March 8th is International Women’s Day. We choose to celebrate women in battery research. We want to recognize the critical role women and girls play in science and technology.
We took the opportunity to ask some of the female researchers within the BATTERY 2030+ consortium about how they got into science and what they think needs to be done to get more women into the field of battery research:
1. What is your research about?
2. Why did you choose to get into science?
3. What needs to be done to get more women into the field of battery research?
Silvia Bodoardo, Associate Professor, Politecnico di Torino, Italy
1). “I am leading the Electrochemistry Group at Politecnico di Torino, where we are working on innovative materials for lithium based batteries. In particular our work focuses on post lithium ion technologies to enhance properties and increase performance. Some new activities are on novel cells design to get new type of cells combining high energy and high power.”
2). “Curiosity… the curiosity to understand natural processes came first. Today it is more on how we can use natural phenomena to obtain new sustainable storage systems to help the transition to renewable energies and electric vehicles.”
3). “We really need to get visibility to show how women are not worse than men in all fields. We need to stress that education has to be accessible to all gender equally. This process should start already at the secondary school and in families.”
“We also need to disseminate our results in society and be more present in media.”
Kristina Edström, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry and Coordinator of BATTERY 2030+, Uppsala University, Sweden
1). “I study different kinds of batteries and battery materials. I am particularly interested in mechanisms for how ions are transported in solids. I am also interested in how different materials react in the interface to each other to understand what parameters that make batteries to last for a long time when used in an application.”
2). “I have always been interested in scientific questions. I liked to study already as a small child. I think I was very much inspired by questions rather than answers. My heroes were people that said that there was still needs to study and understand more about something.”
3). “We need to show the love for science rather than discussing the difficulties and obstacles. We need to give young scientists good conditions so that they see that there is a long-term commitment.”
“At younger age I do think that not choosing to specialize too young on a specific direction is important. Role models are also important and then to show normal people that can combine science with a family.”
Elixabete Ayerbe, Team Leader – Modelling & Post-mortem Materials for Energy Unit CIDETEC Energy Storage
1). I am leading the modelling and post-mortem group in the Materials for Energy Unit at CIDETEC Energy Storage, where is specialized in creating new battery technologies according to specific challenges, and its ultimate transference to the industry. In particular, my research focuses on gaining in-depth understanding on the battery performance and manufacturing processes through multiscale & data-driven modelling and advanced characterization, closing the loop in the iterative process of improving battery development.
2). I have always been curious to understand the “why ” behind everything. Since I was young, I have been aware of the need of protecting the environment for the benefit of nature and humans. In this regards, I used to dream thinking that my work could potentially improve the environment. All this curiosity, interest and needs of exploration together with my passion on mathematics, brought me to get into the field of battery modelling which is linked somehow to my personal aim on improving energy efficiency and tackling critical environmental issues.
3). I think that there is a huge amount to be done to ensure that we are attracting, recruiting and retraining talented women into the battery research field. But, I believe that the issues go far wider than research community itself. Tackling them will require a joined-up approach from the research community, Government and commissioning authorities, beginning with children at primary school and continuing throughout education and training and in the workplace. Additionally, there are several organizations, such as the one I belong to (i.e. https://inspirasteam.net) dedicated to raising the aspirations of young girls around the world by connecting them with female role models. In this regard, I believe we –women at battery research field- could contribute by participating in this kind of pioneer projects for the promotion of the scientific and technological vocation among girls based on awareness-raising and orientation actions.
Maitane Berecibar, Professor, Head of the Battery Innovation Center and Coordinator of BAT4EVER
MOBI Research Group, VUB, Belgium
1). I obtained my PhD in Engineering of Sciences at the VUB titled “Development of an Accurate State of Health Estimation Technique for Lithium-Ion Batteries”. Even though my research topic was defined by my PhD on State of Health estimation techniques, I felt always fascinated by all research actions that are developed on batteries. The world of batteries is unstoppable, it has no limits: self-healing properties, sensors, solid state batteries, different battery generations, digitalization, management, smart estimations, reusing, recycling… so many interconnected topics. It is definitely fascinating, and I always push myself to know more and more. At this moment, I am part of the Battery2030PLUS initiative, and I am coordinating BAT4EVER, a recently granted project by the European commission that aims to develop self-healing batteries.
2). Science has always been my passion. I have always felt so comfortable with math’s and physics, I was always intrigued on why this, and what if. In addition, I have always been very eco-friendly. Being aware of the state of our world, and how to treat it better so to keep it longer. This made me feel that green technology could be my cup of tea. Creating a better world by providing green technological solutions.
3). Even though the representation of female in science has increased, still there is a lot to do. From my point of view, there are 5 main key actions to highlight in order to get more women in the battery field:
- Equal education: Follow more equal educational, parenting and professional systems. Girls can do applied engineering science, and we need them.
