An immigrant scientist’s effort to reverse the brain drain in his native country.
Brain drain did not spare Dr. Arben Merkoçi who, just like many of his colleagues, left his native Albania in the early 1990s to seek better opportunities. He did succeed.
Dr. Merkoçi, who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Tirana, is now a professor at The Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (The Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, ICN2), leading a comfortable life in Barcelona, Spain.
However, in 2019, Dr. Merkoçi added the foundation of NanoAlb to his goals. NanoAlb is the Albanian nanoscience and nanotechnology unit, part of the Academy of Sciences of Albania. He conducts his research in Barcelona, Spain and concurrently leads the NanoAlb unit in Tirana, Albania.
NanoAlb is only a virtual center for now but Dr. Merkoçi and his team are trying to change that.
If the project of building a real center comes to fruition, then NanoAlb will better coordinate the activities in the area of nanoscience and nanotechnology carried by Albanian universities in Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Montenegro. The project will hopefully stop the brain drain in this area and set an example for other scientific fields as well.
A conversation with Dr. Arben Merkoçi — a native Albanian, a professor at the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Barcelona, Spain and director of the NanoAlb Unit in Tirana, Albania — about the challenge of retaining and attracting scientists back to Albania.
We spoke with Dr. Merkoçi on the last day of the conference “Trends in NanoTechnology,” held in Tirana, Albania in early October, 2021.
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