Elena Potapova

Elena Potapova - 2020 SPIE Women in Optics Planner

Senior Researcher
Research and Development Center of Biomedical Photonics
Orel State University, Russia

SPIE Member

Elena Potapova

Country of Birth: Kyrgyzstan
Country of Residence: Russia
Educational Background: Russia Educational Background: PhD in Engineering, Orel State Technical University


Almost every member of my family was closely connected with engineering, so I mainly considered a technical university to obtain my education. In addition, I was inspired by medicine and wanted to be a doctor. An opportunity to get interdisciplinary education which allowed me to be a medical engineer and paramedic attracted me most of all. For me, science became a world of limitless possibilities and creativity.

Currently, I supervise graduate students and research projects devoted to the optical non-invasive diagnosis of abdominal pathologies. Our team develops new methodologies for the application of spectroscopy and imaging technologies to assess microcirculation and metabolism of biological tissues in real time, improving patient quality of life during minimally invasive surgical interventions.

The biggest challenge in my career was the long interruption associated with giving birth to two daughters. It was very difficult to get back to science again; it seemed that I was dramatically behind my colleagues. I forced myself to stay positive and take small steps every day. I asked for help and tried to educate myself regularly. Luckily, thanks to the support of our team, every member moves forward.

I wish I was told not to be afraid of making mistakes and to be more decisive. Use every opportunity to improve your education and professional competence by taking courses or meeting professionals.

I would advise young women considering a career in STEM to be persistent and believe in themselves. Try to see your mistakes and failures as a valuable experience to move on no matter what. Love your work; do it with great enthusiasm and diligence. Spread the interest in science among other young girls and women. Recently, my daughter told me that when she grows up, she will also be a research engineer—this is a very important recognition for me.

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