This is the tale of five young researchers involved in the preparatory projects of DANUBIUS-RI, the International Centre for Advanced Studies on River-Sea Systems. Romania is coordinating DANUBIUS-RI, the first research infrastructure that will support interdisciplinary studies of river-sea systems in Europe. DANS SUPPORT Project prepares the building and development of the Romanian contribution to DANUBIUS-RI.
Edupedu.ro interviewed five of the youngest researchers of The Romanian National Institute for Research and Development of Marine Geology and Geo-Ecology GeoEcoMar, all involved in DANS Support Project.
VIDEO supported by the DANS Project
Adriana Constantinescu graduated from the Faculty of Geology and Geophysics (University of Bucharest) in 2009, followed by two Master’s Degrees in Applied Geophysics in Romania (2011) and Marine Geo-Sciences in France (2013). She is now a PhD researcher at University of Stirling, UK, the leading institution of the DANUBIUS-RI Observation Node. Her PhD project focuses on the Danube Delta and the Black Sea area.
“I started working in the DANUBIUS-RI Project in 2013. Working with researchers from all over Europe really helped me define the future directions in my career – what I do want, what I’m interested in. That ‘ s how the idea of a joint PhD between GeoEcoMar and the University of Stirling appeared. We focus on the effects that the changes occurring in the Danube basin have on the Delta and the Black Sea. We are primarily interested in the impact of the dams built both on the Danube River and on the Danube tributaries which, to some extent, stop and change the flow of water, mud and sand that should naturally reach the Danube Delta and the Black Sea. An immediate effect is the erosion of beaches. They no longer receive the sand that Danube would have normally brought, and they are slowly washed away by the action of waves and currents and eventually they disappear. This is an obvious consequence, but there are also other effects in the other parts of the Delta, in lakes and canals for example, which are not studied very well yet.
Together with scientists from other European countries we are bringing new techniques in this area to study environmental changes in the Danube Delta and the Black Sea. We use both satellite imagery and laboratory techniques. The sensors to be mounted in the Danube Delta through the DANS Support Project will help us find how accurate the data obtained from satellite images are. The continuous development of the satellite techniques makes them a very useful long-term tool for both management and scientific research of the coastal areas and wetlands in general, and of the Danube Delta and the Black Sea continental shelf in particular. Sensors will be located on the main branches, secondary channels and canals, lakes, lagoons like Musura or Sahalin, and in the coastal area of the Black Sea. It would be the first time these natural environments are studied on such a scale, from the basin, reaching the Delta and then the sea. We hope our work will have an overall positive social and economic impact in Danube Delta, which is one of the poorest areas in the European Union. As part of DANUBIUS-RI, DANS Support Project will create jobs and opportunities for those interested in joining us to learn about the things we are currently studying, about the environment in which they live in and thus it will give them the opportunity to improve their lives.”
Iulian Pojar graduated from the Faculty of Biology and Geology (Babes – Bolyai University, Cluj – Napoca) in 2012 and then he took a Master’s Degree in Geology at the University of Bucharest. Currently a PhD student in Bucharest, he studies the composition of sediments in the Danube River. Starting 2019, he coordinates a 4-year National Project focused on the level of microplastics pollution in sediment, water and fauna of the Danube River, Danube Delta and the Black Sea.
“DANS Project supports the development of a new scientific research direction in Romania, regarding the distribution of microplastics in natural environments. We are interested in both the terrestrial environments around the Danube River, the Danube Delta and the Black Sea coast, and the marine environments, like the Black Sea internal shelf. Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5 mm in size that reach the natural environments through macroplastic disintegration – plastic bags, casseroles, PETs mainly. Microplastic particles can also come from cosmetics or hygiene products (toothpaste, detergents, make-up) that end up in nature.
Specifically, aquatic fauna such as fish eats these plastic particles, which are already part of their food chain. Later on, fish reaches our plates, microplastics included. This problem is even tougher in regards to the food of people that traditionally deal with fishing, such as Danube Delta inhabitants. Microplastics are really a problem for the human health. Other recent scientific studies on this topic show that in one kilogram of sediment or in one litre of water there are thousands of microplastic particles, proving a very high level of pollution. Microplastics are present throughout the Danube basin, which demonstrates that this type of pollution affects all of Europe.”
Roberta Castellano graduated from the Polytechnic University of Bari in 2014, where she later completed a Master’s Degree in Hydraulic Engineering. An Erasmus scholarship in Romania offered her the opportunity to collaborate with GeoEcoMar, where she is currently employed.
