Anastassiya studies chemical engineering in KBTU. Last winter she won a grant from the Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation and went to the Laboratory of Organometallic and Medicinal Chemistry chosen at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL).
Why are you so interested in the chemistry?
It is from Jules Verne. I once read his book about the adventures of Cyrus Smith, who possessed the secrets of chemistry and skillfully used them. That is when it all started. Later in an ordinary school lab my interest has grown and strengthened. I became more seriously engaged in the chemistry, and started to read the scientific literature.
How the grant competition passed for you?
I initially understood that all candidates will be the most deserved, therefore the victory was a complete surprise for me. I was determined most positively, and participation in the grant competition would be a great experience for me anyway. The second round was the most memorable. I participated in such a competition for the first time in my life. Now I can confidently say that this experience changed my life. So we should always try and think big!
Tell us about the internship: what did you do, learn?
I passed the internship at the Laboratory of Organometallic and Medicinal Chemistry under supervision of Professor Paul Dyson. The main thing for me was to gain the skills of organic synthesis and analysis of a substance structure. In the first weeks after traditional safety training at the biolaboratory and several tests, I started the laboratory work. I tested ionic liquids for cytotoxicity by means of special tests in order to understand whether it is possible to use them against cancer cells. At the same laboratory I was able to participate in the project for the synthesis of complex substances that will be used to solve important environmental issues — such as carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
How did the internship help you in movement towards the following goals?
Next year I finish the University. I really liked EPFL so much that I want to enroll to their Master’s program. And my internship of course increased my chances for admission several times. So I'm grateful to the Foundation for the opportunity that will help me to realize my future plans. And right after my internship, I finally decided to commit myself to scientific research.