Activities

Activities

The Latvian Academy of Sciences (LAS) has announced winners of the annual Science Achievements’ Competition - top twelve achievements were selected from 55 eligible proposals that were submitted for evaluation.

Traditionally the achievements in science are divided in two groups – fundamental science and applied science; the achievements shortlisted for the winners group usually cover a wide scope of research areas – ranging from solid state physics and robotics, biomedicine, pharmacy and chemistry, engineering and agricultural sciences to literary science, philosophy, and economy.

List of the top 12 achievements in Latvian Science in 2022 [pdf].

About the competition

The year 2022 marks the 21st anniversary since the Latvian Academy of Sciences launched the annual science achievement competition. The principal aim of the competition since then has been: annual monitoring of the processes in Latvian science by assessing and naming the most significant achievements of the year. Also, the results and winners of the competition would be popularized among wider public thus contributing to science communication in Latvia. Since 2011, as the competition gained its popularity among researchers and the academic community, the winners are awarded diplomas, and a special awarding ceremony is held. In the following years the event's regular and numerous attendees include its supporters, sponsors, media representatives and stakeholders, and it has become the most festive event of the year that highlights and celebrates the excellence in Latvian science and research.

 

Friday, 23 December 2022 10:13

Season's Greetings!

Twenty five researchers were elected members of the Latvian Academy of Sciences at the General Meeting on 24 November 2022. The General Meeting also elected one honorary member.

Full members

Kristiāna ĀBELE (Art History), Institute of Art History, Latvian Academy of Art.
Dainis KRIEVIŅŠ (Medicine), Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital, Head of the Research Institute, Vascular Surgery, Chief Physician.
Zaiga KRIŠJĀNE (Geography), University of Latvia.
Nils ROSTOKS (Biology), Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre, University of Latvia.
Pēteris STRADIŅŠ (Medicine), Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital, Centre for Cardiac Surgery, Rīga Stradiņš University.

 

Corresponding members

Dace BANDERE (Pharmacy), Rīga Stradiņš University.
Valdis BĒRZIŅŠ (Archaeology), University of Latvia.
Agnese DĀVIDSONE (Communication Sciences), Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences.
Dāvids FRIDMANIS (Biology), Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Center.
Oskars KALĒJS (Medicine), Rīga Stradiņš University.
Kārlis KETNERS (Economics), Ministry of Finance, Rīga Stradiņš University.
Jānis RIŽIKOVS (Forestry Sciences), Latvia State Institute of Wood Chemistry.
Anda ROŽUKALNE (Communication Sciences), Rīga Stradiņš University.
Sandis SPOLĪTIS (Engineering Sciences), Rīga Technical University.
Normunds STIVRIŅŠ (Geography), University of Latvia.
Evita STRAUMĪTE (Food Science), Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technology.
Aivars VEMBRIS (Physics), University of Latvia.
Dace ZAVADSKA (Medicine), Rīga Stradiņš University.
Raivis ŽALUBOVSKIS (Chemistry), Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis.

 

Foreign members

Rimantas BENETIS (Medicine), Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Institute of Cardiology, Kaunas University of Medicine, Lithuania.
Mikhail G. BRIK (Physics), University of Tartu, Estonia.
Nikolai (Niko) JAVAKHISHVILI (History), Ivane Javakhishvili Institute of History and Ethnology, Tbilisi State University, Institute of History, Georgia.
Lars ÖSTERLUND (Physics), Uppsala University, Sweden.
Andrii RUKKAS (History), Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiyiv, Ukraine.
Marina TJUNINA (Physics), Oulu University, Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czechia.
 
Honorary Member

Jānis Vanags (Theology), Latvia.

 

On Thursday, November 24, 2022, the regular Autumn General Meeting of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (LAS) is scheduled to convene beginning from 2PM. Conferring of the LAS Grand Medal and the elections of the LAS new members are on the agenda of the meeting.

Agenda

  1. Introduction by the LAS President Ivars Kalviņš.
  2. Awarding of the LAS Grand Medal to Year 2022 laureate Māra Grudule.
  3. Laudatio for LAS Grand Medal Year 2022 laureate Māra Grudule by academician Benedikts Kalnačs.
  4. “From Stenders’ soap to science”: academic lecture by Māra Grudule.
  5. Awarding of the LAS Grand Medal Year 2022 laureate Olafs Daugulis.
  6. Laudatio for LAS Grand Medal Year 2022 laureate Olafs Daugulis by academician Māris Turks.
  7. “New methods in Carbon-hydrogen bond functionalization": academic lecture by Olafs Daugulis.
  8. Announcement of the results of the LAS new members' elections. 

