The delegation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam arrived in St Petersburg to lay flowers at the foot of the monument to the first president of their country, Ho Chi Minh. It is located in the University grounds. As part of the visit programme, the delegation got acquainted with the activities of the Ho Chi Minh Institute of St Petersburg University.
In his welcoming speech, Sergey Andryushin, the Deputy Rector for International Affairs said that St Petersburg University is the only place in Russia where a monument to the outstanding Vietnamese leader has been erected. ‘This became possible thanks to the fact that for decades the Vietnamese language and culture of Vietnam have been studied at St Petersburg University. The University is a leading centre of Vietnamese studies not only in Russia but also throughout the world,’ said Sergey Andryushin.
We cooperate with many leading universities and centres in Vietnam, including the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics. It was in collaboration with it that we managed to establish the Ho Chi Minh Institute at St Petersburg University.
Sergey Andryushin, the Deputy Rector for International Affairs
Vladimir Kolotov is a professor at St Petersburg University and the Head of the Department of the History of the Far East Countries. He spoke about the University’s projects dedicated to the study of Vietnam and Southeast Asia as a whole. He said that the first scientific works on the grammatical structure of the Annam (Vietnamese) language were written in the early 1930s by the famous orientalist Julian Shchutsky. It was he who first began to teach Vietnamese at Leningrad University. At present, the Ho Chi Minh Institute of St Petersburg University is developing in several areas. In addition to education, they include public diplomacy and analytics. St Petersburg University teaches Vietnamese studies and Ho Chi Minh studies. Also, a number of books have been published, including a textbook on the phonetics of Vietnamese and the most complete biography of Ho Chi Minh in Russian.
Vladimir Kolotov noted that the Ho Chi Minh Institute of St Petersburg University is a centre for improving Russia–Vietnam relations. For example, the University collaborates with the Museum of the History of Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex. Last year, the faculty of St Petersburg University and its alumni initiated the creation of the exhibition ‘Treasures of the Red River: Archaeological Collections from the Museums of Vietnam’. It was dedicated to the culture of the four ethnic groups in Vietnam, and was exhibited at the Hermitage.
In the field of analytics, one of the most important projects of orientalists at St Petersburg University is the Eurasian Arc of Instability. Each October, leading experts from the expert community gather at the University for a conference on the “Eurasian Arc of Instability and Safety from East Asia to North Africa” to summarise the preliminary geopolitical results of the year. Last year, scholars from St Petersburg University presented an interactive map that shows the configuration of the system of arcs of instability: as the old conflicts weaken, new trouble spots appear on it.
On behalf of all members of the delegation, Colonel-General Do Kang, deputy chief of the Chief Political Directorate of the People's Army of Vietnam, thanked the University for its warm welcome. He stated that it confirms the mutual trust and the high level of Russia–Vietnam relations. ‘I was glad to listen to your presentation on the history and development path of the Ho Chi Minh Institute of St Petersburg University. I believe that your papers on our president are in line with current scholarly trends. According to UNESCO, Ho Chi Minh is an outstanding cultural figure who has an influence not only in Vietnam, but around the world,’ said comrade Do Kang. ‘Thank you for working with the National Academy of Politics on research into the ideology of Ho Chi Minh. The events that you hold are of particular importance. I hope that the Ho Chi Minh Institute of St Petersburg University will further strengthen and develop joint work with research institutions in Vietnam.’
Three years ago, Mohamad Abdelaal from Egypt declined a promising job offer in Saudi Arabia and set off on an adventure to study Russian language and follow a Master programme in Geophysics at St Petersburg University. The reason for that? Mohamad’s big dream to become the first Egyptian astronaut in Roscosmos. He shared his story of adapting to lectures in Russian, spending a semester on exchange in Finland and learning to appreciate art.
What brought you to Russia?
I was choosing between three countries with strong space exploration facilities. So, I was thinking to either go to America, where NASA is located, or to Russia because of Roscosmos, or to the European Space Agency in Switzerland. Besides that, I wanted to study my own field – Geoscience. I love all of the mysteries related to what’s going on under the ground.
