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 The HSE LooK, she talked about the development of mirror laboratories and the future of the project.
Mirror Laboratories: Partnerships with Institutions in Various Regions
Mirror laboratories are joint research projects between HSE University and its partner institutions. Launched in 2020, this format was the first inter-university initiative of its kind aimed at developing networks and collaborative partnerships, while also enhancing cooperation in research and academic activities between HSE University and other leading Russian academic institutions.
They are referred to ‘mirror’ labs as it implies the financing of projects on parity terms and pooling research resources from both sides: providing each other with necessary expertise, sharing analytical methodology and results, conducting training seminars for each other and hosting interns. Thus, research activities may be carried out by joint project teams over a period of three years with the option for extension.
Mirror lab projects can be carried out in various fields and a diverse array of formats, which we strongly encourage.
Our local partner universities might have high-quality databases, but lack the expertise for engaging in quantitative analysis. Or, the partner universities possess a resource that our staff members can use for their own theoretical activities and vice versa.
The HSE Centre for Sociocultural Research, for instance, is cooperating with Kuban State Technological University (KSTU) to complement their recent public opinion polls with a sample of young people from Krasnodar Krai, thereby formulating broader hypotheses in regard to the whole country. Furthermore, our partners at KSTU are also interested in the project because we are willing to share our knowledge and expertise on this research method. Mirror lab projects can also stimulate new research agendas and foster the development of external projects for independent clients. Moreover, they can be multidisciplinary. As such, the HSE Laboratory for Intelligent Systems and Structural Analysis is developing mathematical models of venous outflow obstruction in the lower extremities for surgeons working out of Surgut State University
Mirror lab competitions are open to all research subdivisions at HSE University.
There are no limits about specific research areas that can be developed.
The only important condition is that both sides, HSE University and its partner institution, operate a formalized research subdivision engaged in studies concerning a given topic. Under the best circumstances, there should be experts at both universities with matching research interests, or people who can share their theoretical and practical knowledge.
Today, we have 22 ongoing projects in partnership with 20 regional universities across the country, from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad and from Surgut to Krasnodar. The projects concern such fields as mathematics, computer science, nanoelectronics, electrical engineering, physics, economics, sociology, linguistics, biology, education, psychology, and recent history.
The Idea Behind the Project
Close cooperation with Russia’s regions is an integral part of the HSE Strategic Development Programme. The Mirror Laboratories project was created to promote our academic work beyond our campuses. We have always known that our research subdivisions have built effective partnerships with the regions and wanted to come up with an initiative that would consolidate and further develop their efforts. Moreover, funding gave our staff the opportunity to institutionally support their established contacts through joint seminars, conferences and visits to partner institutions.
The goal of this project is not to help the regions, but rather find partners among them to work on high-class research projects. Another aim is to attract young people to work as research assistants, whereby students can fulfil their potential.
This has been the grassroots initiative of the University as we have been the first Russian academic institution to announce a competition aimed at maintaining research networks within the country. Interestingly, some of the mirror labs have evolved from international laboratories. Our Centre for Sociocultural Research, for instance, used to be an international lab that has then brought their international contacts and acquaintances to new joint projects. Mirror laboratories, therefore, can pass on the best practices of HSE University, through its international laboratories, to regions, harnessing an overall synergy.
Widening the Range of Partners and Research Topics
Judging by the feedback and the high number of applications that we receive throughout the year, we can see that the project is interesting not only to our research subdivisions, but also our other colleagues from all over Russia. However, the committee only selects those applications that that they find promising and this year, the proposed projects must match the University’s 2030 Development Programme.
We are always excited to read project proposals, especially if they are interdisciplinary.
The range of partners and research topics is widening as well: the proposed projects can now go outside of the specific research areas of units making applications. Last year, we were fascinated by applications from HSE MIEM (we found out about the agricultural IoT project) and St Petersburg. So, let’s see what’s in store this year!
Plans for Further Development
Another area where we see growing demand is grant funding for project collaboration between research teams within HSE University itself. For example, a research team from any HSE campus can find partners at another campus and, carry out research together. This might be another type of mirror laboratory, which is already operating at the University. We may consider financing the establishment of research units if, for example, there is a professor with two or three students who have a successful local engagement, but more major work is being done at another campus. For instance, the University already has two labs financed in a similar way: the International Laboratory of Intangible-driven Economy (located at HSE University-Perm and HSE University-St Petersburg, respectively) and the Centre for Language and Brain (located at HSE University-Moscow and HSE University-Nizhny Novgorod, respectively).
HSE University in St Petersburg and University of Technology Malaysia (UTM) have launched a mirror lab in social entrepreneurship. The agreement was signed in Kuala Lumpur on November 9 during a meeting of the Joint Russian-Malaysian Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation. The document was signed by Anna Tyshetskaya, Director of HSE University-St Petersburg, and Rosli Illias, UTM Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation.
HSE University and the National University of Uzbekistan have agreed to launch a mirror laboratory for the study of topical economic issues. The Protocol of Intent was signed by HSE University Rector Nikita Anisimov and NUU Rector Inom Majidov as part of the Interregional Conference for University Rectors of Russia and the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Joint Project of Scientists from HSE University and Surgut State University to Help Prevent Recurrent Heart Attacks and Strokes
One of the winning projects of a competition held by HSE University’s Mirror Laboratories last June focuses on the use of machine learning technologies to predict the outcomes of acute coronary syndrome. It is implemented by HSE University’s International Laboratory of Bioinformatics together with the Research and Educational Centre of the Medical Institute at Surgut State University. Maria Poptsova, Head of the International Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Associate Professor at HSE University’s Faculty of Computer Science, talks about how this joint project originated, how it will help patients, and how work to implement it will be organised.
From September 19–27, 2023, the Third Pacific School Conference on Experimental Economics (PSEE) will take place in Vladivostok. The conference has been organised by the HSE UniversityInternational Laboratory for Experimental and Behavioural Economics as part of the Mirror Laboratories project with the Research Laboratory for Modelling Socio-Economic Processes at Far Eastern Federal University. The conference will be held in an in-person format, and foreign participants can take part online.
This year, HSE University held the Mirror Laboratories project contest for the fourth time. A total of 19 applications were submitted to the contest from 16 HSE University research departments partnered with 16 organisations from 14 Russian regions. Following the contest results, 10 research projects received support.
Between March 27 and May 17, applications are open for the Mirror Lab Project Competition. As part of the new applications campaign, the HSE University bulletin (Okna Rosta) is publishing a series of interviews with the winners of last year's competition. In this issue, Natalia Kryzhanovskaya and Maxim Solodovnik speak about nano- and quantum technologies, as well as cooperation between HSE and Southern Federal University (SFedU).
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.
One million people in Russia suffer from venous diseases. The ‘Intelligent data analysis for healthcare information systems’ Mirror Lab project brings together expertise in mathematics and medicine in order to better diagnose various conditions in phlebology. Project leader Vasilii Gromov talked to The HSE LooK about its achievements and prospects.
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.
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.