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News from ICTP 85 - Features - Associates



Hailed as its greatest success, the Associate Scheme has been at the core of Centre efforts since the ICTP's inception. Now changes are underway to ensure that the programme continues to fulfil its mandate in the face of a rapidly changing world.


Youth to be Served at ICTP


There have been several thousand worldwide-accomplished scientists largely working in developing countries with careers that may have been short-circuited if not for the Centre's Associate Scheme.

Over the past three decades, the programme has provided a refuge for scientists from the South by enabling them to keep abreast of the latest developments in their fields without having to permanently leave their native countries. ICTP Associates, in turn, have often become the Centre's most earnest supporters--goodwill ambassadors who spread the word about the ICTP across the globe.

To ensure that the programme continues to play a vital role in upgrading the skills of scientists throughout the developing world, ICTP Director Miguel Virasoro has launched a series of wide-ranging reforms. What's behind these changes?

For one thing, the average age of the Associates has been inching up over the years and now stands at 48.

At one level, this trend reflects the programme's success. Most applications for the Associate Programme have come from mid-career scientists in the South who have developed an extensive list of publications. The emphasis on publications has served us well in the past, but it now threatens to undermine one of the programme's major goals: to assist young scientists from the developing world during the earliest stages of their careers.

That's why the Centre has revised its criteria for membership in ways that are intended to reduce the average age of our Associates (see "Scheme for the Ages"). Our goal is to provide promising young scientists--many of whom are long on potential and short on publications--with an opportunity to join the ranks of our Associates. In effect, the programme will increasingly become a pathway for professional growth among youthful scientists in addition to a destination for mature and accomplished ones.

At the same time that the Centre seeks to attract younger scientists into its fold, ICTP is also "inviting" research institutions from the North to become partners in its Associate Scheme. Our new "Partners" will be asked to "host our Associates and make training programmes and research facilities available to them." The arrangement will take the form of a Memorandum of Understanding that will outline the responsibilities of both ICTP and its partners, including provisions for cost-sharing.

We're convinced that our "partnership" initiative will enlarge opportunities for our Associates by providing them with access to worldclass facilities where research directly related to their fields is taking place. It's a "win-win" situation that will broaden the reach of the ICTP while improving the depth of its instruction.

Our partnership initiative is being driven by the realization that scientific research is becoming increasingly globalized and now is the time for the Centre to reach out to institutions in the North. By providing Associates with opportunities to work in state-of-the-art research facilities in their fields, we will be providing an invaluable service to our scientists.

The bottom line is this: The world of science has changed and the ICTP Associate Scheme must change to keep pace with the new challenges and new opportunities that have emerged since the programme was put in place more than 30 years ago.

All these efforts will literally put a new, younger face on the ICTP. In particular, the expanded privileges afforded our Junior Associates, the age limits placed on our Regular and Senior Associates and the launching of our Young Student initiative will create a more youthful pool of Associates. At the same time, our "partnership" programme will extend the borders of our Associate Scheme to scientific research centres and university campuses around the world.

These changes are the most significant alterations in the Associate Scheme since its inception in 1964. The central role that the Associate Scheme plays within the ICTP means that virtually all aspects of Centre activities--from housing to travel to library use--will be effected.

Change represents not only challenge but opportunity. The Associate Scheme's new provisions are driven by a simple, yet lofty, goal: to allow the programme to remain at the forefront of global efforts designed to help scientists in the developing world.

Scheme for the Ages

To meet the needs of younger scientists and to expand research opportunities for all our Associates, the Centre has made the following changes in its Associate Scheme:

- Junior Associates may be no more than 35 years old at the time of their six-year appointment. In addition to a book and journal allowance of L. 700,000 a year that they have received in the past, they will now be entitled to the same privileges as Regular Associates. That means they may visit ICTP on three different occasions over a six-year period. The Centre will pay their airfare and provide them with a daily stipend of L. 65,000. Each visit may last from six weeks to three months. The total length of their visitation during their appointment may not exceed 270 days.

- Regular Associates may range in age from 36 to 45 at the time of their appointment. Their privileges will remain the same as in the past, including the right to visit ICTP on three different occasions over a six-year period. To counteract the impact of inflation, they will receive a modest increase in their daily stipend.

- The most significant change for Regular Associates--and perhaps for the entire Associate Scheme--is the creation of a new category of participation for young students. Regular Associates will now be able to nominate three Young Students. These young students, who must be 32 or younger, may visit the Centre to attend an activity or to accompany the Regular Associate who has nominated them. The ICTP will pay for the student's airfare and provide each student with a daily stipend.

- Senior Associates, who may range in age from 46 to 62, will have their total allocation rise from L. 8,000,000 to L. 11,000,000. Their daily stipend will increase to take account of inflation.


GianCarlo Ghirardi
is professor of physics at the University of Trieste
and head of ICTP's Associate and Federation Schemes.

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