February 2022

Young Scientists at Moscow Poly

We keep telling you about young scientists who received grant named in honor of Vladimir Fortov to support their scientific-research activity. Today our interview is all about Olga Sulyagina, the author of the “Hydrogel systems research through optical methods applicable to biological and hydrogen technologies” project, professor at the Faculty of “Chemical technology and biotechnology”.

Introduce yourself: what did you study at university and what do you do now?

My name is Olga Sulyagina, I`m a research officer and assistant professor at the faculty of Chemical technology and Biotechnology. Speaking of which, the faculty follows scientific traditions laid by Moscow State University of Environmental Engineering. In 2014 I acquired a degree with honors in “Engineering Protection of the Environment” (specialist program) and continued my education at the postgraduate level, that resulted in “Research Teaching Fellow” qualification.

When and why did you start pursuing science? Tell us about your first steps in this sphere, who inspired you?

It was last couple of years at University when I started pursuing science. I wanted to know more than what certain disciplines offered us. That desire of mine was noted by professor Alexander Suris, the head of the department of “Energy and Resources Conservation”, doctor of technical sciences. He helped me identify energy parameters when dehydrating silica gels within my experiment, processed the results and suggested presenting the report himself at one of the student scientific conferences. The 1st place at the conference inspired me to go into science. Later followed the publications at our university “Izvestia MSTU” scientific journal and others, as well as the participation in various conferences and then admission for postgraduate program. Boris Pokusaev, a great researcher, doctor of technical sciences, professor and the associate member at RAS became my scientific advisor for that period of time. That is exactly when I started studying a more perspective kind of gels – hydrogels.

What elaboration of yours received the grant in honor of Vladimir Frontov and what prospects does it have?

My project entitled “Hydrogel systems research through optical methods applicable to biological and hydrogen technologies” is aimed at developing hydrogel material science to expand the sphere of their application.

Within the boundaries of the declared subject I carry out research that is directed at identifying the distinctive features peculiar to heat and mass transfer processes in complex due to their microstructure environments, such as hydrogels. In addition to that, I study the pace of model substances and gases transfer in hydrogel environment, the microorganism growth dynamics in mono and polycomponent gels.

The results of the research will allow to enhance the effectiveness of hydrogel application as biomaterial within regenerative medicine technologies, as well as 3D technologies – bio printing.

What motivates you the most to pursue science?

Being a research officer at a university is not a monotonous work at all. The tasks I face are different every time, starting from planning to undertaking experiments, to doing work related to grants, monitoring relevant scientific trends and tendencies, discussing hypotheses, hosting master-classes at Moscow Poly, writing scientific articles and participating in various conferences, as well as reading lectures to students. It is an intensive work but an interesting one because the tasks are diverse and you will have no time to get bored. At the same time, I do have the chance to prioritize between various errands, thus managing my own schedule and that is a huge bonus!

Share some of your plans for the future. Do you wish to continue pursuing science?

For me personally science is a lifestyle per se in terms of thinking and approaches used. There is little chance that I can abandon it – I mean using scientific approaches to solving issues. As for the nearest future, I am planning to finish and present my Ph.D. thesis that I started working on during my postgraduate program after adding to it the results of my recent studies.

How are you planning to carry out your research activity given the grant support provided?

I arranged the tasks as per research stage: at the 1st stage I will be selecting and enhancing the optical methods that allow to manage the gel system features. At the 2nd one I will carry out experiments on model substances and gases classification depending on gel composition, which is necessary to compare the features of microbiological objects growth in mixed gels environment depending on their composition and concentration, as well as study the influence of the external factors, such as temperature, on gel characteristics. At the last stage I am planning to process the information, summarize it and of course prepare the material for publication.

How did Moscow Poly contribute to your growth as a scientist?

University is a place where smart, highly intelligent and responsible people gather so, working in such collective definitely does contribute to my professional growth. In addition to that, Moscow Poly provides opportunities to try yourself as a speaker at various discussion venues; one of them was master-class within the framework of the Moscow “Skills of the Future” project where I participated. Receiving the grant in honor of Vladimir Fortov helped me go on with my research, too.

It is worth noticing that the grant competition in honor of Vladimir Fortov was established by Moscow Poly within the framework of the federal program on strategic academic leadership “Priorities 2030”. The main aims of the program include the competitiveness improvement of Russia in the spheres of science, education and technologies in general, as well as the creation at Universities of a favorable environment that contributes to successful personal growth of the employees and students.

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