An Interview with Manuel and Ann Varela: Irina Petrovna Beletskaya—A Prominent Russian Organic Chemist

Jul 4, 2021 by

Policymakers in the field of science are unaware of the fact that knowledge and research are necessary to achieve revolutionary and useful results.”

—Irina P. Beletskaya

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Irina Beletskaya had a somewhat difficult childhood. When was she born, and what do we know about her childhood?

Irina P. Beletskaya is a prominent organometallic scientist known for her studies on various organic chemistry mechanisms dealing with metals and bond formation between carbon and other atoms.

On March 10, Irina Beletskaya was born in the city of Leningrad (later called St. Petersburg, Russia) in 1933. Twenty-two years later, Beletskaya graduated from Lomonosov Moscow State University’s Department of Chemistry. She earned the Candidate of Chemistry, the equivalent to a Ph.D. degree in 1958. In 1963, she took her Doctor of Science degree from the same university. She became a Full Professor of Chemistry in 1970 at Moscow State University.

She certainly must have had a difficult childhood, including the Siege of Leningrad in World War II. Beletskaya would have been between the ages of eight and eleven years old during this time of a Gerrman military blockade, which ultimately resulted in starvation and deliberate destruction of the city’s inhabitants. When presented with a set of questions, some personal, by an interviewer in 2004, her responses were relatively brief. She did not respond to some of the questions; among those was the question about her childhood experiences. When asked about her childhood and her memories of the war, Beletskaya replied, “Life was difficult rather than interesting; I remember the war very well; my father was a border guard.” That reply was all she had to say on the matter of her childhood. In March 2016, Beletskaya wrote a guest article in Chemistry-A European Journal. In it, she mentioned that hunger was her prevailing feeling for many years.

In school, Beletskaya liked literature and mathematics, but she did not consider either of these as potential careers. As an alternative, she entered the chemistry program at Moscow State University.

After graduation, she remained there for her candidate of science studies for the PhD-equivalent degree that she received in 1958 at the age of 25. Five years later, in 1963, she earned her higher doctorate, the Doctor of Science degree. In the Soviet and now Russian system, this degree is a prerequisite for a professorial position. Beletskaya was eventually appointed professor of organic chemistry at Moscow State University, the leading university of the Soviet and Russian higher education system. She became active in both research and teaching. Her career did not experience any pauses.

2) Organic Chemistry at Moscow State University seemed to start her career. But, for our readers, what exactly is “organic chemistry”?

Organic chemistry entails the scientific study of the interactions occurring in molecules that harbor carbon atoms. This field of chemistry deals with molecules that contain carbon and other atoms, like hydrogen and oxygen, in various combinations. See Figure 1. Such carbon-containing molecules are often termed organic compounds.

File:Anatomy and physiology of animals-organic compounds.jpg

Figure 1. Carbon-containing compounds.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anatomy_and_physiology_of_animals-organic_compounds.jpg

Beginning with the burgeoning years of the 19th century, chemists had grouped chemical compounds into two distinct classes: organic and inorganic. At the time, the chemists considered organic compounds to be based on parts of living organisms like plants or animals, whereas inorganic compounds were considered to be derived from non-living sources, such as minerals or lighter-than-air gases. Chemists had noticed that the organic chemicals were difficult to purify and were easily destroyed when heated or left to decompose, often turning into inorganic chemicals.

To account for these distinctive behaviors between the organic and inorganic chemicals, scientists had invoked the so-called “vital force” property held by the organic compounds. This vitalistic property predicted that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to convert an inorganic molecule into an organic one as the inorganics lacked the vital force necessary for the conversion.

However, the vital force theory was dealt a death knell when in 1828 Friedrich Wöhler, a German chemist, had been able to generate urea (an organic chemical) from ammonium cyanate (an inorganic molecule). Hence, the definition of organic chemistry was revised as the study of carbon harboring chemicals. Likewise, inorganic chemistry was thus the study of compounds in which carbon atoms were essentially lacking.

In modern times, organic chemistry occupies a central place on our planet. Carbon-carrying compounds surround all living organisms on Earth. Organisms on the planet are composed of organic molecules, like amino acids in our proteins or nucleic acids in our DNA and RNA. All living creatures on and under the Earth consume food containing organic chemicals. Such living beings involve organic molecules in our metabolic pathways that break up foods and make new molecules necessary for maintaining life. Organic molecules are used by living systems to conduct physiological actions, like brain cell firings and endocrine functions. Scientific investigators such as chemists, biochemists, physiologists, and molecular biologists utilize organic compounds to produce new products like medicines, and everyday items, like plastics, fuels cosmetics, paper, and food additives. With organic chemistry occupying such a primary place of relevance in our world, the study of carbon and its compounds as a scientific discipline is necessary for many dynamic aspects of the planet.

