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Ulkar Aghayeva
Graduate Student

I was born in Baku, "the City of Winds", in Azerbaijan, "the Land of Fire", and lived there for the first 18 years of my life. I graduated from Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia, majoring in Biochemistry (specialization: Bioorganic Chemistry). Five years I spent in Moscow mean for me, first of all, rich and lively academic life, unforgettable experience of multicultural communication and warmth of friendship with my peers. And, of course, my lab - Laboratory of Molecular Immunology (headed by Prof. Dr. Deyev) at Shemyakin & Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry. My research here has been dedicated to a biophysical problem of self-assembly of nanoparticles (e.g., magnetic and fluorescent) mediated ("assisted") by biomolecules attached to their surfaces (i.e., using protein‒protein or protein‒small ligand interactions such as barnase‒barstar, streptavidin‒biotin, and antibody‒antigen pairs). The ultimate goal is to design hybrid nanoparticle-biomolecule constructs that are amenable to controllable assembly under various conditions, including physiological ones. Such nanoscale multifunctional structures have the potential to be used as theragnostic agents for medicine, as biosensors, etc.  Another project I have worked at involved genetic engineering manipulations with a magnetite-binding protein from a magnetotactic bacterium and study of this bacterium in culture. My honours diploma thesis resulted in two papers, and I am glad to have an experience not only in lab work but also in delivering ideas behind that work in the format of a scientific communication.

Although my previous research has had little to do with fundamental molecular biology, this is what I would love to delve in during my studies at Columbia. I am keenly interested in molecular neuroscience and sensory physiology as well as in developmental biology. Given the diversity of research labs available to rotate in, I hope to be able to find my final destination, where the scientific problem I will deal with will absorb me completely.

In my free time, I enjoy playing piano, and especially works by Rachmaninov, whom I admire. That is a great outlet for my musical endeavours.

I look forward to exploring the academic and cultural life of New York and making new friends at Columbia.

 

Ulkar Aghayeva
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