Nastya Yefimenko, doctor

Nastya Yefimenko will try to tell you she is just a pre-med student. But the 17-year-old will only be revealing part of the story. For she was recently named the Best Young Scientist in Russia.

Sure enough, Yefimenko, who comes from Petrozavodsk, capital of the northern Karelian Republic (bordering Finland, see Russian Life, Aug/Sep 1999) is a student at Moscow State University, in the Faculty of Basic Medicine. She entered MGU after graduating from Petrozavodsk’s University Lyceum.

While still at the Lyceum, in 10th grade, Yefimenko took part in seven different Academic Olympiads, in everything from biology to literature. She took first and second place overall.

All students at the Lyceum are required to undertake a special research project. Yefimenko was assigned the topic of genetics. And, insofar as she was studying in the Lyceum’s mathematics department, she sought a project that would unite the two disciplines. And the work she completed was so groundbreaking as to attract the attention of Moscow scientists.

As Yefimenko summarized, “genetic research carried out in the Republic of Karelia allowed me to evaluate and forecast the spread of a serious hereditary phenylketonuria disease connected with the metabolism and affecting the central nervous system.” She was able to link high death rates with migration patterns in the republic and further showed a link between certain allergies and blood type.

Yefimenko presented her work in a national contest (starting at the school level and working up to the All-Russian level) called “Step into the Future.” She and two others students won the opportunity to represent Russia at an international competition in Amsterdam, where Yefimenko won the prize for “Best Young Scientist.” As a result, in December Yefimenko participated in an International Scientific Seminar for Youth, within the framework of the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm.

Yet Nastya still insists that she is not a genius ... just a student.

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