- References: Highlight female researchers in engineering science, highlight female CEOs, CTOs of big industry.
- Give opportunities: Create more opportunities, hire female researchers.
- Confidence: Emphasize the work of female researchers and encourage them to interact more by giving them confidence in themselves.
- Flexibility: flexibility and work-life balance conditions are needed.
Prof. Tanja Kallio, D. Sc. (Tech.) Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage School of Chemical Engineering at Aalto University, Finland
1). I have been working on material development for various electrochemical energy conversion technologies for more than 20 years. Recently, the focus has been on developing more responsible electrochemically active materials for lithium batteries and hydrogen technology. For batteries, we are developing electrode materials and structures to enhance battery efficiency and cycle life. We have worked on development of interface layers on the electrode active material and investigated their effect on the material and battery functioning and aging.
2). Since a teenager, I have been curious about structure of materials and their functioning which led to chemistry studies at the university. While studying at the Helsinki University of Technology as an undergraduate I became interested in energy conversion technologies and their environmental aspects and hence seized an opportunity to complete a doctoral thesis on fuel cell materials. While doing research for the doctoral thesis, I realized that working as a scientist gives a tremendous opportunity to learn new. It also offers possibility to contributing important work on development of more environmentally friendly technologies needed in our everyday life and hence is highly important. Hence, this career is the perfect match for me.
3). For involving more women into battery research, we need to highlight the importance of this field from the sustainability and environmental responsibility perspective. Opening up the decisive role of energy storage as an enabler of renewable energy based society must be opened up. Likewise, the real collaborative nature of scientist work must be uncovered. We need to reach out not only to undergraduates at the university but also girls at the senior elementary school classes before they select their study place. We need to show that positive role models for them.
Marja Vilkman, Senior scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and coordinator of the HIDDEN project, Finland
1). I work in the field of flexible electronics at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and have been focusing lately on energy related topics. First, I was working more on the energy harvesting side, studying organic solar cells. However, a few years ago I realized that I want to concentrate also in batteries as we cannot utilize renewable energy, like solar and wind, well without proper and sustainable energy storage solutions.
Currently, I’m coordinating a Battery 2030+ project HIDDEN, which develops self-healing Li-metal batteries. In addition, we have ongoing projects at VTT where we study e.g. the use of bio-based materials in energy storage applications. I’m also coordinating a Factories of Future project OLEDSOLAR, where we are developing innovative manufacturing processes for solar cells and OLEDs. These projects allow me to work in my favorite fields, and I truly feel that our work will have a big impact in enabling clean energy production and storage for current and future generations.
2). When selecting what to do after school, I was first thinking to study biology or biochemistry, as I liked both biology and chemistry in high school. Thus, I selected to apply to the Chemistry department at Helsinki University of Technology (currently Aalto University) as they offered biochemistry courses. There I got familiar with polymers, and I immediately felt that they are very interesting. I got even more excited when I learnt about conducting polymers and saw the numerous possibilities of organic electronics. I eventually did not study biochemistry that much. Instead, I had polymer chemistry as my major and physical chemistry as my minor topic. Finally, I ended up in doing my PhD at the physics department, focusing on polymer physics.
3). Indeed, selecting a physics department at a technical university did not feel natural to me when I graduated from high school. Maybe I just was not aware of all the opportunities and possibilities physics could offer, or maybe those opportunities were not even introduced to women that much. Anyway, I am very happy that I eventually found this field and can now do the job I love.
Thinking of my own history, I would have needed more information on the battery and energy related research fields when I was still in school and selecting where to go next. Thus, giving an example and being visible e.g. in social media or schools might help young people to get familiar with this field. In addition, teaching in universities will help as well. Even though I’m working in a research institute where teaching is not part of my work, I have been voluntarily involved in teaching e.g. at Aalto University. I really hope that I have given the students motivation to pursue a career in this field.
It is also possible to change the direction of your research in a later stage as well, just as I did. For enabling this, we need to offer education on batteries also for people who are not students anymore.
Montse Casas-Cabanas, Scientific coordinator (Electrochemical Energy Storage), Ikerbasque research associate, CIC energiGUNE, Spain
1). The core of my research is to design, prepare and characterize materials for the development of next generation battery chemistries. We employ cost-efficient synthetic processes, with a focus on sustainability and recyclability, in combination with scattering, imaging, and spectroscopic techniques to develop fundamental understanding in structure-property correlations. I have a background and experience in electrode reaction mechanisms through the use of operando experiments and, in particular, in the study of the impact of structural disorder and defects in the electrochemical performance, for which I pioneered the development of the FAULTS software. We are now developing an automatic and autonomous platform which, combined with artificial intelligence algorithms, will be capable of making effective predictions of the result of automatic experiments. This will allow to reduce the time and cost without precedent in the development of new materials for batteries.
