By Gayane Danielian
A US-based Armenian charity officially awarded on Monday $5,000 research grants to 26 scientists and academics from Armenia as part of a scheme to stem the country’s continuing brain drain.
The recipients, selected by the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) from a large pool of applicants, will use the money to conduct one-year research on a wide range of topics. Almost all them work for various state-run research institutes and universities that have been short of funds for the past ten years.
Most of the research proposals, approved by a special board of US academics set up by the FAR, concern the areas of physics, organic chemistry and biology. Three grant winners work at the Byurakan Observatory in central Armenia.
“This is a modest effort by the FAR to stop the outflow of gifted specialists from Armenia,” the FAR’s Yerevan spokesman, Levon Lachikian, said after the award ceremony.
It was the second such grant competition since the launch of the scheme in 2000. Last year 22 grant winners were chosen from among some 80 candidates. The number of applicants has shot up to 260 this year, FAR officials said.
Armenia’s Education and Science Minister Levon Mkrtchian, who attended Monday’s ceremony, welcomed the Fund’s initiative, giving a special government award to its executive director, Simon Balian.
Founded in 1989, the FAR operates under the auspices of the eastern North American diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church.