Curator: Dr. Allan B. Cruse, Professor Emeritus, Computer Science and Mathematics, University of San Francisco

                    Faces and Voices

                        of some impressive achievers from Romania

"What really impresses me here in Romania is how talented most Romanians are..."
Princess Eleonore of Schaumburg-Lippe, a Danish Viking working in Bucharest since 2010 as Executive Director for
the Romanian Union of Advertising Agencies (UAPR), and as a guest-writer for ROMANIA-INSIDER, 17 June 2013

Radu Bumbacea is a recent graduate of the Tudor Vianu National High School of Computer Science in Bucharest, Romania. He was a Gold Medalist at the 2012 International Mathematical Olympiad competition, hosted in July by the city of Mar del Plata, Argentina, for 548 participants from 100 countries. This was Radu's second IMO Gold Medal, his first being won when he was a 10th-Grader. Radu became President of the Cambridge U. Romanian Society.

In the following short video Radu explains his proposal for an experiment concerning the behavior of water in the weightlessness of outer space.

Cosmin Mihaiu is a recent computer science graduate of Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where he was a co-developer, with three fellow members of Team Simplex, of an innovative medical device called MIRA which won top honors in Microsoft's international Imagine Cup 2011 competition. Cosmin became CEO of a London-based software development company called MIRA Rehab, which Cosmin and his university teammates jointly founded after completing their CS degrees.

In this short video Cosmin shows us how his team's MIRA device (Medical Interactive Recovery Assistant) helps doctors remotely administer physical therapy to patients.

Ionut Budisteanu was awarded the top $75,000 prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May 2013, held in Phoenix, Arizona, for approximately 1600 high schoolers selected from affiliated science fairs in 70 countries. Ionut's computer science award was for his use of artificial intelligence in creating a feasible design for a low cost self-driving automobile. Ionut was 19-years-old at the time of receiving this prize.

In the award-ceremony video below, Ionut explains the significance of his invention, demonstrates its underlying principles, and discusses his own future career goals.

Ana Ularu is a Romanian film actress and graduate of the I. L. Caragiale National University of Theater and Cinematography in Bucharest, Romania. Having worked in more than 20 short and feature films, she was honored with a prestigious 'Shooting Stars' trophy, presented at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival.

In this interview, filmed after the Berlinale 2012 ceremonies, Ana is asked about her career choices, her varied roles, the influences of critics, and her enduring goals.

Dumitru Popescu is President and co-founder of the Romanian Association for Aeronautics and Cosmonautics (ARCA), which created in 1998 a privately-funded space program for Romania. Among ARCA's noteworthy accomplishments was its successful launch in October 2010 of Helen 2, Romania's first Space Rocket, achieving the highest altitude reached by any flying object designed and built entirely in Romania, and powered by a completely green rocket engine operating exclusively with hydrogyn peroxide as fuel.

In this video-clip from February 2010, Dumitru traces the advances at ARCA, from its competition for the Ansari X Prize in 2004 to its upcoming try for the Google X Prize.

Adrian Ghenie is a recently famous Romanian painter chosen to represent Romania at the the 2015 Venice Biennale international art exhibition after his abstract impressionist painting Fake Rothko reportedly sold in June 2014 for $2.4-million at Sotheby's in London. He is a cofounder of the "Plan B" art gallery, located in Cluj-Napoca where he had been a student, now with a second location in Berlin. Ghenie's work is on display in Los Angeles, Denver, New York, and at art venues across Europe.

In this brief video monologue, filmed when Ghenie visited the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco in 2011, he describes his schooling during Romania's dictatorship.

Crina Coco Popescu is a teenage Romanian alpinist who, in 2012, became the first female mountaineer to have climbed the Seven Summits, the tallest peaks on each of the Earth's seven continents, and also to have surmounted the Seven Volcanos. "Coco" was declared "athlete of the year" by the Romanian Federation of Mountaineering, and a commemorative stamp honoring her achievement was issued in Romania.

This short documentary shows how nearly EURO $70,000 was raised in Romania in only two weeks to allow "Coco" to complete the Seven Volcanos climbing circuit.

Aldo Blaga is a Romanian vocal impressionist who self-launched a performing career by posting several hundred videos online, which he had recorded using a microphone, camera, and computer in his bedroom, soon acquiring more than a million ardent internet fans in Romania and beyond, then bookings at parties, in pubs, and on TV.

