UTMN: UTMN Reports on Research Activities in 2020

Andrey Tolstikov, UTMN Senior Vice-Rector, presented the results of the University’s research activities in 2020 and the results of UTMN participation in the joint work with the West Siberian Interregional Scientific and Educational Center (SEC) at the UTMN Academic Council.

In light of the pandemic, 2020 was a challenging year, but research activities did not halt at the UTMN. University scientists have joined the study of the coronavirus. The team of mathematical biologists of the X-BIO Institute under the leadership of Evgeny Burlakov, Associate Professor, proposed a mathematical model to calculate the spread dynamics of the virus. The project was developed under the Russian Foundation for Basic Research grant “Viruses”. The findings were used to assess the economic consequences of quarantine. Alexander Zhuravlev, X-BIO Institute Associate Professor, developed an online resource “COVID-Plot” to visualize the dynamics and forecast the epidemiological situation in different countries of the world. An international group of physicists led by Professor Alexander Fedorets has developed a new software and hardware complex for studying the airborne virus transmission pathway based on a new physical phenomenon previously discovered at UTMN – a droplet cluster (2D aerosol).

In 2020 several new laboratories were created. Three new laboratories were opened under the Megagrant Program of the Tyumen Region Government. TerrArctic was launched under the leadership of Professor Yakov Kuzyakov (University of Göttingen, Germany). Professor Yevgeny Pidko (the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands) will run Digital Catalyst Lab. The Chief Researcher Denis Tikhonenkov (Papanin Institute for Biology of Inland Waters, Russian Academy of Sciences) will lead AquaBioSafe. Three laboratories were created based on the results of the grant competition held by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia. A Laboratory for the Antimicrobial Resistance (head researcher Alexey Vasilchenko), Laboratory for Ecological Plant Physiology and Experimental Phytoecology (senior researcher Larisa Ivanova), and a Laboratory for Sedimentology and Evolution of the Paleobiosphere (researcher Pavel Smirnov) will be opened. A new laboratory “Ideas. Contexts. Events” was created under the leadership of Professor Sergei Kondratyev at the UTMN Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities.

The West Siberian Interregional Scientific and Educational Center (SEC) supported eight projects of the UTMN X-BIO Institute dedicated to the biosafety of humans, animals, and plants. The projects cover a vast array of topics: from the search for new means of biological protection of plants from pathogens and pests to new software and tool solutions for the use of pesticides and herbicides in agriculture and forestry, the production of diagnostic multiplex biochips.

The University’s research budget in 2020 exceeded 705 million rubles. The university won dozens of new grants from leading scientific foundations of Russia and internationally. The UTMN became part of the World-class Scientific Center “New Digital Technologies” on the subject of the development of digital twins. The findings will be used in collaborative projects with the industrial partners of the university.

UTMN has developed its material and technical base for research. A new high-resolution tandem mass spectrometer with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography (GC) systems were put into operation at the Center for Collective Use “Rational Nature Management and Physical and Chemical Research”. Four super servers were purchased for bioinformatics tasks, in particular environmental metagenomics, as well as for solving complex problems related to artificial intelligence technologies. The peak performance in the deep learning scenarios of the new super server is 1300 teraflops.

UTMN has created conditions for the successful work of young researchers and postgraduates. In 2020, graduate students and researchers from prestigious universities such as the University of Copenhagen, St. Petersburg State University, Tomsk Polytechnic University, the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Novosibirsk), and other well-known scientific centers came to study and work at UTMN.

In 2020, 266 post-graduate students enrolled at the institute, 25 of which were international graduates. The number of state-funded places available increases annually. In 2020, there were 49 state-funded places, in 2021, there are 74, and in 2022, there will be 93.

Among the most important results of scientific research at UTMN in 2020 are:

− Development of a measuring method for the critical concentration of micelle formation of surfactants in aqueous solutions (Laboratory of Photonics and microfluidics under the direction of Associate Professor Natalia Ivanova);

− Adaptation of an Aeromicrofluidic Instrument Complex for the Study of Microbiological and Chemical Processes in a Single Microdroplet (Laboratory of microhydrodynamic technologies; Head: Professor Alexander Fedorets);

− Identification of the Properties of a Metabolite Produced by an Isolate of Pseudomonas Protegens, Including the Antibiotic Spectrum of Action (Laboratory of antimicrobial resistance; Head: Alexey Vasilchenko);

− Inventory of the taxonomic diversity of shelled ticks in the continental part of Southeast Asia (Research Group for Acarology; Lead Researcher: Sergey Ermilov).

The Laboratory of Archeology and Ethnography of Natalya Matveeva discovered a burial ground showing the advancement of the Proto-Magyars to the Urals in the 8th century A.D. Thus, a significant contribution was made to the reconstruction of the place and time of the formation of the Magyar ancestors. The research was conducted under the Russian-Hungarian grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.

Based on the U.S. News & World Report, UTMN is among the top-3 Russian universities in the subject rating Plant and Animal Science. The UTMN is included in the top 500 best universities in this field while taking 23rd place for international collaborations in the same subject area. Only three Russian universities are included in the subject rating: Moscow State University, St. Petersburg State University, and UTMN.

In 2020, priority areas for research where climate change, environment and the quality of life of people in the Arctic, biological safety of humans, animals, and plants, as well as the digital transformation of the oil and gas industry, following the strategy of scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation and the West Siberian Interregional Scientific and Educational Center.

UTMN took on a new challenge for research and development in 2021. The university will be working on the issue of decarbonization and the creation of one of the first carbon polygon in Russia. The university has accumulated a wide range of competencies in the field of soil biogeochemistry, soil zoology, physiology of photosynthesis, crop production, hydrology, atmospheric physics, mat modeling, geoinformatics, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for remote sensing of the Earth. A multifaceted experience in the field makes UTMN a trendsetter in creating scientific and methodological foundations for the organization of carbon polygons and training personnel to provide research on their basis.

Ivan Romanchuk, Rector of University of Tyumen, summed up the results of the university’s scientific activity in 2020:

“The research and scientific work at the university is seeing great development. We have taken on several new ambitious projects that will grow our scientific base and help us expand globally. The progress made will allow the university to enter the strategic academic leadership program Priority-2030 and be a strong competitor.”

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