"Confidence is the most important skill to develop"

Jelena Vučković is professor in Stanford and a member of the MPQ's scientific advisor board. In an interview she explains why female role models are so important for young female scientists and what she thinks are crucial conditions for a succesful career in physics.

Jelena Vučković is professor at Stanford University for Electrical Engineering and especially known for her important contributions to experimental nano and quantum photonics. Jelena was born and educated in Serbia, before she moved to California in the 1990ies to complete a Master and PhD at Caltech. In 2002 she arrived in Stanford, where she has been working and living ever since.

Jelena is an exceptional scientist and a highly regarded physicist in the quantum science community and beyond. As of now, her list of distinctions is long and she even holds fifteen patents. Apart from being a successful scientist she is also mother of two children, all of which making her an important role model for many young female scientists now and yet to come.

For five years now she has been a valuable member of the scientific advisory board of MPQ, which meets every three years to assess on the scientific level and outcome of the institute. Last autumn, when the board last came together, we took the chance to have a talk with Jelena about her personal path to science, her perspective on women in science and her workings as a role model. Her answers were very fascinating and inspiring, but see and listen for yourself!

1. What motivates you to do science?



2. How did your personal background help you overcome the first obstacles that girls and women often face when choosing a path in physics?


3. What is the formula for a successful career as a woman in science?


4. You have been in charge of groups as a woman advisor for many years. Based on your experience, how can female advisors bring a change to the gender imbalance in the scientific environment?


5. Why do you think, a woman advisor has that influence on a group and especially on younger female scientists?


6. Apart from role models, what else could help females to survive in science?

Thank you so much, Jelena, for this honest and inspiring conversation! 

(This interview was conducted by Katharina Jarrah)

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