3) Now, her work was with “catalysts.” Why are catalysts important, and what were her contributions to this area of chemistry?

In the world of organic chemistry, catalysts are substances that enhance the ease of a chemical reaction. During a chemical reaction, the starting material, often called a reactant, is converted to a product. Quite frequently, chemical reactions, including those involving organic compounds, have to overcome an energy barrier for the reaction to go to its completion when making its final product. See Figure 2 for a plot of the reaction energy as a function of the reaction coordinate. A catalyst works by lowering the energy barrier, making the reaction proceed more readily than that without the catalyzing substance. With a catalyst, the reaction’s energy barrier is lowered, and the reaction can proceed more readily to its end. Without a catalyst present in the reaction mix, the energy barrier is higher and is quite often producing an insurmountable obstacle to the completion of the reaction.

File:Catalyst Energy Diagram.png

Figure 2. A diagram showing the lowering of activation energy by a catalyst. The activation energy is lowered by the presence of the catalyst, but the energies of reactants and products remain the same.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Catalyst_Energy_Diagram.png

There are several kinds of chemical catalysts for reducing the energy barriers to make reactions proceed better. For instance, acid catalysts enhance reactions by providing protons, whereas base catalysts act upon chemical reactants by removing protons. Another type is called the nucleophilic catalyst, which provides electrons that make reactions proceed more readily. Nucleophiles are chemicals or atoms with good sources of electrons. Metals are known to make good catalysts in a great variety of specific chemical reactions.

Beletskaya had focused a great deal of her research on metal catalysts. Examples of such metals included nickel, pallidum, platinum, and rhodium. She had made significant discoveries using these and other metals to facilitate the formation of chemical bonds between two carbons or between carbon and other atoms, called heteroatoms. In particular, Beletskaya focused her attention on the formation of complexes between metals and carbon or other atoms, such as hydrogen, during a type of chemical reaction called the addition reaction. In Beletskaya’s scheme, the addition reactions involved chemical activities between compounds with a triple bonded carbon-carbon moiety, called an alkyne, and another compound with a bond between two non-carbon atoms or a bond between hydrogen and one non-carbon heteroatom.

These types of addition reactions produced compounds with double bonds between carbons, called alkenes. Beletskaya had studied these sorts of addition reactions in which they produced intermediate structures called π-complexes. These π-complex intermediates were characterized by interactions between molecules with various carbon-carbon bonds and non-carbon atoms with a metal atom stuck in-between. Beletskaya was able to clearly define the reactions of molecules with carbon-carbon double or triple bonds in which metals formed so-called coordination complexes along the way during the reactions. Her work provided new evidence that such coordination metal-containing π-complexes served to activate the formation of multiple bonds during the chemical reactions. In certain cases, the π-complexes harbor π-bonds. See Figure 3.

File:HyperconjugationInSubstitutedAlkenes.png

Figure 3. Pi (π) complex bond structure.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HyperconjugationInSubstitutedAlkenes.png

4) “Green chemistry” is often associated with Beletskaya. What exactly is “green chemistry,” and why is it important?

The term green chemistry refers to the synthesis of needed chemicals using specific catalysts while generating no waste products. Beletskaya was interested in metal catalysts, with their powerful ability to facilitate green chemistry. Together, her studies of metal catalysts and the mechanisms for transition state intermediates had relevance in the fields of organic chemicals synthesis, medical chemistry, pharmacology, bioactive molecules, materials science, and molecular electronics.

Typically, conventional chemical syntheses frequently generated wastes and were inefficient in their product-manufacturing activities. These early chemical syntheses required many steps, producing a relatively large amount of wastes with little towards the payoff in making needed products. The green chemistry industry has been focused on reversing the balance of waste versus desired products, attempting to generate lots of products with no waste. The metal-based catalysts studied by Beletskaya played a tremendous role in generating critically needed chemicals using waste-free product reduction and, thus, advancing the field of sustainable chemistry.

