An invitation to dream: how a scientist from Belarus, came to the US for a year and stayed forever

No need to explain what Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Know all about them. Unfortunately, these diseases – the scourge of humanity. Doctors have not yet learned to treat them. The whole therapy is, at best, is aimed at relieving symptoms so a person can lead at least a more-less normal life. And in order to find a radical remedy that finally helps in the prevention and therapy of serious diseases, requires detailed, fundamental research.

Приглашение в мечту: как ученый из Беларуси приехал в США на год и остался навсегда

Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Yermolenkov

It was such in the United States engaged Vladimir Ermolenkov, a scientist who immigrated from Belarus. Now, just embodies the dream in the American scientific community.

Vladimir Ermolenkov never thought that he once will have to go far from his native Minsk. He worked in the field of spectroscopy at the Institute of physics of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. And so it happened that his specialty was attracted Americans. He was invited to work a year at the University of Albany, the capital of the state of new York. Vladimir did not refuse this offer, because it gave him the opportunity to enhance their skills and to improve their financial situation. Therefore, in 2003, flew from overseas. Thought for a while, but it turned out that to stay in America permanently.

In Belarus, as well as in Russia, spectroscopy is considered to be a branch of physics. In the USA, it is a science at the interface between physics and chemistry. In Albany, Vladimir joined the scientific group that studies the mechanism of formation of amyloid protein fibrils. It is believed that they are guilty of developing such serious illnesses as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Proteins can be different in these diseases, but their mechanism of fibrillation are similar. They are deposited on the walls of blood vessels in the form of insoluble plaques. As a result, impaired blood flow, and other problems.

Приглашение в мечту: как ученый из Беларуси приехал в США на год и остался навсегда

Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Yermolenkov

Ermolenkov studied such unfavorable mechanism using spectroscopic methods. Investigated under what conditions, temperature, pH, the formation of amyloid. The research group in which he worked, got some interesting results, which have already been published in specialized scientific journals.

Scientists are still not precisely known the roots of the emergence of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Vladimir inclined to believe that one of the reasons is genetic. May play an insidious role, and adverse events, for example, falling and hitting his head, which provoke pathological processes in the body.

For comparison, he uses the example with the car. For example, in the wheel pierced the nail, which will soon lead to the fact that the wheel will go down. But the wheel, however, can be replaced, but the brain does, it person one. Therefore, it remains the only way to try to treat.

The majority of scientific research in the United States are carried out with funds allocated to governmental and non-governmental organizations in the form of grants. If scientists applying for grant, you work at a University, like Vladimir, they also need to lay the amount for education that is not only educational process, but also for various other needs.

On average, basic research in the United States stands out from a few dozen to a few hundred thousand dollars. Much more – millions of dollars – given to those scientists engaged in applied issues associated with the treatment of diseases.

Приглашение в мечту: как ученый из Беларуси приехал в США на год и остался навсегда

Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Yermolenkov

A new challenge

Vladimir is an expert, and it’s quickly noticed in the United States. After about six months he was approached by the Manager and asked if he agreed to work another year. Vladimir again and never gave up.

Two years later, when the contract ended, he still flew home. But only stayed there 6 months.

Apparently, he really skillfully mastered the methods of spectroscopy, because he was asked to return to the United States, all in the same University at Albany. He accepted the invitation and is still living in America for 17 years.

However, fundamental research was done a total of three years. By profession he is still an engineer-optician, and he was more drawn to technology. He was entrusted to lead the center for structural chemistry, University of Albany, which is part of the SUNY universities of the state of new York.

Ermolenkov – an indispensable worker in America have such a special name – essential employee. Even during the universal pandemic related to the spread of COVID-19, he continues to work, as it provides uninterrupted operation of laboratory equipment.

Приглашение в мечту: как ученый из Беларуси приехал в США на год и остался навсегда

Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Yermolenkov

As scientists move to the US

The procedure through which Ermolenkov pretty standard, although time-consuming. He applied for a green card as an outstanding scientist (outstanding scientist). By the way, this is the way many researchers who remain in the United States. This requires a proven level a PhD (equivalent of PhD), publications, and recommendations from known scholars.

Vladimir all this could be done without difficulty and became the owner of a green card, and after a few years and a us passport.

Vladimir notes that in any case does not support people who arrive in the United States on a tourist visa and remain illegal. Constantly hiding from immigration police, sleep anywhere, do not have any guaranteed rights – the kind of life he does not want anyone. Because all problems can be solved, it would be the only goal.

Language balance

America gave Vladimir is not only a favorite, well-paid job but also the family. In the United States he came alone. All the newcomers are English speaking if possible try to unite, to come together to communicate. The same company was in the University at Albany.

As explained by Vladimir, and thus arrived in the US from different countries and United by a common history of the past helping each other to cope with the stress that is experienced by all newcomers.

In one of these Russian-speaking companies he met his future wife, Natalia. She is Director of the language lab in College and the Professor who teaches Russian language remotely. Her research and publications on distance teaching languages and training teachers well known in the United States and Russia.

Now their son Daniel for 10 years. Grandfather from Russia calls it in Russian Danila. Parents try very hard to talk to the boy in Russian. However, English-speaking environment doing its job. At first Vladimir tried to convince the child that he does not know English and can speak only in Russian. While Daniel was little, he believed in “legend”. But when I grew up, I realized that dad’s still disingenuous. He knows English and was trying to “pull” the father of this language.

Приглашение в мечту: как ученый из Беларуси приехал в США на год и остался навсегда

Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Yermolenkov

Vladimir does not give up and still tries to instill in the child the Russian language. He says children in any case can not give a weakness, otherwise the way back will be gone, and Russian language will become only a vague memory of a strange dialect, which is why some parents say.

Where is the homeland?

Vladimir Ermolenkov recognized that in 17 years of living in the US he hasn’t fallen out of love with Belarus. It is his homeland. America he is grateful for all that she gives, for possibilities, for dreams are embodied here. But she still was not home.

Every year Vladimir definitely fly to Minsk for two weeks. Only this year due to the coronavirus his trip was cancelled. He bought the tickets on March 14, and March 11, flights between the US and Europe were suspended.

The head of Vladimir American delicately, but clearly gave to understand that if it is a long time “hang” somewhere in the United States, there can be problems at work. In America a very tough competition, people try to hold on to your seats, especially if they are good. So Vladimir, having heard the warning, decided to postpone his vacation.

Any epidemic and even pandemic has come to an end. And everything is back to normal.



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