JINR becoming closer to Kamchatka

Interview, 13 October 2021

The JINR Information Centre will be opened in Vitus Bering Kamchatka State University (KamSU).

An interview with Vice-Rector for Science, Innovation, and International Affairs of KamSU Veronika Nikolayevna Efimenko.

– An agreement was signed on the opening of the JINR Information Centre in KamSU recently. How can it help students, teachers, and scientists of Kamchatka?

– Kamchatka is a very remote region of the Russian Federation, the “edge of the earth”, and young people are trying to enter the central higher educational universities of our country, which are closer to the European part. They usually choose the most prestigious universities. Speaking about the field of physics, these are MIPT, MEPhI, MISIS, etc. As a result, a lot of young people are leaving Kamchatka. It is necessary to make Kamchatka more attractive for young people, including the possibility of getting better fundamental education, to prevent this tendency.

How can JINR support these efforts?

– JINR research experience may interest high school students and, accordingly, attract potential applicants to the University. The cooperation with JINR will allow students of first years to understand that there is also a practical part of science in addition to its academic side. As a key insight, I see a direct participation of students, undergraduates, and postgraduates in JINR laboratories’ work: in practices and internships. Alternatively, at the very least, they can enroll in the online programme INTEREST. It is also important for students to see and listen to world-famous scientists, at least online.

In 2019, KamSU together with JINR, organized the Kamchatka School on Physics of Elementary Particles and Related Topics. Who participated in it? What results did it give?

— At the end of September 2019, the first School was held very successfully. More than 30 postgraduates and young scientists from different parts of the country apart from students from Kamchatka came together in Paratunka village, Yelizovsky District. We made an announcement about this School and gave the opportunity to join listeners independently. School physics teachers took an active part in the School along with students and young and famous scientists. Thus, a community of professionals passionate about innovations in physics has gathered together.

Where did participants come from?

– The geography was broad. Scientists came from Tomsk, Mirny, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, Ufa, Nalchik. There were also colleagues from Sweden and Kazakhstan. So, the School turned out to be international.

What was the programme of the School?

– Work lasted a week. Most of the lecturers were from JINR, and then scientists from the Institute of Cosmophysical Research and Radio Wave Propagation (FEB RAS) continued lectures and practical work. Teachers, who reported on their projects, gave separate talks. It was especially important for teachers to communicate with each other, to exchange experience in teaching physics, some of their best practices, projects. Unfortunately, the pandemic did not allow us to develop this direction in 2020. It suspended work of the Kamchatka School.

Cooperation between KamSU and DLNP JINR is developing individually…

– We have the integrative laboratory “Natural disasters of Kamchatka – earthquakes and volcanic eruptions” (monitoring, forecast, study, psychological support of population). Departments of Mathematics and Physics, Theoretical and Practical Psychology of KamSu, Geophysical Survey of the RAS, and the Institute of Cosmophysical Research and Radio Wave Propagation FEB RAS take part in it. Mathematicians together with geophysicists make calculations, develop hypotheses, and show how to use instruments to predict an earthquake. We rely on the cooperation with DLNP JINR in this issue very much thus having an opportunity to use its developments and equipment for earthquake prediction. Our psychologists have already had experience working with the population that survived the earthquake. In 2006, there was a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 in Kamchatka, in Olyutorsky district. The Korf village ceased to exist after that disaster. Psychologists studied states of people who survived the disaster. Based on the conducted research, scientists of the Theoretical and Practical Psychology Department made a list of methodological recommendations on working with people who survived a natural disaster.

Cooperation in the fields of muon radiography (muography) has been organized. What is it about?

– KamSu, JINR, and Kamchatka Geophysical Survey RAS signed a trilateral agreement on installation of a muon detector based on scintillation hodoscopes developed at JINR on the Kamchatka Avacha Volcano. Colleagues have already climbed the Volcano and studied the place where it is possible to install the detector. It is rather heavy, specialists will have to lift and fix it. Preparatory works are scheduled for spring.

KamSu also cooperates with the Institute of Cosmophysical Research and Radio Wave Propagation FEB RAS and the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB RAS. Do you plan to coordinate your efforts with them within the framework of the Information Centre?

– KamSU has a quite strong friendship with the Institute of Cosmophysical Research and Radio Wave Propagation FEB RAS and the Kamchatka Geophysical Survey RAS. Employees of the scientific institutes are members of the Mathematics and Physics Department and teach at KamSu. They are also researchers of the integrative laboratory “Natural disasters of Kamchatka – earthquakes and volcanic eruptions”.

The Kamchatka Geophysical Survey has established direct cooperation with DLNP JINR: scientists are writing joint scientific papers, planning research.

KamSu and the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB RAS (IVS FEB RAS) had a joint Geology, Geography, and Geophysics Department. It trained volcanologists, engineers for geological exploration, but, unfortunately, the Institutes had to close down it due to lack of demand from applicants for training in these areas. We hope that work at the Information Centre can help find new areas of common interest in our activities and resume joint work between KamSu and the IVS FEB RAS.

Are there any other goals that you associate with the opening of the Information Centre in Kamchatka?

– Methods of observing volcanic activity using muon radiography are quite developed, for example, in Japan or Italy, but there are no contacts with scientists from these countries yet. We hope that the cooperation with JINR as an international organization will contribute to the development of work of Kamchatka scientists at the international level.