In particular, Beletskaya took part in a green chemical process called hydrofunctionalization, which, in her case, involved adding a molecule composed of a hydrogen atom complexed with another atom (H-X) to a new molecule harboring a chemical bond composed of two carbons or a bond consisting of one carbon and a non-carbon atom. See Figure 4. Beletskaya used metal catalysts to drive these hydrofunctionalization reactions. Both the hydrogen and the X atom would form bonds with each of the two carbons or the carbon and its non-carbon atom. In her hands, while the H-X addition reaction proceeded, the production process was efficient, and virtually no wastes were generated.

File:Generic hydrofunctionalization reaction.png

Figure 4. Scheme for a generic hydrofunctionalization reaction.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Generic_hydrofunctionalization_reaction.png

Although the so-called Markovnikov structures are depicted in Figure 4 to indicate the phenomenon that during electrophilic additions of H-X to alkenes, the carbon with the most initial hydrogens attached to it receives the added hydrogen, the term is less frequently used in modern times. The so-called Markovnikov Rule, proposed by Vladimir Markovnikov, applies when the electrophile is a proton, and it may not always hold when the added atoms are non-hydrogens.

Beletskaya’s metal catalysts were a key feature in driving the green chemistry activities. Her studies focused on the short-lived transition stages made during these metal catalyst-driven addition reactions. She helped to clearly define the various intermediate stages by examining bonds made between the metals and the two carbons of alkenes or alkynes and between carbons that were bound to non-carbon heteroatoms. Some of these key stages involved the insertion of metal atoms with alkene or alkyne bonds in the molecular complexes.

Other features studied by Beletskaya focused on the three-dimensional atomic orientations of the carbons and heteroatoms during alkene and alkyne bond insertions involving the metal catalysts. In a related area of interest, she had studied catalytic hydrofunctionalization during the addition of a bond between phosphorous and hydrogen (P-H) to molecules with carbon-carbon alkyne bonds. She had defined these sorts of hydrofunctionalization reactions by determining the orientations of the atoms undergoing metal-carbon or metal-heteroatom bond formations during the intermediate transition stages. Studies like these and others by Beletskaya paved the way for the importance of metal catalysts in conducting green chemistry.

5) Beletskaya is also noted as endeavoring to eliminate the use of “chemical weapons” (I presume Agent Orange would be one example). Why are chemical weapons so dangerous, and what did she do to try to curtail these things?

Agent Orange was used as a defoliating chemical during the 1960s in the Vietnam War to expose the underlying landscape for better reconnaissance. Beletskaya was not directly involved with Agent Orange. It was, however, a generator of a contaminant commonly called dioxin, scientifically named 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo[b,e][1,4]dioxin, or TCDD. The dioxin chemical was immensely and chronically toxic to humans who had come into contact with it during its deployment or production.

Beletskaya was a longtime member of the so-called International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (called IUPAC) Committee in which she and her colleagues considered issues dealing with Chemical Weapons Destruction Technologies (CWDT). As a member of the IUPAC starting in the early 1980s, Beletskaya first served as the organization’s secretary, and later as its vice-president. She also became the president of IUPAC’s Organic Chemistry Division in the early 1990s.

During the 1980s, a worldwide push was made to eliminate the potentially dangerous stockpiles of unused chemical weapons that had been developed and produced during the Cold War. A ban on their use had been invoked, and the need to destroy the extant stockpiles became a pressing issue. Thus, new technologies were sought for the safe and efficient destruction of the world’s accumulated chemical weapons. In addition, so-called “non-stockpiles” became an issue. Such non-stockpiles of chemical weapons were to be found buried in old European battlefields from World War I in which specific chemical weapons had been used. Chemical weapons were also stored as abandoned munitions within the confines of military installations from the Great War. Similarly, chemical weapons were manufactured in vast quantities during World War II but were never used. Nevertheless, they remained as enormous unused stockpiles in chemical munitions, languishing in depots from military posts throughout the world. There was an immediate need to destroy these stockpiled and non-stockpiled chemical munitions. New technologies were needed to safely eliminate these agents of chemical warfare.

The first use of chemical weapons for modern warfare occurred during the Great War, in 1915, with the so-called poisonous gases, like phosgene and chlorine, which caused choking, and cyanide, which caused vomiting, and culminating with the infamous mustard gas, a vesicant that caused severe blistering. First used at the battle of Ypres in 1917 the mustard gas or liquid, with its chemical name bis-(2-chloroethyl) sulfide and colloquial name Yperite, caused a significant number of war casualties. When the vesicant was used as a gas it caused raised blisters on exposed skin. As a liquid mist or an inhaled aerosol, the Yperite mustard gas damaged the lungs in a long-lasting manner, if not permanently. Many of the chemical warfare agents, such as the cyanides, used metal catalysts to produce.