Before I came to study here, I visited Russia in 2011. Our university in Egypt chose 30 best students and organized a trip to Moscow and Dagestan for them. The first thing I experienced was two girls with water guns, who started running after me and my friends in the street. So, I thought Russian people were a little crazy but lovely, I liked them and the general impression was nice. Also, I was working for a company that had many projects with Russian organizations. We met Russian engineers and they were telling us a lot about the country.
Maybe, there is some big reason for me being here that I don’t know about yet. I still have a dream to join Roscosmos one day and become the first Egyptian astronaut.
And how did you end up in SPbU?
When I applied, everything started moving so fast, within two weeks I got an acceptance. So, I decided to take part in this adventure. It was a bit of a risk because at the same time I got a contract at Saudi Arabia to work as a Head of the Space Centre. It was a really high position for a boy of just 25 – I would have everything: high salary, my car, my villa. But at that time I thought I still needed more knowledge and experience, so I chose SPbU and decided that the position would come to me anyway in the future.
What is your study programme like?
The education system here is quite advanced. Our professors in Geophysics give top-level technical information about our profession. In the first year we had a lot of courses – it was not easy to study in Russian. I spent a lot of time translating the slides, every day I studied for 6-7 hours to catch up.
Is the programme preparing you for the future career? Are there any opportunities for practical application of what you are learning?
Yes, for sure. For example, my Master thesis is about seismic exploration – it is used in the oil and gas industry. Our teachers provide us with insights on how we can apply our knowledge in this kind of work. Also, last year we went on an exploration in Karelia – it was so amazing there! We did GPR, electromagnetic exploration, we did everything. It was an interesting experience to learn how to process data.
You just got back from your exchange in Finland. What was your experience like?
I liked it so much! I was based in Oulu, so I had a chance to see the Northern lights. My experience lasted for four months from September till the end of December. I was studying everything related to Geology, Geophysics, Mining and I even took some courses about climate change and Space Science.
Also, I got invited to work as a researcher in a space observatory during my study. I was looking specifically at the relation of Sun and Earth, studying the geomagnetic field and the causes of aurora borealis. I was working along with one professor and a girl who had previously worked for NASA.
In Finland, I met a lot of friends from all over the world: from America, Canada, all over Europe. They even came to visit me in Moscow for the New Year.
Could you tell a bit about your application process for the exchange programme in SPbU?
Everyone was so helpful here during the application process. In the beginning I was offered to go to Norway but I realized I would need minimum 300 000 roubles per semester just to survive. If I had this amount of money right now, I wouldn’t need to studyJ So, I had to decline. Then, they told me I had a chance in Finland and in Germany and helped me to apply for a grant. Maksim Kireev, responsible for the outgoing mobility in the International Academic Cooperation department, was communicating with the organization in Finland that finally agreed to give me a grant for four months. That was really necessary, because everything in Finland is crazily expensive, when I came back to Russia, I felt that everything was affordable.
What is your impression of Russian people? Have you made friends here?
Good question. If you asked me two years ago, I wouldn’t have answered perfectly. My first impression of Russian people was in Saratov where I went for a preparation course to study Russian. I didn’t know any of the language at that time and just wrote “Please, tell me how I can get to the university?” by Google translate. I showed it to one guy once I went out from the train station. He looked at the phone, gave it back to me and said in Russian “I don’t know” with a kind of expression like I said something bad to him. So, I checked my translation – yes I asked the correct question. I understood later that for Russian people it’s not easy to smile in the first moment, they might seem cold. But once you break the ice with them, once you start to be friends, everything will be lovely.
Now I have a lot of friends here. Most of the people from my floor in the dormitory drop by and invite me to hang out, have some tea, coffee, etc. Also, because I’m quite active in different social activities – for example, I’m playing football in the national team and also in SPbU team, I can find friends there and I can participate. So, in the student community many people know me, especially because I’m Egyptian and people are interested in the Egyptian culture and pharaohs.
How do you find St Petersburg?
St Petersburg is one of my favorite cities! As soon as I came here, I saw how beautiful the city was. People here are quite different, they are still Russian, but are more cultural and quite open.
