A future Turkmen scientist in search of a solution to plastic pollution
February 10, 2023
All over the world, women and girls are leaders and agents of change, mobilizing action for climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Many of them contribute to the fight against climate change through their scientific work and innovative approach to finding solutions to the climate crisis.
Ogulshirin Tacheva is a fourth-year student studying biotechnology and ecology and environmental management at the Oguz Han Engineering and Technology University of Turkmenistan. Since her childhood Ogulshirin loved nature and dreamed of contributing to the fight against climate change.
All over the world, engineering is one of the fields most dominated by men, and women tend not to choose this field of study or drop out before graduation. Ogulshirin confirms that some of her friends did not share her interest in science and engineering and have chosen more gender stereotypical professions. She proudly states that her parents positively reacted to her career choice and fully supported her desire to study science to protect nature: “My parents helped me choose my path of development and I think that without their support and care I would not have succeeded. They kept motivating me and encouraging me to never give up in face of any challenges”.
Ogulshirin parents were incredibly proud and happy for their daughter when, last year, she took part and won 1st place in a student research competition entitled "Progressive and modern method of using recycled materials in everyday life" among students of Turkmenistan.
The competition, held on the occasion of the World Cities Day, was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/GEF/Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan project "Sustainable Cities in Turkmenistan: Integrated Green Urban Development in Ashgabat and Awaza” jointly with the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan with the aim to develop the creative and innovative potential of young future ecologists to promote sustainable use of natural resources, rational consumption and waste minimization.
“I was very glad that UNDP and the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan highly acknowledged the results of my scientific research and thereby motivated me to continue working in this direction,” - said Ogulshirin. “This award is not only my achievement, but rather the result of support and guidance from my teachers and classmates.”
Ogulshirin started her research work from the first year of study, striving to find new methods of waste-free production and plastic waste management to maintain healthy ecosystems. A young first-year student began her research work by collecting information about the production of fuel from plastic to convert plastic waste into energy.
Further, having studied all the methods existing in the world, Ogulshirin began to create her own model for recycling of secondary raw materials. With the support of her teachers and local engineers, she developed a trial installation of a pyrolysis reactor, which made it possible to obtain liquid fuel, combustible gas and construction materials.
To increase the economic benefits of this project, the young future woman scientist decided to improve the system and use the resulting combustible gas as fuel for the device and use the resulting obtained resin as a base for building material.
Ogulshirin is currently working on her thesis and plans to continue her work on the development of a waste-free production system in Turkmenistan. She is also an active member of the research center "Environmental Biotechnology".
Ogulshirin competed and won the UNDP contest, being 8 months pregnant. Now, three months later, she is the mother of a little girl: “I want my daughter to grow up with the desire to love and protect nature, and I hope that my achievements will inspire her on this path,” – said Ogulshirin.
After graduation, Ogulshirin plans to continue her education in the field of ecology and engineering and enroll in a master’s programme. “I have big plans, and I want to open my own plastic waste recycling plant. If oil is used for the production of plastic products, then the process can be reversed and fuel can be obtained from plastic waste to minimize pollution,” – Ogulshirin said.
Ogulshirin Tacheva is one of the few who are trying to protect people and the planet from plastic pollution with the help of science. She never gives up and boldly moves forward to achieve her goal. “We, as women scientists can play an important role in finding solutions to climate change and moving everyone forward towards a sustainable future for everyone.”
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