On October 6-8, 2021 an international conference entitled “Marine Biology in the 21st Century: Achievements and Development Outlook” took place in Vladivostok. It was hosted by the A. V. Zhirmunsky National Scientific Center of Marine Biology, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (NSCMB FEB RAS) and the Primorsky Aquarium – Branch of the NSCMB FEB RAS. Run both in-person and virtually, the event was attended by scientists from various countries — Russia, China, India, Germany, the USA and Canada. Academician Valentin Sergienko, Chairman of FEB RAS, and Academician Andrei Adrianov, Vice President of RAS, gave opening addresses to the conference on behalf of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“The conference commemorates several events that are very significant to the life of our institution. The first of them is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Academician Alexey Zhirmunsky, who was a prominent Soviet and Russian biologist and the founder of our institute. The National Scientific Center of Marine Biology FEB RAS now proudly bears the name of this distinguished scientist,” stressed Andrei Adrianov. “Last year the Center celebrated its 50th anniversary, and five years ago the Primorsky Aquarium, which is a scientific and educational center established as a branch of our National Scientific Center, opened its doors to the general public. The conference will feature a variety of paper presentations by Russian and foreign scientists, our partners, with whom we jointly investigate life in the World Ocean.”
The initial session of the conference was dedicated to the life and career of Academician Alexey Zhirmunsky, and the first presentation was made by his widow, Prof. Nadezhda Khristoforova. The famed biologist was also mentioned in many presentations delivered at the subsequent sessions. For instance, during her talk Tatyana Orlova told the audience about the results from 30-year monitoring of harmful algal blooms off the eastern coast of Russia which was initiated by Academician Zhirmunsky.
“Alexey Viktorovich was not only an inspirer but a person who identified the most important trend in the research I was engaged in. This man has played a crucial part in my life, and it is needless to say that I am eternally grateful to him,” said Tatyana Orlova, Deputy Director for Science at the NSCMB FEB RAS, Scientific Head of the Laboratory of Marine Microbiota, Head of the Marine Biobank, a shared research facility of the NSCMB. “For me personally, this conference is a tribute to his memory. It is essential that the new generation of young scientists should know the names of people like Alexey Zhirmunsky because besides being a prominent scientist and academician, he has shaped the development of marine biology in Russia and is a guiding light to us.”
The conference covered a broad theme – marine biology in the 21st century, and discussed an array of real challenges, from climate change and the effect of global warming on the distribution of life to physiology, genetics, biodiversity, ecology, etc.
“The conference is international; despite COVID-19 restrictions, specialists from outside Russia take part online,” pointed out Konstantin Lutaenko, Deputy Chair of the Conference Organizing Committee, Head of the International Cooperation Department at the NSCMB FEB RAS. “Our traditional main partners are from Asian countries, and the majority of international presentations have been given by researchers from China. The German specialists engaged in collaborative deep-sea biodiversity investigations have also participated in the conference. Furthermore, we’ve welcomed quite a lot of guests from Sevastopol, Moscow, and Saint-Petersburg, both online and in person.”
The third day of the conference was held at the Primorsky Aquarium and featured presentations by the Aquarium specialists on the issues of animal collections creating and managing, scientific research, and conservation education.
“Scientific conferences build up a specific environment that unites scientific investigations, as well as individual researchers. People share their ideas and findings and get the latest news and the newest insights,” told one of the attendees, Anatoly Semenchenko, Principal Specialist of the Department of Russian Far East Freshwater Species. “I would compare a conference to a large library, bearing in mind that we come to a library to read old books, and at a conference we receive absolutely new information. People working in science report summarized results of their long-term studies. All this forms a very interesting atmosphere that generates new ideas and promotes rapid development of scientific research.”
Over 250 participants from 25 organizations from Russia and other countries took part in the conference. Seven cities of Russian Federation were represented (Vladivostok, Sevastopol, Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Khabarovsk, Magadan, Tyumen), as well as five foreign countries: China, Germany, India, the USA, and Canada.
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