2). I have always been very curious and eager to learn. As a child I used to ask a lot of questions and was tremendously interested about how things work or why things happened, so science always felt as my natural career path. However, I still had a hard time when I had to drop literature, languages or arts and start specializing in sciences, and chemistry in particular. Later I realized that there are amazing opportunities in science for meeting new people and different cultures, I have now friends from all over the world! I also had great teachers and mentors that nourished my passion for science, to which I am extremely grateful. One of the reasons why I love being a battery researcher is that, despite we are highly specialized, our field is totally multidisciplinary. We are constantly learning and facing new challenges and this continuously renews my self-motivation.
3). There is a lot we can do at different levels as we still need to break down many gender stereotypes in battery research, and in STEM jobs in general. We must give visibility to women working in the field. I strongly believe that having female referents can make a real difference in female career expectations, starting and a very early age. It is also important that we support and mentor other women, creating opportunities and enriching our professional networks, having female role models and mentors has been transformative for me. Gender balance should also be seriously taken into account in companies and institutions, we’ll get more women into our fields only if we hire women! And obviously gender equality, childcare and dependent care policies in the labour market make an enormous impact. In Spain, where I live, paternity leave was only two weeks until five years ago, which created a huge bias in female careers. In recent years the situation is improving (for example today both parents enjoy today the same rights), but there is still a lot to be done to end with the “female caregiver” and “male breadwinner” model in our society.
Estibaliz Crespo, R&D Project Coordinator, CIC energiGUNE, Spain
1). Well, in a manner of speaking, it is about helping the researchers’ innovations become real. In a financial way of speaking, it is about getting public and private funds to develop energy-related R&D projects. In political ways of speaking, it is about understanding the European battery ecosystem as well as about stakeholder engagement. But, generally speaking, it is about being a facilitator for researchers, giving them the political background, the funds, the rules of the game. Essentially, I am constantly looking for the best professional support for primary scientific investigators from a business development perspective.
2). It really wasn’t a question of choice because I found myself in science by chance. I enjoy my position in science because I continue to understand and breakdown important complex matters into useful knowledge for my research teams; similar to when I was a journalist and I informed the general public of complex and contemporary, socio-economic issues.
3). The expert researchers of today are the wild and spunky kids from yesterday. This includes schoolgirls who have been educated without female references in science, sports, politics, blue-collar jobs, finances, etc. Since the early days, kids have always needed a diverse range of role models to better identify themselves with the profession of their future. So, education, training, and professional career development in battery research needs to be attractive, feasible, and contain a diverse set of role models (men, women, trans, LGBT+, etc.) making equal opportunities a reality for all types of women.
“Bring science into society to favor investment in research and innovation is a must but not the only one. Is a lot ahead, the challenge is ours.”
Ivana Hasa, Assistant Professor WMG, University of Warwick United Kingdom
1). I study and investigate the thermodynamic and kinetic processes governing sodium-ion batteries, which I consider one of the most promising next-generation sustainable energy storage technology. My research interest focuses on the development of technically relevant battery materials and the characterization of their surface and bulk properties. My work is inherently interdisciplinary, tackling challenges at the interface of chemistry, materials science, and electrochemistry.
2). Since I was a kid in school, I always admired people examining facts and observations, and not taking for granted a point of view or the validity of an answer. The scientific dialogue and the exchange of opinions is what makes research exciting. The ability to demonstrate our hypothesis and to understand the unknown is the most fascinating challenge for me. I am very happy to be part of a vivid community in the field of battery research. This is an amazing scientific challenge in which everyone can bring their own creativity and innovative ideas.
3). As a scientist and a woman, I would like to tell everyone that this is a great community to work in. We should show outside of our community how much passion and dedication we put into science, and how rewarding it can be. By conveying a sense of positivity, inclusion, and engagement, we have the potential to attract many other extraordinary women scientists into our community.
Edel Sheridan, Senior Business Developer SINTEF, Norway
1). In my role as business developer, I work closely with industry to identify their needs and match the necessary expertise in our research teams. At SINTEF, we carry out research across the battery value chain and strongly support companies who aim to bring batteries technology and systems to the market. Our involvement in Battery 2030+ and EU projects including BIG MAP, HYDRA, SOLSTICE, SEABAT and CROCODILE provides excellent opportunities to carry out ground-breaking research in strong European multi-disciplinary teams.
In recent years, I personally have developed a keen interest in the challenge of converting research into real tangible industrial innovation and then market uptake and to understanding the true impact of these innovations. Thus, I am often involved in the innovation activities in projects. An electrochemist by training my earlier work focused on Li ion batteries, supercapacitors and metal air batteries. In addition to batteries, I have synthesised catalysis for fuel cells, developed gas separation membranes and electrochemical sensors.
