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Sonia Garcia-Blanco

Assistant Professor, MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, University of Twente, Netherlands
Country of birth: Spain

Educational background: PhD Electrical Engineering, University of Glasgow, Scotland; MEng Electrical Engineering, Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain


Sonia Garcia-Blanco

Who or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
I discovered my passion for science/engineering at the Ion Beam Lab of the IBM Almaden Research Center (California), where I did my Master’s research. It was an inspiring place and I was working with such talented people! I saw clearly that engineering was what I wanted to do!

Primary responsibilities of your current job

I am currently investigating new ways of making very small lasers and amplifiers that can be integrated on a chip. These devices will permit us to produce the next generation of optical computers. My activities include teaching, writing grant applications and papers, working with students, meeting with colleagues and collaborators, and doing some design and/or experimental work. I also attend conferences, which are great opportunities to meet people and start new collaborations!

Biggest obstacle or challenge that you have faced in your career
One of the main challenges for me was returning to academia after several years in industry. My industrial experience helped me face problems in research. However, reviewers did not always have the same opinion when reviewing my grant applications, and having few publications from those years really slowed my return to academia. As my research is very applied, I have managed to get around this by highlighting and focusing on the positive points, and by working very hard to increase my publication record!

Advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out
One of the important things when starting your career is to think how you want your path to go for the next 10 years or so. It is hard to do that when you start and of course, it can change along the way. But it is extremely important to have this very clear at each moment of your career. This gives you steering power and you can choose to give more emphasis to the tasks that will permit you to advance on your chosen path. And, as a wise person once told me, you can be what you want to be!