This month EPWS gives the floor to Rasuolė Lukošė. R. Lukošė is Doctor in Chemistry with a special competence in research and development on oxide thin films and their possible applications.
EPWS: What made you want to go to science? How did you decide to choose your discipline and your particular field of research? Did you have an inspiring model (parent, relative, teacher, literature, etc.)?
I was always interested in biology and chemistry, but my final decision was to study chemistry and lately led to the research field of material science: growth and development of thin films. It is interesting because you have to overcome a lot of challenges and to answer a lot of questions. My decision to get deeper knowledge in chemistry might be also related to the fact that my mother was a chemistry teacher for a while. As myself and my husband being scientists, we also try to make an interesting and playful approaches for the introduction of different scientific experiments for our children as well.
Another reason to become a scientist was a book about the life and scientific work of Marie Skłodowska-Curie written by her daughter Eve (Eve Curie ”Madame Curie”). It made a huge impression since she was very passionate and persistent in her scientific investigations. A coincidence (or not 😊) that after many years I got an individual Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship!
What do you work on? How important is your research topic for science development or society?
At the moment I am working on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) project “GRAMAS” in the group of Prof. Nerija Žurauskienė at the National Center for Physical Sciences and Technology in Vilnius, Lithuania. The project concerns the combination of magnetic thin films with a 2D graphene for the application as magnetic field sensors in a broad range of magnetic fields. The magnetic field sensors are used for detection of magnetic fields in different applications: for example measuring the magnetic field during the welding or forming of different metals and rail-gun applications or for the measurement of the magnetic fields in specific scientific equipment like non-destructive field magnets.
What is your greatest success as a researcher (and as a teacher if you teach), the one you are most proud of?
Every step during my scientific career was important and was a certain milestone for me. Winning the MSCA fellowship and the nomination as one of the promising future scientists among the best 30 MSCA fellows in 2017 was the highest success in my scientific career so far.
In which country/countries have you been doing research?
I was studying and doing my research in organic chemistry and thin film development and technology in Chemistry department at Vilnius University, Lithuania during my bachelor and master studies. During my PhD, I was busy in Leibniz – Institute for Crystal Growth in Berlin, Germany and graduated from Humboldt University Berlin, Chemistry Department.
EPWS: What is your agenda for the coming months?
The further research on magnetic field sensors and broadening of their applications field as well as the development of the manganite/graphene magnetic field sensor prototype are the main research topics so the upcoming months. These are exactly the tasks of my Marie Curie fellowship and the accomplishment of them is my current goal. Afterwards, I would further like to deepen my knowledge in materials for sensors for the microelectronic applications.
Did you meet any barriers (personal/social/structural) during your career as a scientific researcher? Did you benefit from mentoring?
Up to now, I did not experience very big barriers in my scientific career as women are the minority in physical sciences. For sure, there is one general problem for the women: difficulty to get back to the science after parental leave. Therefore, the MSCA with its Career Restart Panel is a perfect program to come back to the scientific research after the break due to personal reasons or if you want to return back to science.
What is the situation of gender equality in your working field? In the countries where you have been working, were there gender equalities policies and did you experience their effects?
Like I have already mentioned, I did not experience any discrimination during my early career, but I believe in any case women meet challenges to be employed especially those having small children, even if it is not spoken loudly. On the contrary, in Germany the attraction of women into science is highly supported, as I had a chance to work with very successful women, leading their own research groups. In my opinion, the ratio between the women and men will not be equal in each research field. In some fields it will be naturally more women, in others – more men. But in any case, there should be equal possibilities to make research in any scientific field independently on your gender. The main criterion should be knowledge, experience and motivation.
Did you experience networking between women scientists? Can you comment your answer and explain why yes or not?
I am actually very happy, that I have met a lot of great scientist women in my career. Almost at each education stages I was supervised, supported and inspired by them.
If you could start again your life, would you choose again to be a scientist? What would you change?
Actually, you never know what would have been different if you would have chosen a different profession. It is difficult to choose your profession when you are 16 years old, and in our days, you have to make the predictions how your profession and field of interest will look like in 30 years. In the present world you have always to be updated, very curious and hard working to be and stay competitive scientist. I would probably choose to be a scientist, if I could start my life again. Maybe this time I would try to combine further life sciences in order to make research and to influence human disease curability like e.g. cancer or mental diseases.
Could you leave a message to young European women scientists?
Independently in which scientific field you are doing your research- believe in yourself and your abilities, be curious and motivated!!! It will be some hard times not only because being a scientist is already challenging, as one has to be always innovative and explore the things that have never been done; but also because you are a woman and maybe one day you will decide to have a family. Be self-confident and never give up – one day you will succeed, because everything is possible!!!