Chemistry professor from Russia finishing first semester at OU


Nicole Morsfield

Dr. Alexander Rusakov, assistant professor of chemistry, just started his career at OU this semester.

Dr. Alexander Rusakov, assistant professor of the chemistry department at Oakland University, is finishing up his first semester of teaching at OU.

Rusakov began his college career in Russia. After receiving his master’s degree at Moscow State University, he moved to the U.S. to further study his field. He has received Ph.D. from both Nuclear Physics Institute and Rice University, after which he worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan (U of M).

Though he decided to move to the U.S. to continue his academic career and to start his teaching career, he said his family is still in Russia. He mentioned the hardest part of doing so was the physical separation from his family in Russia.

After the completion of his research at the U of M, he was offered his current position at OU in August of 2019. Currently, he is teaching General Chemistry I class.

“It’s not easy, because honestly, the phrasing of contents and grading tests take a great deal of my time,” Rusakov said. 

Rusakov hopes to find improvement in his students over the course of the semester. According to him, this is what drives him to be a better professor and makes him feel rewarded.

As his teaching career has begun, he said one of the most important keys in his career is to accommodate his students’ desires and goals they want to achieve by the end of the semester.

Isabella Mahuad, a freshman at OU, is one of the students in Rusakov’s General Chemistry I class.

“Professor Rusakov is really involved in helping students,” Mahuad said. “He extends his office hours pretty frequently before quizzes and exams in order to make sure everyone can get help if they need it. He also puts a lot of effort into his PowerPoints and making them interesting.”

According to Mahuad, she has been provided with many opportunities and resources from Rusakov throughout the semester. She didn’t forget to express her gratitude toward Rusakov for his effort he has put into the class.

“His class takes a lot of work to do well in, but he is always willing to help,” Mahuad said. “I feel that I’ve learned a lot in a short period of time.”

Aside from teaching, Rusakov has also been involved in research called, “theoretical chemistry of heavy elements.” He mentioned that his research mainly focused on quantum mechanics to describe molecules and materials.

Finishing up his first semester of teaching, he added that his goal for the semester is to work on his time management. From being a researcher working under someone else to now being on his own and having the responsibility on how he uses his freedom, time management is a crucial change in condition he experienced, according to Rusakov.

For his students struggling, Rusakov gave three pieces of advice to help them overcome the common problems they experience in class throughout the semester.

“Get enough sleep and eat on test days, never think the questions you are trying to ask are stupid and always use my office hours if there’s any questions,” he said.