I am continuing the series dedicated to the chromatography‘s founder Mikhail Tsvet. So, in 1897 he moves to Russia from Switzerland, and here is his first impression of Russia:

“…during the first six months that I have been in Russia, in vain, I have been trying to force myself to feel that I have a Russian heart beating in my chest! I traveled throughout Russia. I visited Moscow, the holly city, and my eyes and ears were widely opened… Nothing moved, nothing responded in me. In my homeland I felt like a foreigner. And this feeling deeply and desperately is weighing on my mind… Now I regret that I left Europe…”

But later on the mood changed. Tsvet met with great people and prominent researches. Of great importance to him were the society meetings of “The Little Botanists”, that took place weekly in the homes of Beketov, Voronin or Famintsev’s lab. The meetings were held over dinner, in a relaxed atmosphere, and included discussions on science and a variety of other topics. The meeting also created that special climate, a peculiar state of mind that helped Tsvet to overcome “the cold of life”, and remained with him as the priceless memories.

However it was necessary to find a paying job. It turned out that Geneva University doctorate degree was not honored in Russia. It was not even equivalent to the Master’s degree. He spent many months searching for a job that sometimes felt like a hopeless case, and Tsvet was thinking about going to back to Europe. For teaching and, hence, an opportunity to do a scientific research, it was necessary to defend a new thesis in Russia.

Tsvet got extremely lucky. He got to know Petr Frantsevich Lesgraft – a great person, doctor, anatomist, and outstanding educator. Mikhail Semyonovich attended Lesgraft’s terrific lectures, and then continued the research of chloroplasts in the new biological laboratory specifically constructed for Lesgraft while preparing for exams and a thesis defense.

In 1899, he passed the finals, and on April 19th, 1900 Tsvet delivered a report entitled “The nature of chloroglobin” at the Botanist Section meeting of St. Petersburg Naturalist Society, and was accepted as a full member. On September 23rd, 1901 he defends a thesis with a title “The Physicochemical Structure of the Chlorophyll Grain” at Kazan University. Mikhail Tsvet’s life was starting to shape up…

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