What do you do?
I support future space missions from development to launch. I work at the junction between quality assurance management and technical development, working closely with researchers, industry partners and internal project managers. I also perform laboratory experiments on samples, as well as hardware that will fly in space one day. My current focus is on non-destructive techniques, such as X-Ray Computed Tomography, Laser Confocal Microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy. I specialize in ceramic materials and am now expanding to adhesive bonds, a.k.a. glue.
Why did you choose this field?
My father is a physicist and though my teenage mind often refrained from expressing it I was envious of his passion for his work. I also loved home-made experiments and love to just try things and then ask "Why did that happen". Materials Science appeared as a perfect middle ground between physics, chemistry and mechanical engineering. And once I started to see and learn different techniques I got hooked on experimental work. It started with a love for electron microscopy (both SEM and TEM) - use electrons instead of light?! awesome! Visualize atoms and make crystallography real? Amazing! - and has kept growing with a fascination for all these ways we can test and start to understand the world around us.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
I wish I had known that even after your PhD and a couple of years of working you don't have to know exactly what you'll be doing for the rest of your life. One thesis topic (Bachelor, Master or PhD Thesis) does not determine the rest of your life.
Apply for the job you think you're not qualified for. Being feminine, talkative and colorful are not harmful to your career in STEM, but can be your greatest asset.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love asking questions. I love talking to the most fascinating people out there. There is sooooo much of the word and universe we don't know and understand and there are so many research projects and developments happening! All I want to do in my lifetime is to contribute to this thing we call "Knowledge", even in the tiniest way.
Best advice for next generation?
Don't doubt yourself. Try things you have no experience in! If you think "I wish this app were better in XX way" - look up how apps are made, check out coding tutorials! If you wonder how your refrigerator keeps everything cold - google it! Research! Ask your teachers and reach out to professors. You need NO prior knowledge of something to start looking into it. And enjoy falling down the rabbit hole of learning!
Just go for it! Apply for jobs you think you're not qualified for! Ask all the questions! Do your research! Get excited about stuff! Anything! No discipline is better that another - passion is the key to success and happiness!
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
You'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut. Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple - Dr. Seuss
Never tell me the odds - Han Solo