To celebrate the 50th anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote in Switzerland, the National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR) will introduce you to some women working in Swiss research institutes. Today we invite you to meet Hanna Traeger, a scientist who has never been supervised by a female professor during her studies!
Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in science?
During high school, I became interested in chemistry, and I decided to study and do my PhD in that field. I hope to be able to continue working in academia after I finish my PhD by conducting post-doctoral research.
What do you like about your field of research?
On the scientific level, I really appreciate working in the field of polymer mechano chemistry, because it is very satisfying to visually see when the polymer or molecule that I designed changes color when I stretch it. Additionally, I really enjoy working in an international community, because it is extremely interesting to me to observe what other people in the same field are working on, and try to solve problems in a creative way together.
As a woman, have you always been in the minority? and if so, has this been a problem? an anecdote, positive or negative?
During my bachelor and master studies, as well as my PhD women were not in minority. However, there is a lack of senior researchers and professors that identify as female. As a consequence, I have never been supervised by a female PhD, post doc or professor during my studies.
As a woman and a scientist, do you consider that you can be a role model for young people who would like to follow in your footsteps?
I am trying my best to motivate high school students to study STEM subjects by doing outreach activities, such as lab experiments, with them. I also am supporting young researchers through supervision and mentoring during internships and thesis projects. I am hoping these experiences will help younger studentsm and inspire them to pursue u a scientific career as well.
Did you yourself have a role model that allowed you to become who you are today? Or on the contrary, did you miss this model?
As pointed out above, I never had a female supervisor to look up to, however I have strong support from very intelligent and helpful female postdocs in the research group that I am working in, and I have a female professor as a mentor who truly inspires me.