The director of the Samara Center for Theoretical Materials Science, Professor Vladislav Blatov, became the head of the Department of General and Inorganic Chemistry of the Chemical-Technological Faculty (CTF) of the Samara State Technical University (Samara Polytech).
The main points of the interview: work plans and modernization of the department.
— Vladislav, your cooperation with the Samara Polytech began in 2017: a scientific center and new laboratories have been opened. How do you evaluate your integration into the structure of the university, and how was born the idea of working with students, of heading the department?
Our scientific center (SCTMS) is successfully operating, and will continue to function and expand: the direction of the university creates all conditions for this. The next step is the opening of a cooperative experimental laboratory with The Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The laboratory will study physical properties of the new materials, which we theoretically simulate and then synthesize at SCTMS. We continue to develop our traditional directions in the search for new porous materials and ionic conductors, there are many new thoughts and ideas. Several grants have been won over the past year. And for such amount of scientific work there is need in new people, new staff, whom we need to educate ourselves. The Department of General and Inorganic Chemistry is ideal for this purpose – the students there specialize in the field of chemistry, physics and mechanics of the materials – this is exactly the topic that SCTMS deals with. The department is one of the oldest in the University, it was founded in 1930, but its staff are mostly young, active people, and I count on their help in my plans for the development of the department. The former head – Prof. I.K. Garkushin did a lot for the department, and I hope to take over the baton successfully.
— What are you planning to change in the work of the department?
In my plan for the development of the department, which I submitted to the competition for the election of the head, I focused on the integration of education and science, and, first of all, the integration of the activities of the department and SCTMS, the director of which I still remain. I am convinced that when department members engage in progressive scientific researches, they can yield much more for the students. I plan to involve current teachers of the department in the research at SCTMS, and vice versa, the staff of SCTMS – in teaching. And, of course, actively involve students in researches. In fact, an informal integration of the department and SCTMS is supposed to happen on the basis of common research and student education. Of course, it will be necessary to revise the existing study plans and introduce new courses.
— Which kind of courses are planned?
We will adjust the exact names, but it is planned to introduce courses on modern tendencies in materials science, promising multifunctional materials, mathematical modeling in materials science. It is important that students understand that the creation of new materials always begins with their modeling in a computer, but ends, of course, in the laboratory and with their direct production. The integration of theory and experiment is the present and the future of materials science, and future chemical engineers must understand this. Whoever understands this will be able to continue the work at the department or at SCTMS after studying.
— To what extent will the SCTMS researchers be loaded with pedagogical charge?
I am not going to force any employee of SCTMS to teach, and neither the employees of the department to engage in scientific research. Only those who love both of these activities will work in two departments at the same time. So far, another two employees of SCTMS besides me have been accepted to the department as part-time teachers. I have no doubt that in future there will be more of them, as well as some of the staff of the department will combine their main work with the work at SCTMS. But what all SCTMS employees will definitely do is helping students carry out their scientific work, as well as giving them single review lectures following the topics of their research.
— Tell us a little bit about the future of the department, about new and ongoing projects, cooperation.
SCTMS employees are already working at four Samara universities – apart from the Technical University, these are Samara University, The Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Samara State Medical University. The Department of General and Inorganic Chemistry will for sure be included in this cooperation. The growth performance of the Technical University, its inclusion in the world rankings of universities, the participation in federal programs for the development of science and education, all this open up great opportunities also for our development. We will do everything that depends on us for the Samara Polytech to fulfill the role of the center of chemical education and science not only of the Samara region, but also to attract students and young researchers from other regions of Russia and from all over the world.