Nobel prize winner was 'B student': university

Konstantin Novoselov, the Russian-born physicist who shared this year's Nobel prize, struggled with physics as a student and was awarded a handful of B grades, his university said Wednesday.

The Moscow Physics and Technology University (MFTI) posted report cards on its website for Novoselov, who at 36 won the for physics with his research partner Andre Geim.

The reports reveal that he gained a handful of B grades in his term reports for theoretical and applied physics from 1991 to 1994.

He was also not strong on physical education -- a compulsory subject at Russian universities -- gaining B grades. And while he now lives in Britain, he once gained a C grade for English.

The university also revealed documents on Nobel prize winner Geim, who studied at the same university from 1976 to 1982. His brilliant academic career was only marred by a few B-grades for Marxist political economy and English.

Geim was turned down when he applied first to another Moscow university specialising in engineering and , and worked as a machinist at a factory making electrical instruments for eight months.

In a dark reminder of Soviet-era discrimination, his former secondary school teacher told the Tvoi Den tabloid that Geim's German origins made it hard for him to get into his first-choice university.

"His father is German," Olga Peshkova, 72, who still teaches in the town of Nalchik in the North Caucasus region of Kabardino-Balkaria, told the tabloid.

"He said that after two years of studying hard and wanting to get in, he only later understood that it was because of his 'biographical details'."

In documents published by MFTI, Geim described himself as "German" in the practice of the time, when everyone had to describe themselves according to ethnic origin in official forms.

Russia has a community of ethnic Germans, most of whom have now emigrated. In Soviet-era repressions, the Germans were exiled to Siberia and Central Asia and were discriminated against in education and in their careers.

Explore further

Nobel prize win exposes Russia's brain drain losses (Update)

(c) 2010 AFP

Citation: Nobel prize winner was 'B student': university (2010, October 6) retrieved 17 October 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Oct 06, 2010
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." -- Mark Twain

Oct 06, 2010
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." -- Mark Twain


Oct 06, 2010
there is hope for the rest of us.

Oct 06, 2010
All it takes is commuting bases of operators that have simultaneous eigenvectors...

Oct 07, 2010
Einstein was far from being an 'A' student himself. Goes to show that grades are not everything... :)

Oct 07, 2010
Grades don't mean much when it comes to scientific creativity. Grades do not evaluate the "genius" in you. It is in big part a measure of how motivated and dedicated you are, which is what employers want to know. It also doesn't say anything about how scientifically curious you are nor about the way think of physics and solve problems. Some people just learn all equations and are very analytical and basically execute algorithms, where as others visualize and deeply understands every problem.

Oct 07, 2010
Of course, PhysOrg missed the real scoop. Novoselov's Nobel partner, Andre Geim, became the first winner of an IgNobel prize to win the real thing.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more