Another group of chemical warfare weapons served as nerve agents, such as isopropyl methylphosphonofluoridate, also known as sarin, or GB, for German agent B. See Figure 5. The Germans had called it Trilon-46 (and T-144). Sarin works by inhibiting the enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, which catalyzes the biochemical reaction converting acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter) to choline, plus acetate and a proton. Normally, acetylcholinesterase in a synaptic cleft cuts acetylcholine quickly, thereby ensuring that the nerve impulse proceeds only very briefly, like a millisecond or two. However, because sarin prevents the degradation of the neurotransmitter within the synapse, the post-synaptic ionic channels for sodium and potassium remain open for abnormally long periods, thus interfering with nerve impulses. A person who is exposed to even minute amounts of sarin or similar nerve agents can die within minutes from suffocation. Fortunately, sarin can be destroyed by the enzyme called paraoxonase, but an individual’s susceptibility to the nerve agent can depend on whether the specific alleles encoding the enzyme are genetically carried and expressed adequately.

File:Sarin Biological effects.svg

Figure 5. Biological effects of Sarin in the neuromuscular junction. Sarin (red), acetylcholinesterase (yellow), acetylcholine (blue).

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sarin_Biological_effects.svg

A related nerve agent discovered by the British was called VX in which V stood for venomous, and these chemicals were often referred to as V-agents. VX was both an organosulfate and an organophosphate compound. The Russian version of VX was denoted as V-gas.

Early attempts to dispose of mustard gas and liquid involved its drainage into the sea to dilute them. Such sea dumps were undesirable, if not simply impossible after a time, with the agents turning into jelly-like masses incapable of such drainage. Another problem was that many chemical weapons consisted of mixtures of chemicals and explosives, and the two components had to be separated first before disposal could be performed. Once separated, however, the individual components could be dealt with for their subsequent destruction. One new approach involved incineration by thermal decomposition followed up with oxidation at high temperatures for the chemical parts of the weapons.

Beletskaya was involved in the appraisal of studies devoted to various chemical means for the destruction of chemical warfare weapons, like the organophosphorus nerve agents. Some of these nerve chemicals were also called G-agents and included sarin and soman, among others.

Beletskaya had evaluated a chemical neutralization method for the destruction of VX. The overall process involved a two-step protocol consisting of chemical neutralization followed by long-term storage. Working with investigators from Russia and the U.S., Beletskaya had participated in the development of a proprietary reagent, called RD-4, whose composition is classified, but which was used to treat VX to deactivate its toxic effects. Next, the reaction mass was treated with bitumen, which is a viscous mixture of hydrocarbons and is commonly used in asphalt binding. The mixture of VX, RD-4, and bitumen was then heated to a temperature of about 135°C. Second, the investigators simply stored the encased neutralized agents for long periods.

Others used a modification of this two-step process, i.e., neutralization and storage, for G-agents, such as soman and sarin, and sulfur mustard agents. First, the investigators added a neutralizing chemical called monoethanolamine dissolved in water and heated the mixture to a temperature of 110°C. Next, they added a mixture of calcium hydroxide and bitumen and then heated the resulting mass to about 135°C. Next, the neutralized nerve agent was stored indefinitely.

These and other methods for eliminating chemical warfare weapons were not only seriously considered by Beletskaya but by other scientists from many participating governments as well. Hence, Beletskaya made significant contributions to the international community of organic chemists and other scientists. These heroic efforts turned out to be quite successful. However, much neutralization work endures being done to completely eradicate chemical weapons, especially from rogue nations and players.

6) She was not a “party member” and thus could not hold various positions. Apparently, in the Soviet Union (now Russia), one had to toe the line, so to speak, and follow the “party line.” How did this affect her work?

Indeed, Beletskaya was unable to enjoy an official career as a scientist in the Soviet Union because she had not become a member of the Communist Party. One of the major consequences of shying away from the Party was that she could not run her research laboratory as a principal investigator. Moreover, Beletskaya’s promotion to full membership of the Russian Academy of Sciences did not transpire for an embarrassingly long period. She had become a world-renowned organic chemist in the early 1950s, but the Academy was slow to embrace her. In 1974, Beletskaya had become a junior member of the Academy but did not enjoy full membership until 1992, at the age of 59.

