Review of Activities

The Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (LAS) is a budgetary institution that brings together the most distinguished Lithuanian scientists as well as foreign scientists whose activities are related to Lithuania (by way of exception, prominent artists and writers are elected to it too). It is comprised of full members (academicians), corresponding members, expert members, and foreign members. Each member of the Academy of Sciences is also a member of some scientific division of the Academy. Full members, corresponding members and foreign members are elected for life.

The Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Humanistic thought is an inseparable part of Lithuania’s history and culture; it is not incidentally, therefore, that the humanities prevailed in the established Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. The Division of the Humanities incorporated the research Institutes of Lithuanian Language, Lithuanian Literature, Ethnology, and History. The Division of Social and Economic Sciences comprised the Institutes of Economics and Lithuanian Law and Economic History. During the period of the Nazi occupation, their activities did not cease – the volumes of the Dictionary of the Lithuanian Language were prepared for publication, collections of folklore and archival literary documents, earlier archeological research material, and statistical data concerning the social and political evolution of the country were processed and systematized. In the postwar years, the humanities and social sciences suffered from forced ideological bias, however, the ideas of national statehood and sovereignty, the problems and the fate of the nation were not forgotten at the Academy of Sciences. During the Soviet occupation, the Academy remained Lithuanian by its national composition and language. It used to give shelter to prominent personalities persecuted for their political beliefs. It was here that, with the support of the leading members of the intelligentsia, the national reform movement Sąjūdis, the Greens and other democratic movements were founded and the draft Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania was made.

The members of the Division are active in researching the Lithuanian language and literature, folklore, the history of Lithuania, the cultural and ethnocultural heritage as well as issues in philosophy, the country’s finance, economy, social changes, international and civil law. The independent schools of sciences originated by the members have gained international recognition. On the basis of the school of linguistics created by Z. Zinkevičius, A. Girdenis, and A. Sabaliauskas, Vilnius has become a world-famous centre of Baltic studies. The literary work of Academician J. Marcinkevičius, a poet, his services to Lithuania and his devotion to the people are a weighty contribution to Lithuanian poetical culture and national revival. The books by the literary critic V. Daujotytė-Pakerienė characterized by a subtle analysis of the world-outlook of contemporary Lithuanian poets and of the interrelation between poetry and other aspects of spiritual life as well as her studies of phenomenology and human sciences exert a considerable influence on national culture. A conceptual history research school has been developed, and the fundamental works by E. Gudavičius, V. Merkys, and A. Tyla attributed to the gold reserves of Lithuanian history have been published. Of importance to philosophy and humanities are the works by M. A. Šliogeris, his way of thinking and profound insights. The original schools of economics engaged in the solution of relevant problems of the national economy were set up by the late Academicians Eduardas Vilkas and Raimundas Rajeckas. The Division now headed by A. Vasiliauskas each year holds quite a few conferences on the urgent problems of science, art and culture and on the preservation of material and spiritual values. The members of the Division contribute to Lithuanian society’s education and civic initiatives and do a lot to foster civic awareness and raise academic youth.

The Division of Biological, Medical and Geosciences

At the first meeting of the members of the Academy in 1941, the Division of Natural Sciences (Nature Research, Mathematics and Technology) was established. This sphere of science comprised then not only biology, medicine and other life sciences but also chemistry, agriculture and forestry. Juozas Matulis was elected its Secretary General. Later on the Division was headed by Vladas Lašas, Antanas Minkevičius, Vytautas Girdzijauskas, L. Kairiūkštis, V. Kontrimavičius, and V. A. Tamošiūnas. Since 2009, the Division has been chaired by V. Basys. In the course of its activities, it underwent great changes. The latest structure consisting of Biological, Medical and Geosciences sections took shape in 1995. At present it also incorporates 5 commissions (Biotechnology, Allergology, Mother and Child, Human Morphology, and Geoenvironment). The members of the Division founded the Natural Research Station, the Museum of Zoology in Kaunas, the Žuvintas Preserve, and the birds ringing station at Cape Ventė; they have also created schools of parasitology, allergology, geology, biochemistry, bioelectrochemistry, genetics, cardiosurgery, cardiostimulation, and plant physiology; they have initiated important research trends in marine and coastal research, biotechnology, immunology, and human genetics. In recent years especially notable monographs have been published by G. Valkiūnas, V. Kontrimavičius, and J. Kulys with co-authors. The works done by the Division members, their schools and teams headed by them have been awarded State Science Prizes, the National Progress Prize, and decorations of the Republic of Lithuania; in 2010, Z. A. Kučinskienė was presented the Albert Schweitzer gold medal by the Polish Academy of Medicine.

The Division members take part at international projects related to the problems of proteomics and gene engineering, biotechnology, allergy, and inherited diseases. They also act in their capacity as experts of the Lithuanian Science Prize Commission and the Science Council of Lithuania, and consultants to the Ministry of Health; they participate in the expert examinations of university activities and their study programs; they serve on the editorial boards of Lithuanian and foreign journals and six of them are editors-in-chief of Academy’s journals. V. A. Bumelis has been elected Vice President of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists and President of the Israel-Lithuania Chamber of Commerce. Z. A. Kučinskienė is a member of the WHO Regional Office for Europe Standing Committee, the Identification Committee of the European Research Council, and the European Medical Research Council Executive Committee; J. Kulys is a member of the European Science Foundation standing commission;

J. Brėdikis is the founder of the educational association Šviesuva and Chairman of its council. The latest achievements in biomedicine and geosciences are presented to society at annual conferences of biology schoolteachers held jointly with the Ministry of Education and Science. The work of young scientists is discussed at the annual conference “Biofuture: Prospects of Natural and Life Sciences”.

