How Russian students become researchers even before they graduate — Analysis

One of the main tasks of Russia’s academic leadership initiative is to give students the chance to realize their potential in ambitious research projects, even before they officially graduate.

In June 2021, Russia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education offered the ‘Priority 2030’ academic leadership program to the nation’s universities. The program will see at least 100 Russian higher education institutions join the ranks and receive at most 100 million rubles ($1.4mn) each year. Other applicants applied for grants up to one billion rubles ($13.6mn).

This initiative is ambitious in many ways. This initiative will promote Russia’s attractiveness as a destination for international students and scientists. This program will balance education in Russian regions and give students the chance to achieve their potential scientifically. One of the program’s main tasks is to give students the opportunity to dedicate themselves to scientific research even while they are still studying. Priority 2030 unites universities from all areas – nuclear, medical, musical, and many others.

They all need one ring that will accelerate them.

Priority 2030 may be ambitious, but the scientific challenges it supports are also very important. Universities from Novosibirsk and Tomsk are already preparing future professionals to work at the Siberian Ring Source of Photons (SKIF) – a major ‘MegaScience’ research system being constructed in the city of Koltsovo, Novosibirsk Region.

SKIF belongs to the latest fourth generation of synchrotron radiation sources, with its developers saying it will become the world’s first 4+ generation synchrotron. Its unique characteristics will allow scientists to conduct advanced research with bright and intense X-ray beams in a variety of fields – chemistry, physics, biology, geology, and others. SKIF contributes to solving urgent problems in innovative and industrial businesses. It is expected that the facility’s first research activities will start in 2024.

The SKIF team wants to educate their future coworkers. Their student research is carried out at Novosibirsk State University. It’s one of several higher education institutions that educates staff for the synchrotron. Students and lecturers from the university have been to synchrotron radiation sites in France, Germany, Britain, Switzerland and France. SKIF will require around 300 people to operate, and the university has at least three more.

…And another one

Another ambitious project of the same type is called NICA (Nuclotron-based Ion Collider fAсility), and it is based near Moscow. This is the new accelerator facility that was developed at Dubna’s Joint Institute for Nuclear Research. Construction started in 2013.

NICA’s main task is to conduct laboratory study of the properties of nuclear matter in the region of the maximum baryonic density. This kind of matter was not present in the beginning stages of evolution and the interiors neutron star stars. Fundamental and applied research in radiology and the testing of electronic devices exposed to increased radiation and chemotherapy will both be conducted.

NICA’s commissioning is scheduled for 2022; however, an international team of specialists from numerous countries, including the US, Israel, Germany, and France, already took part in the research in 2018.

Students also have the opportunity to join in NICA’s work. Grigory Trubnikov is the Head of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research. “Priority 2030 is providing mechanisms which give universities a possibility to take part in ambitious scientific experiments.” The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russian Technological University MIREA, and National Research Nuclear University MEPhI – all Priority 2030 participants – are taking part in the scientific work in Dubna.

Research on Coronavirus Front Line

Russia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education supported one of the much-needed projects nowadays – the creation of the CoviVac Covid-19 vaccine. Aidar Ishmukhametov, head of Chumakov Scientific Center, allowed younger scientists to work with the older colleagues in order to develop it.

Russia’s third registered vaccine contains an ‘inactivated’ (dead) coronavirus; it simulates the natural infection process, introducing the immune system to the virus and ‘teaching’ the body to fight the pathogen without the risk of it spreading and causing disease.

Sources of inspiration

All the projects mentioned, along with six more, were the inspiration for a musical project called ‘Sounds of Science’, and was created by the Monoleak studio with the support of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. This was the goal “to dispel all the doubts that the complicity of these projects and the genius way of their realization can be equated to art,”According to the Sounds of Science website. The compositions can be listened to here.

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