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I grew up in the town of Oryol, Russia (also the hometown of Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Turgenev). My mom was a single mother supporting two boys, and I spent my hours after school collecting bottles to help her buy food. In middle school my chemistry teacher somehow recognized my talent and encouraged me to participate in science Olympiads– that’s how my interest in chemistry was first planted. Without her, I would probably be working in a Russian factory today. So I know the extraordinary difference a good teacher can make in someone’s life, and I aspire to help make that difference for others.

I studied chemistry as an undergrad at Moscow State University. I then moved to Canada, where I received my PhD from the National Institute for Nanotechnology at the University of Alberta.

Some fun facts about me: In college I played in a professional basketball team.  I love social Latin dancing, teaching Salsa and Bachata, and choreographing performances. During my postdoc in the Bay Area, I founded the Bay Area Bachata Explosion (BABE) Dance Team and organized a weekly dance social. I love traveling and exploring different cultures, and spent several months teaching nanoscience to high school students in South Korea as part of KAIST summer school for gifted children.  I also taught chemistry to underserved youth in the Bay Area as part of SMASH program at Stanford.

I have built not only the world’s smallest Mona Lisa, but also the world’s smallest Atomic Force Microscope.

I was honored to receive the Robert Dirks Prize in molecular programming in 2019 and was named Foresight Institute Fellow in DNA Nanotechnology in 2018.