In this video, posted in September 2012, Aldo lets us observe as he experiments with some fresh vocal effects, his own lyrics, and offering his own guitar accompaniment.

Vadim Toader is a student from Romania who, despite his lack of funds, succeeded in gaining admission to Oxford University where he studied engineering, economics, and management, served as the President of the Oxford Romanian Society, and established himself as a motivational speaker. During his "Dare! Fulfill Your Dreams!" campaign, Vadim challenged himself to train, gather sponsorships, and climb Mount Kilimanjaro, all within less than two-months' time.

On 18 March 2012 Vadim returned to Bucharest to present the following inspirational lecture entitled "How to Cure a Country of Alzheimer's" based upon his experiences.

Alexandra Nechita is a Romanian-born art prodigy who moved to California with her parents at age 1-1/2 and became absorbed with coloring books by age 2, with watercolors by age 4, and with oils and acrylics by age 6. By age 9 Alexandra had several exhibitions in the Los Angeles area displaying more than 250 of her paintings. She became a celebrity guest on American television and in 1999 was selected by the World Federation of United Nations to lead a Global Arts initiative involving more than 100 countries.

In this video, filmed in California when Alexandra was 10, her style is compared with that of 20th-century European abstract painters Pable Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Cristian Mungiu, a former teacher of English literature, a former journalist, and now an internationally acclaimed Romanian film director and scriptwriter, the first Romanian filmmaker to win the coveted Palme d'Or at Cannes. His recent movie "Beyond the Hills" was an Oscar-contender for Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood in 2013.

In this interview-excerpt from the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, Cristian talks about his script for "Tales from the Golden Age" based on ordinary lives during the dictatorship.

Dan Dascalescu is a Romanian computer science graduate of the University of Galati and was a software developer at Yahoo. He is now Chief Information Officer at Blueseed, an upcoming startup-community-on-a-ship, to be stationed offshore in Silicon Valley's international waters where U.S. visa-limitations will not apply. While in high school Dan scored 2nd place nationwide in the 'Informatics Olympiad' competition in Romania, and recently Dan was named "#1 Romanian entrepreneur to watch in 2013" by the business publication.

In this video, filmed at the VentureConnect forum in Bucharest on 19 June 2012, Dan makes his pitch for the ambitious Blueseed seasteading project to potential investors.

Elena Oana Hreapca was orphaned in infancy and was moved into a Placement Center for children without parents until being adopted at age two by a family that took care of her until her first year of college. In high school she became interested in athletic competition with such sports as javelin, hammer throw and shot put, then moved into weightlifting and bodybuilding. Oana is a Sports Faculty graduate of A. I. Cuza University in Iasi and has masters degrees in sport management and marketing. She won an international bodybuilding trophy in 2006, besides placing first in powerlifting nationals within Romania. "The person who helped me most," Oana says, "was my trainer and husband." She is now a high school sport instructor in Iasi, Romania, and continues to compete nationally and internationally.

This one-minute video captures Elena Oana Hreapca's posing performance at the NABBA World's Physique Class Competition in 2012, where she won First Place.

Raul Oaida is a teen rocketry enthusiast from Deva, Romania, who strapped a self-built jet engine to his mountain bike and clocked a top speed of 26 miles-per-hour during a successful road test outside his house in January 2013. Raul had spent three years on this project, which he funded through a mix of sponsorships and pocket money. A year earlier Raul had made front-page newspaper headlines by successfully launching into the Earth's stratosphere a LEGO model of the NASA Space Station using a helium-filled balloon, with an attached video-camera to document his achievement for an online blog-post which described the many obstacles he'd had to overcome.

This video-clip is from television news-coverage of Raul's test ride of his jet-powered bicycle on a roadway behind his house in Deva, Romania, in January 2013.

Constantin Voinciuc is an 18-year-old student from Botosani, Romania, who won the first-place prize of 7000 EUROs at the UPC Romania TechSchool 2013 competition for his invention of "Robo Hand", the prototype for a bionic hand which mimics hand gestures and could be used to remotely perform extreme precision tasks, such as carrying out a surgical procedure, or defusing an explosive device, or repairing equipment in outer space. Constantin's Robo Hand invention attracted interest of NASA's experts, so he will be getting a trip the United States.

In this short video-clip, Romanian teenager Constantin Voinciuc is demonstrating his prizewinning "Robo Hand" bionic hand prototype in his school's physics workshop.

