Olga Syzgantseva

Olga graduated from Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2008. Doctor's degree in Theoretical Chemistry was obtained in 2011 at University Pierre et Marie Curie. Then she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at University of Rouen and Aalto University. Since March 2016 she has been working at EPFL: first in the group of Ursula Rothlisberger and then, since 2018, in the group of Berend Smit. In her free time she enjoys skiing, cycling and travelling.

Interview by Carey Sargent, EPFL, NCCR MARVEL

The biggest challenge that woman scientists face is…

I think that in terms of equal representation of women there are some challenges.  Yes, at the PhD or post-doc level women are quite well represented, but there’s a problem in the equality of the distribution of faculty positions. On these positions, in my opinion, women are insufficiently represented, because the main challenge for women-scientists is that there is no always a possibility to apply expert background after the post-doc. We earn the degrees and the experience, but there is no always a place to apply it in a permanent position.

I chose a scientific career because …

Actually, it’s hard to say because it was a long time ago. I have been interested in chemistry as a science already since high school and had chosen a scientific career because of interest in chemistry. I was always attracted by fundamental studies, that’s why I joined the Faculty of Chemistry at Moscow State University.

If I were not a scientist, I would be…

That’s a good question… Probably I would become a lawyer because I like that in jurisprudence argumentation has as much importance as in science. That's probably why I have an academic degree in law of the University Sorbonne-Panthéon and University Panthéon-Assas.

My most exciting MARVEL discovery to date has been…

For the moment, my most exciting MARVEL research discovery was creation of method for modification of the electronic structure of MOFs, that allows to obtain in a targeted way novel properties for already known and explored compounds. This is really opening vast horizons for materials design and I hope that this will become a contribution of MARVEL towards international scientific research.

My top two papers  are...

First paper on perovskites that I published with Michael Grätzel, a communication with whom in itself is a great honor for me. Second paper is now under review in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS). This paper is devoted precisely to the abovementioned method of modifying electronic structure of MOFs.