Monday, August 22, 2016

The plight of Venezuelan academic chemists

Also in this week's C&EN, a fascinating (and sad) article by Barbara Fraser about the troubles that Venezuelan chemists have in getting supplies and funds to do research: 
...That’s no minor issue, according to Botello, who depended on the free meals because his scholarship did not even cover the rent for the room where he lived.
His academic adviser, Jorge Mostany, retired a year ago and took his young family to Spain. 
Mostany, who is finishing his term as president of the Venezuelan Chemical Society, was exhausted by scrounging for diapers, milk, and other necessities on a salary that had dropped to the equivalent of about $50 a month. He now lives in an annex to his parents’ home in Alicante, Spain, where he collaborates with University of Alicante colleagues but does not have a position. 
Databases of journals in Venezuelan university libraries are four or five years out of date because of lack of funds. Students pass photocopied books around, and researchers ask friends in other universities or abroad for items they cannot obtain. 
When repeated power outages blew fuses in a laboratory at Metropolitan University and no replacements could be found, Scharifker tweeted his frustration. In response, students in Florida shipped him fuses. 
Theft of computers and lab equipment is common, especially on the Central University’s open campus, where criminals once burst into a classroom and stripped the students of their cell phones and laptops...
Best wishes to them.  

4 comments:

  1. Wonder if they can get on Sci-Hub? Not that I would advocate that sort of thing.....

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  2. Socialism is great until you run out of other people's money. Every time socialism has been tried, it's failed. This is, to quote Pink Floyd, "just another brick in the wall." Good luck to them, but that is just about all they have left - luck.

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    1. I suspect that a lot of Swedes would disagree with you on the history of socialism... I hear it's a bit cold but otherwise quite a successful country https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_Social_Democratic_Party (I'm sure it's possible to split hairs on what socialism is or isn't, but really my point is that sweeping generalisations rarely hold up to scrutiny)

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  3. People always wonder about online archives once they lose their accounts. But if they know it's ending, could they go through and download every article in major journals? Seems like you could get the last few years of (eg) JACS, JOC, Org Lett especially if you set your students to it, and build your own local database. Or would that violate some TOS, or be too much activity for one location?

    Anyway, glad they're not eating the zoo animals yet--whoops, nevermind.

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