Mariana Avezum, TU München, is taking part in Soapbox Science Munich on 7th July with the talk:“How will we get to work in 20 years?”
SS: Why did you choose a scientific career?
MA: To be able to join my research ambitions, while doing some teaching in the process. I really like to investigate new approaches to solve problems, and working with students is always a very cool way to get in contact with new and creative ideas.
SS: How did you get your current position?
MA: I knew my professor from my classes as a student, and had always done projects at his chair. I thus knew the people there, and knew they were very cool to work with. When I was searching for “What to do next” I simply talked to the professor, showed him some of my previous work, paid him a coffee, and that was that!
SS: What do you do in your everyday work life?
MA: A typical day for me can be separated between teaching meetings, and my own research. For teaching, I am usually in meetings with students, giving them feedback on their work, going through preparations for the next steps, and thinking what could be improved. In my own research, on the other hand, I simulate urban traffic, and try to come up with different ideas how to make urban transport more efficient, such as what would happen if we were to merge everything together. Working on such different projects makes sure that there is never a boring day!
SS: What is the most exciting aspect of your research?
MA: Combining different modes of transportation in a single route. Because the most efficient way to get from A to B will never be just about cars, or any single mode, and you will always need to combine different approaches. The fact that the companies working on these are so different from each other, however, makes this integration very hard and interesting, but also presents a huge room for improvement.
SS: What challenges do you encounter in science?
MA: Mobility research can very quickly become very sensitive, and thus, data privacy is a huge concern. You need to make sure that when you are analyzing how to optimize a route from A to B, you don’t keep any confidential data in places it shouldn’t be, and that the user is always in control.
SS: What motivates you to give a talk in Soapbox science?
MA: A friend told me it would be cool! I also like motivating other people to join and stay in STEM, and hearing about the work that other scientists do is always very inspiring!
SS: Do you have a few words to inspire other female scientists? What can we do to attract more women to STEM fields?
MA: One step at a time, and never give up. Things are usually more doable than they seem, and perseverance goes a long way in making things actually work out. If you give up, you pass the message to other girls to do the same, and that’s never the correct answer. I know it seems like the men achieve things more easily, but the truth of it is, is that they simply hide their insecurities better. We all get lost sometimes.