Alexei Kavokin: Artsakh's international scientific integration is very important

Alexei Kavokin
Alexei Kavokin

Photo: personal archive

Prominent physicists from around the world gathered in Artsakh to discuss the recent achievements and developments in the broad field of quantum condensed matter physics. Around 50 experts from over 10 countries had applied for participation in the international conference entitled “New Trends in Quantum and Mesoscopic Physics”, held in Stepanakert from June 28 to July 2. The conference was proposed by a well-known specialist, professor Alexei Kavokin of the University of Southampton and Saint Petersburg State University.

In an exclusive interview to Mediamax Alexei Kavokin told about results of the conference and possible ways of developing science in Artsakh.

How did the idea of holding a conference on Quantum and Mesoscopic Physics in Artsakh come about?

With my colleagues from the Mediterranean Institute of Fundamental Physics and the Quantum College of Yerevan, we are frequently organizing scientific events (international conferences or schools) in Armenia, mostly in Tsakhadzor. Last year, I have been awarded by the Honorary Professorship from the Russian-Armenian University. Some of my colleagues from Italy, UK, France and Russia came to the ceremony. Then we went to Tsakhadzor for an international school.

During one of the round-tables in Tsakhadzor, the idea of a large scale international conference in Artsakh has been born. It originated from Dr. Kamo Atayan, who knows Artsakh very well, and Professor Hayk Sargsyan from the Russian-Armenian University. I was more than happy to support this idea. We have immediately formed an international Program committee and started the work. It was a significant challenge to organize a high-level conference on “New trends in Quantum and Mesoscopic Physics” having just 6 months for the whole preparation work. The enthusiastic and dedicated effort from many colleagues in Artsakh, Armenia and Russia made it possible.

Had you been in Artsakh before the conference? How did you learn about the country?

My first visit to Artsakh was in 1998. I knew about it very well: by my mother's (Nina Madatova) side my family comes from Artsakh. The legends of this beautiful land and its history were always alive in our family. I have visited Artsakh again about 5 years ago, then in April this year, when we started the work on the organization of the International conference.

I had a privilege to meet remarkable people in Artsakh, and all of them were glad to help!

All together, we realized this little miracle, and I am very proud of it.

Are you acquainted with the level of science, in particular physics in Artsakh?

I have visited the University of Stepanakert and one of the schools specialized in physics and mathematics there. I had many meetings with the researchers and physics teachers working in Artsakh. I believe, there are many talented people in this country, and some disciplines of physics, in particular, theoretical physics, should flourish there. A better international integration is needed to allow talented young physicists from Artsakh to take part in major international projects.

What is the role of similar conferences in the development of science in Artsakh?

The role of prestigious international conferences is hard to overestimate. For the local scientific community it is a unique opportunity to meet and start collaborating with world-leading scientists. For the world-leading scientists this is a unique chance to visit Artsakh and see by their own eyes how quickly this country develops.

The conference gathered a number of international scientists. What are their impressions about Artsakh and the development level of science in the country?

As far as I know, everyone remained deeply impressed with what we have seen in Artsakh, with the beauty of the country, the hospitality of its talented people. It has been an unusual conference: a lot of time was dedicated to the cultural and social events, excursions, informal meetings and discussions. My colleagues enjoyed this, and I am confident that they will keep very good memories of this unique event.

Trainings for school teachers of physics have also been organized during the conference. What kind of trainings were those and what knowledge did the teachers acquire?

We have brought to Artsakh a group of physics teachers from several famous schools specialized in physics and mathematics. The Director of the Physical-Technical school of St-Petersburg delivered a very impressive master-class. The physics teachers from the Presidential lyceum N 239 that is the highest ranked school of Russia and from the internationally famous Quantum college of Yerevan gave lectures for the school teachers. Also, several active researchers, including myself, gave talks for the teachers. And many teachers attended also the purely research sessions of the conference. I believe, it is very important for the communities of teachers and researchers to come together on a regular basis, to exchange ideas, to discuss new methods of teaching physics at school.

Alexei Kavokin Alexei Kavokin

Photo: Minister of Education, science and sport of Artsakh

How would you generally assess the work and results of this conference?

I believe, it has been a stunning success. So many high-level physicist and talented teachers took part in this conference! It was a challenging project, not easy to organize, but it has been crowned with an impressive success. The international resonance of the meeting is very significant. Azerbaijan has already threatened to put all its participants on a "black list". I must say, I am proud of being in this "black list", this certifies that my work and the work of my colleagues was not in vain! 

In your view, what are the best ways of developing science in Artsakh? 

The international integration is one of the best ways, in my opinion. This may go through the organization of regular international scientific events, schools and research meetings. It would be great to attract a few internationally recognized Armenian scholars for a part- or full-time work at the University of Stepanakert. This would motivate the students to remain in their country and help building new labs and research centers in Artsakh. 

Do you consider further cooperation with Artsakh and what would be your contribution in the country’s mission of keeping up with international scientific developments?

I would be most glad to come back with new projects, new international events and new ideas. On the way back to Yerevan, we were discussing an opportunity of the organization of a new large scale international event, probably in a format of the International school on New Trends in Physics. It would be organized for a wide international audience of Master and Bachelor students, PhD students, physics teachers. The speakers would be world-leading experts in different branches of modern physics and prominent professors of the best high schools. I believe, we shall be able to organize such an event by April 2020, if everything goes well.

Marie Taryan talked to Alexey Kavokin


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