Leading Russian Scientist Lauds UT’s Science Leadership

KNOXVILLE — One of Russia’s leading scientists visited the University of Tennessee Friday, leading a roundtable discussion with some of UT’s top scientists and giving a lecture on U.S.-Russian scientific relations.

Dr. Evgeny Velikhov

Dr. Evgeny Velikhov, president of Russia’s Kurchatov Institute and vice president of the Russian Academy of Science, came to UT to learn more about the university’s scientific efforts and find ways to increase connections with the Russian science community.

In his address to faculty, staff and students, Velikhov highlighted projects that were examples of U.S.-Russian scientific cooperation through the years. He emphasized GLORIAD, the global ring supercomputing network based at UT, as a prime example of cooperation between the two countries.

“I am happy for the support of the University of Tennessee for this project,” he said. “This is exactly what we are looking for.”

The network, which began as a link between the U.S. and Russia, has since grown to include Canada, China, the Netherlands and most recently Korea, added this fall. The speed of the network enables international scientific collaboration on a previously impossible level.

“Without [GLORIAD], it would be impossible to analyze the data we need,” Velikhov said.

l-r: Former NSF Program Director Steven Goldstein, UT Chancellor Loren Crabtree, Dr. Evgeny Velikhov, GLORIAD Co-Principal Investigator Natasha Bulashova, GLORIAD Director/Principal Investigator Greg Cole

The roundtable, which included a number of UT’s distinguished professors, covered a range of topics befitting Velikhov’s diverse background — from nuclear energy to the evolution of Russia’s science community at the end of the Cold War.

Velikhov remarked on his election as president of the Kurchatov Institute in 1989 as a landmark democratic moment in his scientific background, saying, “I felt myself completely free from rules. I was elected.”

Velikhov was asked about his role in the cleanup of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, in which he played a significant role.

“The lack of experience in dealing with such things led to inefficiency,” he said, but went on to note that the lessons learned from the cleanup in Chernobyl have led to more efficient and safe ways to dispose of waste.

Asked about science education in Russia, Velikhov focused on the ability of Russian students to use new opportunities for entrepreneurship in applying their scientific knowledge.

“In Soviet times, there was no profitability for good careers without entrepreneurship,” he said.

During his visit, Velikhov also met with UT President John Petersen, Chancellor Loren Crabtree and Vice President for Research David Millhorn.

Contact: Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409)