“My position in life is to take challenges as chances and try to use every opportunity that I have,” says Arina Bogomolova, a PhD in economics candidate from Lomonosov Moscow State University and data analyst with Usalitics Research. “My favorite phrase is ‘Why Not?’,” she says. In Moscow, Arina studies the commercialization of university research. Arina’s open mind and research background is what brought her to Rady School, where she has spent the past four weeks supporting the California Institute of Innovation and Development (CIID) as a participant of the Professional Fellow Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. As a Professional Fellow, Arina is here to share her expertise and gain an understanding of how research and development functions inside of American universities. We caught up with Arina to ask about her research, the similarities and differences she sees between universities and what she likes most about San Diego.
Describe the work you’re doing here as a Professional Fellow.
I’m here to explore the system and think about the ways to make scientists in Russia more active in the commercialization of their research. There are professors who sit in their room and research and tell nobody. They might publish, because they get bonuses for that, but they are not active.
At my job [in Moscow], I’m participating in writing strategies of development for Russian universities. I can only recommend on how to make science more competitive. Universities have some opportunities to support science, so it’s ultimately up to them.
What are some differences you’ve observed between U.S and Russian university systems?
As students [in Russia], we have more limited choices in courses. Here, you can rate your professors and lecturers, and they compete with one another for money and grants. In Russia, professors and lecturers have a guaranteed salary, but it is less than here.
Have you noticed similarities?
During a workshop for StartR students, I was surprised to hear the lecturer teaching Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas. It is the same thing I teach at my university.
What else have you observed?
Professors here interact with students a lot. We don’t have such a thing. Lecturers, they give information. They read their lectures. Here, I observed a class that was playing some games. It was unusual because I’m used to it being more serious. I would like to add some life in our classes too.
What have you enjoyed most about San Diego?
First one is weather. It’s already snowing in Moscow. My first host here was a really interesting woman Christine, who had traveled all around the world. She told us a lot of stories. I was there for two days with another girl from Ukraine. The first day, Christine took us to the beach. You can really feel how powerful the ocean is. It’s really calm there.
I also experienced my first real Halloween here. When I was walking around campus I saw people carving pumpkins and I asked, “What are you doing?” They explained and asked me if I wanted to make one and I said, “Why not?” So, this was my first Halloween pumpkin. At my host family’s house, I handed out candies. In Russia, there are no trick-or-treaters.
What do you plan to do after completing your PhD?
First of all, I’ll finish my Phd thesis and get a driver’s license. But I have no long-term plans. Russians more believe in fate than Americans. That’s a difference. Americans say you should take your life in your hands and achieve the American dream making sacrifices (like in the La La Land movie). In Russia, you should work hard, you should do your best, but everyone has a fate, so you shouldn’t be too nervous about the future because everything will work out how it’s meant to.