For someone like me, who was used to visiting factories and mines and had never experienced anything related to culture, coming here and seeing the Hermitage and all of the churches was something very new. When I decided to visit the Hermitage for the first time, I was standing in front of each picture for not more than 3 seconds. Up to now I’ve visited the Hermitage 5 or 6 times, and these days I can spend the whole day in only one hall. I find myself thinking: “Oh yeah, that is so nice, I wonder how the artist managed to do that!” I started to think about many things from another point of view which honestly made me open my mind.
Do you have any advice for people coming here?
They should prepare very well for the different culture, I advise them to be flexible. Please, try to know a little bit about Russia, about Russian traditions, and especially the Russian language. Russia is a nice country, it’s a good place to study, there are many places to visit, many cultural sights. And especially I advise to visit St Petersburg.
A group of Russian and German palaeontologists, including researchers from St Petersburg University, have described a previously unknown genus and species of prehistoric salamanders. They lived on the Earth about 166–168 million years ago, in the Middle Jurassic. The new amphibian is namedEgoria malashichevi – in honour of Yegor Malashichev a talented scientist and associate professor of the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at St Petersburg University, who passed away at the end of 2018. The research findings have been published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The palaeontologists found the remains of the ancient amphibian at the Berezovsky quarry, a fossil locality in the Krasnoyarsk Krai near the town of Sharypovo. Fossils of ancient fish, various reptiles, mammals, herbivorous and predatory dinosaurs have been previously found there. The research materials were collected on field expeditions in the mid-2010s. In these expeditions the scientists from St Petersburg University worked alongside experts from the University of Bonn (Germany), the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Sharypovo Museum of Local History and Nature.
Four vertebrate fossils enabled the scientists to declare the finding of a new genus and species. These were: three trunk vertebrae and the atlas – the first and, in the case of the salamander, the only cervical vertebra. Since the atlas is a highly specialised vertebra, providing for attachment and rotation movements of the skull, it has a rather complex structure, the scientists explain. It is therefore most suitable for describing a new species as it provides much information for analysis. The amphibian proved to have belonged to the geologically oldest stem salamanders.
It was not the first time that remains of ancient salamanders had been found at the Berezovsky quarry. One of them – a basal stem salamander Urupia monstrosa, named after the nearby Uryup River – was about 50-60 centimetres long. Another one – Kiyatriton krasnolutskii – was named after a local historian Sergei Krasnolutskii, the discoverer of the fossil locality Berezovsky quarry. By contrast, this one was quite small in size (about 10-15 centimetres) and looked more like modern Hynobiidae. The newly discovered salamander, judging by the size of the vertebrae, was of medium length (about 20 centimetres).
‘Salamanders first appear in the fossil records in the Middle Jurassic, including representatives of both the present-day salamander families and the most primitive ones,’ said Pavel Skuchas, associate professor of St Petersburg University, doctor of biology, expert in vertebrates from the Mesozoic Era. ‘When they had just appeared, salamanders made efforts to occupy different ecological niches. Thus, the stem salamanders filled the niche of large water bodies; while those close to the present-day salamanders found their niche in small water bodies. As for the newly discovered salamander, it occupied a middle position, although morphologically, it is closer to the primitive.’
The scientists not only described the external characteristics of the specimens, but were able to look inside the fossils. In this they were assisted by the experts from the ‘Centre of X-ray diffraction studies’ at the Research Park of St Petersburg University, where the specimens were scanned on up-to-date microtomography scanners. Based on the obtained data, the palaeontologists created 3D reconstructions of the vertebrae and described their internal structure. As expected, it proved to be very similar to that of the large stem salamanders.
The ancient amphibian received the name Egoria malashichevi – in honour of Yegor Malashichev, associate professor of the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at St Petersburg University, who, among other things, studied the morphology of caudate amphibians. ‘Yegor Malashichev was a wonderful person and a very talented scientist. He supported aspiring palaeontologists and did everything to help them to stay in scientific research,’ remarked Pavel Skuchas. Additionally, Malashichev studied the phenomenon of lateralisation (body asymmetries associated with the functioning of the nervous system), as well as other asymmetries in motor performance and visual perception. Yegor Malashichev’s professional career was almost exclusively connected with St Petersburg University. In 1996, he graduated from the Faculty of Biology and Soil Science. In 2000, he began to teach there, and in 2003, he defended his dissertation and was awarded a PhD in biology. Sadly, in late 2018, he passed away unexpectedly.
