|Title||2021 New Year’s Message from the President|
2021 New Year’s Message from the President
As Prepared for Delivery
Happy new year 2021 to all IBS members.
As we usher in the year of the White Metal Ox (신축년, 辛丑年), I wish every day of the new year to be filled with hope and happiness for you and your family. Just like a strong-willed, steadfast ox, may this year be the year that all IBS members accomplish what you have set out to do and be the driving force of the nation.
As we reflect on the past year, I would like to thank all IBS members for your hard work and effort in confronting the extraordinarily difficult circumstances that 2020 brought us. The last 12 months have been a tough time for all of us as we battle our way out of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Going through this pandemic has made me reflect on what we can and should do to realize our mission of “Making discoveries for humanity and society” in this time of global crisis.
In efforts to understand the novel virus, IBS researchers last year made significant scientific discoveries related to COVID-19 and helped boost public access to reliable scientific information on the virus. These efforts were greatly appreciated by the scientific community and the general public. I am thankful for the recognition, but as we are still not out of the woods yet, I feel the heavy responsibility I bear as the president of the nation’s leading institute of basic science.
Despite the pandemic, IBS Research Centers continued to contribute to new discoveries and knowledge that deepen our understanding of the universe, nature and life itself. IBS’ research has garnered significant attention from the global scientific community at large. This was all made possible due to the dedication of our world-class researchers, as well as administrative and technical staff. Thank you so much for your hard work.
2020 also presented some additional challenges for IBS. Our tight budget situation has not improved due to funding prioritized to fighting COVID-19 and the heavy ion accelerator project has faced delay. Widely differing views of stakeholders within and outside of IBS on the institutional operations have sometimes fueled debate and, in some ways, caused misconceptions. While we need to scale up investment and continue attracting outstanding researchers to become a truly world-class research institution, we are facing a number of critical challenges.
During my first year of office last year, I focused on stabilizing IBS’ operations by reorganizing the administrative units in order to bounce back from the whirlpool of criticism IBS received. By overseeing the first eight-year review of Research Centers and taking the initiative in introducing the research cluster system, I prioritized on setting the future direction of IBS. The task of finding resilience in the face of adversity while trying to keep our future intact sometimes felt like walking on thin ice. I am fortunate to have been energized by the support of the IBS community and I am determined to shift our momentum to the new year as we actively work on the following tasks.
First, we will put IBS’ core values at the heart of institutional management. IBS’s original philosophy is to provide long-term support for outstanding scientist group’s research conducted in a culture of autonomy. The importance of this mission cannot be overstated and will always be our top priority. Though many external variables and risks exist in this time of national crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will ensure that our researcher-centric philosophy remains firmly in place under any circumstances. We will continue to engage the government, scientific community, and the public to support our core value while we cement IBS’ identity as a national basic science research institute.
Second, as IBS celebrates its 10th anniversary, we will redirect our development strategies in furtherance of research. The first order of business is to establish a detailed policy necessary to implementing the newly introduced research cluster system for HQ and Campus Research Centers. HQ Centers form clusters, called institutes, to conduct research on strategic research areas in basic science, including mathematics, physics and life sciences. Special measures will be put in place to enhance HQ Center’s competitiveness and to improve their talent attraction strategy.
Campus Centers will be restructured into institutes by specialized research area. Construction officially kicked off with ground-breaking ceremonies for two long-awaited IBS Center buildings at KAIST and POSTECH. Once complete, these buildings will serve as research homes for Campus Centers in clusters with redefined roles and functions. They will grow into world-class institutes with strengths in chemistry and biology for KAIST Campus, and in physics and materials science for POSTECH Campus. Corresponding plans will be drawn up for GIST, DGIST and UNIST campuses to consolidates their capabilities in their areas of strength.
Likewise, we will map out clearly defined roles and the future direction of Extramural Centers. They have been producing high-profile research outcomes and are the embodiment of collaboration between IBS and research-oriented universities. The future of Extramural Centers is bright as they mature into world-class strong small research institutes housed in universities.
Some Centers are coming up for eight-year review this year. As we successfully marked this significant milestone last year for the first time, I will ensure that this year’s review takes place according to global standards and Centers’ excellence are assessed in a fair and objective manner. For a proper follow-up after the review, I will make sure that the Centers that have successfully undergone the review receive continued long-term support. If some adjustments are needed, I will act decisively to reach the best possible outcome that provides more opportunities for young researchers.
Third, we will reset the future direction for the heavy ion accelerator project and its management. Due to delays in construction and performance testing of some accelerating devices, it is not feasible to complete the project in 2021 as planned. We understand that the project is a big science project of the nation which entails significant technical difficulties and challenges. However, since this is not the first time that the project has been delayed, it pains me to admit that we may see another delay of the project. This year, I will carefully examine the current and future direction of the project by soliciting a range of opinions from the project group, accelerator experts and nuclear physicists at home and abroad, and through close, strategic consultation with the government. I will seek out ways to achieve the original goal of the project as effectively as possible but we will have to encounter some difficulties in the meantime.
Fourth, IBS will continue to do our part in the throes of the COVID-19 global crisis. We will fully support life sciences Centers’ research on viruses and infectious diseases-related topics and will communicate the research findings to a broader community.
In line with this, IBS will dedicate significant efforts to establish the Basic Virus Research Institute as an organizational unit of IBS. The Basic Virus Research Institute aims to strengthen the nation’s basic virus research capabilities to respond to the emergence of new or variant viruses and serve as a focal point of the nation’s collaborative efforts in mid- to long-term basic virus research. Though it is initiated by the government through its own strategic vision, it will be under the remit of IBS. According to our guiding principles, IBS will select a world-class scholar to assume the role of the managing director and grant the authority to oversee the overall operations while providing the best research environment. In order for the Basic Virus Research Institute to safeguard the nation in the long run, I will be in close communication with directors of Centers in life sciences, as well as the government.
Finally, we will create a culture of mutual trust, unity and respect under the same IBS mission of making discoveries in basic science. I will make efforts to create a culture where researchers, admin staff, technical staff, custodians and every member of the IBS community better understand each other and work together toward a common goal. Under the leadership of the newly appointed vice president, vigorous and professional administrative strategies will be developed and the Integrated Admin Teams will actively support Centers’ administration to bridge the perceived gap between Centers and administrative units at headquarters.
My fellow IBS members, 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of IBS. The past 10 years have been eventful and we have been buffeted by changes large and small. But one thing has never changed: our mission of making discoveries in basic science. This year’s 10-year milestone should be a time to reaffirm our mission and lay out a new vision for the next 10 years. As the famous phrase goes: the gull sees farthest who flies highest. This also rings true to IBS operations. As IBS looks ahead to its centennial of basic science, I hope this year’s 10-year milestone will serve as a springboard to fly high and make our vision come alive.
Thank you and happy new year 2021.