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Carmen Vazquez

Professor/Head of Displays and Photonics Applications Group, Spain
Country of birth: Spain

Educational background: PhD Telecommunications Engineering (Photonics), MSc Physics (Electronics), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain


Carmen VazquezWho or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
I worked with optical fiber amplifiers and optical switches at Telecom Denmark, thanks to the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience. I had the opportunity to test novel devices in the lab and the field, and share that experience with other students and professionals from around the world. After returning to Madrid, I decided get a PhD in this technology. I knocked on different doors until I found a supervisor who gave me the opportunity to develop a PhD at Telefónica Research and Development. Enthusiasm fosters people to go ahead. I also appreciate the tricky problems from my high school physics teacher. My mother wanted me to be independent; her hard work helped me discover that science and engineering would be the tool for that.

What are the primary responsibilities of your current job?
A university professor has many different responsibilities. I head the Displays and Photonics Applications Group, performing research in integrated optic devices and optical fiber applications in sensing and broadband communications. Our research is supported by national and European research projects, so apart from working with students and colleagues, writing papers, and attending conferences, I apply for and administrate funds. I have been Vice-Chancellor for four years, and a member of various committees for promoting excellence in new faculty recruitment and coordinating new programs, such as the Energy Engineering Degree syllabus. You never get bored in this job.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in your career?
Someone once told me, you are a physicist and a woman! What do you expect to do in this engineering school? Sometimes you find narrowminded people embedded in tradition. You must try to walk away to avoid meaningless battles. But my main challenge is combining family life and work. I'm glad to have great support from all the people I love.