Las Vegas, N.M. — New Mexico Highlands University signed an agreement with a Russian university for a dual master’s degree in the rapidly growing chemistry field of photonics.
The memorandum of agreement is with the National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO) in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is aimed at developing educational research cooperation between the two universities and opportunities for students.
Photonics considers the changes in light, such as transmission and refraction, when photonic materials are applied. Photonics research has real-world applications for devices used in sectors like information technology, healthcare, telecommunications and energy.
Students from Highlands and University ITMO will complete one full semester of study and research at the partner university as part of the 120-hour graduate program in chemistry. All the courses will be taught in English.
Linda LaGrange, associate vice president for academic affairs, represented Highlands in developing the five-year agreement with the Russian university.
“Our graduate chemistry students will benefit from working with a pool of highly qualified photonics experts at this Russian university,” LaGrange said. “Making these international contacts will help our students with both job placement and prospective Ph.D. work at prestigious universities.”
LaGrange said chemistry professor Tatiana Timofeeva was instrumental in forging the agreement with University ITMO, and will coordinate the program at Highlands. Timofeeva has collaborated on photonics research with physics professor Igor Denisyk at the Russian university. He will coordinate the program for University ITMO.
“The exchange program will help our chemistry students learn more about physics at ITMO and the Russian students will learn more about the chemistry of materials at Highlands,” Timofeeva said. “I believe this new program will also be valuable in broadening our students’ perspectives on world science and Russian culture.”
The Moscow-born Timofeeva earned her Ph.D. in physical chemistry and was a research scientist for 10 years in Russia before joining the Highlands faculty in 1996. She was named professor of the year for the 2013 — 2014 academic year.
Timofeeva studies the form and structure of crystals. Her primary research interest lies in structural, experimental and theoretical studies of organic nonlinear optics — how materials change as light passes through them.
“Dr. Timofeeva is a world-renowned photonics expert who is respected by colleagues across every continent,” LaGrange said. “Coupled with that, she is a very caring professor and her ultimate goal is student success.”
At Highlands, the Russian students will have the opportunity to work in Timofeeva’s state-of-the art X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory funded by the National Science Foundation.
“The X-Ray diffractometer allows us to analyze how atoms and molecules are organized inside a crystal. What’s unique about our lab is that we have a laser-driven device that helps us grow crystals from liquids — like ethanol — and convert them to solids,” Timofeeva said.
At Highlands, the Russian students will take graduate chemistry courses such as materials science, organic chemistry, and instrumental analysis.
The chemistry faculty at Highlands will nominate students for the exchange program. Timofeeva said grant funding is being pursued to support these students studying at University ITMO.
Ilia Pavlovetc, the first Russian student to participate in the exchange, will study at Highlands this summer semester.
LaGrange said the agreement with University ITMO is modeled upon the successful exchange program geology professor Michael Petronis established in cooperation with Blaise Pascal University in France.