Alexandra Boltasseva

Alexandra Boltasseva - 2016-17 SPIE Women in Optics Planner

Associate professor and Group Leader, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University, USA

Alexandra Boltasseva

Country of Birth: Russia
Country of Residence: USA
Educational Background: PhD, Electrical Engineering,
Technical University of Denmark; MS, Applied Physics and
Mathematics, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Website: Purdue University

As a child, I was deeply inspired by discussions with my dad who told me intriguing stories about multiple universes, The Big Bang, elementary particles, friction forces, and radio electronics. I’m also indebted to my physics teacher at school who spent endless hours with me solving tricky physics problems and always finding new ones. I have always been very lucky to be mentored by the most enthusiastic teachers and extraordinary scientists, including my MS and PhD advisors, on my career path.

In my view, professorship has the best of all worlds to offer - it is so multifaceted that one can always find an avenue to pursue a new idea or passion. I enjoy all sides of my job from exciting research to rewarding teaching and service. As a professor I can wear different hats and be a teacher, a mentor, a researcher, an R&D engineer, a business partner, a public speaker, an administrator, a team leader, and a proud academic parent of the most talented young boys and girls. It is my dream job.

I wish I had been told that one should not be afraid to fail. Being a perfectionist can be the worst enemy of creativity and real success. I wish someone had told me in the very beginning to aim for the biggest goals instead of staying on a safer side. “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone,” Johnny Cash said.

I have just a simple piece of advice for young girls considering a career in STEM - BELIEVE in yourself! You can do it!

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