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January 17, 2021



Russia: Romani scientists were also sisters

Russia, 15.7.2014 0:14, (ROMEA)
Natalya Pankova (PHOTO:
Natalya Pankova (PHOTO:

This article is yet another in our series about eminent Romani figures, this time about two sisters who were scientists from Russia, or rather from the former Soviet Union. They are the biologist Lyubov Pankova and the chemist Natalya Pankova.

No discussion of the Romani intelligentsia in Russia can ignore the Pankova sisters. Both were characterized by their very high national sensibility, often saying they could not afford to commit any shameful behavior, as their greatest fear was that they would tarnish the reputation of their nation in some way. 

Their patriotism was also especially clear during the time of the Great Patriotic War (the Second World War). Lyubov and Natalya were the daughters of Nikolay Alexandrovich Pankov (who among other things translated Pushkin's poem "The Gypsies" into Romanes).

Their father led his daughters to earn their college degrees. When war broke out, however, they interrupted their studies and went to work in a Moscow arms factory.

"This is not the right time to study," the young women told their father. Both worked in the arms factory until they were exhausted, producing components for launchers.

After the war they resumed their studies and completed university. Natalya (1924-1991) then became a researcher at the Research Institute of Organic Byproducts and Colorants (NIOPiK), where she worked for 35 years.

Her professional career was successful. She developed approximately 30 prospective designs for cyanide dyes (for which she was granted an inventor's certificate).

Natalya had talents for other things as well, such as dancing and singing. She was also an amateur visual artist who worked in graphics and watercolors.

Ljubov Pankova was born in 1925. She earned her Ph.D. in the biological sciences (the physiology of animals and human beings).

She predominantly worked in the field of clinical physiology as a researcher for the CIETIN laboratory. She also worked at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and at universities as an educator. 

Ljubov lectured on animal physiology, higher nervous system function, and the anatomical/physiological characteristics of children and teenagers. In addition, she is the author or co-author of many textbooks on this topic and of more than 50 scientific papers (published predominantly by the central press).

She has also authored a memoir that has yet to be published. The Pankova sisters are part of an old, significant Romani dynasty in Russia and are far from its only eminent members. 

First published on 8 April 2010 - source:

František Kostlán, Lyubov Grunkovskaya, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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