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HSE Launches Bachelor’s Programme in Chemistry

HSE Launches Bachelor’s Programme in Chemistry

© Signature/ iStock

The HSE Department of Chemistry will begin accepting applications this year for its new Bachelor’s Programme in Chemistry. Programme Director and Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Corresponding Member Andrey Yaroslavtsev explains how the programme will be organised and why HSE is an excellent option for anyone planning to pursue a career in chemistry.

Why HSE?

The HSE programme will offer the advantage of preparing chemistry students for science careers right from the start of their studies. As it now stands, university students hoping to pursue careers in the sciences can only begin establishing their reputations after they graduate. Our goal, however, is to recruit students who will be able to make names for themselves in the scientific community while still in college and who will transition into careers in the sciences after they graduate. Toward this end, our students will start conducting research during their very first year of study and publish in leading Russian and foreign scientific journals by the time they graduate. Leading RAS chemists will guide the students in their work. With this foundation, students will have a better opportunity to prove themselves in the future.

Leading RAS institutes will serve as partners to the new HSE department and working RAS specialists will conduct the courses. Students will carry out research in the labs of those institutes, working on modern scientific equipment under the tutelage of established scientists.

The following RAS institutes will form the foundation of the new HSE programme:

 N.D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry, RAS (IOC RAS)

 Kurnakov Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry, RAS (IGIC RAS)

 A.N. Nesmeyenov Institute of Organoelemental Compounds, RAS (INEOS RAS)

 A.V. Topchiev Institute of Petrochemical Synthesis (IPS RAS)

Department of Chemistry students will also receive a solid grounding in mathematics and physics, both of which are essential for performing research in a chemical laboratory. And, like all HSE students, they will graduate with an outstanding command of English.

Areas of specialization

Although students will formally specialize in chemistry in the broad sense of the word, the programme will actually focus on those specific areas to which the partner institutes are devoted – organic chemistry and organoelemental compounds, and inorganic substances and materials.

 Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon-containing compounds, encompassing the richness and diversity of all existing compounds. Tens of thousands of reports are published every year about the synthesis of new organic and organoelemental compounds. This field of study has practical significance to such important high-tech areas as the processing of oil and gas, timber, and biomass. Organic chemistry is also essential to the manufacture of medicines and many other important products.

 At the same time, the creation of new materials is central to almost all advances of modern civilization. Materials with unusual properties enable designers to create new devices that quickly become indispensible to everyday life. Even the catalysts used to process oil and gas are usually very complex materials. Scientists try to create materials by using several different substances that form a new structure and have a particular mutual arrangement, hierarchy, particle size, and morphology. In this way, it is possible to give the material new and specific properties that are not inherent in the component substances. Researchers have high hopes for nanomaterials and composite and hybrid materials that contain both organic and inorganic components. All this opens up a huge field of activity for chemists working in materials science.

Andrey Yaroslavtsev, head of the bachelor’s programme in chemistry, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences
© Mikhail Dmitriev/ Higher School of Economics

How the educational process will be organised

The educational programme at HSE will build upon experience gained in training highly qualified chemists at the Higher Chemical College of the RAS and the Moscow State University.

The main advantage of the curriculum planned by the HSE Department of Chemistry is that it will allocate 20% of the curriculum to work on scientific projects.

Starting in their first year, students will spend at least one day a week in the laboratories of RAS institutes. Plans call for the Department of Chemistry to be located on Vavilov Street in Moscow, close to all four of the RAS institutes mentioned above. Instructors will conduct the main lectures and seminars at the Vavilov location and the hands-on training in specially equipped laboratories of the RAS institutes. In this way, students will not have to spend too much time moving between buildings and will be able to go to the laboratory in the evenings to speak with their science advisors and set up experiments.  

In their senior courses, students will spend most of their time doing scientific work at the institutes.

First-year students will have the opportunity to attend several “open house” days at our partner institutes in order to determine which area of focus they find most interesting. But because first impressions are sometimes misleading, students can change their area of focus later. We hope to see students distributed more or less evenly between the two broad scientific areas of “organic and organoelemental chemistry” and “inorganic chemistry and materials.” Students of both disciplines will study together for the first two years, but their curricula will diverge significantly starting in the third year.

Russian Academy of Sciences Vice President Alexei Khokhlov and Chemistry and Materials Sciences Department Head Mikhail Yegorov will participate directly in preparing the work of the HSE Department of Chemistry. Many other RAS members and staff of academic institutions and universities will also conduct courses for students.

On the practical side

The fact that the UN has named 2019 the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements underscores the importance of chemistry in modern society. Modern civilization could not exist without the most important practical applications of scientific knowledge, including the processing of oil and gas, the production of a wide range of new materials, catalysts, and much more. At the same time, work is progressing rapidly on the development of alternative sources of electrical energy, materials for portable electronics, sensors, and the synthesis of new drugs.

One of the main features of the Higher School of Economics and its graduates is the focus on results. Through their studies at HSE and RAS institutes, Department of Chemistry students will receive an education that will help them find real-world applications for their research and build careers in science or business.

Icons: flaticon.com/ Freepik, surang

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