An invitation to a dream: how a scientist from Belarus came to the USA for a year and stayed forever - ForumDaily
The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
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An invitation to a dream: how a scientist from Belarus came to the USA for a year and stayed forever

No one needs to explain what Alzheimer's or Parkinson’s diseases are. Everyone knows about them. Unfortunately, these ailments are the scourge of mankind. Doctors have not yet learned how to treat them. All therapy, at best, is aimed at relieving symptoms so that a person can at least live more or less normally. And for a cardinal remedy that can finally prevent serious illnesses or treat them, detailed fundamental scientific research is needed.

Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Ermolenkov

This is exactly what Vladimir Ermolenkov, a scientist who immigrated from Belarus, did in the USA. Now he is simply realizing his dream in the American scientific community.

Vladimir Ermolenkov never thought that he would have to leave far away from his native Minsk. He worked in the field of spectroscopy at the Institute of Physics of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. And it so happened that his specialty attracted the attention of Americans. Vladimir was invited to work for a year at the University of Albany, in the state capital of New York. Vladimir did not refuse such an offer, because this gave him the opportunity to improve his skills and improve his financial situation. So in 2003 he flew overseas. I thought that for a short while, but it turned out that I remained in America for good.

In Belarus, as in Russia, spectroscopy is considered a field of physics. And in the USA, this is science at the intersection of physics and chemistry. In Albany, Vladimir joined a scientific group studying the mechanism of formation of amyloid protein fibrils. It is believed that they are guilty of the development of such serious ailments as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

The proteins may be different in these diseases, but the mechanism of their fibrillation is similar. They are deposited on the walls of blood vessels in the form of insoluble plaques. As a result, blood flow is disrupted and other problems arise.

Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Ermolenkov

Ermolenkov studied such an unfavorable mechanism using spectroscopy methods. He investigated under what conditions, temperature, pH, the formation of amyloids occurs. The group of scientists in which he worked received interesting results already published in specialized scientific journals.

Scientists still do not know exactly the roots of Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s diseases. Vladimir is inclined to believe that one of the reasons is genetic. Adverse events, such as a fall and a header, which provoke pathological processes in the body, can play their insidious role.

He uses the example of a car for comparison. Let's say a nail is stuck in a wheel, which will soon cause the wheel to go flat. But it, however, can be replaced, but the brain cannot - a person has only one. Therefore, the only way left is to try to treat.

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Most US research is carried out with grants from government and non-governmental organizations. If the scholars applying for the grant, like Vladimir, work at the university, they also need to lay down the amount for the institution, which goes not only to the educational process, but also to all kinds of other needs.

On average, from dozens to several hundred thousand dollars are allocated for basic scientific research in the USA. Much more (millions of dollars) are received by scientists who deal with applied issues related to the treatment of diseases.

Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Ermolenkov

New challenge

Vladimir is a good specialist, and this was quickly noticed in the USA. About six months later, his manager approached him and asked if he would agree to work for another year. Vladimir again did not refuse.

Two years later, when the contract ended, he still flew home. But he stayed there for only 6 months.

Apparently, he really masterfully mastered the methods of spectroscopy, because he was asked to return to the United States, all to the same Albany University. He accepted the invitation and has been living in America since 17 years.

True, he was engaged in fundamental research for a total of only three years. By profession, he is still an optical engineer, and he was more drawn to technology. He was entrusted to head the center for structural chemistry at the University at Albany, which is part of SUNY, an association of universities in the state of New York.

Ermolenkov is an irreplaceable employee, in America they are called in a special way - essential employee. Even during the global pandemic associated with the spread of COVID-19, he continues to work, because he ensures the uninterrupted operation of laboratory equipment.

Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Ermolenkov

How do scientists move to the USA

The procedure through which Ermolenkov went is fairly standard, although time-consuming. He applied for the green card as an outstanding scientist. By the way, this is the path of many researchers who remain in the United States. This will require a confirmed level of PhD (analogue of a candidate of science), publications, as well as recommendations from well-known scientists.

Vladimir was able to do all this without difficulty and became the owner of a green card, and a few years later - an American passport.

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Vladimir notes that he in no way supports people who fly to the United States on a tourist visa and remain illegal. Constantly hiding from the immigration police, sleeping wherever he has to, not having any guaranteed rights - he doesn’t wish this kind of life on anyone. After all, all problems can be solved if there is only a goal.

Language balance

America gave Vladimir not only a beloved, well-paid job, but also a family. He flew to the USA alone. All new Russian speakers try to unite whenever possible - they get together and communicate. The same company was at the University at Albany.

As Vladimir explained, those who arrived in the United States from different countries and united by a common history of the past help each other cope with the stress experienced by all newcomers.

In one of these Russian-speaking companies, he met his future wife Natalya. She is the director of a language laboratory at a college and a professor teaching Russian remotely. Her research and publications on distance language teaching and teacher training are well known in the USA and Russia.

Now their son Daniel is already 10 years old. A grandfather from Russia calls him Danila in Russian. Parents are trying very hard to speak Russian with the boy. However, the English-speaking environment is doing its job. At first, Vladimir tried to convince the child that he did not know English and could only speak Russian. While Danila was small, he believed in a legend. But when I grew up, I realized that Dad was still cunning. He knows English and began to try to “pull out” this language from his father.

Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Ermolenkov

Vladimir still does not give up and is doing his best to instill in the child Russian speech. He says that in no case should one give a wimp to children, otherwise there will be no turning back, and the Russian language will become only a vague memory of a strange dialect spoken by parents for some reason.

Where is the birthplace

Vladimir Ermolenkov admits that for 17 years of his life in the USA he did not stop loving Belarus. This is his homeland. But he is grateful to America for everything that it gives, for opportunities, for the dreams that come true here. But she still did not become his homeland.

Every year Vladimir necessarily flies to Minsk for two weeks. Only this year, because of the coronavirus, his trip was frustrated. He bought tickets for March 14, and on March 11, flights between the United States and European countries were suspended.

The leader of Vladimir, in an American way, delicately but clearly made it clear that if he “hangs” for a long time somewhere outside the USA, then problems may arise at work. America has very fierce competition, people try to hold on to their places, especially if they are good. Therefore, Vladimir, hearing a warning, decided to postpone his vacation.

Any epidemic, even a pandemic, has the properties to end. And everything is back to normal.

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