'Meet our grantees' 1: Olga Tsurtsumia from the Georgian Technical University (GTU)
First portrait of our 'Meet our grantees' series in which we present beneficiaries of our EaP PLUS grants to attend brokerage (networking) events.
1. What can you tell us about you?
My name is Olga Tsurtsumia and I’m from Georgia. This is how I write my name in Georgian language: ოლღა წურწუმია. I was born in Sokhumi, Abkhazia -one of the most beautiful regions in Georgia to my opinion- but actually, I consider myself as a global citizen. I believe that science has neither borders nor nationalities and that is one of the exciting advantages of being a scientist.
I work at the Georgian Technical University (GTU), in Tbilisi, since 2003. I have been interested in mathematics and physics since my childhood and when the time came for me to choose a profession, I became a student at the department of Engineering, Physics, and Studied Materials at the GTU and I was absolutely sure of my decision.
'Materials Science' is something I am very passionate about. Without it, none of the engineering or technological breakthroughs achieved by humans would have been possible. Other than materials science, I am keen about engineering and all kinds of technologies, and many other things like cultures, travels, painting and fashion.
2. What can you tell us about your academic and professional background?
I did my Bachelor’s and Master’s studies in Engineering Physics and I chose Materials Science as a topic for my PhD and thus, as a future profession. I study high temperature resistant alloys which are used in power generation systems and many other engineering fields. I am very proud to be an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow (2009) as well as being awarded with Fulbright scholarship twice (2013 and 2018). Both of those programs were incredible opportunities for me to work internationally for a long term period, respectively in Germany and in the US. I was active in many nationally funded projects as well. Every year I try to attend at least two scientific-research dissemination events and publish papers on the experimental results recently obtained. I believe that international recognition is the key to success in my field.
3. What is your current professional situation?
At the moment I work at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) and as a Fulbright fellow. I investigate structural peculiarities and high temperature properties of the cast iron coated with aluminum slurry. I simultaneously hold a position of senior scientific researcher back in GTU (Georgia) and I plan to share the experience and knowledge that I gained in the USA with my colleagues and students upon my return. I also collaborate with many European researchers in the field of my expertise. Together with them, we have already successfully accomplished one FP7 (Horizon 2020’ predecessor) project, a couple of years ago. I was working closely with professors from France, Germany and Spain (see the link). We are still in touch and plan to continue our collaboration in the future too.
Olga's poster for the EUROMAT brokerage event, which she was able to attend thanks to the EaP PLUS grant. The poster summarizes her research project.
4. What is the focus of your scientific research project?
At the Republic Center for Strutural Research, where I work in GTU, we study FeCrAl system of alloys. High temperature materials are very important for many fields of engineering. FeCrAl alloys for instance have a proven track of the outstanding high temperature corrosion properties. They are aluminum oxide formers when exposed to the high temperatures, and over the operation time, eventually, the depletion of main oxide former element (Al) takes place causing deterioration of the material due to the breakaway. At that point, the accelerated growth of the non-protective Fe rich oxide begins. The solutions of the problem we see is in an additional “refilling” of Al reservoir, constantly consumed from the system for the formation of oxide, or in sealing the material with already preformed alumina and deliver it ab extra. In the work presented at the EUROMAT event, the attempt to realize the latter by two ways, involving slurry aluminization as well as Electron Beam - Physical Vapor Deposited coatings, was successfully made. Other than FeCrAl system of alloys we study other different materials too. We apply various protective coatings onto the less resistant substrates and try to improve their performance at the elevated temperatures and thus make them more durable. We run a lot of high temperature oxidation experiments in our labs. The oxidized specimens and their microstructure afterwards are studied by the scanning electron microscopy, auger electron spectrometry, X-ray diffraction and other methods that are available in our center. This kind of research gives images of materials microstructure at very high resolution and enables us to see the very tiny details in the structure. Then the scientific interpretation is being done taking into account the high temperature kinetic data.
5. What were you able to achieve/which event were you able to attend thanks to the EaP PLUS grant?
With the EaP PLUS grant, I was able to attend the biennial scientific event EUROMAT that was held in Thessaloniki, Greece between 17-22 September 2017. In the frame of this conference, I was able to attend a brokerage (or ‘networking’ event) where I presented a poster about my research achievements. In fact that was the first brokerage event I had ever attended by then and it was something new and surely very exciting. I met with many peers from Europe and had constructive conversations with them. We even planned to keep in touch and when the possibility will arise, to write a project together and thus collaborate in a long term basis.
6. In which way did the EaP PLUS grant contribute to support your scientific research project?
This grant is a wonderful opportunity for researchers from Georgia and other EU neighboring countries to get involved into the brokerage events and especially into the ones that are combined with large scientific conferences like the one I have attended. It brings multiple benefits and it is very productive. The way it works is that one can invite the interested matched researchers to their poster and talk in more details about the common scientific interests, plan future collaboration and exchange ideas.
Olga, standing in front of her poster at the EUROMAT brokerage event, which she was able to attend thanks to the EaP PLUS grant.
7. What are the next steps of your scientific research project (where do you see yourself in the next 5 years)?
I definitely see myself staying in Academia and pursuing science in the prospective of many years from now. The technologies are developing and changing fast and we, scientists, must follow them carefully and keep a finger on its pulse in order to be up to date and do studies which are topical, urgent and contemporary to that particular moment. We have to face new challenges and aspire to the new achievements in what we do best. I have many plans, ideas and thoughts which I would like to realize. One of those for instance is that together with my French collaborator, I plan to participate in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and also to work on other projects to submit to Horizon2020 and Horizon Europe later on. At the moment our laboratory (Republic Center for Structural Research of GTU) is involved in one multinational project which has been submitted to the Horizon2020.