As technical leader in the Batteries Europe ETIP, I have the great privilege of coordinating and working closely with many of the best minds across the battery value chain, to identify and define the key research needs of the future, to support the development of sound reporting methodologies and to foster a common understanding of our sustainability goals throughout the battery community and beyond. A holistic approach is essential as innovations to one part of the value chain will have significant influences on other parts.
2). As a kid, growing up in rural Ireland, I was fascinated by the earth, the planets and by nature and was deeply concerned about the then gaping hole in the ozone layer. In school while I faltered at learning languages, I thrived and lived for our engaging, colourful science classes. Experiments from titrations to igniting magnesium were fun. My science teacher Miss Doolin encouraged me to study further. At Maynooth University I began with a good foundation degree in science and followed it with a PhD in electrochemistry under the ever-patient supervision of Prof. Carmel Breslin. Research was fun and I was hooked…the step-by-step methodology, the experimental work and the development of understanding were both incredibly frustrating and enjoyable. Subsequent to my PhD, I took a postdoc role at Prof. May-Britt Hägg’s membrane technology group at NTNU, Norway after which I began research at SINTEF’s New Energy Solutions research group. One continuous red line runs through my career and that is the presence of strong female role models. I believe this is one of the factors that guided my choices and still does to this day.
3). I have recently been appointed as the only female representative, to the Executive Board of the Battery European Partnership Association. While I am very much dedicated and greatly honoured to have this role, the fact that there is only one female representative among eight speaks volumes about the on-going gender balance gap. This situation is common in STEM boards and committees worldwide.
Role models who are supportive and encouraging, including those you are currently reading about, play an essential part in involving women in battery research. In addition, our male colleagues, friends and partners, who support and promote our engagement in battery research, are our most powerful allies in closing the gender gap divide. To add, women themselves must also trust in their own abilities and go for opportunities. I have heard it said a woman often needs to be asked three times before she will consider herself for an important role…the problem is, we may only be asked once!
Julia Amici, Researcher at Politecnico di Torino, Italy
1). “I am working on the development of materials for Li-ion and post Li-ion (Li-sulfur and Li-air) batteries, at cell level. I started my research on this topic during my Post-Doc, after a PhD centered on polymers for other applications. In particular, during my Post-Doc I worked on the preparation and characterization of cathodic active materials for Li-air batteries as well as polymer membranes able to specifically block or let through oxygen.”
“Afterward, I shifted toward Li-sulfur batteries once again on the preparation and characterization of cathodic active materials and polymer interlayer membranes to block polysulfide shuttling.”
“Lately, I went back focusing on my first love: polymers, working on polymer electrolytes to allow longer and safer cycling of metallic Li cells through, for example, the use of self-healing materials.”
2). “Since I was a child, I was always curious to understand how everything was working. Where did the rainbow come from, how could electricity light a lamp, why soap in water formed foam, and from a very young age I understood that science was a way to get answers. So, I guess I could say that my curiosity got me into science.”
3). “In general, we are missing women in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and I guess it’s because, historically, those were seen as boy’s areas of interest. Therefore, I would say that we need information campaigns (and the International Day of Women in Science is a really good initiative) to show girls from a young age that they belong to the field as much as boys do.”
“In my opinion, it is also very important to advertise the achievements of women scientists, in the field of battery as well as other fields, to encourage women to perseverate.”
“Last but not least, education is of course at the heart of everything. Until now Europe has been lacking serious education program on energy storage, fortunately this should be about to change, and it’s very important to encourage women to follow these new programs by communication and advertising campaigns.”
Pascale Bayle-Guillemaud, Deputy Head of the Interdisciplinary Research Institute of Grenoble, CEA, France
1). “I am a physicist specializing in materials science. I started research during my PhD, and for three years, I discovered that by using transmission electron microscopy, I could observe atoms! It was for me at that time a wonderful tool to understand how atoms were stacked in thin metallic films, to measure the deformation at the atomic scale or to observe the phase changes when the thickness of these films varies.”
“Then, during a post-doctorate in England, I used the transmission electron microscope to map magnetic films. Indeed, the electrons are sensitive to the magnetic field in the samples and we were able to use Lorentz microscopy to map the magnetization in the magnetic heterostructures which are now used in the read heads of computers.”
“Back in France I got a research position at the CEA research center in Grenoble. I then developed another TEM capability, the electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS), which I used to study nanomaterials.”
“Finally, colleagues from chemistry came to see me because they needed to understand the distribution of the chemical phases in their battery electrodes. Therefore, at the beginning of the 2010’s I started to study these materials and to develop suitable protocols to minimize the irradiation of the electron beam and to obtain the mapping of the chemical phases of the solid electrolyte interface, in order to understand the degradation Si-based electrodes.
