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.
This is exactly what Vladimir Ermolenkov, a scientist who immigrated from Belarus, was doing in the USA. Now he is simply making his dream come true 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.
Proteins can be different in these diseases, but the mechanism of their fibrillation is similar. They are deposited on the walls of blood vessels as insoluble plaques. As a result, blood flow is disturbed, other problems arise.
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.
For comparison, he uses the example of a car. Let's say a nail is driven into the wheel, which will soon lead to the wheel going down. But it, however, can be replaced, but the brain is not in any way - it is one of a person. Therefore, the only way remains is to try to heal.
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.
Vladimir is a good specialist, and this was quickly noticed in the USA. About six months later, a manager approached him and asked if he agreed 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 attracted to technology. He was entrusted to lead the Center for Structural Chemistry at the University of Albany, which is part of SUNY, a union of New York State universities.
Yermolenkov is an irreplaceable employee, in America they are called in a special way - essential employee. Even during the general pandemic associated with the spread of COVID-19, he continues to work, because he ensures the uninterrupted operation of laboratory equipment.
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 could do all this without difficulty and became the owner of a green card, and a few years later - and an American passport.
Vladimir notes that he in no way supports people who arrive in the United States on a tourist visa and remain illegal. To hide constantly from the immigration police, to sleep where he has to, not to have any guaranteed rights - he does not want such a life for anyone. After all, all problems can be solved, if there was only a goal.
America gave Vladimir not only a beloved, well-paid job, but also a family. He flew to the USA alone. All Russian-speaking newbies, if possible, try to rally - they get together, communicate. The same company was at the University of 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 Natalia. She is the director of a linguistic laboratory at the college and a professor who teaches Russian remotely. Her research and publications on distance language teaching and teacher training are well known in the United States 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.
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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