Mirror Laboratories: Uniting Researchers from Different Universities
HSE Vice Rector Maria Yudkevich speaks about the launch of Mirror Laboratories, the third open project competition held by HSE University. Teams from Russian universities, research organisations, and government research centres looking to collaborate with HSE research departments are invited to participate in the competition. Applications will be accepted until May 20.
Mirror Laboratories are research projects implemented by HSE University in partnership with other Russian academic and research organisations. The idea of these projects is to bring together two teams of researchers working on a common topic and conducting similar research. HSE University research departments and those elsewhere in the country working in the same field and with a similar research agenda can apply to the competition as a team. If they win, they form a 'mirror project' in which both departments complement each other, share the same ideas, goals, objectives, etc. This is why they are called 'mirrors'—they are a reflection of each other. Such laboratories cooperate and receive funding for three years.
The Mirror Laboratories project has been conceived and organised as part of University Partnership, a larger project of HSE University. Apart from the Mirror Laboratories, the initiative covers many other important tools, including internships at HSE University and a programme for Russian postdoctoral fellows. However, the Mirror Laboratories project is the most ‘institutionalised’ event because it involves joint three-year research cooperation between existing HSE University departments and those in other universities selected as a result of the competition.
We run this competition every year. This year, we will be holding it for the third time. We will be accepting applications until May 20 and will announce the results on July 8. Full information about the competition is available on the HSE Mirror Laboratories website. We are trying to increase awareness of the competition as much as possible. When we announced the competition for the first time, we did not know that we would have to face a long period of pandemics and travel restrictions, so we thought we would meet with the participants in person and enjoy offline cooperation. However, these two years have shown that the laboratories can cooperate online equally well.
We are now expecting applications from people prepared to work remotely most of the time
Last year, we expanded the audience of the competition: in addition to applications from joint teams of HSE University and other Russian universities, we also began accepting joint applications from HSE University and research institutes. We hope that this year, we will have joint projects of HSE University and regional institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences. One of the objectives of the Mirror Laboratories (as well as many of the projects we run on a competitive basis) is to create a research school and foster young scientists. Therefore, mutual internships, summer schools, tours of regional and Moscow universities, and similar events have always been an important part of the Mirror Laboratories.
Future researchers will certainly benefit from opportunities to work with other universities and research institutes
Thirty-three research projects took part in the first Mirror Laboratories competition in 2020. Applications were filed jointly by HSE research departments and 27 Russian partner universities. There were thirteen winning projects. In the 2021 competition, 32 applications were submitted jointly with 25 Russian universities and research centres, with ten projects named the winners.
Last year, we received more than three applications per vacancy. We expect applications to be fairly detailed, so it takes a long time for our colleagues to prepare, discuss, and work out the details. Applying to our competition takes a lot of work. We are always faced with a difficult choice. We see how many of our colleagues learn from their mistakes. Sometimes, we receive an application that we are potentially interested in, but we do not support it because it is not developed enough. Next time, we receive the same application and see that the applicants have been working for a whole year and have managed to make a more substantial application despite a lack of centralised support. In 2020, during the first wave of the competition, we rejected some applications, but in 2021, our colleagues submitted a revised version that we were happy to support.
It should be noted that the most sustainable projects arise when applicants make the most of a history of productive relations, and this background enables them to take the project to the next level
Firstly, it is important to us that projects have practical applications and are of interest to both parties involved. Secondly, the parties need to invest valuable competencies in the project and learn something from each other. This is important because we do not want people to think that everyone should learn from HSE University and that our university always acts as a ‘big brother’. This is not the case. Many projects are implemented by collaborative efforts from both sides—twice the expertise is invested, and we both learn from each other. Thirdly, it is desirable that some intellectual property be created as part of the laboratory work, not only in the form of publications, but also in the form of databases, patents, and practical developments.