Meanwhile, a lot of energy has been spent on battery research in my institute and we have extended our skills to other characterization methods and developed in-depth expertise for operando characterization in large-scale installations using X-rays and neutrons, NMR, tomography.”
“Today, I promote the activities of my research institute for batteries, being now deputy director of this interdisciplinary research institute of Grenoble (IRIG), which brings together more than 1,000 people.”
2). “Very young, I was always much more interested in science lessons! I started to study at the university and after my Master’s degree, I was fortunate to have a thesis subject that fascinated me and to meet great people who convinced me to continue in science.”
3). “As a physicist I meet much more women in the field of battery than in pure physics area. There are more women in chemistry and electrochemistry than in physics. So, for me it is more the question how to bring young women in science and in research.”
“Young people are very connected and great stories of careers as women in research could certainly influence or at least encourage young women to do research, and why not in the battery field.”
Iratxe de Meatza, Advanced Li-ion Team Leader at the Materials for Energy Unit, CIDETEC Energy Storage, Spain
1) Our work in the Materials for Energy Unit at CIDETEC Energy Storage is dedicated to applied research, in order to develop battery technologies according to application and their transference to industry. Particularly, I am leading the team focused on advanced Li-ion development in which we are analyzing new active materials, electrode formulations and processing optimization for electrode manufacturing, full cell harmonization up to cell prototyping and extensive electrochemical characterization. I am particularly interested in correlating battery performance to upscaling factors.
2) Curiosity has always been my driving force to get into science. Since childhood, I always want to know “why” and especially “how does it work?”. My first conscious interest in science and technology could probably be traced to reading Jules Verne’s novels, also tinted with energy sustainability issues as I now realize (Nemo’s submarine in “20000 Leagues under the Sea”, water as energy source – fuel cells! – in “The Mystery Island”). No wonder that I chose Chemistry and Materials Science and Energy related topics as a research path!
3) We should propose and implement measures to attract, recruit and retain talented women into the battery field, joining forces from the research community, institutions and government authorities. It should probably begin from young children at primary school up to university education and into workplace career development, supporting gender equality and diversity, particularly in leadership positions where female numbers are very low. We need to provide equal career development opportunities, give visibility to female role models and/or mentors to encourage and nurture young scientists in our research field. I have found the thoughts of several female colleagues very inspiring, that I encourage you to check: Guiomar Hernandez and Adriana Navarro-Suárez in IOPscience and Maitane Berecibar with Marian Cabañero in this video.
Maeva Philippot, Researcher, Vrije Universitet Brussel, Belgium
1). I am investigating the sustainability of batteries: environmental and social impacts. From raw material extraction in mines to potential second life and recycling, each stage of the life of batteries offers new challenges to tackle. From cradle to grave, I wander what are the hotspots and how to reduce the impacts of today and tomorrow’s batteries. In all the different technologies Mobi is investigating, I wander which ones reduce pollution and limit the negative social impacts. I focus not only on climate change but also on toxicity, particulate matter formation and other impact categories. For instance, manufacturing in Europe reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases. The source of the raw materials is also one of my focuses as the working conditions differ from one country to the other. The increased lifetime of future batteries allows to qualify them for second lives in stationary applications, however, it’s not yet clear if this is a good option on an environmental and social point of view. My main tool is life cycle assessment and social life cycle assessment. A tool integrating those aspects is needed and will be developed to evaluate the environmental and social impacts of the current and future batteries.
2). Having a mother piloting aircrafts showed me that there is no limit to what I could do as a woman. I always wanted to understand how the world is functioning. Science in school, whether it was biology or physics, helped me to understand the world surrounding me. During my superior studies, I discovered that we still need to understand a lot and that there is a lot of space for research in the field of environmental impact assessment! To contribute, I decided to get a PhD
3). We need examples of female scientists in general, not only in the field of battery research. How many names of famous male scientists do you know? And how many famous female scientists? Probably a lot less. That’s for me a big issue. In science classes from primary school to high school, we should study also science history and science representatives of both genders.
Having an equal parental leave for the birth of a child would help women to get into challenging careers such as engineering and science.
Sandrine Lyonnard, Physicist, Group leaderCEA-IRIG, Grenoble France
1). As a physicist, I am working on nanomaterials for energy conversion and storage by means of neutron and X-ray scattering techniques, in particular in operando mode, to probe the evolution of fuel cell and battery components during their operation. My interests range from soft matter materials as proton-conducting membranes or single-ion Li-conducting electrolytes, to nanostructured silicon-based anodes or high voltage cathodes. My focus is on scattering, imaging and spectroscopic techniques applied to in-depth understanding of key mechanisms as structure-transport relationship and ageing of materials.