Despite these setbacks in her career positions and Academy memberships, her research program has been monumentally successful. During an interview with Beletskaya in 2015, she noted that a coping mechanism involved paying attention to her evaluation of her work and the opinions of colleagues from other countries. Beletskaya has published over 1000 scientific articles in organic chemistry-based journals. Moreover, she has written several influential books, book chapters, and review articles. As a professor, she has trained close to a hundred Ph.D. students, and many of her trainees have gone onto prestigious careers of their own.

Her research program had led to major achievements towards our knowledge of basic organic chemistry. As mentioned above, Beletskaya made significant contributions to the chemistry of organometallic compounds, enhancing our understanding of metal-based reaction catalysis. Beletskaya is widely credited for helping to establish green chemistry methods for organic synthesis using metal catalysts. She is considered a pioneer in the development of green chemistry. Beletskaya has been widely noted for her contributions to the organic chemistry of rare earth elements. She also contributed to our knowledge of electrophilic additions to molecules containing carbon-carbon bonds. Her work made great strides in the chemical mechanisms involved in the acid scales of carbon- and hydrogen-containing molecules and the chemistry of carbanions and supernucleophiles, plus the substitution reaction mechanisms for aromatic nucleophilic- and vinylic-containing compounds.

Later in life, Beletskaya’s research studies have focused on nanochemistry, supramolecular chemistry, while also continuing her work with organometallic compounds. Recently, she has been involved in studies on the amination of aryl and heteroaryl halide compounds using metal catalysts, like copper or palladium. She used these types of catalytic approaches for the novel synthesis of structurally complex macrocyclic chemicals.

Interestingly, her laboratory developed a series of fluorescing chemosensory molecules which have wide application potentials. Beletskaya had published a series of papers dealing with carbon-hydrogen bond activation in porphyrin molecules using new catalytic driving systems. She also employed various compounds containing gold to modulate reaction catalysis. Similarly, Beletskaya used polymeric compounds harboring nanoparticles with copper or palladium for enhanced catalysis. She has also contributed to the chemistry of catalysis in the famous Lewis and Brønsted acid compounds. Overall, her scientific achievements in organic chemistry are far-reaching and still influence the directions of future studies of both applied and basic organic chemistry research.

7) Organic reactions and chemical reactions were studied by her and a mentor, Oleg A. Reutov. Why is it important to study these reactions, and what were her contributions?

The scientific research collaborations between Beletskaya and Reutov were productive. They were both were prominent researchers in the field devoted to the study of so-called “CH—acids.” They made many discoveries dealing with the “CH-Acidity.” In the time of Beletskaya and Reutov, around the 1960s and 1970s, the CH—acids were so named because the acids contained bonds between carbon and hydrogen (C-H bonds). Similarly, the research area of CH-Acidity dealt with the acidic dissociations of protons from the Brønsted acids.

In today’s parlance, the CH—Acids are known more commonly as Brønsted acids. Named after Johannes Nicholaus Brønsted, a physical chemist from Denmark, the Brønsted acids donate protons, while Brønsted bases take up protons during acid-base reactions. These acidic behaviors were in line with the ideas of Thomas Lowy, who along with Brønsted, introduced the concept called protic theory in 1923. According to protic theory, specific molecules can lose or take protons. At about this time, Gilbert Lewis had considered the so-called electronic theory of acid-base reactions. According to Lewis, specific molecules that donated electrons were bases, now called Lewis bases. Likewise, to distinguish them from the Lewis bases, molecules that accept electrons were known as Lewis acids.

Beletskaya and Reutov had focused their attention on the CH—acids because the hydrogen atoms of the C-H bonds were capable of being substituted by metal atoms, thus, forming bonds between carbon and the substituting metals. Hence, the resulting organometallic molecules had formed the salt versions of the CH—acids by taking on positively and negatively charged ions that interacted with each other during the chemical reaction processes.

In 1967, Beletskaya and Reutov had developed a method for measuring electrochemical reduction parameters in mercury-containing organic molecules, known generally as organometallic compounds. Such reactions involved the uptake (acceptance) of electrons by organomercury compounds. During the reaction, the bonds between mercury and carbon had decomposed during intermediate stages called transition states. These briefly-occurring stages involved the formation of a negative charge in the organic part of the organometallic compound. This property of the transition stages permitted Beletskaya and Reutov to study the acidities of the CH—acids. Using their experimentally derived acidity measurements, they could perform a variety of reaction kinetic calculations to understand their properties. For instance, they measured the rate constants of acid dissociations (proton loss) of the CH—acids. They also measured the dissociation rates of the metals (i.e., mercury loss) from the organometallic compounds.

