Chemistry Graduate Student Ulugbek Barotov describes his research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.
Ulugbek Barotov is originally from Tajikistan, a small country located west of China with a population of 9 million people. He came to MIT in August of 2016, and is a member of Professor Moungi Bawendi‘s group. His research is focused on developing novel optoelectronic materials using molecular aggregates and quantum dots. Molecular aggregates have interesting photophysics that depend on the alignment of transition dipoles in the aggregates. In one type of molecular aggregates, radiative photon emission is much faster compared to the unaggregated dye. Ulugbek’s hope is to develop materials from these aggregates for ultrafast optical communication applications. In the second type of molecular aggregates, high energy blue photons can be converted efficiently to two redder photons. He hopes to couple these molecular aggregates with quantum dots to harvest high energy blue photons for solar applications.
As the subject of June 2019’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Ulugbek shares the thing he would make if he suddenly became a master at woodworking, the chance encounter that changed his life forever, and more!
- How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
I wanted to use my skills in organic and inorganic synthesis to access novel nanomaterials and study their photophysical properties. I found many of the projects in Professor Moungi Bawendi’s lab very interesting. So, I joined his lab.
- What game or movie universe would you most like to live in?
I would like to live in the universe of Hobbit and own a house similar to that of Bilbo Baggins. Perhaps one day I will be lucky enough to have a mark on my door, and go out for the adventure of a lifetime.
- What’s the most interesting documentary you’ve ever watched?
I recently watched a documentary called Blackfish (2013) and found it very interesting.
- If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I would spend this extra time learning to play instruments (perhaps starting with piano!).
- If you were on a 27 hour flight and could only watch one movie, what would it be?
I would watch Good Will Hunting (1997).
- What chance encounter changed your life forever?
As the only graduate student in Chemistry at MIT from Tajikistan, I would say getting into the high school that prepared me to come here was the greatest luck that changed my life forever.
- What irrational fear do you have?
I am terrified of snakes.
- If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
Not that I have the necessary skills, but I would become a soccer player.
- What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now?
My favorite book as a child was The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Of course, at that time, I read a simplified version of the book. Currently, my favorite book is War and Peace by Tolstoy.
- If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?
- What did you think you would grow out of but haven’t?
I thought I would start liking chocolates less when I get older. That has not happened, nor do I see it happening anytime soon.
- If you suddenly became a master at woodworking, what would you make?
I would build different kinds of models of houses and cars. Whenever I felt homesick, I would build a figure of my crowded family sitting around a table for dinner.
- What’s worth spending more on to get the best?
- What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?
Sushi!! Literally, everyone I know loves sushi. At every chance they get, they can’t stop telling me how great sushi is. I have tried multiple times to see if I start to like it, but they’ve all turned out in vain.
- What is special about the place you grew up?
There are so many natural places that are very beautiful and relaxing. Also, fruits and vegetables are very delicious, especially the ones from my father’s garden.
- If you were given five million dollars to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
I would create a museum about technologies of late 20th century and early 21st century.
- Who would be the best person you could be stuck in an elevator with?
Bill Gates. I would like to ask him where his motivation for grand generosity comes from, and how one can motivate other people, especially other billionaires, to commit for the well-being of humans and our planet. I would also like to ask how one could take education to every corner of the world.
- What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
The best vacation I have taken was 3 years ago before starting grad school at MIT. I loved spending a lot of time with my family, relatives, and friends. I visited some of the most beautiful natural places in Tajikistan.
- Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
SpongeBob SquarePants, Chandler from Friends, and Konstantin Levin from Anna Karenina
- What bit of trivia do you know that is very interesting but also very useless?
There are no clocks in Las Vegas casinos.
Many thanks to Ulugbek for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!