2). It may be a long path to become a scientist! The French painter Pierre Soulages said: “ What I find shows me what I search”. Choosing science was not a truly mindfull process, but rather the consequence of curiosity, willingness to watch beyond, and fondness for understanding how things (and people !) work, evolve and interact. The passion for knowledge, in general, and more specifically for the beautiful concepts of modern mathematics and physics, brought me to the great challenges of materials science. “Try again, fail again, fail better” says my bedside writer Samuel Beckett.
3). I fear clichés about women in science but, at the same time, I always felt very concerned by gender equality and the importance of promoting women in fields as physics or materials science, where they are still under-represented. Very often women turn away from the path of “hard” science, or stay long below the glass ceiling, for many reasons. Education and mentoring are headstones in my opinion to gradually change the game. Key is surely that visualising a future through visible examples helps everyone to climb any mountain and build the path to a successful life. In this regard, we, women in batteries, should help young girls, young female students, young junior female scientists, to become aware of the variety of careers that they can develop in battery research, just as men. Publicising the benefits of diversity is a kind of daily attitude we can have, in meetings, in conferences, in the labs, towards funding and managing bodies, as supervisors, as teachers, as project leaders, as partners ! Personally I also militate with my three sons, everyday, to show them that a mother can be an active and happy researcher, and that commitment and dedication is absolutely gender-neutral !
Claire Villevieille, CNRS Research Director, Grenoble, France
1). I am currently working in understanding complex electrochemical reaction mechanisms occurring in battery at different scales (from nano to millimeters, bulk, surface, interface) using lab techniques and large-scale facilities, the so-called operando techniques (that is why in the picture I am at ESRF). The good point is that when you develop methods you can work in all possible systems, conventional Li-ion batteries, Na-ion batteries but also water-based one, and the most challenging ones the solid-state batteries.
2). Well, I was always fascinated by science being a child. I was always playing with Lego and tried to develop some toys, some little experience out of it. As a Master student, when I entered for the first time in a research laboratory, I felt like at home, so, I decided to stay in a lab a bit longer… turning to be a senior scientist as my day-to-day job. Still now, I am fascinating by what I can constantly learn thanks to the people I can meet every day.
3). Actually, that is an interesting question that could also be asked to Gentlemen, don’t you think?
More seriously, I guess We, as women in Science, should kind of advert our job, like an open platform where we could discuss, meet, and where we could be showing them how fantastic this world is!
In a larger sphere, I think that there are lot of actions in the world to promote the role of Women in Science, which is an excellent start but still we need to continue. As an example, when you are planning a conference or symposium, think about inviting more women, little changes will make big differences.
M. Rosa Palacin is a Research Professor at the Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC)
1). I am mostly dedicated to the study of electrode materials for both already commercialised technologies (as Li-ion) or new emerging concepts (multivalent batteries). Besides understanding redox mechanisms, I also focus on the influence of crystal chemistry and microstructure on the electrochemical performance.
2). It was a gradual process, I guess I was driven by curiosity and the fact that in science one never stops learning new things which I think is one of the most motivating things in our job. I also like the freedom offered by academia to decide which research aspects to focus on. Science is never routine and I like that!
3). Battery research does have an engineering component, which clearly impacts gender statistics. General strategies to attract more women in STEM should be applied already at high school level. Fighting stereotypes could be useful at that stage and role models are clearly a path to follow. Later on family friendly working conditions can be of great help for young researchers, both male and female, and contribute to avoid the so-called leaky pipeline.
Sara Drvarič Talian, post-doc researcher at the National Institute of Chemistry, Ljubljana, Slovenia
1). What is your research about?I study the mechanism of operation of different batteries. Meaning, I try to understand how they work, or, more frequently, why they don’t work the way we want them to. I work a lot with impedance spectroscopy measurements because the technique enables the determination of the difficulty of different processes happening in the battery. I can therefore answer the question if it is more difficult to transport the active species to the electrode or for them to react. This way I can give specific instructions on how to change the battery cell design in order for it to work better.
2). Why did you choose to get into science?Since I was a child, I liked taking things apart and figuring out how they work. At that point, it was mainly toys or pens my father used to fill crossword puzzles. I guess this desire to understand the world translated into doing science as a grown up.
3). What needs to be done to get more women into the field of battery research?
I think supporting a work life and private life harmony is of the most importance, as well as offering more stability in terms of availability and location of future work. Society in general should strive for equality in expectations between mothers and fathers’ private life work load, which could equalize the toll having children has on their career.
Francis le Roux, PhD candidate, Electrochemistry based digital twinning of Lithium-Ion batteries, Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands
1). My research revolves around modeling and simulation of Lithium-Ion batteries. There are various modeling and simulation techniques which have been discussed within literature and I focus on physics based models to replicate the behaviour of Li-Ion cells. The modeling will be largely focused on the aging of the Li-Ion cell.
