“Many researchers can defend dissertation”

News, 13 March 2023

Last year, 17 JINR employees defended their PhD theses, of which 11 applicants represented the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics. One of them is a junior researcher at the Scientific Department of Nuclear Theory, Evgeny Mardyban, defended his dissertation at the end of 2022. At the moment, Evgeny is the youngest PhD candidate at the Institute, he is 27 years old. He started working at JINR in 2014, while being a student at Dubna University. Evgeny Mardyban shared why he decided to defend a dissertation and how it affected his career.

“Evgeny, could you please tell us how it all started?

“When I was in my 2nd year, Elena Aleksandrovna Kolganova invited several students, including me, to work at BLTP as lab technicians. At first, I dealt with the topic of “electron-positron annihilation” (this is an experimental direction related to the measurement of defects in materials). We had several business trips to the Czech Republic. Then, during the Master’s programme, the direction of my research changed dramatically. I started working in the field of nuclear physics as part of a group of Doctor of Physics and Mathematics Elena Kolganova, Candidate of Physics and Mathematics Timur Shneidman, and Doctor of Physics and Mathematics Rostislav Jolos.”

“What was the role of a scientific supervisor in the preparation of the PhD dissertation in your case?

“I think that the role of the scientific supervisor is prominent. First, the supervisor helps to define the tasks of scientific work, then they help to tackle these tasks. They direct, suggest something, proofread the work, help to write articles. I was lucky to have two scientific supervisors, Elena Alexandrovna Kolganova and Timur Markovich Shneidman. Working with them, as well as with Rostislav Vladimirovich, was very fruitful for me. Perhaps I bothered them with my questions and ideas too often. I am very grateful to them.”

“You have studied for the PhD for 4 years and defended your thesis immediately after graduation. What helped you meet the deadlines?

“Sometimes it was really very difficult to make myself work on the thesis. It was quite challenging for me to write the text of the dissertation itself. Sometimes I wrote at night, when everyone at home was asleep and complete silence reigned. The most important thing is simply to start. As soon as you “dive” into the process, it will absorb you. Another thing that helped me meet the deadline was the fact that much of the work that was included in my dissertation was done with the support of a grant of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation. I could not let down my supervisors, who had to submit all the necessary reports on the grant by strictly defined deadlines.”

“What has changed in your life after defending your PhD thesis?

“I feel a great responsibility for everything I do now. I am more demanding of myself. I feel the need to better understand the scientific areas in which I have knowledge gaps.”

“Perhaps there should be some requirements for laboratories in terms of the number of PhDs produced per year in order to increase the number of defenсes?

“No way! Scientometrics might be useful, but there are too many examples of how people’s interest, for example, in the Hirsch index has led to an exponential increase in the number of publications, and often not of the highest level. Artificially created requirements for the number of candidates can also lead to the emergence of scientifically useless PhD theses.”