As one of Russia’s top universities, the Kazan National Research Technological University (KNRTU) seeks to establish ties with the world’s leading research and education organizations.
Toward that end, nine faculty members from KNRTU’s Institute of Polymers and Institute of Petroleum, Chemistry and Nanotechnologies recently visited Lehigh for two weeks.
The delegation was headed by Prof. Alexander Kochnev, vice-rector for academic and student affairs and director of the Institute of Polymers.
The group was attracted to Lehigh because of its “world-level excellence in research and education in the area of polymers,” said Artem Bezrukov, associate professor of physical and colloidal chemistry at KNRTU.
The visit was sponsored by Lehigh’s Emulsion Polymers Institute (EPI), Center for Polymer Science and Engineering (CPSE), and office of international affairs.
During their stay, KNRTU’s faculty members attended lectures by 16 Lehigh professors who conduct polymer-related research. They concluded by forming a partnership with Lehigh that envisions future student and faculty exchanges and academic and research collaborations.
“We are impressed by Lehigh’s strategic approach as a top-class private university to be the best in the education programs and research areas that it offers,” said Bezrukov.
“Our visit was very useful and productive. The program was very well-planned. Each day was dedicated to a specific area of polymer science, and the quality of the lectures was very high.”
Planting the seeds
Founded in 1890 and located in the republic of Tatarstan in central Russia, KNRTU has more than 25,000 students from Russia and around the world. It employs more than 1,000 professors and offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering fields and in the humanities. The city of Kazan, third-largest in Russia, has a population of 1.2 million and is one of the nation’s financial and industrial centers.
Last March, Mohamed El-Aasser, vice president for international relations at Lehigh, visited KNRTU while traveling in Russia with the U.S. University Presidents’ Delegation to Russia, which was sponsored by the Institute for International Education.
One month later, German Dyakonov, KNRTU’s rector, visited Lehigh.
El-Aasser and Dyakonov discussed areas of mutual interest between KNRTU and Lehigh.
“We agreed that the best approach to jump-start our collaboration would be to provide an opportunity for faculty members from both universities to have face-to-face discussions,” said El-Aasser.
In December, when the KNRTU delegation visited Lehigh, faculty members identified four areas in which they could work together—adhesion, emulsion polymers, composites and nanocomposites, and colloidal systems, as well as the characterization of colloids and polymers using advanced optical instruments. They agreed to explore the idea of holding a joint workshop focusing on one of those topics.
They also discussed the possibility of an exchange of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students.
“We consider the partnership with KNRTU to be an important step in the implementation of Lehigh’s integrated international portfolio,” said El-Aasser.
“One of the top priorities of this portfolio is to establish partnerships with key institutions in different regions of the world. This promotes the development of collaborations in areas of mutual interests to faculty and students.”
A well-rounded itinerary
In addition to daily lectures, lab tours and discussions, Lehigh organized trips to New York City and Philadelphia for the KNRTU faculty members.
Faculty members from the two schools also dined at two local restaurants—one Middle Eastern and one Chinese. They were serenaded both nights by Kharlampidi Kharlampii, chair of KNRTU’s general chemical technology department, who sang songs in Russian and Greek as well as an arrangement of “Strangers in the Night” in English.
The visit was organized by EPI director Daniel Ou-Yang, professor of physics, and CPSE director Raymond Pearson, professor of materials science and engineering.
Lehigh faculty members who gave lectures during the visit included Ou-Yang, Pearson and El-Aasser as well as Andrew Klein, Manoj Chaudhury and Anthony McHugh (chemical engineering); Dmitri Vezenov (chemistry); Xuanhong Cheng, Sabrina Jedlicka and Lloyd Robeson (materials science and engineering); John Coulter, Joachim Grenestedt, Herman Nied and Arkady Voloshin (mechanical engineering and mechanics); and Slava Rotkin and Ivan Biaggio (physics).
In addition to Bezrukov and Kharlampidi, the KNRTU delegation included faculty members Oleg Stoianov (chair of the plastics technology department); Valentina Shkodich, Sergey Naumov and Alevtina Rakhmatullina (department of synthetic rubber); Liliya Safina (department of inorganic chemistry); and Elena Nurmeeva (department of foreign languages).