2). I have been interested in mathematics and science from a young age and grew up having interesting discussions with my dad. I was always trying to assist him in tasks around the house or when he was working on our vehicles, and my parents always encouraged my enthusiasm. I ended up studying engineering after mostly enjoying mathematics and sciences at school. My interest in Li-Ion batteries started in 2018 when I was an intern at uYilo e-Mobility programme in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
3). Discussion, Inspiration and exposure. Men are largely exposed to scientific topics from a young age due to the toys that they play with and books that they read as children. The only thing that can inspire people to research a topic is if they are exposed to it in the first place. I think initiatives where women in batteries attend schools or universities, or utilize social media to share the battery field and what it entails will inspire younger women and perhaps spark an interest in the field of battery research.
Katja Fröhlich, Thematic Coordinator “Sustainable & Smart Battery Manufacturing”, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmBH, Austria
1). My research focuses on Li-ion cell manufacturing, with the main interest to increase the sustainability and energy-efficiency of the cell production process. This includes solvent-reduced or even dry electrode manufacturing as well as the reduction of high energy consumers such as the dry room itself. Sensor integration for measuring different cell parameters such as the temperature, local electrode potentials or the pressure is also part of our work in order to improve the final cells’ lifetime and safety.
2). I somehow ran into the field of battery research during my Bachelor thesis which was on bifunctional oxygen electrodes for rechargeable Zinc-air systems. It was immediately clear to me that I am very much dedicated to batteries and I continued working on different aspects from synthesis to modelling and finally to cell production. What I like most about science is the different approaches to reach a goal, that we can work together with experts from different fields and discuss possible solutions for a specific question.
3). I think it is very important that you are very much into a specific topic and want to find out everything about it. Something must be so fascinating to you that the research follows your interests. Therefore, it is very important to approach women even at young age, getting them to know all the different fields and aspects of battery research and also actively promoting them and other women in the field as role models.
Laura Hannemose Rieger, Postdoc, BIG-MAP, DTU, Denmark
1). My research is about using machine learning to speed up battery development, for example by predicting battery lifetime or fast forwarding time intensive simulations.
Additionally I’m interested in extracting new knowledge about the underlying physical effects from machine learning models trained with large amounts of data.
2). There is not a single moment or reason I could point to, I have always been fascinated with understanding systems and discovering general rules from examples.
3). We need to further normalise working in science as a woman and show that it is possible to combine research with having a family
Anna Szczęsna-Chrzan, PhD Candidate, Scientific Assistant at the Warsaw University of Technology, Warsaw, Poland.
1). The battery industry is currently one of the most developing scientific fields. It is a great hope for young people, that by choosing the battery field as a career path, they will be needed throughout their lives, and that their work will become more and more interesting every year. Our only job is to show women how exciting the world of batteries can be for them.
2). My research concerns the optimization of Na-ion and Li-ion cells by testing the relationship between electrodes, separators and electrolytes in order to obtain the best possible parameters of the cell. My greatest field of interest are innovative cathode materials and the study of the differences between the processes taking place in Na-ion and Li-ion batteries.
My dream is to connect the world of science and great technological breakthroughs with business. That’s why I chose a research career to understand complex phenomena as well as develop new ideas that may one day become a great market product.
3). The battery industry is currently one of the most developing scientific fields. It is a great hope for young people, that by choosing the battery field as a career path, they will be needed throughout their lives, and that their work will become more and more interesting every year. Our only job is to show women how exciting the world of batteries can be for them.
Assoc.Prof. Dr. Neslihan Yuca Doğdu, Maltepe University and Founder/Enwair Energy Technologies Corporation, Istanbul, Turkey.
1). I am Associated Professor in the university and I am trying to train students in battery field. At the same time, I have my own company that we are developing silicon anodes, Li-rich and high voltage cathodes and polymer binders for Lithium ion batteries. I am interested in recycling of batteries, as well.
2). Academic environments are certainly key chain of the science. Since my undergrad days, I always wanted to be in this academic world to develop new Technologies for the humanity which will increase their life quality. So, after I had my BSc from environmental engineering, I realized that to protect the environment is our must and we should have correct decisions to reach this purpose. Then I decided to continue in energy field which is mostly the reason of many wars in the World and reason of the earth pollution many times to recover the human needs. When I choose the energy for my scientific life, I completed the puzzle for me to serve for a peaceful and reliable World for people and especially for the children.
