From the logical aspect, to the gaping mysteries and everything in between, science is all about putting the puzzle together. And for Dmitri Sobolev, that’s half the fun.
Science has always been a part of life for the University of Houston-Victoria assistant professor of biology.
“My mom was a scientist. It was hereditary,” he said with a chuckle. “I heard that sort of discussion ever since I was too young to understand what it meant. I guess you could say it was a family thing.”
Sobolev was born and raised in Russia, a couple hundred miles north of Moscow. He obtained the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Yaroslavl State University and came to the University of Alabama to pursue a doctorate in aquatic biology.
He later moved to the Lone Star State and joined the UHV faculty in fall 2009.
“I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could,” he said as a joke.
A researcher at heart, Sobolev’s work spans far beyond teaching classes.
His research fellowship last summer allowed him to take a closer look at archaea, a peculiar group of microbes found in Hawaiian coral reefs. Originally thought to be extremophiles confined to places such as hot springs, he said people began finding archaea in a variety of places within the past 20 years.
Sobolev said his studies suggested that chemical changes in the environment weren’t what scientists originally thought.
Never one to take it too easy, he’s now on to another project.
Sobolev’s current work is a follow-up to a former study which looked into what happens to nitrous oxide in the environment. While everyone talks about global warming and the effects of carbon dioxide, he said nitrous oxide is actually much more potent.
“What’s interesting about it is it’s produced as part of the normal microbiological activity in mud,” he said. “I want to know what happens to that gas once it’s produced.”
Outside of his research, Sobolev said he enjoys wildlife photography and travel, though his busy schedule means he doesn’t always have time to get away. Sailing is another love.
Looking ahead, he said he plans to continue doing much of what he does now – delving into new mysteries and putting those pieces together.
“I definitely would like to continue my research,” he said. “It’s fascinating and exciting work. What could be better?”
The Faculty Feature is an online feature highlighting faculty members from each of the University of Houston-Victoria’s four schools. To nominate a faculty member, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.