A new generation of researchers: pursuing science as a career
Aysylu Askarova, 2016 MSc in Petroleum Engineering | 2020 PhD in Petroleum Engineering
Meet Aysylu Askarova. Aysyly graduated with a Master's in Petroleum Engineering in 2016 and finished her PhD degree in Petroleum Engineering in 2020. Now she is a current Postdoc at Skoltech and shares her vision of science with you in this story.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in science?
I wish I could say, "I always knew I wanted to be a scientist, and I was passionate about science!". No, I wasn't. I was always good in math and technical subjects in school, but I never seriously thought I might achieve something big in science. But life took unpredictable turns, and at the moment I am a Research Scientist at the best university in Russia, and I have the opportunity to work with the best professionals in my field around the world. Some people might think doing science is boring or a way to avoid adult life (some of my friends actually still ask me when I will find a real job). But for me, it is always about solving interesting puzzles and challenging yourself. Moreover, I am surrounded by bright, intelligent people who help you grow in different aspects of your life. For me, it is a big privilege and a blessing!

Why science is a way of life and how can one realize it's theirs?
In total, I spent 27 years in the educational system, of which the last 10 were mostly independent scientific research. I was involved in very different projects, and often I had to start working on something completely new for me. I studied "Automation of production processes'' in USPTU, then switched to numerical modeling of field effect transistors on ZnO nanowire transistors at Swansea University, then studied Material Chemistry while working on modeling of in-situ combustion (ISC) processes as my Master project at Skoltech. I continued to work on ISC within my PhD program, but recently we found a new implementation of this method: the generation of blue hydrogen inside the reservoir. It is interesting personally for me to see how different parts of the knowledge gained during my years of seemingly endless studies fall into place and how our work turns out to be something meaningful and beautiful.

Also, for me, science is about structure and proofs. In everything I do, I try to look for different sources and refer to primary sources. I question everything until I find enough evidence so I can make weighted decisions. That helps me act with a steady heart and avoid unnecessary stress.

Share with us your vision of a portrait of a young scientist: who chooses this professional way?
We used to picture scientists as old, boring people with thick glasses. In reality, I am seeing young, energetic, passionate, and kind people who have dedicated their lives to studying something that is in fact mind-blowing. Some of my friends develop new generations of batteries or build startups; others develop drugs against severe diseases or print hearts on 3D printers! At the same time, they travel the world, build beautiful families, and continue to be socially active citizens of the world who fight for the best future of humanity.

I can't say that being a scientist is easy at the start. There are so many ups and downs on the road, a lot of stress, and sometimes a lack of self-confidence. However, I was lucky enough to have constant support from family, friends, and, more importantly, from experienced scientists. I should thank my supervisor, Alexey Cheremisin, who trusted us in so many ways and for the many interesting projects we have been involved in. Big credits should go to Professors Raj Mehta, Gordon Moore, and the late John Belgrave, who taught me so much and continue to support me!

and now about Skoltech
We are Skoltech. A new type of university in Russia, established in 2011 in collaboration with MIT with the vision of being a world-leading institute of science and technology. From the zero stage, Skoltech has rapidly advanced along the way towards a top-100 young university recognized globally by Nature Index.
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