Ruchi Gupta - 2021 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
School of Chemistry
University of Birmingham, UK
Born in India
My parents inspired me to work in science and engineering. I loved visiting a local library and book fairs with my mother. My mother bought me an electromagnetic set which had batteries, magnets, iron filings, fans, motors, light bulbs, and a breadboard, and I loved playing with it. My maths and physics teachers in school were also my role models when I was younger. They encouraged me to find the answers to my questions on how things work.
In terms of my work now, I develop research ideas and strategy, do experiments, write journal papers, secure funding, mentor my team, seek collaborations, manage finances, and publicize the work. My role at the university also involves teaching and administrative responsibilities.
I found the transition from being a research fellow to becoming an independent academic very challenging because I was not prepared to carry out activities other than research. I have partly overcome this challenge by attending various training courses and seeking the advice of more experienced colleagues.
I wish I had been told that the more you learn, the more you realize how much is left to learn. But I would tell young women now, who are interested in a career in science, don’t be afraid to tinker with things and try out your ideas.