At the beginning of last year, 22-year-old Dimash was among the winners of the Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation Scientific Internship Programme. The Almaty resident divided his internship into two parts: in May and June, he worked in France, and in the remaining summer months – in Canada. This year, the young scientist also succeeded in another competition of the foundation and won the Yessenov Scholarship.
Why do you find chemistry so interesting?
All our surroundings and most of the things that significantly improve our quality of life have been developed largely thanks to chemistry. From as far back as I can remember, I have always been interested in how various substances – medicines, sweets, cosmetic products and so on, are created.
How was your internship?
In Canada, I worked on obtaining a new zinc complex from already synthesized chemical compounds. I then tested the complex and used it as a catalyst in various reactions. I found the work to be quite interesting, and therefore continued to study under one of the world’s most proficient and respected professors in the field, Georgii I. Nikonov. As for my internship with the Institute of Chemistry in Nice, the main objective of my work under the supervision of Dr. Sylvain Antoniotti was to synthesize a cellulose (Agarwood) molecule. This molecule is responsible for appropriate tones to perfume. The main reason for obtaining a synthetic product is that Agarwood is on the verge of extinction. We are therefore trying to find an alternative for it.
What did you manage to achieve from your laboratory work?
In Canada, I was able to not only synthesize a zinc catalyst, but also successfully tested it. Our group made considerable progress in this work. Both projects have tremendous potential for creating cost-effective and ecologically sustainable alternatives to natural products.
Science aside, what else did you find interesting in Canada and France?
I was able to travel all over the Côte d’Azur and meet with friends studying and working in various parts of Europe. My own experience taught me that the French do not speak English in principle. It wasn’t easy.J As for Canada, I had very little free time there. The only thing I can mention besides science is the stable living conditions for the citizens. I also had an interesting experience with my bicycles. They were stolen from me in both countries. Although, of course, they were eventually found.
Dimash, what advice can you give to those who plan to participate in Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation competitions?
Future participants need to plan their way to their goal. If you plan to win a competition, start by preparing your resume in advance (actively participate in academic and volunteer activities), raise your GPA, and seek advice from more experienced colleagues.
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