What is your current Job Title or Role?
Lecturer in Chemistry
What advice would you have for young women who are interested in a STEM career or job?
Women are so often characterised as hard-working, while men are labeled as rising stars or geniuses. Even we ourselves do it: I used to think all my male colleagues at school were better than me at maths, even though I got better marks. I told myself that I wasn't as smart as them, I just studied hard, while they were "lazy geniuses". Don't buy into this! Have confidence in your achievements.
How did you get to where you are today?
I had a lot of interests when I was in school, and I excelled at languages - which is why I wanted to study to be a translator or work for the foreign office. Late, I got interested in biochemistry, and I chose what I had heard was one of the most difficult courses in Austria - Technical Chemistry, a five-year degree with a specialisation in Biotechnology and Biochemistry, at an Engineering University. I was worried if I was able to do a technical degree, as I didn't think my maths was up to it. I had a female Physics teacher, I asked her about it, and she set my head straight - she said that I was well qualified for it. And I was - I did really well! I applied for a lot of student scholarships and funding, including working for a year in Japan (tech-companies there are NOT gender balanced, I can tell you that!), and I ended up doing a PhD in Marine Biogeochemistry in the Netherlands. I have had a few research contracts, travelling as far as Australia, and I managed to win funding for my own research project, which I carried out until I came to Plymouth to work at the University.
What do you do on a daily basis in your work?
I do research, and I teach. Most of my time that I am not in meetings, or spend teaching students in labs or lecture theatres, is spent at my desk: reading, writing (journal articles, reviews, emails, references, lectures, student feedback, ...), and analysing data, coding. I sometimes spend time in the laboratory setting up experiments and analysing samples as well. I do some fieldwork, collecting samples from the bottom of the ocean, or peatlands, but I have done a lot more of it in the past, when I was on research contracts.
Who or what inspired you to get into STEM?
I just really like learning about the world. To gain a deeper insight into both biological, and earth systems, you ultimately always end up at Chemistry. It can help you understand everything and it is absolutely fascinating!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love that I get to learn something new everyday - sometimes something that nobody has known before! For example, in our new project, we will use chemicals to reconstruct the temperature in the time period when dinosaurs went extinct. I also love that I have the chance to inspire students almost on a daily basis.
What do you like to do outside work?
I love nature, and I love outdoor sports. I kitesurf, sail, and sometimes surf, and I also like trail running, walking, and climbing, which is why Plymouth is such a great place to be - between Dartmoor and the Sea. I am from Austria, so I also like wintersports. When I am not working or doing sports, we are renovating our house, and I read, cook, bake or tend to my vegetable garden.