Lastly, they studied the electrochemical reduction properties of these organomercuric compounds, i.e., their ability to take up electrons while simultaneously losing the metal atoms. This later work would result in a major contribution to organic chemistry reaction mechanisms for organometallic compounds. When these electrochemical reduction parameters were applied to mercury salts, Beletskaya and Reutov astutely deduced that the carbanions (carbons with a chiefly negative charge) had affinities for protons in much the same way as did the mercury salts for the protons. Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machines, the data favored this new hypothesis for electrochemical reduction of CH—acids and their resulting CH-acidities. Thus, in a 2008 tribute to honor Professor Beletskaya, it was reported that what Sir Christopher Ingold and Edward D. Hughes had done in 1935 for nucleophilic substitution reactions, Beletskaya and Reutov did for electrophilic reactions in molecules containing carbon atoms that were saturated with hydrogens. Sadly, while Ingold and Hughes are routinely mentioned in modern organic chemistry textbooks, neither Beletskaya nor Reutov are ever given such mention for their contributions to electroneucleophile chemistry.

8) While not winning the Nobel Prize, her work seemed to be acknowledged both in her country and internationally via conferences. So why does it seem necessary for scientists and researchers to attend meetings and share their work?

Scientific conferences are held typically on an annual basis around the world. Scientists gather to hear and discuss the often unpublished data of their colleagues. Conferences can vary in size, from small gatherings in intimate surroundings to discuss highly specific areas of specialization, to enormous congregations consisting of many thousands of attendees with individual symposia on wide areas of interest. Some conferences are highly prestigious, such as the Gordon Research Conferences, admitting only investigators who have made significant contributions to a scientific discipline. Attendees at these sorts of specialized conferences are often quite eager to listen to the keynote speakers who are often respected luminaries amongst their peers within their particular fields of study. Independent of whether the conferences are small or large, conference-goers also network, perhaps for initiating new collaborations or for interviewing potential recruits for graduate school, postdoctoral positions, or to work as visiting scientists at different laboratories.

Sometimes, specific conferences are held to discuss new areas of concern that can develop into serious ramifications for society and communities. Sometimes advances in science can have political implications. New scientific discoveries, like DNA cloning technology, genome editing, global climate change, or, as in the case with Beletskaya, the problems associated with chemical warfare weapons. We saw above how Beletskaya had participated in conferences devoted to the neutralization and storage process of elimination for various types of nerve agents. She had been involved with connecting a potential environmental contamination problem with its political consequences and with using science to discover solutions to these problems.

In 2018, Beletskaya and many of her fellow organic chemists attended a conference dealing with organic chemistry matters in Russia. Attendees included the various organic chemistry department heads from many academic institutions throughout the largest cities of Russia. One main purpose of the conference was to initiate new avenues of collaboration and cooperation between various experts in the organic chemistry fields.

At the conference, the organic chemists also decided to compile a history of the scientific developments in organic chemistry for each of the academic departments and write an extensive review of their findings. The article summarized the various discoveries of investigators from each of the major organic chemistry departments in the largest institutions throughout Russia. The resulting 215-page review paper was published in the Russian Journal of Organic Chemistry, a prestigious peer-reviewed international journal that has been in operation since the mid-1960s. For many years, Beletskaya has served as the editor-in-chief for this journal. Before the release of the 2018 review article, a related paper had been published in 2017 in the same journal. The 2017 review had summarized the entire 170-year Russian history of research discoveries in organic chemistry up to that time. The article also included the biographical information of the most prominent of these organic chemists, and Irina P. Beletskaya was featured on page 1335.

9) What have I neglected to ask about this female chemist?

Beletskaya has overseen more than seventy graduate theses and eight Ph.D. theses. She is married and has a son. Beletskaya is a successful scientist and researcher. She expressed well wishes to other women pursuing careers in the field of science in an article she wrote in the March 2016 edition of Chemistry—A European Journal. She made a point of stating that she was embarrassed when women are singled out as a special group or chosen to be on committees and the like simply to fill a quota. She believed that to be yet another form of discrimination. She wrote that the most gifted and creative women would be successful in their chosen profession if more women were selected to serve in state governments.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email