The 8th USERN Congress in Yerevan

“I was introduced to USERN by my PhD student, Subhrajit. He had been associated with this organization for some time now. He told me this conference was being held at the Russian-Armenian University in Yerevan, Armenia and we decided to submit abstracts. Both of us were invited to give oral presentations at the 3-day international conference.”

The spotlight of the event, however, was on my research supervisor, Natalia, who was honored with an appointment as the USERN Ambassador for the Russian Federation. This recognition is not only her personal achievement, but also a testament to the collaborative and impactful work that she has been involved in throughout her scientific career.


The Universal Scientific Education and Research Network (USERN) is a non-profit organization dedicated to scientific investigation and policy-making. Established on January 1, 2016, USERN aims to promote ethical and professional scientific research and education while advancing science for non-military purposes. Natalia's role as an ambassador aligns with USERN's mission to foster international collaboration and promote scientific literacy.

At the conference

Natalia delved into the impact of fermentation on the bioavailability of nutrients in plant-based milk, shedding light on its potential benefits for human health. Her work not only underscored the nutritional advantages of fermented plant-based beverages, but also emphasized the role of adaptogens (which are plant substances that have been found to help our bodies manage stress and maintain balance, or homeostasis) in enhancing their value. Natalia also highlighted adaptogens' ability to amplify the nutritional profile of these beverages, offering a holistic perspective on the symbiotic relationship between fermentation processes and the infusion of beneficial plant compounds.


As the newly appointed USERN Ambassador for Russia, Natalia expressed her enthusiasm for the unique responsibilities bestowed upon her. She sees the role as an opportunity to support young Russian scientists by helping them engage with the public and her fellow scientists. Natalia believes in the effectiveness of collaboration among young scientists, emphasizing their crucial role in science outreach and scientific literacy.

“The goal is to inspire students and young scientists to take active steps toward career success. This involves spearheading collaborative research between Russia and USERN and involving young students in various activities such as internships, exchanges, and joint research projects. My vision goes beyond the conventional boundaries of science, aiming to overcome barriers of language, culture, politics, and religion.”

Championing scientific literacy

Natalia acknowledges the importance of promoting scientific literacy globally and recognizes the need for scientists to develop effective science communication skills. In her view, young scientists can play a pivotal role in bridging gaps and fostering a deeper understanding of science among diverse audiences. She believes that dialogue between scientists, non-scientists, and students should extend beyond traditional educational institutions and emphasizes the necessity for young scientists to possess the knowledge needed to understand the current and future implications of science.

Future plans

Looking ahead, Natalia outlines her plans as a USERN Ambassador, focusing particularly on the organization of different workshops. She envisions creating international events for scientists of all ages, providing networking opportunities and a platform to exchange ideas. Natalia expresses a particular interest in making valuable workshops for children, aiming to educate them about the wonders of science and inspire their interest in the field.

“Science doesn’t have boundaries. It transcends complexities and instabilities in the world. Despite challenges, scientists can share, take, and enjoy the scientific world collectively.” 

Natalia speaking about her research at the 8th USERN Congress. Photo courtesy of the author

Natalia speaking about her research at the 8th USERN Congress. Photo courtesy of the author

Natalia Iakovchenko's appointment as the USERN Ambassador for Russia marks a significant milestone in her scientific journey. Her commitment to fostering collaboration, promoting scientific literacy, and engaging young scientists exemplifies the spirit of organizations like USERN. As Natalia takes on her ambassadorial role, her vision for a more interconnected and collaborative scientific community promises to contribute to the advancement of non-military scientific research and education on a global scale.