An interview with the UFAZ Math professor Ulviyya Abdulkarimova


Could you shortly describe your academic background?

I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Statistics and Master’s Degree in Statistics both from the McMaster University of Canada. I am currently working towards my Ph.D. degree in the joint program of Biostatistics and Computer Science at the University of Strasbourg. 

Why did you choose UFAZ?

As we know, UFAZ is a project initiated by the Presidents of the French Republic and the Republic of Azerbaijan. From the French side, it is administered by the University of Strasbourg which is one the most outstanding research universities in France. The university’s ambition is to strengthen its position as a reference in innovative research and teaching in Europe. It is very important for me to work at a university that fosters innovation and excellence in education and research. I think UFAZ provides great teaching practice, which is a key influence on student learning. As educators, we strive to meet the principles of good practice in an effort to provide the best learning experience for our students. Therefore, UFAZ is also a great place to work for the professional development of educators.

You have been teaching at UFAZ from the very beginning. What changes have you observed since then?

I have been working at UFAZ since its first day of opening in 2016 and I have seen many great changes at our university. I would like to emphasize on the opening of the new science laboratories that are equipped in full compliance with the University of Strasbourg standards. The laboratory facilities that UFAZ offers are exclusive in Azerbaijan in terms of their technical equipment and research possibilities. I think this event is extraordinary and this will give our students and faculty great opportunities for research activities.

In addition, in 2017, UFAZ moved to a beautiful historical building. Our new building is very well equipped for teaching and learning.

Starting in 2017, UFAZ has been receiving visiting professors from French universities that are giving weekly lectures to our students. The number of visiting professors has been increasing from semester to semester. I think this is an amazing opportunity for our students to receive lectures from these great professors who are also researchers. I suggest our students to use this opportunity to try to learn as much as they can from these lectures.

It is amazing to observe that our students are getting more and more motivated and curious in their studies. They are also getting involved in many activities such as summer internships, participating in international conferences, Olympiads, also opening new clubs at the university, and so on. UFAZ provides great support to our students in these terms.

The list of great changes at UFAZ can go on and on. I am very positive that UFAZ will keep innovating for the great future of our students and thus our country.

What makes UFAZ unique?

Of course, the main advantage of UFAZ is receiving two diplomas from Azerbaijan State University of Oil and Industry and University of Strasbourg or University of Rennes 1 (depending on their specialty) without leaving the country. Another advantage is that education is in English and at the same time, our students take French courses. UFAZ also offers two-week long summer school in France to 40 students with best academic results. More importantly, UFAZ provides serious education with the help of highly qualified full-time French and Azerbaijani professors as well as the visiting professors from France.

What are your favorite hobbies outside of teaching?

Other than teaching, I am currently working on my Ph.D. research projects and spending quality time with my family.

What are your wishes to UFAZ students?

I am very proud to say that our students are dedicated and have the great capability of working hard. I wish them all the best in their studies. Keep working hard, be confident and follow your dream.

What students should focus on to become an expert in their field?

I advise our students to start planning their future early. This means actively looking for professional activities whether it is an internship, volunteering, even getting involved in university clubs, attending guest lectures, building networks etc. I strongly recommend them to take every opportunity they come across to develop the skill set that they will need in their future career. I also highly recommend them to continue their education to achieve at least a master’s degree in their field of interest.