The results of the 2020 RAS contest for the best research projects by young Russian scientists and students of Russian universities have been announced at the online meeting of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). Eight scientists and scholars from St Petersburg University have been awarded medals and monetary prizes.ivanov miherdov rozhkov

Photo: Daniil Ivanov, Anton Rozhkov, Aleksandr Mikherdov

For more information about the results of the contest please visit the website of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The winners in the category of general and technical chemistry and the holders of the RAS awards have become members of the Department of Physical Organic Chemistry at St Petersburg University: Assistant Professor Daniil Ivanov; research engineer Aleksandr Mikherdov; and Assistant Lecturer Anton Rozhkov. They have been awarded for a series of research works ‘Non-classical non-covalent interactions as a universal tool for creating new functional supramolecular systems and materials.’ Non-covalent interactions play an essential role in biological, chemical and physical processes due to the ability to control the molecular and supramolecular structure of various systems, ranging from the association of water molecules to proteins assemblies and the formation of a DNA double helix. The works submitted to the contest are dedicated to two closely related areas. The first is searching for new types of non-classical non-covalent interactions in organic and metal complexes. And the second is paving the way for new applications of existing intermolecular bonds for developing supramolecular systems with useful properties. The strategies in the design and control of intermolecular non-covalent interactions are already translated into their practical applications – in the creation of new crystalline forms of biologically active substances, increased efficiency of optical luminescent materials, and in the development of new reagents for organic synthesis.

Viktor Vorozhtsov, a postgraduate student at St Petersburg University, earned a medal in the category of physical chemistry and technology of inorganic materials. Together with Vadim Popkov, Head of the Hydrogen Energy Laboratory at the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute (RAS), Viktor Vorozhtsov co-authored a series of research publications ‘Phase formation under conditions of limited mass transfer: structure, thermodynamic and functional properties of oxide systems’.

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Photo: research group of High-temperature Chemistry of Oxide Systems and Materials (from left to right): Valentina Stoliarova; Viktor Vorozhtsov; Andrei Shilov

The multicomponent oxide glass-forming systems, studied by the research group, showed high potential for the development of high-temperature materials. These include glasses, ceramics and various coatings, which are in demand in many fields of science and technology. In particular, they can be used in the production of bismuth-doped phosphosilicate optical fibres, thermal barrier coatings and moulds for casting of gas turbine blades, based on hafnium oxides and rare-earth elements.

The awardee stressed that the development of oxide-based materials is impossible without data on the evaporation processes and thermodynamic properties. The fact is that in synthesis and usage they may be exposed to high temperatures, which can lead to selective evaporation of components and to changes in their physicochemical properties. The researchers have studied evaporation processes and thermodynamic properties of oxidebased materials at high temperatures by the Knudsen effusion mass spectrometryc method. Their findings not only enable the high-temperature synthesis, but also allow making predictions about the physicochemical properties of the oxide glass-forming systems, including phase equilibria, using various modelling approaches.

The RAS medal and prize in the category of literature and language was awarded to Vlada Chernysheva’s master’s thesis ‘Verb categories in works by late Latin grammarians’, which she successfully defended last year. ‘My master’s thesis was conceived as part of an extensive study of linguistic categories and terminology in Latin linguistics. I am currently developing this topic in my PhD dissertation. In my master’s thesis, I systematised the body of knowledge on three predicative categories – mood, tense and voice – existing in late antiquity. To this end, over 25 grammar texts, dating from the 3rd to 7th centuries AD, were selected and analysed,’ said Vlada Chernysheva. She also took the opportunity to express her gratitude to her research supervisor – Associate Professor in the Department of Classics at St Petersburg University Elena Zheltova.

Medals and prizes awarded by the Russian Academy of Sciences to students is a serious incentive to continue research in the chosen field of study. Besides, it provides an opportunity for assessment of their work and feedback from the greatest scientists in our country – academicians and corresponding members of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Artem Borisov, Laureate of the 2020 RAS Award in the category of geology, geophysics, geochemistry and mining sciences

Artem Borisov have been named the winner of the 2020 RAS contest for students of Russian universities in the category of geology, geophysics, geochemistry, and mining sciences. His series of publications ‘Crystal-chemical analysis of anhydrous sulphate mineral species’ is dedicated to the study and transformation of minerals formed in active fumaroles of Tolbachik volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

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Photo: Artem Borisov

According to the awardee, the fumaroles on the slag cones were created as a result of the Great Tolbachik Fissure Eruption in 1975-1976. These are some of the most unique mineralogical objects on Earth. To date, over 300 mineral species have been found in the fumaroles of the Second Slag Cone. Over 100 of these minerals were first discovered at this particular location. Some of the discoveries were made with Artem Borisov’s personal involvement.

‘As part of the work, I used my own experimental technique for modelling the processes that enable the formation of unique sulphate minerals. The research results can be associated with one of the new developing branches of modern mineralogy – mineral evolution. The central premise of mineral evolution is that Earth’s distribution of minerals has changed significantly as a consequence of physical, chemical, and biological processes. Within the framework of this approach, attempts are made to explain how the world of minerals has been developing and how its complexity has been changing over time,’ the awardee explained. ‘No doubt, the fumaroles of Tolbachik volcano are an excellent object for studying the diversity of minerals. In a sense, they can be compared to the tropical jungle with its inherent diversity of flora and fauna, which have been of interest to evolutionary biologists for many years. Material for research was collected during six expeditions to the volcanoes of Kamchatka. The work was carried out under the guidance of Oleg Siidra, Professor in the Department of Crystallography at St Petersburg University, who have discovered over 60 minerals from various deposits across the globe.

Kirill Serebriakov, a master’s student at St Petersburg University, earned the RAS medal and prize in the category of world economy and international relations. He was awarded for his bachelor’s degree thesis ‘Advocacy groups in modern political and administrative institutions of the People’s Republic of China’. The awardee said that he became interested in Chinese studies as an undergraduate after participating in a conference held by the Institute of the Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, discussing economics and politics of the People’s Republic of China. In his graduation paper, Kirill Serebriakov compared the factions in the Chinese Communist Party that had been developed before Xi Jinping took office, and also tried to identify modern political trends. According to the young scholar, after the appointment of the current General Secretary, certain trends became apparent, namely: changes in the collegial-consensual governance model and the elite co-optation policy; values splits; and even the emergence of a new advocacy group.

Also, the RAS medal and prize in the category of mathematics was awarded to Aleksei Kulikov, a master’s student at St Petersburg University, for his paper ‘Fourier interpolation and time-frequency localisation’.