Right on cue, as the visitors were admiring the view over the city, the Red Arrows flew by, officially marking the King’s visit to Scotland, but we knew it was really for the Ukrainians...
Thursday 6 July was given over to visits to individual research groups, with a highly entertaining lecture (including songs) on The History of Chemistry at Edinburgh given by Dr Andrew Alexander. This was a very busy schedule for the visitors and hosts, and they all needed to relax properly afterwards. The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB) very kindly offered to host a social evening at their premises on Royal Terrace in honour of our visitors. The 60 guests included people from the University of Edinburgh, visiting students from Ukraine, members of the local Ukrainian community, and the Ukrainian Consul in Edinburgh, Mr Andrii Kuslii. After a quick preparatory hike up Calton Hill for some panoramic views of Edinburgh and Leith, the visitors were welcomed by the AUGB with bread and salt. It was an evening of emotional speeches, stirring traditional Ukrainian songs and dances, delicious borshch and kotleti, and lots of conversations between old and new friends, boosted with a little Obolon beer and Khor vodka. This was an especially important event for our visitors, and hopefully they will now feel an even deeper connection with Edinburgh and its Ukrainian community.
The final day of work on Friday 7 July was given over to more research-group meetings, and by lunchtime, the scientific mission was complete. With an exchange of mementos, and warm farewells, the Ukrainians left the School of Chemistry for an afternoon of sightseeing, including a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Everyone got home safely by Monday, and then the work resumed to support research and teaching in Kyiv, with collaborations and exchanges. After such a successful visit, and with lots of new connections made, everyone in Edinburgh is looking forward to being able to visit their colleagues in Kyiv soon!
The visit to the SoC was organised locally by Professor Eleanor Campbell with help from Professors Dušan Uhrín and Philip Camp. The engagement and ongoing support from members of the School are warmly acknowledged. Very special thanks go to Hannah Beaton-Hawryluk, Linda Allison, Tanya Balanova, Senia Urquhart, and the rest of the AUGB team for the Thursday event, and to all of the members of the Ukrainian community who came to support our visitors. The visit was made possible by financial support from a UKRI Twinning Grant between our two universities.
This week was very busy and informative. I have to analyse and “digest” the huge amount of information. Thank you very much for the wonderful welcome and perfect organisation of our visit till last moment!
The visit was an excellent opportunity to get to know our Ukrainian colleagues on a more personal level and explore in depth ways in which we can continue to help them through this very challenging period. We are very excited about the new research and teaching collaborations that are emerging from our interactions.
I would like to sincerely thank you and all your colleagues for hospitality, friendly support and constant care… I am really happy that I visited your wonderful university and met such excellent people, chemists of the highest level.