See also: LAS full member Māra Grudule and foreign member Olafs Daugulis to be conferred LAS Grand Medal 2022 (16 March 2022). 

The aim of ERA Chair project “Natural Products Research at Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis as a Driver for Excellence in Innovation (Natalion)” is to promote innovation excellence of LIOS by the establishment of Natural Products Research (NPR) group and implementation of LIOS Innovation hub as a complementary structural change. The aim of the project will be achieved under the competent guidance of the ERA Chair holder Dr. Stefano Donadio and collaboration with company NAICONS (Italy). Dr. Stefano Donadio is a scientist with an excellent track record in NPR and outstanding leadership skills. He is a founder and CEO of Biotech company NAICONS and has over 30 years of industrial experience in antibiotic discovery and development.

“Natural products have revitalized the interest of the drug discovery community as a result of impressive scientific and technological advances in the field. Natalion will be an efficient engine to develop new technologies and products with high innovation potential, and I am proud that NAICONS, with its powerful platform in natural products, will be part of the project. Natalion is expected to facilitate the institutional environment fostering innovations and entrepreneurial culture and to promote brain circulation for researchers and innovators,” says Dr. Stefano Donadio.

The excellence of research and innovation will be attained by setting up NPR group comprising high level scientists and integrating the operations into internal and external collaboration networks. Sourcing of natural products with wide spectrum of biological activity will strongly synergize with the existing LIOS competencies in drug discovery.

ERA Chairs are grant schemes under Widening Participation and Spreading Excellence actions of H2020 and Horizon Europe framework programmes. The grants are focused on implementation of institutional changes and increasing research capacity in Widening countries. LIOS is proud to be the first Latvian research organization receiving ERA Chair grant, which will contribute to its ambitious goal of becoming one of the leading EU research centers. 

About LIOS: LIOS is the leading drug discovery and development center in the Baltics with a broad spectrum of expertise including medicinal chemistry, organic synthesis, in vitro and in vivo pharmacology, bioanalytics, computational modeling, biophysical chemistry, structural biology, and process chemistry. LIOS has a strong focus on collaboration with industry and is a part of a wide academic network including 11 EU funded research consortia and EU-OPENSCREEN ERIC.

About NAICONS: NAICONS Srl is a biotechnology company based in Milan, Italy. Thanks to a world-class technology platform and knowhow on Natural Products NAICONS is building the Micro4all platform, the first Molecule Search Engine that is going to disrupt the Drug Discovery Process.

On October 17-19 2022, the academic Ion Tiginyan, President of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, payed a visit in Riga. On Monday, October 17, the Moldovan delegation, including the Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to the Republic of Latvia Andrian Roșa, visited the Latvian Academy of Sciences (LAS) where it was welcomed by the president of Latvian Academy of Sciences Prof. Ivars Kalviņš as well as representatives of the LAS administration.

The signing of the Scientific Cooperation Agreement between the Academy of Sciences of Moldova and the Latvian Academy of Sciences, which will provide a solid platform for joining the efforts of the scientific communities of the both  states for development in various fields of cooperation, took place in the conclusion of the meeting.

On Tuesday, October 18, the academic Ion Tiginyan attended the meeting of the LAS Senate and delivered a comprehesive lecture on the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, its structure, history and the current activities.

Also, on October 18, the President of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova Professor of the Technical University of Moldova, Ion Tiginyan visited the Institute of Solid State Physics of the University of Latvia. Prof. Tiginyan delivered an academic lectures and met with the management of the Institute, had a discussion with the scientists and visited research laboratories.

We will be happy to see you at Baltic Sea Region Innovation, Investment and Development Conference 2022.

The European Union is a leader in the transition to a more ecologically sustainable economy, while the Baltic Sea region is a leader in the implementation of a macro-regional strategy. In order to achieve our common sustainable development goals, it is necessary to strengthen and develop cooperation between partners in the region.

The conference will bring together decision-makers, public development banks, development financing institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations and stakeholders to discuss the main challenges and share experience in the implementation of large development projects, taking into account the challenge for Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050.

This year the main topics will be:

  1. Creation of green infrastructure for energy efficiency and energy independence.
  2. Development projects of public institutions in the Baltic Sea Region countries.
  3. Public development banks - their areas of responsibility, opportunities for cooperation and support for the implementation of state policy.

