Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) Chemistry Student from Azerbaijan Pursues Scientific Career and Practices Arts in His Free Time
“KTU made me steer my career in the solar energy direction,” says Murad Najafov from Azerbaijan, a country with abundant natural resources and a highly developed petroleum industry. At the moment, Murad, studying chemical engineering master’s at Kaunas University of Technology, is already on his third internship abroad and says that he has no time to miss home.
While looking for his master’s, the talented student applied to numerous universities across Europe and Canada and was accepted by many of them with full or partial scholarships. However, without much consideration, Najafov chose KTU.
“The Chemical Engineering master’s programme seemed very relevant, and I saw many opportunities in Lithuania since its economy is booming,” says a KTU student from Azerbaijan, who studies his master’s with full funding and a scholarship from the Lithuanian state.
Currently, Murad is a visiting student researcher at The Adolphe Merkle Institute in Switzerland. This is his third internship during his studies at KTU. Last year, during winter break he went to INSA Toulouse University in France for an ECIU project, and the last semester Najafov was learning to synthesise solar cells at Tampere University in Finland, under the Erasmus+ traineeship programme.
Switched from petroleum to solar energy research
Coming from “the land of fire”, Azerbaijan, Murad was studying at Baku Higher Oil School for his bachelor’s. According to him, such a choice was very natural – Azerbaijan is rich in natural resources and the petroleum industry is very developed there. Actually, the world’s first-ever mechanically drilled oil well was dug in Azerbaijan, in 1846.
However, after coming to Kaunas, Murad made an important career-changing decision: “In KTU, I steered my career direction to the solar energy field, which is quite advanced in Lithuania.”
He joined a research group headed by Professor Juozas Vidas Gražulevičius and started working on the synthesis and development of new hole-transporting materials for perovskite solar cells.
“In this research group, I have everything I need for developing my skills as a researcher, including personal guidance and state-of-the-art laboratories. Since I am planning to pursue an academic career, this experience well aligns with my future career goals. I believe, that my studies at KTU immensely contributed to getting a position of a visiting student researcher at The Adolphe Merkle Institute in Switzerland,” says Najafov.
Overall, satisfied with his studies and the opportunities, Murad would like to have more social gatherings for students. However, he values communication with his fellow researchers and the support that he received from the University’s International Relations staff.
Found friendship in a lab setting
In 2022, when he first came to Lithuania, Kaunas was a European Capital of Culture. In that year, the city hosted more than 2 thousand events, and world-famous artists were holding exhibitions in Kaunas galleries.
“I am an artist myself – doing paintings and drawings. During the European Capital of Culture year, I visited all museums in Kaunas. The works of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis inspired me most,” admits Murad, a KTU student of chemical engineering.
According to him, both science and art require creativity: “Having an artistic mindset helped me a lot handling chemical synthesis. I believe chemistry is also an art.”
Kaunas impressed Murad with its beautiful nature. Coming from Azerbaijan, Najafov believes that the similar history of the past century makes our two countries similar, and our people understand each other well.
“Honestly, I didn’t experience any culture shock after coming here,” says Murad, who believes that Lithuania is a peaceful country, and people are ready to provide help and support.
Due to his hectic schedule, filled with internships and travelling, Najafov does not have time to go back home. However, he says that communicating with his fellow researchers and the supervisor saved him from homesickness.
“During the period of my master’s degree, my research group were like a family to me. Especially, my supervisor who was caring and advising not only with on my academic work but also all aspects of my life,” says Murad Najafov, who will graduate with MSc in Chemical Engineering this June.
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