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Korea and Italy celebrate ties in field of science

Apr 13,2018
From left, Graziano Rossi, a professor of physics and astronomy at Sejong University; Stefano Scopel, a professor of physics at Sogang University; Enrico Drioli, a professor of energy engineering at Hanyang University; Francesco Canganella, head of the Science and Technology Office at the Italian Embassy in Seoul; Marco della Seta, the Italian ambassador to Korea; Wohn Kwang-yun, chairman of the National Research Council of Science and Technology; Kim Hei-sook, president of Ewha Womans University; Lee Young-moo, president of Hanyang University; and Kim Doo-chul, president of the Institute for Basic Science, celebrate the first Italian Research Day at the ambassador’s residence in central Seoul on Thursday. [PARK SANG-MOON]
Italian and Korean scientists celebrated the first Italian Research Day at the ambassador’s residence in central Seoul on Thursday.

The event highlighted the breadth of academic exchanges between the two countries. In attendance were Italian and Korean scientists at local universities including Hanyang, Sejong, Sogang and Ewha Womans University as well as Korea’s National Research Council of Science and Technology and Institute for Basic Science.

“We want to introduce you to an aspect of Italian-Korean relations which is not so well known,” Ambassador Marco della Seta told the crowd at his residence. “Italy is well known in Korea and around the world for its lifestyle, luxury brands and food, but today, we shall talk about science.”

Della Seta noted Italy’s legacy in scientific research, citing historical figures like Alessandro Volta and Galileo Galilei as well as current researchers like Nobel Prize-winning physicist Carlo Rubbia and Fabiola Gianotti, director of the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland.

“Over 11 Nobel laureates in science are Italian,” the ambassador said. “As a matter of fact, Italy and Korea already have very well-established links between respective research centers and universities. The presence today of top Korean institutions will tell you how these links are made.”

At Ewha Womans University, faculty and students have engaged in exchanges with Italian institutions for the past two decades. “The cooperation is particularly strong in the field of science and technology, food sciences and environmental sciences,” said Kim Hei-sook, president of Ewha Womans University. “We have two Italian physicists and another scientist working at Ewha.”

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Korean government have been sponsoring joint research since the late 1990s, according to Enrico Drioli, a professor of energy engineering at Hanyang University. Since 2003, the two countries have held a Korea-Italy Science and Technology Forum in Seoul, Daegu, Pisa and Naples, he said. Most recently, Hanyang University and the University of Calabria signed an agreement to offer a joint doctorate program in science.

There are 15 Italian scientists currently doing research in Korea, according to the Italian Embassy, and many of them hope to contribute to bilateral cooperation in science.

“In 2016, we organized the first Korea-Italy Symposium on CMB Science and Cosmology,” said Graziano Rossi, a professor of physics and astronomy at Sejong University. “This was the first time that the word CMB, or cosmic microwave background, appeared at a Korean conference. Although this field is almost absent in Korea, we in Italy have leadership positions in the field.”

The Italian Foreign Ministry has dispatched about 25 so-called science attaches to build academic exchanges around the world, according to the embassy. In Asia, there are attaches in cities such as Beijing, Hanoi and Tokyo.

“The two governments fund six bilateral projects on science every three years,” said Francesco Canganella, the science attache to the embassy in Seoul and head of its Science and Technology Office. “That agreement was extended last November, where we agreed to fund eight projects in the next three years.”

The Italian Embassy also plans to help post-doctoral students in Italy come to Korea to attend seminars and build connections with Korean researchers.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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