The next step for the palaeontologists is to compare the bones of the ‘Berezovsky’ salamanders with the fossils from Great Britain: the ‘Kirtlington’ salamander which was found at the Kirtlington quarry in Oxfordshire. The Siberian and British faunas of the mid-Jurassic period were very similar. Besides, the palaeontologists are aware of similar amphibians that lived in the territory of present-day England. ‘They may be representatives of the same genera. However, to ascertain this, a detailed comparison of the palaeontological collections is required. In the coming spring, our colleagues from England will come to St Petersburg to study our research materials. We may discover that Urupia and Egoria used to have a very wide habitat, extending across Europe and Asia,’ mused Pavel Skuchas.
The fieldwork and laboratory research have been supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research [11-04-91331-NNIO], the Russian Science Foundation [19-04-00060], and by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) [MA 1643/14-1, 3].
St Petersburg University to host an online presentation of its master's programme in advanced mathematics
On 22 February, there will be an opportunity to get directly from the teaching staff relevant information about the unique programme, admission rules, and career opportunities. Everyone interested in the programme will also be able to ask their questions in real time.
The programme is taught in English and aimed at students interested in mathematics and theoretical computer science. State-of-art training courses make it possible to specialise in a wide range of areas: mathematical analysis and probability theory; theoretical computer science; discrete mathematics and mathematical logic; algebra and number theory; geometry and topology; differential equations; dynamical systems; and mathematical physics.
The presentation in English will be held at 2pm (Moscow time). The webinar in Russian will be at 3pm.
Students of the programme ‘Advanced Mathematics’ gain access to top scientific developments – courses are conducted by world-famous scientists. The academic supervisor of the programme is Stanislav Smirnov, a winner of the Fields Prize: the most prestigious award in mathematics in the world. His scientific achievements, experience and a network of contacts provide the programme with a truly international orientation. Stanislav Smirnov, a graduate of St Petersburg University, studied and worked at the California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and the University of Geneva. Students have the opportunity to participate in seminars and research projects of the Chebyshev Laboratory. The programme is implemented in close collaboration with it. The laboratory has been established at St Petersburg University and is supported by PJSC Gazprom Neft and the Russian Science Foundation. The laboratory conducts research in analysis, algebra, probability theory, mathematical physics, and related fields. Leading Russian and foreign mathematicians regularly deliver special courses and conduct colloquia.
Training in English opens up opportunities for graduates to fulfil their potential in global studies and in the international labour market. During their studies, students have practical training in large Russian and European IT companies such as Yandex and JetBrains.
The Admission Campaign of 2020 starts at St Petersburg University. From 3 February, the University will start admitting documents from foreign citizens who are applying for fee-paying places for bachelor’s, specialist’s, master’s, and doctoral programmes. On 17 February, the acceptance of documents from foreign citizens applying for government-funded places will begin at the University.
The documents are accepted online. The entrance examinations are held in the form of a documents’ (portfolios’) competition. This includes a motivation letter and documents certifying academic training and language proficiency necessary for studying in the chosen academic programme. Additional personal accomplishments of the applicant are also taken into account. The only exceptions are the specialist’s programmes ‘General Medicine’ and ‘Dental Medicine’. Applicants for these programmes will have to: confirm their knowledge of the Russian language; and pass entrance examinations in St Petersburg according to the timetable published on the website.
Please note that this year the acceptance period for documents will end earlier than usual. For government-funded places, the period will be until 11 May; and for fee-paying places, it will be until 16 June.
Foreign citizens planning to study in doctoral programmes have to provide: a motivation letter; a description of their proposed research; an autobiography; and an abstract. For applicants to the master's programme in Advanced Mathematics, after checking their portfolio documents, there will be an interview for those who have at least 35 points.
You can learn about the admissions procedure and the terms of the competition on the website of the Admissions Committee of St Petersburg University. For more detailed information about admission, as well as answers to questions of interest, visit the International Admissions’ Office in person at the address: 13B Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, or by phone: +7 (812) 363-66-33 or email us at email@example.com.