It is springtime and the world is opening up.
I travelled abroad in early April, flying from Copenhagen Airport to attend a wedding in Georgia, USA. We can participate in such joyful occasions again and can do it together with both old and young people with the protection of vaccination and the increasing degree of flock immunity. The groom’s paternal grandmother was there and had the opportunity to meet her great granddaughter, the flower girl, after two years of distancing, fully secure in knowing that the whole gathering was safe again – as safe as it can be to meet in large groups.
It was also a great pleasure and privilege to take part in the Camurus Research Foundation’s awards ceremony for 2021 and 2022, which was held on 4 April. Two of the main figures behind RNA vaccines and other RNA therapeutics, Pieter Mullis and Katalin Kariko, visited Lund and received their very well-deserved prizes. They both had interesting stories to tell about education and research – the significance of good teaching staff and role models, fellow students and collaboration partners – and about knowing when it is time to change research area, even when what you are doing is going well (Pieter Mullis) or to doggedly carry on, even in the absence of results and research grants (Katalin Kariko). RNA therapy is still in its infancy, but the potential is considerable and we are better equipped now to face the next pandemic.
And there are yet more signs of spring, even though my trip to Copenhagen Airport was in a snowstorm. Scilla is flowering in abundance in the Botanical Garden and outside the University Library, the Science Student Union (LUNA) is holding a spring ball and the forthcoming Lund Carnival is fast approaching. Life is full of joys and hope.
At the same time, and in what appears to be a parallel universe, the war continues in Ukraine. Civilians are among the main victims of the war, but openness and the truth are also early casualties. We can all do what we can to help those who are displaced, but it is also our duty as a University to do what we can to defend basic academic values.
It was interesting and encouraging to participate in the seminar held on 17 March at the Main University Building, Perspectives on and for Ukraine – an open seminar supporting academic freedom (youtube.com). Göran Rosenberg summarised the day extremely well with a quote from Arthur Koestler, “In this war we are fighting against a total lie in the name of a half-truth”. What we believe in is far from perfect, but it is well worth defending. It is fantastic to belong to a University with the breadth and depth that allows it to put together such a significant programme. Important, informative and hopeful.
All information on the development of national and local guidelines for collaborations with Russia and Belarus, funding options for displaced academics and other relevant topics concerning the war in Ukraine is collected on the University’s webpage Regarding the war in Ukraine (lunduniversity.lu.se).
Sven Lidin, Dean