In his native Russia, Misha Barybin began doing chemistry research at age 16. So it’s no wonder that Dr. Barybin, associate professor of chemistry, strongly encourages University Honors Program students to start research early in their undergraduate careers.
“I have been helping freshmen and sophomores get research opportunities both inside and outside KU. The sooner they begin these activities, the better. I have freshmen working in my lab. By the time they’re done, they’re as good as graduate students,” he said.
The National Science Foundation has begun pushing students to start research earlier – after their sophomore year, instead of after their junior year, Dr. Barybin says. So that has made it easier for undergraduates to obtain research opportunities and begin to think about their careers.
“The research environment is becoming increasingly collaborative,” he said. “To be successful, they have to know what other areas of science will be relevant.”
Helping the students find their niche while keeping their research relevant is one of the reasons that Dr. Barybin became a Faculty Fellow with the Honors Program this fall. He is looking forward to working with future scientists, chemical engineers and pharmacists and pushing them to seek out research opportunities.
His Honors seminar this fall is focused on chemistry in the context of nanoscience and nanotechnology. He is asking the students if they think nanoscience will change their lives 10 years from now, and he will watch how their responses to that question may adjust through the course of the semester.
Although the Faculty Fellowship is new, Dr. Barybin has taught Honors general chemistry since the fall of 2008. He has served on scholarship preparation committees and reviewed Undergraduate Research Award proposals, as well.
“One thing I really like about Honors students is they’re quite open-minded in general. They’re extremely engaged. You can see that they really want to learn. They’re not afraid of asking questions, and I like that,” he said.
Dr. Barybin tries to prepare students for research right out of the gate in his freshman seminar by differentiating between primary and secondary literature sources.
“It’s important for them to have a clear picture of what we know for sure, what’s controversial, and what we don’t know yet,” he said.
When he is not teaching or researching, Dr. Barybin enjoys playing acoustic guitar, traveling abroad and spending time with his wife, Katya, and his sons, Anton and Peter, ages 14 and 9.
To provide research funding for Honors students to advance their careers, go to our Honors Giving Page.