3). As in every field, if women and men work together, everything goes more productive and efficient. Because women have incredible abilities when men have other abilities. But as we know, in every field men has more population than women. To increase the women population, I think, according culture and present life conditions of countires/regions, women should encourage to join the scientific studies. It should be told that, women have very important physical and mental abilities and they should use these abilities for humanity. So there should be many funds for the women who doesn’t have opportunities to have and/or continue their education and research, should be supported
Mehak Sohail Battery researcher at ABEE, Belgium.
1). At ABEE, I study various active materials for anode and cathode of Lithium ion batteries of advanced capacity. My research encompasses developing an optimized electrode slurry preparation method tailored to the ABE R&D Lab, cell fabrication, electrochemical cycling, reproducibility check, and result analysis and benchmarking. In the future, I plan to work on parameter modelling and characterization techniques to learn better about the electrodes we fabricate in the ABE R&D Lab.
2). When I was in taking my A’ Level exams (high school/college) I was lucky to be taught the subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Math by three very qualified female teachers. For me, it was inspirational how my teachers had answers to all my questions, and how they solved the puzzles of the universe for me. Their attention to my academic progress and appreciation of my hard work continued to fuel my endeavors in science. I believe in a society where young girls undergo a lot of emotional and psychosocial pressure to drop out of school after college education and marry, my female teachers claiming a leadership position in science helped my young mind picture a promising future for my self and work hard for it.
3). The field of battery research could be made more accessible to female students in colleges/universities through an active role of companies. For example, more and more female students in Pakistan opt for the degree in computer software engineering thanks to frequent workshops, competitions, and job-hunts organized by companies in collaboration with the educational institutes. One of the major concerns is health safety with respect to working with potentially dangerous materials, which can be addressed through these interactions.
Svitlana Nahirniak, Postdoctoral researcher, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany
1). Currently my research focuses on the synthesis of the cathode materials of particular composition and morphology for Li-ion batteries in the frame of H2020 European project BAT4EVER project. Specifically, I am dealing with the optimization of synthesis parameters and further characterization of the cathode powder structures with the aim to develop high-energy cathode material.
2). From school I was more interested in the exact sciences and at some point, I realized that I would like to connect my life with science and technology. Since my study years at the university, I am strongly interested in the synthesis of nanomaterials, especially in those with nanostructured morphology. My attention has been focused on synthesis of nanostructured metal oxides, that allowed me to gain great experience in this field. After graduation from the university I continued my scientific growth as a PhD student and finally defended my PhD thesis successfully on a specialty subject as Inorganic Substances Technology / Engineering Sciences.
3). Looking at the percentage of women in the running projects in the field of battery technologies, I think we are already on a quite right way. Maybe from the first sight, “battery research” or “batteries technologies” sounds too complicated, but from my point of view, it is not only about physics and physical processes, it is also about materials and their role in the overall device performance. I would like to wish women to believe in yourself more and don’t waive the opportunity to be the part of science and technology, it can be an exciting journey.
Guinevere Giffin, Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research and Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg
1). My work focuses on the development of materials and components for solid-state and Li-ion batteries. I find it particularly fascinating to learn how ions move through electrolytes and how that influences the battery performance.
2). My interest in Chemistry started in high school, where my chemistry teacher would sing the periodic table in class, and has continued until today. I was lucky enough to have many teachers, professors and mentors who found ways to foster my interest and to push me to excel.
3). We can get students interested in batteries and electrochemistry by providing them with the chance to be involved in cutting-edge research projects early in their studies. It is then important to continue inspire and support these individuals.
Dr.-Ing. Janna Hofmann, Chief Engineer Batteries and Fuel Cells Machines, Equipment and Process Automation at KIT – The Research University, Germany
1). My research is about machines and process automation for battery manufacturing equipment. In my group we are trying to understand what happens inside the machine during the process and how we can improve the machines to build better batteries. Therefor we use instruments like industry 4.0, artificial intelligence, process simulation, digital twins and many more to understand and solve our research problems. Within our team we want to rethink battery manufacturing and have our focus on agile and flexible manufacturing processes and systems.
2). After finishing my PhD I had the chance to stay in university and I love the freedom I have here to develop. I love working in an interdisciplinary team together with materials scientists, chemical engineers, chemists, electrical engineers and us mechanical engineers in our KIT Battery Technology Center.
3). We definitely need more female role models. But I think it also needs teachers to tell young pupils to go into science and more professors to encourage young women to make a PhD after finishing their studies. But compared to classical mechanical engineering, we are many women in the field of battery research.
Mari Ylikunnari, Team Leader of Printed Materials VTT and WP leader in EU-HIDDEN project, Finland
1). In battery research my focus is on processing of battery materials and their possibilities for upscaling into pilot scale
2). I have always been interested how different things are working and get familiar of those in a deeper level of understanding.
3). Raise the interest by showing what it can offer; networking, opportunity to see and maybe influence where the world is going, be on the crest of research and knowledge