Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Young Russian Scientists Score Big in Kentucky

For MTAlexander Anosov pointing to a display at the International Science and Engineering Fair, where his math project took first prize.
The average high school student might find the prospect of being tested by a group of foreign professors somewhat stressful, especially with university entrance exams just a few weeks away.

But not Alexander Anosov, a 17-year-old St. Petersburg high school graduate.

With awards in biochemistry and mathematics from a prestigious international scientific conference under his belt, Anosov thinks the most important thing is to find a professor who understands his work.

Anosov is one of 10 bright Russian students who returned last week from the 53rd International Science and Engineering Fair in Louisville, Kentucky. The group won awards in all the main categories, including math, chemistry and computer sciences. Anosov won the first prize of $5,000 for a math project he presented to a group of American math professors.

"This year I had the impression that more judges in the review understood the essence of my work," said Anosov, who was attending the ISEF for the second time.

He and the other young scientists were selected from hundreds of contenders from across Russia, all of whom had taken part in contests held earlier this year, said Kamil Isayev, manager of educational and government institutions at Intel Russian and Eastern Europe, ISEF's title sponsor for the past five years.

Teenagers from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Novosibirsk and Chelyabinsk competed for 14 places, one in each category of the competition. They presented the projects they had created over the past year with guidance from their science teachers to a jury of professors from Moscow State University and a number of Moscow-based technical colleges, Isayev said.

"Participation in ISEF is a good test for a young scientist in that it helps to determine whether he is ready for scientific career," Isayev said.

For MT

The Russian group leaving for Kentucky.

He said the fact that hundreds of young scientists had applied to participate in ISEF indicated a revival of interest in the sciences among the younger generation.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia's cash-strapped scientific institutions have been struggling to survive with little or no research funding, leaving many scientists living on the brink of poverty and others moving abroad.

"Needless to say, interest in studying such subjects has been higher in previous years than it is today, " Isayev said.

Seventeen-year-old Muscovite Dmitry Borkin, who took second place in chemistry in Louisville, said his interest in chemistry developed four years ago.

"At first I just liked the idea that one substance transforms into another. [Four years ago] it was just a theory, while what I'm interested now is research," said Borkin, who is applying to attend a chemical college next month.

Isayev said the remote regions are not well represented at ISEF because the teenagers there have less access to advanced study programs. Secondary schools in the regions are often understaffed, while teaching is one of the lowest paying professions.

Young Russians have been participating in the ISEF for five years and have proved to be the most competitive in mathematics, chemistry and computer science. They have won a total of 50 awards, Isayev said.

"Not once in the five years have we missed winning an award in these disciplines," he said.

But the young Russian scientists have not yet won the competition's main prize, a $50,000 scholarship to study at a U.S. university.

Surprisingly, none of the Russian students brought by Intel to the ISEF over the years have opted to study in the United States despite several invitations made by American universities, Isayev said.

He added that Russian students prefer Russian schools, which still offer high-quality training in the sciences.