Liliana Ciobanu is a freelance journalist, based in Bucharest, who is the founder and CEO of her own television production company, Purple Mind Productions, which she created in 2011 following internships with CNN in England and United States. Her firm now has facilities in twelve countries around the world and is able to deliver breaking news and documentary content in eleven languages to her firm's international media clientele.

Here is a brief excerpt from Liliana's interview in 2010 by Michael Brannon on the set of BackStory during her summer internship at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sebastian Vaduva is cofounder and CEO of Appscend, a young software startup company based in Bucharest which delivers turn-key solutions for fast creation of applications for wireless media in a global marketplace. Within less than two years after its launch in March 2011, Appscend was reporting over 2000 registered users, a half-million customers, and had published more than 250 apps in Apple Store and Google Play.

In this video, filmed at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bucharest in 2011, Sebastian is making his pitch to potential investors for substantial additional venture funding.

Emil Imre is a 17-year-old Romaniam speedskater who won Romania's first-ever gold medal in the 1000-meter race at the European Youth Winter Olympics Festival held at Brasov in February 2013. Earlier Emil won the silver in the short track 500-meter event, but placed sixth in the 1500-meter event due to an accident which seemed to kill his chances of receiving a medal. Quoted in an English-language publication, Emil said: "Although I fell in the 1500-meter, pushed by [another contry's] athlete, now I've taken my revenge and I defeated him... I'm glad I won this medal for Romania, even though it was very hard."

In this video-clip you can watch Emil Imre's racing style in a short track speedskating competition against three rival skaters at the Youth Olympic Festival held in Brasov.

Ana Maria Branza is a Romanian epee fencing champion from Bucharest who began her training at age 11 and within only six months had become fencing champion of Romania for her age group. Besides seven gold medals won in European and World Fencing Championship competitions, plus a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, she has earned a Masters degree in sports science from the University of Craiova and she holds the rank of captain in the Romanian Armed Forces.

In this brief promotional video, filmed in February 2013, Ana Maria Branza uses her international celebrity to urge support for Romania's entry at the Berlin Film Festival.

Mircea Dumitrescu is a teenage violin prodigy from Romania, who already by age fifteen had won 50 first prizes, 15 of them in international music competitions. Recently he was featured as a guest performer at the closing concert of the Bucharest National Opera's 2012-2013 season. One journalist who has interviewed Mircea regarding his musical ambitions, quoted him as saying "Someday I will play the Stradivarius violin."

This brief video-clip was filmed at a recital in Munich when Mircea was 12 years old, accompanied here by his violin teacher, Professor Smaranda Ilea, on the piano.

Eva Perovolovici is a young Romanian writer and film director with four published novels and a multitude of prizes and awards for her short films at international festivals. Her current project is a feature-length movie, Ileana, funded with development money from the National Center of Cinematography in Romania. She was born in Bucharest and studied Advanced Film Practice for her MFA degree from the Screen Academy of Scotland.

In May 2013 Elena was interviewed on the French Riviera during the Cannes Film Festival by Francine Raveney for the European Women's Audiovisual Network.

Sebastian Burduja is a native of Bucharest, Romania, who gained admission to Stanford University in 2004 where his major in political science and economics included a study of Romania's postcommunist transition to democracy. He serves as Honorary President of the League of Romanian Students Abroad, a worldwide organization which he co-founded in 2009 while doing graduate work at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government. In November 2012 Sebastian became a consultant to the World Bank in Washington, D.C.

In the following brief video-clip Sebastian Burduja is interviewed (in Romanian) for a television newscast in March 2013 as president of a NonGovernmental Organization.

Paula Seling is a musician, singer, and songwriter from Baia Mare, Romania, who has become a television celebrity, radio disk jockey, and media performance coach. She released her first album Only Love in 1998, and at least 12 others since, plus more than 20 singles. After Paula had received a succession of music awards and trophies, she and her husband established, in 2005, their own recording studio and label Unicorn Records Romania based in Bucharest. Paula was selected to represent Romania at the 2010 Eurovision international song contest in a duet with Romanian singer-songwriter Ovidiu Cernauteanu.

Here is a brief excerpt from a video-interview recorded in 2010 with Paula Seling and her Eurovision song contest performance-partner Ovidiu Cernauteanu (aka "Ovi").

