Azamat Yessengazin

Specialization: chemistry. Internship: Ohio State University, USA.

Azamat was born and raised in Aktobe, now he is 23. He loves to watch the twists and turns in the English and Spanish football leagues. But his specialty is far from sports, although a Kazakhstani student gives himself physical activity regularly. A year and a half ago, he ventured to participate in the Yessenov Foundation competition and won, and as a result ended up in an American laboratory, where he did his research. How was it? Azamat will answer our questions.

When, how and why did you choose your specialty?
Back at the lyceum, in the 7th grade, I began to try myself in various Olympiads: Kazakh and English, computer science, mathematics, chemistry. But it was chemistry that attracted me most with amazing experiments and interesting tasks. And at the university my interest only intensified, in parallel with my studies, I started working in the laboratory of organometallic chemistry.

You won the Research Internship competition of the Yessenov Foundation last year. Why do you think this happened?
My goal coincides completely with the mission of the Yessenov Foundation – to develop the intellectual potential of our country. I am actively involved in organizing and supporting Olympiad events for schoolchildren, as well as doing science. I think my advantage was that I clearly understood how my career would develop in the next years, where I wanted to do a research and why. I was also lucky to show myself in a group interview, demonstrating leadership qualities. By listening to others and combining their ideas with my own, I was able to offer an original solution to the task assigned to us.

What kind of life hack can you share with future applicants?
I can only advise them to work hard, travel a lot and say “yes” to any kind of activity during the internship – thanks to this you will acquire many valuable skills. When choosing an internship placement, focus on what the future professor will give you, how interested he or she is in you and whether he or she has a clear project that you can work on or even finish during the internship.

How was your work experience in America?
I worked in the group of Professor Christine Thomas, who studies bimetallic complexes and homogeneous catalysts. I conducted research within the framework of a project aimed at restoring terminal olefins (organic compounds including unsaturated hydrocarbons that contain one or more double bonds). I was working on the development of a new cobalt-based complex and investigated its activity with various olefins. In general, the internship was successful, thanks to the professor’s team. I did not even expect such a number of acquisitions:  friends, experience, skills, two conferences and a scientific publication. Also I lived with Americans, Indians, Mexicans and Koreans – it was a very interesting multicultural experience.

Have the research goals been achieved?
I consider it a great success that we managed to finish most of the project while I was in America. Thanks to this, now the article where I am listed as a co-author has already been published in the journal Organometallics. This work will be useful for a better understanding of coordination chemistry – where the bonds between metal and organic structures allow more chemical reactions to be achieved. The catalysts we have created can be integrated into industry to make production more efficient and environmentally friendly. During my internship at Ohio State University, I also presented my work at the scientific conference “Inorganic Weekends in Ohio 2022″. I also did it at another ACS 2023 conference in Indianapolis in March of this year.

What have you learned while working in the laboratory?
I met a bunch of professionals and learned how to work with people from different cultures. I was learning something every day. I acquired skills in working with Bruker NMR and GC-MS devices. I also really want to introduce the work ethic of Americans and some laboratory experimental procedures that are new to us into my daily work.

Tell us how you spent your free time?
I am fond of traveling, and I could not miss this opportunity in any way. Thus I traveled during the holidays and managed to visit five states. I was especially impressed and will always remember the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center in New York.

What are you doing now and what are your plans, Azamat?
I continue to work in the laboratory of Dr. Khalimon at Nazarbayev University and have started a new project on homogeneous catalysts. Besides I began preparing documents for doctoral studies, continuing to study in the last year of the bachelor’s degree.

15.06.23, Stories

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