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Sylvie Roke

Professor, Julia Jacobi Chair in Photomedicine, Laboratory for fundamental BioPhotonics (LBP), Institute of Bioengineering (IBI), Faculty of Engineering (STI), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland
Country of birth: The Netherlands

Educational background: PhD Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Leiden University, The Netherlands; MSc, BSc Physics, MSc, BSc Chemistry, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Sylvie RokeWho or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
I had inspiration from the work itself. To work in science and engineering, one needs creativity, originality, and analytical problem-solving skills. Topics in high school, and later in university that required those skills helped launch me into scientific/engineering work.

What are the primary responsibilities of your current job?
I teach and do research. Research at the LBP is a combination of nonlinear optics, ultrafast spectroscopy, soft, nano, and biological processes. We use theory and advanced optics to design tomorrows' diagnostics for molecular processes relevant for fundamentals in biology and life science. We publish our findings in scientific journals and at  scientific meetings around the world. Apart from research, there is also teaching, outreach, working for the scientific community and lab management. My teaching activities consist of giving lectures and one-to-one training with group  members. Lab management consists of making sure the team functions well, and that we have appropriate equipment and funding.

Do you have advice for young women considering a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)?
Do what you like to do and don't worry about things you cannot influence anyway. Research is fun, so you might as well enjoy it while you do it. Also, everyone's life and career follows a unique path. It is good to have examples, but remember they are not you.