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Ursula Keller

Professor in Physics, Physics Department, Institute of Quantum Electronics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Country of birth: Switzerland

Educational background: PhD and MS Applied Physics, Stanford University;
Diploma degree Physics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

kate KirbyA typical work day
Being a professor is like running a small "company"-being the CEO and CTO. Our "products" are the research results, educated students, and education materials and notes. I need to acquire sufficient resources to keep this enterprise going. The more successful our "products" are, the more successful I am. Therefore my typical job is to do the long- and shortterm strategic planning for my research projects, my funding acquisition, and my teaching schedule. I have regular meetings with my group members regarding their research projects and our strategic planning.
I am responsible for the final correction/modification of our external communication (which are mostly papers and conference presentations), and often write part of it. In addition, I keep the necessary contacts and establish and maintain a network of colleagues and political contacts, as well as an outreach program to the public, to keep our company successful.

What I enjoy most
In the real world, I pretty much think I have my dream job. In an ideal world, I would like to simply have enough money to concentrate all my efforts on my research and on teaching graduate students and postdocs.

Words of wisdom
Luckily I ended up doing the right thing for me. The best thing was to go and explore the world; my initial motivation was not primarily work related, however, I am glad that I did the right thing for whatever reasons. Looking back I really think this is important: go out there and broaden your horizon and go to the best places you can get to. Also look out for possible mentors-be actively involved in contacting and collecting the advice from more experienced people that impress you along your career.