Dr.Halil Ibrahimi (40) is a Professor at University of Prishtina “Hasan Prishtina”, at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. First of all I want to thank you for given us the opportunity to make this interview with you Prof.Halil.
So let’s start:
1. What was the motivation to study Zoology?
After I did my bachelor in General Biology, I was more interested to continue my masters and PhD studies in the field of Zoology primarily because insects in general and aquatic insects in particular intrigued me with their way of life, interesting diversity patterns and rarity of this kind of studies in Kosovo. In this regard understanding the way animals communicate, feed, behave, reproduce and are distributed were some of the motivations that made me study Zoology. In addition to this by understanding ecology of different groups of animals and conditions they live, I thought, I would be able to impact their protection and preservation in an area where animals are heavily impacted by different anthropogenic activities.
2. How are conditions to study and make science in Kosovo?
Making science in Kosovo is extremely difficult, primarily because of the financial constraints. Traditionally and up to now research was not a priority of governmental institutions and even the few initiatives undertaken during the last years within certain ministries in Kosovo are constantly followed by bureaucratic obstacles, unmeritorious distribution and unplanned activities. In these conditions researching in the field of natural sciences remains more an individual effort and also a sacrifice at the same time. However even in these difficult conditions there are important results achieved during the last years by Kosovar scientists, being thus a merit of individual researchers rather than institutions.
3. With all the knowledge that students achieve in their studies in Kosovo are they equal with colleagues from other universities (countries)?
The quality of studies in Kosovo is more or less comparable with countries in the region. The lack of proper practical part in curricula is one of the main gaps in studying natural sciences in Kosovo particularly. However due to the extraordinary efforts many students continue successfully their after graduate studies in European universities showing there important comparable attitude and abilities. The process of improving curricula and teaching process is an ongoing activity.
4. You are father and teacher as well, do you suggest your children or students to study Biology and why?
Well not directly. I would like my children study what comes to them as a natural interest and desire. But, probably because I frequently talk about insects and because they see and know what I do, unconsciously I am serving as a suggestion to go into biology. Biology and zoology are definitely interesting fields to study so yes, I would invite all future students to consider dealing with this part of science if they have whatsoever any natural interest in nature and living organisms. Understanding nature and particularly living organisms intrigued humans historically and by knowing how plants, animals and others live we somehow tend to understand and find a proper role and place for ourselves in the planet.
5. Your subject that you make lesions needs to do fields trip how do you provide the money for that?
Field trips are only rarely covered financially by institutions. In most of cases I finance my field trips myself from my monthly salary. Occasionally we tend to use opportunities in participating in internationally funded projects and thus include our field research within. This is one of limitations in studying animals in Kosovo since there is a need for many field trips and long stays in field. This is something institutions here do not understand or appreciate. This brings into absurd situations where certain ministries in Kosovo agree to finance researches which are solely based on field trips but do not cover financial expenses of these researches related to transportation. It becomes like financing a project to investigate the Moon and not covering finances for going to the Moon. It is as difficult as that.
6. Your close field of study is order Trichoptera (caddisflies). why did you choose this group ?
It’s not something that I dreamt of my whole life. It started accidentally but has now become part of my work, lectures, teaching, vocations, weekends, life. I came to know about caddisflies for the first time indirectly during my Master degree studies. Historically there were only very few studies related to Trichoptera in Kosovo and Balkans including many species waiting to be described from the area due to the high diversity potential and endemism.
7. You had discovered four new species of caddisflies. Can you tell us more about that?
First species, Chaetopteroides kosovarorum I found during 2012 and described a year later. The species belongs to an extremely rare genus, inhabiting only few mountainous areas in Balkans. The second species Potamophylax fules was also published during the same year as a part of larger investigation of Potamophylax genera in Europe. The rest two species, Drusus dardanicus and Drusus sharrensis, belong to the groups of highly endangered and rare genus with a high potential for endemism in Balkans. All these species are endangered because of illegal and legal forest cut, improper management of water resources and pollution from human activities.
Currently I am working in describing two other new species from Kosovo and another one from Albania.
8. We had make a question to our friends same is for you Do you think that the career of a biologist is underestimated in your country
Yes, it is underestimated. However if properly used and planned, careers in biology could be useful for country and development of society. There are many species waiting to be described, preserved, protected and conserved, there are many processes in nature waiting to be understood, there are many plants waiting to be transferred into medicaments. So this is where comes a biologist, and why he must be an important part of society.
Interview done by Donard Geci and Edison Kasumaj