For over ten years now, Oliver Graydon has been working as the Chief Editor of Nature Photonics, the most prestigious international journal specializing in original research in the field of optics and photonics. The expert has recently visited ITMO University, where he attended the laboratories of the International Research Center of Nanophotonics and Metamaterials, learned more about the work done by the university’s young scientists, and participated in a tour of the Museum of Optics. In this interview with ITMO.NEWS, Oliver Graydon talked about how Russian science has been changing in the recent years and what surprised him most in St. Petersburg, and also gave advice to young researchers wishing to start publishing in major science journals.
Last week, you participated in the METANANO Conference on Nanophotonics and Metamaterials, annually organized by the staff of ITMO University’s Faculty of Physics and Engineering. Is it your first visit to St. Petersburg and Russia in general?
It is, this is the first time I have been to Russia, to St. Petersburg and ITMO University in particular. Visiting Russia has been very important for me, for several reasons.
First and foremost, I wanted to get an idea of Russian science’s developments in the field of optics. As of now, I am not yet receiving enough information about contemporary Russian developments, and I would like to change this situation, to let people know that we will be glad to see their works on the pages of Nature Photonics.
I also wanted to expand our pool of reviewers, as there are a lot of experts in Russia who specialize in this field. In my opinion, the best way to do it is to come and meet these experts firsthand.
The ten days I spent here were all very successful: so much so that I have almost certainly decided to come to Moscow next year to make a visit to a couple of educational institutions there. I would like to once again meet people face-to-face to get a better understanding of their work and build work communications. Science is unquestionably international. And I would like for our journal to publish the world’s best scientific papers, regardless of their place of origin.
Many are of the opinion that not that long ago, the activities of Russian scientists weren’t as open to the international community. In your opinion, what have been the main changes in Russian science in recent years?
I would like to highlight a couple of things in that respect. Firstly, Russia has a wonderful scientific tradition, especially in the field of photonics. You could remember the invention of the laser, namely semiconductor laser: Russian scientists played a very important role in this process. Russia has a lot of Nobel Prize laureates, including those connected to photonics. The country’s theorists have always been strong in this field, this is a generally known fact.
In the era of internationalization, we can see the strengthening of the cooperation between Russian scientists and the international scientific community. A good example of this is active collaboration between Russia and Australia, which I heard about here. I have also discovered that you have a well-developed collaboration with the University of Sheffield and many other universities from all over the world.
There are a couple of other aspects I have noticed and would like to highlight. First, I have seen that many young people here are interested in pursuing a scientific career. There are a lot of young specialists in research groups here, and I think that this adds lots of drive, enthusiasm, ambition, and positivity into the working process.
And another interesting point: you have a large number of women involved in research. This is very, very good. Visiting different educational institutions, I find that there are not as many women working in photonics as I would have liked to see. It would be great if Russia became an example the rest of the world could follow.
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