„Since I have come to Romania, I have been part of several field campaigns and I’ve conducted several studies on the Danube River – Danube Delta – Black Sea macro-system. I’ve used some of the data to complete my Master’s degree at the Polytechnic University of Bari. I’ve applied for the Erasmus scholarship having in mind the good experiences some of my colleagues had here, their positive experience in the professional working environment of GeoEcoMar. By applying what they have learnt into practice, they had the chance to better understand the theoretical notions acquired during the study period. This chance is somehow unique during an ungraduated course, and it has a defining role in the professional training of any young graduate. It is also a beautiful experience that every researcher should have.
DANS Support Project gives me the opportunity to understand the unique aquatic environments of the Danube, the Danube Delta and the Black Sea area. For three months last summer, I was on the field carrying out geophysical studies in certain areas of the Danube River. My role was to measure water flow parameters (velocity, flow, etc.) from a moving boat, using state-of-the-art equipment (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler) and to perform bathymetric measurements using single- and multi-beam equipment. These geophysical measurements were made either on board of research vessel Istros or on board of other research boats.”
Albert Scrieciu graduated from the Faculty of Geology and Geophysics (University of Bucharest) in 2009, where he later finished a Master’s Degree in Environmental Geological Engineering. Currently he is a PhD researcher (on the Management of Protected Geological Areas) at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies. Since 2016 he’s been coordinating „The River Danube” research team of GeoEcoMar, while also coordinating other projects, including three Horizon 2020.
„DANUBIUS-RI represents the work of a dedicated group of international researchers for many years. DANS Support Project will solve many scientific and environmental problems and it will generate significant economic growth in the Danube Delta. The Danube River basin collects water from the territories of 19 European countries and is the most international river basin in the world. It is also the collector and emissary of all discharges from the upstream countries to the Black Sea, which affects the quality of the Danube Delta waters and the Black Sea continental shelf as well. The Danube Delta Supersite, as one of the largest wetlands in Europe, is an area of greatest scientific interest. I think that this corner of heaven must be protected and appreciated by everyone, from the fisherman in the Delta to the tourist who goes there for leisure.
DANS Project considers the Danube Delta to be a living lab. Addressing present issues, such as climate change and anthropogenic impacts, means to always recreate natural conditions within the lab and thus to obtain the marginal conditions to develop the mathematical models required. Considering the Danube macro-system (the Danube Delta and the Black Sea) as a living lab, we no longer have to recreate these conditions because they are already there. As it addresses many areas of science and applies complex and state-of-the art investigation methodologies, DANS Support Project makes it all possible.”
Maria Ionescu graduated from the Faculty of Geology and Geophisycs (University of Bucharest) in 2009. In the same year she completed an Erasmus Scholarship in Earth Sciences at Université de Bourgogne (Dijon, France). She began her geological engineering career with Schlumberger, working in Romania, Turkey and Norway. Later she changed her professional path following a Master’s of Science Degree in Marine Environmental Protection at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor, UK.
„My geological engineering degree sent me directly to oil and gas industry, but, since I’ve always been interested in ecology, I changed my career path by completing a Master’s Degree in Marine Environment Protection. After graduation, this brought me to the Danube Delta and the Black Sea coast.
I’ve been involved in the DANUBIUS-RI Project since 2016, after its acceptance on the ESFRI (European Forum for Strategic Research Infrastructures) Roadmap. I’ve seen how, in a very short time, the plans put on paper become reality. I have been involved since the very beginning in the management team of the Horizon 2020 DANUBIUS Preparatory Phase project, which aims to bring the complex DANUBIUS RI – with components distributed around many countries in Europe – towards technical, legal and financial maturity. The DANUBIUS Preparatory Phase Consortium currently consists of 30 partners from 16 countries, including research institutes, academies of science and universities. There we all work together to draw the detailed plans for the creation of the future DANUBIUS ERIC – European Research Infrastructure legal entity. DANUBIUS – PP Project is coordinated by the National Institute for Research and Development on Marine Geology and Geo-Ecology GeoEcoMar. Romania, as leader of DANUBIUS-RI, committed to coordinate the entire European team and to develop major scientific capabilities in the Danube Delta. DANS Support project prepares the way for the construction of all these components. DANS Support Project is coordinated by the National Institute for Research and Development Institute on Biological Sciences in Bucharest. These projects demonstrate that Romania can successfully lead a European initiative and prove to the whole world that Romania can be a leader in interdisciplinary research. From the moment DANUBIUS-RI will be operational, the Danube Delta living lab will bring researchers from all over the world to Romania. Currently, DANS Support Project is developing the details of the set-up of this living lab.”
VIDEO supported by the DANS Project
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