February 27, 2018

International Researchers Are Feeling at Home in KTU Laboratories

Kaunas is flourishing – more and more international companies are choosing the central Lithuanian city for expansion of their business. However, for international work environment one needs to look no further than Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) – alongside local scientists almost 100 researchers from various countries of the world are conducting world-class research in the University’s laboratories.

PhD studies at KTU are becoming more popular, especially among international applicants: in 2017 KTU admitted 27 percent more doctoral students, and the number of international PhD students grew by 90 percent. At the moment, KTU has 50 international PhD students and 10 postdoctoral researchers. Portugal, France, India, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Georgia – the geography of young KTU researchers covers almost all the globe.

In total, 315 PhD students study at KTU. The most popular faculties for PhD studies and postdoctoral research among both Lithuanians and overseas researchers are Faculty of Chemical Technology and Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Design. Faculty of Informatics and School of Economics and Business are also among the favourites.

Cutting-edge research in modern environment

“The official language in our laboratory is English; Lithuanian researchers here are minority”, says Andrius Bučinskas, researcher at KTU Department of Polymer Chemistry and Technology.

He is working on creating and testing new materials for the organic light emission diodes together with researchers from Germany, United Kingdom, Latvia, Ukraine – the team led by Professor Juozas Vidas Gražulevičius.

Ukrainian Dimitrij Volyniuk has been living in Kaunas for 5 years. After visiting KTU in 2012, he moved to Kaunas and started to work at the Faculty of Chemical Technology in April 2013. Today he lives here with all his family: his two younger children have been born in Lithuania, and his older daughter is attending a school here.

“All my children speak Lithuanian. The older daughter is always trying to teach me some words she learns in Lithuanian language lessons”, says Volyniuk.

Ukrainian researcher is convinced that researcher’s salary is sufficient to ensure normal life quality (it is definitely higher than in Ukraine), and working with world-class research team on cutting-edge research in one of the best equipped laboratories in Eastern Europe renders great satisfaction.

Lithuanians know how to motivate

At KTU Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Design Ahmed Samy Yousef Saed from Egypt is undertaking his second postdoctoral research fellowship (the first one was in Messiah college, Italy). The field of his research is recycling of waste printed circuit boards and photovoltaic energy.

“Lithuania is one of the new European Union states, and it is actively using EU and other funding for many fields, including research. Here researchers are being motivated to accomplish research of highest quality in the shortest time possible”, says Saed.

According to him, the most international faculty at KTU is that of Chemical technology – the impact factor of publications from this Faculty’s researchers is very high.

“My fellowship at KTU is until July, but if I had a possibility I would stay here for at least a couple of years. During the last year we have been conducting many interesting research projects, and have published many publications, but there is still much to be accomplished”, says Saed.

Kaunas is becoming more international every year

Postdoctoral researchers at KTU may apply for institutional funding (joint funding from the University’s Research Fund and relevant departments) or receive funding from Lithuanian Research Council. Out of 18 KTU postdoctoral researchers, half are being funded by the University; 6 of them are from foreign countries. 4 international postdoctoral researchers have won fellowships from Lithuanian Research Council.

“I think that internationality as such isn’t the important thing, it is more about being exposed to different ideas, cultures, mentalities and so on. If we are always around the same people, we get comfortable, so it is better for the creative process to sometimes mix things up a little”, says Florian Caspar Rabitz, a German researcher who came to KTU from Sao Paulo University in Brazil.

He is excited to see that every year the number of foreign researchers in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities is increasing. Rabitz visited Kaunas 5 years ago; he says that the city has become much more versatile since then. At the moment, Florian Rabitz, whose main field of research interest is international environmental politics, is also participating in a project led by Professor Audronė Telešienė, which aims to analyse Lithuanians’ attitude towards climate change.