Students from Tekeli are not usual winners of the scholarships granted by the Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation. Albina Jetybayeva studies chemical engineering at Nazarbayev University in Astana. And prior to enrollment, she lived in Eastern Kazakhstan. This summer, Albina’s travel geography is supplemented by a new destination –Milton Keynes, a little town that became a home for The Open University, where Albina was sent to serve internship as a winner of the Foundation’s contest.
Was it easy for you to win the competition? What was most difficult task?
To win this prestigious competition was not easy at all. Several stages, anticipation of results and the spirit of competition — I went through all these stages. 12 applicants competed for each grant. But initially, just like many of my friends, I participated in the competition of the other program of the Foundation — Research Internships in World Laboratories. Unfortunately (or as a matter of fact, fortunately) I failed both times. But I was not upset, and decided to apply for the Research Internships in the UK laboratories program. It was another period of breathless expectation and... I finally won — I was among five Kazakhstanis, who went to one of the best universities in England. The most pleasant thing about it was that it happened on my birthday. I was excited, surprised and happy all in a breath.
What were you doing during the internship?
I worked in Smart Material Group, led by Dr. Ellen Heely. This laboratory is specialized in the study of innovative materials, methods for their production, its properties and uses. Once I was notified of my victory, I immediately immersed myself into work — I was preparing travel documents and insurance policy, reading the materials sent by the Professor and reviewing the information on the subject that I found myself. After my arrival to Milton Keynes I immediately joined the team of the Professor. We were developing innovative polymer component material — Polyhedral Oligomeric Silsesquioxanes (POSS), which due to the unique composition and structure of the molecules combines organic and inorganic properties. My task was to study the properties of POSS and its types.
So, a new material was invented, wasn’t it?
The main goal of the team was not to invent new materials but to research them. In the future POSS can be a component of advanced polymeric materials, improving their qualities. During the project I learned how to operate such software as FibreFix CCP13, the Dream (Data Reduction Automatically Made), DAWN (DExplore), Origin Graphing and Analysis, 3.7 Mercury, Encifer 1.5.1 — they were used widely for data interpretation. Upon the results of our work, I wrote my part of a scientific article that will be published in the scientific journal of Royal Society of Chemistry this November.
What can you highlight in your experience?
Talking to people both with respect to the project and daily conversations. The people are very open, polite and responsible. If I ever had a question I could approach anyone — every Professor helped me to solve any issue quickly and efficiently. It was nice that my host English family was very considerate, they were careful to my well-being and often invited me to have dinner with them. I appreciated this attitude at work and at "home". I would like our people in Kazakhstan to show the same attitude to the work and to other people just like people in the UK, cultivating it in our culture too. During the internship, apart from extensive experience and knowledge, I improved my English and established contacts with many experts in the field of chemistry. The theme of our research was very close to the one chosen for my master degree at some foreign university in Korea, Canada or the United States, where I'm going to apply to.