The Division of Mathematical, Physical and Chemical Sciences

The Division of Mathematical, Natural and Applied Sciences was founded in 1945 and later reshuffled several times. In 1990, after the former Division of Physical, Technical and Mathematical Sciences had been reorganized into two divisions and the Section of Chemistry had been attached to it, the present-day Division was established under the chairmanship of A. Šileika. Later chair of the Division went to H. Pragarauskas and V. Razumas; at present it is headed by F. Ivanauskas.

The Division of Mathematical, Physical and Chemical Sciences is the largest one at the Academy. Currently it consists of 48 members, including a large number of foreign members and a Nobel Prize Winner (2000), Prof. Zhores Alferov. The work of the Division is done in three sections: Mathematics (Chairman V. Paulauskas), Physics (J. V. Vaitkus), and Chemistry (A. Kareiva). The first mathematician elected a full member of the Academy in 1962 was J. Kubilius; later Vytautas Statulevičius and B. Grigelionis became academicians too. These three outstanding scientists trained a numerous group of disciples and formed Lithuania’s school of probability theory. The main trends developed by this school are limit theorems, stochastic processes, infinite-dimensional probability theory, probabilistic and analytic number theory. Valuable results were obtained in differential equations and numerical analysis. The main research trends in the Section of Physics were outlined by the first academicians Professors Adolfas Jucys and Povilas Brazdžiūnas, also by Academy members Paulius Slavėnas, J. Požela, Jurgis Viščakas, Z. R. Rudzikas, and A. P. Piskarskas. Significant contributions made to atom theory, semiconductor physics, stellar photometry, thermonuclear fusion, and nonlinear optics have brought world fame to the Lithuanian school of physics. The first major trends to be pursued by the Section of Chemistry were determined by Academicians Juozas Matulis and Jonas Janickis. Later on the range of research was extended to embrace all main branches of chemistry. Valuable results were obtained in electrochemical and chemical deposition of metals, organic synthesis, inorganic and analytical chemistry, polymer synthesis and study, and biochemistry. The Division members are engaged in expert work; they are members of the Science Council of Lithuania as well as members and experts of the commissions of the Ministry of Education and Science, the councils of science of international organizations, committees and commissions; they participate in expert assessment of State scientific programs, reports, and competitive projects; they also take part in the activities of the Lithuanian Science Prize Commission.

The Division of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences

In 1991, an independent Section of Agricultural Sciences was set up in the Division of Biology, Medicine and Agriculture, and in 1995 it was reorganized into the Division of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences. For two terms, the newly founded Division was chaired by V. Vasiliauskienė. Its activities are conducted in 5 sections and 4 commissions.

The Division has always been concerned about increasing the role of agricultural and forestry sciences in the solution of scientific and economic problems in this country. It initiated the establishment of the Nemunas Science, Studies and Business Centre (Valley). The members of the Division have carried out important research in many spheres: L. Kairiūkštis has given a theoretical substantiation of stand productivity; S. Karazija has originated Lithuanian forest typology; R. Ozolinčius has started forest condition assessment; and A. Sliesaravičius has undertaken plant biotechnology studies. The following scientific schools and trends have been created: grassland husbandry – L. Kadžiulis; phytopathology – M. Strukčinskas; genetics and biotechnology, later oil-bearing plant biotechnology – A. Sliesaravičius; agricultural plant diseases and the regularities and control of their spreading – Z. Dabkevičius; original orchard plant genetics and biotechnology – V. Stanys; theoretical basis of livestock productivity – Č. Jukna; research into the use of enzymes in animal and poultry nutrition – V. K. Sirvydis; improving livestock reproduction properties – H. Žilinskas.

Under the supervision of L. Kairiūkštis, the first State scientific project “The Ecological Sustainability of Regional Development” (ECOSLIT) was implemented and the monograph Lithuania’s Ecological Sustainability in the Historical Context was published. It was followed by other important studies: Lithuania’s Soils, Biotechnology of Agricultural Plants, Plant Product Stationary Drying of Thick Layers, and Dictionary of Agricultural Terms for Plant Breeding and Seed Production.

For their outstanding scientific achievements A. Stanys, A. Sliesaravičius, L. Kairiūkštis, R. Ozolinčius, and Z. Dabkevičius were awarded National Science Prizes. L. Kairiūkštis’s valuable contribution to European forestry earned him an international Wilhelm Leopold Pfeil Prize.

Some members of the Division used to hold or hold now important posts at scientific, educational and other institutions. Z. Dabkevičius is Director of the Centre of Agrarian and Forestry Sciences; R. Ozolinčius is Director of the Lithuanian Forest Research Institute; H. Žilinskas is Chancellor of the Veterinary Academy at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. L. Kadžiulis was appointed Minister without portfolio and Chairman of the Science Council of Lithuania. A. Kairys was elected to the Seimas (Parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania; V. Bižokas was Rector of the Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, and A. Kusta served as Rector of the Lithuanian University of Agriculture.

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