The president of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Stefan Vodenicharov, has been nominated as the country's new minister of education and research. Former minister Sergei Ignatov was ousted last week after a government investigation found irregularities in how research funds were distributed. Bulgarian scientists had been protesting for months against what they said was widespread corruption at the ministry, especially regarding grantmaking at the Bulgarian National Science Fund (BNSF).
Vodenicharov, a metallurgical engineer, was elected as the academy's president in December. Before that, he was director of the academy's Institute of Metal Science, Equipment and Technologies in Sofia.
Nikolai Denkov, a chemical engineer at Sofia University who participated in the protests, says he is cautiously optimistic about the nomination. Vodenicharov has experience as an administrator in the academy, Denkov says. However, whoever takes over the ministry will have a difficult job and not much time. Elections are expected this summer, and it is unclear whether the minority government led by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov will remain in power.