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Women in Science: Nerea Otero

General O Porriño, Spain

It was when she was a teenager that Nerea Otero decided to dedicate herself to the world of science. Currently, she works as researcher at AIMEN where she is the team leader of the ALMMA (Advanced Laser MicroManufacturing Applications) group.

When did you realise that you wanted to pursue a career in a science and technology field? What were your motivations to make this decision?
I always liked sciences since I was a child and my parents always helped me to foster this interest. However, the moment I decided that I would like to dedicate myself to the world of science took place as a teenager. My physics teacher helped us to see the world with other eyes, aroused a curiosity in me even greater than I had and when I was in her classes I always thought: when I grow up I want to be able to understand the world as she does. From that moment, it was clear for me that I would make a career related to science.

Give an overview of your professional path.
After finishing my studies, I started working at AIMEN, participating as a researcher in funded projects related to the processing of materials with high power lasers. Step by step, we focused on more precise applications and formed a group of laser microprocessing. We started by being two people in that group and now we are 7 people and we coordinate several H2020 projects, including FLOIM.

Provide a short overview of your job. What are your main responsibilities?
I’m the team leader of the ALMMA (Advanced Laser MicroManufacturing Applications) group, which implies overseeing the activities of the other members and looking for new collaboration opportunities. In addition, I am an active researcher in different projects, as for example in the coordination of FLOIM.

What do you find the most rewarding in your job? What do you find the most challenging in your job? 
The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing the evolution of ALMMA, as we face bigger and more complicated projects every year. The most difficult part is to combine my job with my maternity, mostly due to the need of travelling. 

What is your role within the FLOIM project? How do you expect your work in FLOIM project to contribute to your career development? 
As project coordinator, I am in charge of carefully following the project activities and advances. For me, this is a great opportunity to learn about different fields which are the main expertise of other partners. In addition, as project representative in different events, the coordination of the FLOIM project provides the possibility of enhancing the networking activity and visibility of AIMEN and more specifically, ALMMA group (Advanced Laser MicroManufacturing Applications).

What would you advice to girl students that want to pursue a career in a science and technology field?
I am not good with advices…I just would like them to try hard in every field they like. The years in the university are very important for education, but also for making new connections that could be very useful for the future, so, try different activities and make stays in other universities whenever you can.