We have a number of projects that focus on solving specific regional problems
For example, the HSE Vishnevsky Institute of Demography and the Laboratory for Social and Demographic Research at Bashkir State University study the impact of demographic changes on human development in Russian regions and develop recommendations for optimising regional demographic and social policy, aimed at achieving Russia’s national development goals.
Another example is the collaboration between the HSE Institute for Economics and Regulation of Natural Monopolies and the International Laboratory for Regional Problems of Energy Development at the Irkutsk National Research Technical University. The team is developing energy infrastructure models for remote and isolated Russian territories that lack connections to centralised electricity grids and heat supply systems. This is the case for about 80% of territories in Russia.
Maria M. Yudkevich
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HSE University Launches Fourth Mirror Laboratories Competition
The competition is open to HSE University research units planning to conduct joint projects with academic institutions, research organisations and state academic centres of the Russian Federation.
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An Economics and Engineering Approach to Energy Supply Development in Remote Areas of Russia
Ilya Dolmatov, Director of the HSE Institute of Economics and Utility Regulation, heads a Mirror Lab project titled ‘Models of Energy Infrastructure Development in Russia’s Remote and Isolated Territories’ and implemented together with a university in Irkutsk. Why is energy efficiency a particularly pressing problem in remote territories? How can economics and engineering work together to solve it? Ilya Dolmatov addressed these and other issues in his interview for The HSE LooK.
Two Russian Regions Cooperate in Migration Studies as Part of Mirror Labs Project
What does Kaliningrad Oblast, an exclave Russian territory, have in common with Perm Krai, a region in the Urals? How do researchers use digital humanities methods to study migration? Sergei Kornienko, Leading Research Fellow at the Group for Historical Research (HSE University-Perm), heads the Mirror Lab project ‘Migration as a factor of social transformation of Soviet regions during the post-war reconstruction period: an analysis through digital humanities’. In this interview for The HSE LooK, he talks about this collaboration.
HSE University Collaborates with University in Southern Russia to Compare Values and Identities across Generations and Regions
Is there a system of values that is common to the whole population of Russia? Do values differ across generations? Is it possible to carry out research among refugees? HSE University researchers joined forces with their peers from Kuban State Technological University to study values and intercultural relations across Russian regions as part of a Mirror Labs project. The HSE LooK talked about this cooperation to Nadezhda Lebedeva, Director of the HSE Centre for Sociocultural Research, who heads up the Mirror Lab project, and project participant Victoria Galyapina, Leading Research Fellow at the same Centre.
Through its Mirror Laboratories project, HSE University develops collaborations with academic institutions across the country. Today, it includes 22 ongoing projects in partnership with 20 universities in mathematics, computer science, economics, sociology, biology, history and many other fields. Marina Litvintseva, Director for Advanced Research at HSE University, coordinates international and mirror laboratory projects. In this year’s second issue of HSE LooK, she talked about the development of mirror laboratories and the future of the project.
HSE University Announces Results of Mirror Labs 2022 Competition
The Mirror Labs research project competition is aimed at HSE University departments that are planning to conduct joint studies with other Russian universities and research centres. The competition is now in its third year. A total of 19 academic organisations from 14 regions of Russia submitted applications as partners of HSE University, including 9 organisations participating for the first time.
Scholars from Moscow and Vladivostok Join Efforts to Study Institutes and Preferences in Economic Behaviour
Applications from HSE departments for the ‘Mirror Laboratories’ open project competition are open until May 20. One of the ‘mirror laboratories’ successfully operating today was created as a result of a similar competition in 2020 by economists from HSE University and Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) to study institutes and preferences in economic behaviour. Alexis Belianin, Head of the HSE International Laboratory for Experimental and Behavioural Economics, talked about how peers from Moscow and Vladivostok collaborate.
HSE University Launches Third Mirror Laboratories Competition
The competition is open to HSE University research units planning to conduct joint projects with academic institutions, research organisations and state academic centres of the Russian Federation. Applications are open until May 20, 2022.