You may think that for big change, one would need to be at a big institution.
But a Minot State University professor is breaking the mold.
Outside-the-box thinking at our small university has been recognized by the U.S. patent office.
Jennifer Thorgramson tells us that bigger is not always better.
In Minot State University's centennial year, there is now something new to celebrate.
One professor in the chemistry department now holds a U.S. patent --- a first for Minot State.
(Dr. Mikhail Bobylev, Minot State University Associate Professor of Chemistry) "It all started with research on new anti-fungal compounds. This is something that I have been doing for quite awhile: designing new medicines against fungal diseases, both in humans and agriculture because it's a problem there as well. In the process we were working on the method of making them - that's a purely chemical problem, how to make them faster more efficiently..."
Admittedly, I'm not a chemist, and I was intimidated reading through the abstract.
(Dr. Mikhail Bobylev, Minot State University Associate Professor of Chemistry) "There is no reason to make anyone scared of chemisty."
In short, Dr. Bobylev and his students were working with the Leukart Reaction --- a tried and true method more than a century old that Dr. Bobylev says is still frequently used in the industry.
The traditional process takes 10 to 20 hours.
But in Dr. Bobylev's lab, it takes less than 15 minutes --- saving time and in turn, money.
(Dr. Mikhail Bobylev, Minot State University Associate Professor of Chemistry) "It's a good, old established process. The only problem is time. Our improvement is in time."
(Kaylee Dockter, MSU Junior Biology/Chemistry Major) "It was really neat to do the reaction. I don't know if you ever got to see it but it's really cool. For the reaction that I got to see, sometimes there's color changes. Sometimes there's oily droplets that precipitate. With mine, it turned bright yellow, and that was something that wasn't expected to happen so that was really cool."
Dr. Bobylev's love for organic chemistry began in childhood.
As a professional researcher, he holds 16 or 18 patents in Russia.
After twenty years, he made a career change for Minot State University in 2002.
(Dr. Mikhail Bobylev, Minot State University Associate Professor of Chemistry) "In a large university you have a production plan, produce articles, do this... And you, most of the time you're working for funding. Here I can really think about what I want to do, what could be interesting, what could be interesting to the students. And the is no real problem with that."
And through Dr. Bobylev's work, Minot State is now on the map in the U.S. patent office.
(Dr. Mikhail Bobylev, Minot State University Associate Professor of Chemistry) "It was interesting that we were still able to do it here at a small university which I think is quite remarkable."
(Kaylee Dockter, MSU Junior Biology/Chemistry Major) "Some people think that they have to go to the big universities to get the full experience, to get the 'real thing,' but little do they know that the science program here is a gem. It's absolutely great. That's why I'm going to Minot State."
(Dr. Mikhail Bobylev, Minot State University Associate Professor of Chemistry) "Here, all the undergraduate students have the opportunity to do research. They like it. I like it. It's fun!"
In Minot, Jennifer Thorgramson, KX News.
Dr. Bobylev began the patent process in 2008.
He also holds patents in Russia and Finland.