Enhancing the Responsible and Sustainable Expansion of the Science Shop Ecosystem in Europe

Meet the Team – Interview with Rodica Stanescu from the University Politehnica of Bucharest in Romania

Meet Rodica Stanescu, Director of InterMEDIU Bucharest, a Science Shop based at the University Politehnica of Bucharest in Romania, talking about their involvement in the SciShops project.

Q: Firstly, tell us a bit about your work at the University Politehnica of Bucharest

I am chemical engineer, and a Professor in the Department of Analytical Chemistry and Environmental Engineering at University Politehnica of Bucharest. My main professional fields of interest are related to environment protection. I teach and do research in waste management, environmental policy and soil remediation.

InterMEDIU Bucharest is the name of the Science Shop that I helped to set up in 2002 at the University and I continue to run the Science Shop along with a number of other colleagues. We carry out between three to four project each year with the focus being on environmental issues. The main goals of InterMEDIU Bucharest Science Shop are to increase students’ awareness on the role of science in society through participative research and to improved multi-disciplinary- and problem-solving skills of students. 

 You can read all about our Science Shop in a case study produced by the SciShops project. 

Q: How easy has it been to set up a Science Shop in Romania?

Eight Science Shops were set up in Romania between 1990-2002, supported by two MATRA Projects coordinated by Dr Henk Mulder, coordinator of Science Shop RUG in the Netherlands. For our team, setting up our Science Shop was quite easy thanks to the help we received from our Dutch mentor. We started with small projects and then expanded to more complex ones. Difficulties arose after the conclusion of the MATRA project when we had to look for funding for new projects. We used funds from different national and international projects, as well as in kind contributions from SMEs based on personal contacts. We have now been running for 16 years, however,  a number of the other Romanian Science Shops are no longer operational due to a lack of funding so we have been incredibly lucky! 

Public awareness and understanding of environmental issues in Romania is relatively low and InterMEDIU also has an awareness-raising and educational role, which the university management particularly supports. Working with Romanian civil society can also be a challenge as NGOs often see the science shop as competitors and are not keen to share funding due to their own resourcing issues.  

Q: What is the University Politehnica of Bucharest’s role in the project?

InterMEDIU team’s expertise in involving students in community-based research is being shared with the new Science Shops throughout the SciShops project in a number of ways, including  mentoring and twinning. 

Our team also coordinates one of the main tasks of the project establishing synergies with other H2020/ FP7 projects and international initiatives to enhance pan-European and international knowledge exchange.

Q: What do you hope to achieve through the project?

Greater recognition and visibility at European level is very important to us and we are aware that every project counts.

Also, we hope to use the expertise gained through the project to extend the participatory dimension of our community-based research undertaken within our own Science Shop. 

Q:What do you personally find most interesting/exciting about the project?

The feeling of being a part of a great European family! We have learnt how to deal more efficiently with the challenges of finding partners and funding, how to plan and evaluate the impact of our projects, as well as how to communicate our successes.