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Driven by curiosity

Chemistry-physics graduate follows ‘wise advice’ to graduation

special feature: Student Success 2019

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring 2019 convocation ceremonies.

By Kelly Foss

Kazakhstan native Andrey Zelenskiy originally planned to study chemistry and biology — but all that changed when he got to Memorial University.

“In high school, I hated physics with all my heart, but in my first year at Memorial, I had an opportunity to take Physics 1050 with Dr. James Munroe,” he said. “He reintroduced me to the subject in a way that left me possessed with unending curiosity and excitement.”

Mr. Zelenskiy was a constant visitor to Dr. Monroe’s office — not to get help, but to chat about physics and mathematics.

“At one point, Dr. Munroe told me I should do the Faculty of Science’s chemistry-physics joint honours program,” he said. “I decided to give it a try, and it was the best decision I’ve made. Throughout my program, Dr. Munroe continued to motivate me in my studies, and I will forever be thankful for his guidance and wise advice.”

Tops in province

Over the past four years, Mr. Zelenskiy’s keen interest has won him 21 different scholarships and awards, as well as six summer research grants.

But, he says his greatest achievement was receiving the Canadian Society for Chemistry’s Silver Medal, presented annually to the top student at each Canadian university entering their final year of chemistry studies.

“People that are driven by curiosity are always more motivated and excited about what they are doing than those who have the “perfect” plan.” – Andrey Zelenskiy

This summer, as he did for the past two, he will work with physics professor Dr. Guy Quirion studying the magnetic properties of materials at temperatures close to absolute zero.

The results of his research projects were presented at several conferences, including the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference at Carleton University in 2017 and the University of Alberta in 2018, as well as the Atlantic Undergraduate Physics and Astronomy Conference at the University of New Brunswick, also in 2018.

A new beginning

In September Mr. Zelenskiy begins a PhD program at Dalhousie University in Halifax. It’s a new beginning for the spring graduate on multiple fronts, as he’ll also be a newlywed, following an August wedding.

Andrey Zelenskiy will cross the stage at the Arts and Culture Centre on May 28.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“The best advice I can give anyone doing a science program is to keep your options open as long as you can — you might think you know exactly what you want to do, but this should never stop you from trying new things,” he said.

“From my own experience, people that are driven by curiosity are always more motivated and excited about what they are doing than those who have the “perfect” plan for their academic career.”

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