Andrei Chirila has studied electrical engineering and computer science as a graduate student in Iasi, Romania, and developed protypes for such inventions as a voice-controlled vehicle and an automated railway-crossing safety system that uses wireless communications to block collisions of trains with automobiles.

A brief clip from the video-demonstration by Romanian electrical engineering student Andrei Chirila of his laboratory prototype for a vehicle controlled by the human voice.

Stefan Candea is a freelance investigative journalist based in his home city of Bucharest, Romania, who initially worked for several traditional print, radio, and television media outlets in Romania, then in 2001 co-founded with three colleagues The Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism which uses the internet to publish stories on a website. Soon their Center had branched out to enlist other freelance journalists and provide coverage from across the Eastern European and Black Sea regions, and had became a founding member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network.

This video-clip is a brief excerpt from Stefan Candea's remarks at a journalism forum which was held at Harvard University in 2011 where he was then a Niemann Fellow.

Gianina Carbunariu is a Romanian playwright and theatrical director, and a founder in 2001 of DramAcum, an independent agency that develops and produces Romanian contemporary drama. Her latest works have been based on topics from recent Romanian history, but they have been translated and produced in over a dozen countries, including the May 2013 premiere of her play "Stop the Tempo" in New York City.

Here is a collage of brief scenes from Gianina Carbunariu's play "Sold Out" about the selling of Romanian citizens to Germany under Romania's former communist regime.

Sergiu Biris started as a freelance web designer in 2000, then set up his own web agency two years later, and after five years, in 2007, he co-founded Trilulilu, which became Romania's top website for entertainment. In 2012 Trilulilu launched a premium music subscription service for Romania, called Zonga, which by mid-2013 had attracted over 1.3-million registered users within Romania. Trilulilu has announced that its YouTube-like online media-sharing platform will launch internationally in 2014.

In this video-clip, filmed at the conclusion of a TEDx talk he gave in Cluj-Napoca on 20 May 2011, Sergio discusses the evolution of his attitude toward making money.

Remus Cernea is a politician, activist, and an elected member of the Romanian Parliament's Chamber of Deputies. He serves as President of the Green Party in Romania and is President of the Romanian Humanist Association. Remus was a candidate in 2009 in the country's Presidential election, but received less than 1-percent of the votes. As a secular humanist, Remus has introduced some controversial proposals (for example, to have an "optional" Church Tax in Romania instead of having support for religion come from the government budget), but he has been denounced by some fellow politicians, one of whom called him a "satanist" and another who reportedly threatened to break his legs unless he apologized to the Romanian Orthodox Church.

In this video-clip, filmed in October 2009, Remus Cernea introduces a resolution at a meeting of the European Green Party held in Malmo, Sweeden, speaking in English.

Tudor Giurgiu is the founder and producer of the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF), held annually in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. He is a himself a film director and a former President of the Romanian National Television Corporation (TVR). Tudor has directed music videos and documentaries, owns Librafilm, an independent production company he founded in 1994, and in May 2013 Tudor received the Bridging the Borders award for Best Feature Film at the South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles for his recent comedy "Of Snails And Men".

In the following video, Tudor Giurgiu explains his aims in the founding of TIFF and its importance as a workable model for also advancing creative endeavors elsewhere.

Radu Nechifor is an accomplished panflute player and builder who studied at the Bucharest Music Conservatory under the reknowned panflute master Gheorghe Zamfir. Then, in 2008, Radu turned his childhood love of woodcarving into a business venture by opening his own panflute workshop, which he built with his own hands next to his home in the Romanian town of Cisnadie. The full tonal range of hand-crafted panflutes (tenor, alto, baritone, bass, and sub-bass), made of tonkin bamboo, is available online from Radu's workshop.

This video captures Radu Nechifor playing his panflute at a national romanian folk music competition in 2006 where he received the "Strugurele de Aur" Grand Prize.

Victor Ponta is a former prosecutor, law professor, and member of the Romanian Parliament's Chamber of Deputies, who in May 2012 at age 39 was appointed Prime Minister of Romania, the youngest Premier of any European nation. Since assuming office he has led several official delegations to meet with leaders in other countries, including China, in furtherance of increased trade and investment, as well as cultural exchanges and economic cooperation.

This video-clip is from a Euronews television interview filmed in July 2012, soon after Victor Ponta was reappointed Prime Minister following a contentious referendum.

Launched on 22 MAY 2013; last updated on 21 FEB 2015