REGISTRATION: https://forms.gle/MohDuh98pS1F686d6

CONFERENCE HOME PAGE: https://bsr2022.lu.lv/

Baltic Sea Region Innovation, Investment and Development Conference 2022 | Facebook

On 7 October, the meeting of the Joint Jury of the Baltic Assembly took place.  During the meeting, members of the Joint Jury decided that the winners of the Baltic Assembly Prize in 2022 are  Kai Aareleid (Estonia) in Literature, Šarūnas Sauka (Lithuania) in the Arts and Gustavs Strenga, Andris Levāns, Renāte Berga and Laura Kreigere-Liepiņa  (Latvia) in Science.

Kai Aareleid was nominated for her novel “Vaikne ookean” (“Pacific Ocean’’, published in 2021). Šarūnas Sauka was nominated for the unique iconography of paintings, principles of painting, which are closely related to surrealism and magical realism, for his phantasmagorical nightmare visions and hallucinations, which are rooted in reality, fed by biblical and literary visual images of hell, paradise, and purgatory, which have evolved through the history of fine arts. And Gustavs Strenga, Andris Levāns, Renāte Berga and Laura Kreigere-Liepiņa were nominated for the collective monograph “Rīgas jezuītu kolēģijas grāmatu krājuma (1583-1621) katalogs. Krājuma vesture un rekonstrukcija”, (“Catalogue of the Riga Jesuit College Book Collection (1583-1621): History and Reconstruction of the Collection”) (2021)*.

Among the Jury members there are highly acknowledged artists and experts from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania - Elīna Līce, Ilze Jansone, Andrejs Krasņikovs, Indrek Mesikepp, Kadi-Ell Tähiste, Linda Lainvoo, Eugenijus Ališanka, Ramutė Rachlevičiūtė and Valdemaras Razumas.  

The aim of the Prize is to support outstanding achievements in literature, the arts and science; demonstrate the common interests of the countries in this region in upholding of their national identity and self-esteem; create an opportunity to learn about the achievements of the neighbouring countries; maintain a continuous interest among the people in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania about developments in the Baltic states; strengthen cooperation among the Baltic states in the fields of literature, the arts and science; encourage more and more people to become interested in the intellectual values and languages of the Baltic nations; and raise the level of literature, the arts and science in the Baltic states.

The Prize consists of a monetary prize, a certificate and a statuette, which are awarded annually during the Session of the Baltic Assembly. This year the Prize of the Baltic Assembly will be awarded on 28 October in Riga. 

* The candidature of the authors of the collective monograph "Catalogue of the Riga Jesuit College Book Collection (1583-1621): History and Reconstruction of the Collection for the Baltic Assembly 2022 Prize in Science was nominated by the Latvian Academy of Sciences. 

Source: Baltic Assembly, 7 October 2022. 

Alliance4Life (A4L), an international alliance of leading research institutions and universities operating in the field of biomedical sciences in Eastern Europe, including the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (LIOS) – a member of A4L since 2018, has published a new comprehensive self-assessment studyof the current research and innovation performance of its members.

The document offers a comparison of data collected in 2015-2017 with the new benchmark results collected three years later in 2018-2020, during the ongoing A4L_ACTIONS project. The self-assessment report covers several dimensions of research activities. It includes a SWOT analysis providing an overview of the influence of various internal and external factors, as well as examines research culture across various institutes, managerial practices, resources as well as responsible metrics evaluated in the context of a quantitative benchmarking study. For better comparability with research institutions in Western Europe, the new self-assessment included a survey of perception of internal research culture, inspired by the Wellcome survey on research culture published in 2019 and 2020 (https://wellcome.org/reports/what-researchers-think-about-research-culture).

The report demonstrates that in the period 2018-2020, Alliance4Life members have initiated institutional changes that have already resulted in success in providing higher scientific productivity indicators. The results clearly show that the best-performing partners in terms of research outputs work in the environment of relatively well-functioning national systems, well-implemented practices of institutional management and well-developed internal research culture.

The report is publicly available to inspire other Eastern European research institutions to improve and modernize their management and research culture.

Large-scale ESIF investments into the life science infrastructure alone could not close the R&I gap in Europe so far, financial support needs to be complemented by measures on research and innovation strategy at institutional and national levels. Alliance4Life members believe that improving governance and managerial practices as well as transforming institutional culture will enhance efficiency and increase return on investment. The recently released self-assessment report serves as proof that the Alliance4Life members are on the right path towards the desired transformation.

Thanks to its membership in Alliance4Life, LIOS has been able to compare the effectiveness of its operations with other similar research organizations in Eastern Europe and incorporate best practices into its research management strategy.

