Press Conference – ROICE 2015 has returned home, welcome speech of Dr. Manuela Sidoroff

Welcome speech of Dr. Manuela Sidoroff in the opening of the event

Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues, and press representatives,

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you, together with the ROICE 2015 team, hosting this media event.

“ROICE 2015 has returned home” is the theme of our press conference and it represents the successful conclusion of the First Romanian Governmental Scientific Expedition in Antarctica, of our colleagues: Dr. Cristina Purcărea (scientific responsible of the expedition), Dr. Cristian Coman (administrative responsible) and Drd. Corina Ițcuș (expedition member).

Firstly, as General Manager of the National Institute of Research and Development of Biological Sciences (NIRDBS), please allow me to say a few words about our institute. This was established with the purpose of conducting scientific research and technological development in the field of life sciences. The institut activity is based on three main axes: Biomedicine, Food Industry & Agronomy Research, Environment and Biodiversity, fields supported by a horizontal structure: Bioanalysis, Biotechnology & Biomaterials and Bioinformatics.

In 2014, within NIRDBS through a ministerial decision, we created the Arctic and Antarctic Research Department.

Why conduct research in Antarctica?

Researches in the southern Polar Regions bring many challenges, but also important opportunities. From the results of these researches, we can predict the future of our planet.

This region is an “natural laboratory”, vital to scientific research, which is not only of great importance, but also impossible to conduct anywhere else on the planet.

The processes in the Polar Regions have a profound influence on the environment at a global level, particularly on the climate.

As a leader, organizer and coordinator of the project “The Romanian Governmental Scientific Expedition in Antarctica – ROICE 2015” I would like to mention a few facts regarding Romania’s presence in Antarctica.

The research activities in Antarctica are regulated through the Antarctic Treaty. Although Romania has signed the Treaty in 1971, it had not yet developed at the time an organizational and logistical framework to enable research in Antarctica. However, the treaty was ratified, and the reason was that of continuity: The Romanian scientist Emil Racoviţă took part in the first international expedition on the Belgica ship, during 1897-1899, and was the first biologist to have studied life in Antarctica.

Romania has had expeditionists, explorers and scientific researchers passionate about the polar areas, but their presence in the Arctic and Antarctic was possible due to expeditions mainly organized by other states.

The only Romanian expedition had been organized during the polar summer of 2006 by Dr. Teodor Negoiţă. He has the great accomplishment of signing a Memorandum with Australia on 15 June 2005, which enabled Romanian researchers to have access to the scientific base Law-Racoviţă-Negoiţă on Larsemann Hill, East Antarctica. Unfortunately, Romanian researchers did not use the base after 2006.

In this context, NIRDBS together with the Biology Institute of the Romanian Academy and supported by National Commission for Antarctic Research has aimed to take part in the development of a National Antarctic Program in the field of Life Sciences. This goal has become imperative for Romania as a member of the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR).

But the program, beyond the declarations of intent, had to be supported through concrete research. This could be achievable only through researchers being granted access in Antarctica and through the results of conducted studies. It is important to conclude this research with articles in professional journals.

Organizing the Romanian Governmental Scientific Expedition in Antarctica – ROICE 2015, was possible following the conclusion of a Framework Agreement for a period of 5 years between the National Institute of Research and Development for Biological Sciences (NIRDBS) and Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI). This allows researchers from our institute to benefit of the facilities offered by KOPRI – the institute with one of the biggest infrastructures for polar research, which aims to become a leading center in its field.

KOPRI’s King Sejong Antarctic Station, on King George Islands in West Antarctica, has hosted the 2015 ROICE Expedition during 3-23 February 2015.

The expedition was financed with the support of ANCSI from their personal founds and through sponsorisation.

The ROICE 2015 Expedition, whose heroes are here with us today, is a success!

The explorers had traveled a wide area, worked hard to collect samples. This resulted in over 650 processed scientific samples, from over 45 locations. The samples refer to microbial communities / biofilm, ice, soil at frost limit and springs under the glacier.

King Sejong Station was a place for scientific emulation through the participation of our researchers in discussions and exchange of ideas with the corean researchers as well as researchers from other contries like Italy, USA and Germany.

Through this expedition, we are getting closer to accomplishing the mission of the institute, namely:

  • To contribute to the creation of knowledge in the field and training competitive specialists;
  • To support the national research emulation;
  • To contribute, in the field of specialization, to the integration of national research in the European and International research.

Finally, I would like to thank Their Excellences: Mr. Sorin Mihai Cîmpeanu – Minister, Mr. Mihnea Costoiu – Minister, Mr. Cristian Hera – Vice President of the Romanian Academy, His Excellency Mr. Park Hyo-Sung – Ambassador, represented by Mr. Joong-Keun OH – Councilor of the Korea Republic Embassy, Mr. Prof. Dr. Tudor Prisecaru – President ANCSI, Mrs. Anne Jugănaru – State Secretary, represented by Mrs, Adi Croitoriu – Director, Mr. Acad. Dumitru MURARIU – President CNCA, Mr. Acad.Octavian Popescu – Director IBB, decision makers in ANCSI, for their support in the development of this ambitious project, that wouldn’t have been possible without their contribution.

Moreover, our institute colleagues have equally contributed to the development of the project: Tamara Anastasiu, communication & administration specialist, Iris Tușa, George Roată and Marian Buțu, who have ensured technical support.

Thank you for your attention and I wish to assure you of my determination and of all those involved, to continue the success of ROICE!


Dr. Manuela Elizabeth Sidoroff
Director of the National Institute of Research and Development for Biological Sciences Bucharest

February 27, 2015

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