Russian Computer Scientists at Home and Abroad

Center for Science and Technology Studies (STS Center)
Project start date:

The project led by distinguished professor of Science and Technology Studies at UC Davis (USA) Mario Biagioli is designed as a 28-month study of the population of Russian computer scientists (RCS henceforth) in Russia and abroad. From 2013 to 2015 extensive ethnographic fieldwork and/or oral history research was conducted in Moscow, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Tomsk, Vladivostok, Kazan, as well as England, Israel, France, and the USA (Boston/NYC and San Francisco areas).The definition of RCS is broad, ranging from PhDs holding academic posts or research positions in private sector institutions to software entrepreneurs.

The working language of the project is English.

The project aims at describing the population of RCS, both in Russia and abroad. The main interest of the study is to understand how professionals communicate across national and professional boundaries in the dual context of an intrinsically portable form of knowledge – relatively not-sticky forms of innovations – and a politically tense status quo where emigrates are both praised for their entrepreneurship and blamed for bringing the competition within or for siphoning the brightest brains off the Russian Federation. A series of questions animate this description:

  • What forms of knowledge transfer occur between domestic and foreign communities?
  • What are the patterns of work-motivated emigration in the CS industry?
  • What role do RCS play abroad in the local CS cultures when they emigrate massively?
  • In the Russian context of relative limited porosity between academia and industry, how do academic Russian Computer scientists convert their skills when they move to the private sector?
  • What are the business plan strategies of RCS?
  • What are the Intellectual Property strategies of RCS?


The ambition of the research project is also to investigate the two opposite imperatives of the CS community – privacy and sharing – and to design a platform which would be both a mean for them to recognize each other (who does what in which field) and an example of conducting social sciences in a way inviting the subjects to contribute to the forms of representation that we offer of them.

The RCS project is headed by:

International Advisory Board:

Executive Director:
Zinaida Vasilyeva (EUSP) –

RCS research associates:

Junior researchers at EUSP:

  • Marina Fedorova
  • Alexei Knorre
  • Alexandra Simonova
  • Lilia Zemnukhova
  • Alina Kontareva
  • Lubava Shatokhina
  • Anna Artiushina
  • Ekaterina Smirnova
  • Daria Savchenko
  • Dmitry Zhikharevich

Worldwide affiliates:
Natalia Bogatyr (HSE), Ksenia Ermoshina (CSI, Ecole des Mines), Ksenia Tatarchenko (Princeton University), Yuri Takhteyev (Toronto), Yulia Naumova (MSU), Irina Antoschuk (SPSU)

Anastasia Karkacheva –