Alliance for Life Sciences: From Strategies to Actions in Central and Eastern Europe, Self Assessment Report [pdf] 

 

On Monday, August 8, Prof. Christoph Markschies, President of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (BBWA), visited the Latvian Academy of Sciences (LAS). The guest was received by Prof. Baiba Rivža, LAS General Secretary, Prof. Ojārs Spārītis, LAS Vice-president, and Ņina Linde, Director of LAS Economic Institute. The parties discussed the history of both academies and how their roles have changed over the past few decades. Prof. Markschies was interested in the COVID-19 pandemic management policy in Latvia, the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine caused by Russian aggression and the organization of assistance in Latvia for refugees from Ukraine, he also presented the mechanisms of refugee assistance policy in Germany. In the conclusion of the meeting the Amendment to the Agreement on Scientific Cooperation Between the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften), Formerly Prussian Academie of Sciences and Humanities, Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany, and the Latvian Academy of Sciences, concluded on 1 November 2002, was signed, which provides for the extension of the forms of scientific cooperation and specifies the mechanisms for supporting this cooperation: “Both Sides will do all in their power to promote and facilitate visits in either direction, thus encouraging selected candidates of at least postdoctoral or equivalent status in the natural, technological, social sciences and the humanities to develop cooperative activities with scientists from the other country.”

“As the population and their living standards grow, global energy demand also continues to grow. Although the annual demand for energy growth seems less dramatic, at only 1–2%, it is undoubtedly dramatic in the long period and will lead to irreversible climate change,” writes the academician Valdis Kampars in his article Climate Neutral Renewable Eenergy Technologies in the chapter “Novelties in power industry” of the LAS Yearbook 2022. The most suitable solutions for future energy sources in Latvia are analysed in the articles of the chapter.

“Riga Technical University (RTU) is an active developer of energy policy and new technological solutions for the implementation of this policy. At least three RTU Research Platforms have a direct connection to the problem: Energy and Environment, Transport and Materials, Processes and Technologies. The Institute of Applied Chemistry has also been involved in the development of new technologies of climate neutral economy.” [Valdis Kampars. Climate Neutral Renewable Eenergy Technologies]

“The total area of peat bogs is estimated at approximately 643 thousand ha, i.e. around 9.8% of the size of the country – 208 400 ha in Vidzeme, 117 600 ha in Kurzeme, 95 800 ha in Zemgale, and 221 500 ha in Latgale. Of these, only a part can be exploited to extract peat in commercially viable quantities. Industrial processes require peat to be accessible over a certain extraction of a certain minimum area and volume of peat contained therein. The industrial operations require an area of at least 100 ha with a mean layer thickness of 2.5 m containing approximately 175 kg of dry peat per cubic metre. The total area of swamps in Latvia that may be thus exploited was around 350 thousand ha in Latvia.” [Uldis Ameriks, Igors Graurs. Peatlands and Peat – Marsh Management: Myths and Solutions]

NOVELTIES IN POWER INDUSTRY, pp. 48-61 (pdf).

Betulin, Larifan, food supplements such as fractionated beet root juice are already commercialised products. The chapter “Commercialisation of knowledge” reveals the research processes behind these success stories.

“With the development of technology and knowledge, research has shown that the external, white layer or birch bark of Latvian birch contains biologically active substances, which make up about one third of the birch outer bark mass. Birch outer bark extractives are primarily composed of lupane-type pentacyclic triterpenes, mainly betulin, betulinic acid, and lupeol. Very valuable biological activities have been identified for these three compounds, including those that allow their derivatives to be used in the treatment of various severe diseases in the future. Betulin itself improves liver function, regulates cholesterol levels and heals skin cells. A betulin-related synthetic compound has shown good results in drug trials against HIV. In scientific studies, betulin has also demonstrated immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as indicated a good potential in virus-like vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2. Compounds of birch outer bark extractives also have preservative, antioxidant, emulsifier and supramolecular gel-forming properties. Betulin has also been identified for a wide range of applications in the food and cosmetics industries.” [Aigars Pāže, Jānis Rižikovs, Kristaps Stankus, Inguss Virsis. The Unique Properties of Nature’s WonderBetulin]

“The history of Larifan dates back to interferon in the 1960s. When interferon, a protein with antiviral properties, was discovered in 1957, it was a major milestone in the fight against viral infections. At the beginning, there were high hopes and expectations placed on interferon, as it was believed that a universal antiviral agent had been developed that would stop all viral diseases and that it was a weapon in the fight against viruses in general. Unfortunately, the first steps did not live up to the hopes placed on them, as many and varied obstacles and limitations to obtaining interferon itself became apparent.” [Guna Feldmane. Pathway of Antiviral Drug Development From a Laboratory to a Commercial Product: Relevance of Antiviral Drugs in Medicine]

“Red beet (Beta vulgaris) was chosen as the most active plant. The specific activity of juices of 14 varieties of red beet was screened. As a result, one variety was identified whose juice efficiency significantly exceeded other varieties. With the help of preparative chromatography, the juice fraction was isolated and its molecular weight limits were established. Further fractionation was carried out by ultrafiltration using semipermeable membranes with appropriate parameters.” [Dmitry Babarykin. On New Trends in Increasing the Effectiveness of Food Supplements]

The chapter “Education and Humanitarian Sciences” of the LAS Yearbook 2022 presents the latest researches carried out by experts on history sciences, legal sciences, and pedagogical sciences.

