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MSU feels like home in many ways for Mikhail Bobylev

Mikhail Bobylev's childhood curiosity took him from the pages of books to discovering his life's mission.

"My parents had a huge library, and growing up I read anything and everything," Bobylev said. "Around age 12, I happened to find a library book on chemistry, and I became fascinated with the way you create organic molecules. It's just like Legos where you can create anything. It was then that I decided I wanted to be a research chemist, specifically organic chemistry."

He obtained a master of science in chemistry from Moscow State University and later a doctorate from the Institute of Plant Protection Chemicals, both in Moscow. Bobylev worked as a research scientist at the Federal Institute of Crop Protection Chemicals for 20 years.

After the Soviet Union collapse in the early '90s, funding for the sciences diminished, and Bobylev began to work on realizing his second dream. "I always wanted to come to the U.S.," he said. "There were wonderful books about the U.S. published in the Soviet Union; I liked this country long before I came here."

From 1993 to 1997, he was a visiting research professor at Montana State University in Bozeman, assisting in plant pathology. He then moved to Mercer University in Atlanta and designed compounds for crop protection. In 2001, he was a visiting assistant professor at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga.

Bobylev came to Minot State University in 2002 as an assistant chemistry professor, allowing him to teach, mentor, research and write grants.

"If your work is fun and interesting, that is what is exciting. Science and research are more exciting than anything else," he said.

"My father was a construction engineer and he told me his job was about making, designing and developing things. ‘Your mind never stops; it keeps working,' he would say. That's something I find true in my work: sometimes when I sleep, molecules come to my mind; I turn and twist them in my sleep."

Fortunately for Bobylev, his wife, Lucy, shares his commitment as his research assistant.

"For 20 years, my wife has been a passionate member of the team. We guide students — they are able to pick up something from me and something from her. The organic teaching lab has a ‘homey atmosphere,'" he added.

Bobylev is content at MSU and in the community.

"North Dakota is a perfect place for a scientist to be," he said. "It is beautiful, quiet, everything is close, there is no crime, and I enjoy that I can walk to work."

"We like the students at MSU. They have an excellent work ethic," he said. "It is the perfect combination."