Ukrainian researcher flees war to Department of Chemistry in Kumpula

Yuliia Bardadym, a doctor of chemical technology from Ukraine, arrived in Finland at the end of March. Supported by a grant from the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, she is working in the polymer chemistry lab at the Department of Chemistry in Kumpula.

Grant from the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters

Heikki Tenhu, professor in polymer chemistry, did not waste time when the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters opened the applications for inviting Ukrainian scientists to Finland in March. He was among the first to hand in an application and a suitable candidate was soon discovered via a researcher working at the department and corporate contacts. A couple of weeks later Yuliia Bardadym, with a doctoral degree and employed at the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine in Kyiv, flew via Warsaw to Helsinki. The grant was approved for six months. It will cover travelling and living expenses.

The work permit for Ukrainian nationals did not cause any problems, thanks to a common decision by the EU, and everyday life is made easier by the Helsinki Region Transport's decision to allow free travel with Ukrainian passports. Accommodations were found in a communal student's flat, and life is settling down. She can keep in contact with her home country via the Internet, as well as with other Ukrainian researchers around Europe.

– However, it will take longer to get the ID card required for opening a bank account, says Bardadym.

Bardadym's education and experience in polymer composites fits into the research currently carried out at the University of Helsinki. The work has started by characterising the materials and getting to know the analysing instruments at the laboratory. In her free time, Bardadym paints with water colours and she has already visited the drawing studio in Porthania and the university's art club.

Undetermined future

The grant from the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters is a good start, but Tenhu and Bardadym are already considering the future, since the war in Ukraine is continuing. 

– She may find funding and a job in Finland or Europe.   It is easier to transfer to other countries in Western Europe with job experience from Finland, says Tenhu.

Bardadym had already considered getting work experience abroad before, but the sudden departure from Kyiv still came as a surprise.

Grants for researchers from Ukraine

By the end of March, the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters had awarded grants to a total sum of c. 100,000 euros to eight Ukrainian researchers for scientific research in Finland. Three of them have arrived at the University of Helsinki. The grants have been awarded to researchers who have been forced to flee their country or who have not been able to return to their country because of the war.

The society's grant programme for Ukrainians is continuing and there is no deadline for grant applications.