“Between the 1st–2nd centuries to the 9th century, the lower reaches of the Daugava were sparsely populated – only a few settlement sites are known. The next boom in the lower reaches of the Daugava followed only after 1000 years in the Viking Age, when the Daugava once again became one of the most strategically important highways between the West and the East.” [Andrejs Vasks. The Lower Reaches of the Daugava in the Bronze and Earliest Iron Ages (1800–1 BC)]

“The Constitution of the Republic of Latvia as adopted on 15 February 1922 was a laconic and compact document comprising 88 Articles [1]. The legal design of the Constitution can be described as minimalist, given that Articles for the most part are short (many consist of one or two sentences!), formulated with a high degree of legal abstraction and generalisation. Precisely the simplicity of the Constitutional ‘Architecture’, its minimalism and laconic nature of norms was one of the reasons why, after the restoration of independence (1990–1993), the Constitution could again enter into force.” [Ringolds Balodis. Scientific Commentaries on the Latvian Constitution (SATVERSME)]

“The topics approaching post-Cold War military bases in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, from the perspective of change and transformation, emerged in the last decade. The research project entitled “The Past in the Present. Post-Soviet Heritage in Poland and Latvia. Part I and II” was pursued under two three-year contracts between the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw and the Latvian Academy of Sciences in Riga and it was completed in the years 2016–2021.” [Dagnosław Demski, Dominika Czarnecka. The Past in the Present. Post-soviet Heritage in Poland and Latvia]

“In the context of European cultures of the 15th and 16th centuries, the Latvian culture was distinctly dual. This dualism also carried over to the field of music and was made more acute by the mixed inhabiting nations, as well as by the economic oppression (similar to that taking place in Estonia, another part of the Livonian church state). The essence of this dualism stems from two different world views, existing in the Western Europe since the early medieval period: one extrapolated the values of man on natural phenomena, attempting to humanise, spiritualise the outside world (Christianity), whilst the other integrated man into the processes of nature (folklore, culture of peasants).” [Ilze Šarkovska-Liepiņa. Latvian Music in Renaissance: Heralds, Maturity, Contexts]

“The turn of the 20th century – the age of Art Nouveau, Neo-Romanticism, and Symbolism – has left behind vivid traces in Latvian writing, painting, and music, as well as in Latvian architecture. This was a time when Latvian national culture was formed and experienced its first upsurge under difficult socio-political conditions. The Art Nouveau style reached Riga shortly before 1900, at a time when the city was growing rapidly, becoming a major city of the then Russian Empire.” [Silvija Grosa. Décor in the Art Nouveau Architecture of Riga]

“The development of innovative technologies and digitalisation have created unprecedented opportunities. Due to technological development, transformation through democratisation and decentralisation is taking place around the globe, with the world becoming more and more interconnected and accessible, and people – capable of achieving their goals faster, more easily and efficiently. Yet, humanity has never had similar experience and hence developed no sensitivity to it. The digital age clearly poses a range of risks and challenges that cut across different fields and contribute to the emergence of new research problems in science. Social sciences, including educational sciences, focus on the interrelationships between human activity and the use of technology.” [Zanda Rubene. Digital Childhood and its Topicality in Educational Research]

“At that time, at the start of the 20th century, the role of national religions grew not only in Latvia and its closest neighbouring countries, but also in other European countries, especially those which had regained or secured independent statehood during this period. It should be noted that during this period, similar trends could also be observed in Western Europe – the heirs to the traditions of the druids were active in Great Britain, while in Germany a national religious movement took shape led by General Ludendorff and Count Reventlow. In the Baltic lands, the first ideas about the revival of the so-called religion of the ancient fathers became relevant at the end of the 19th century, but it was only in the 1920s–1930s that organised religious movements were founded like Romuva in Lithuania and Dievturība in Latvia.” [Agita Gritāne. Phenomenon of National Religions in the Baltic States in the First Half of the 20th Century]

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