I am from Ukraine, from a beautiful city called Lviv.
I was inspired to do Physics, when I was finishing school, so I did my undergraduate degree in Physics (specialising in Optics and Physics of Medicine). Studying was a lot of fun, and some subjects really feel like your brain is stretching! I also did lots of other things volunteering with student organisations and took part in archaeological expedition digging up a 3 thousand year old burial ground and on another occasion helped to restore a 16 century castle and palace! I also led teams at hiking competitions, and challenged perceptions that girls are no good at hiking by leading a ladies team to a 4th place over a challenging route in a tight contest with 25 other teams.
Later I got Gates Cambridge Scholarship to do a PhD at the University of Cambridge. This has completely transformed my life. Imagine being able to go to one of the best universities in the world! Walking through Cavendish Laboratory museum (as a Physicist) and looking at the photographs of people who made history in Physics was unforgettable. And soon I also realised that that people around me are still making that history - and that I could be making it myself!
In my PhD I worked on Liquid Crystals, I have kept my enthusiasm for these materials ever since. After submitting my thesis I wanted to do something crazy, and a trip to Nepal, a hike up to Everest base camp and an expedition to a 6,189m peak (Island Peak or Imja Tse) seemed to fit the bill. It was the most exciting travel experience I ever had. I even came back in one piece to do my viva.
Industry found my research worth investing in, and I have spent a number of years at Cambridge University doing some exciting liquid crystal based work, adding different nanomaterials to Liquid Crystals to make new functional materials for Photonic and Radio Frequency applications.
Meanwhile I won a highly prestigious Junior Research Fellowship from Wolfson College, Cambridge. And for 4 very happy and exciting years while working in one of the best Universities in the World, I was also involved in the College governance, organised seminars, Research days and did lots of ballroom and salsa dancing and singing in a choir of very high standard. I interacted with some amazing researchers from a variety of fields, which is perhaps the best and absolutely invaluable part of being a College Fellow at Cambridge.
Later I had a privilege of getting a Visiting Research Fellowship from the International Institute of Complex Adaptive Matter and spent super-productive and super-fun 2 months in Colorado (University of Colorado at Boulder). Lots of skiing and lab work, and some really cool science!
I also found the appeal of Graphene, as the Nobel Prize was awarded in 2010 hard to resist, and I moved to the nanomaterials side of research for a bit.
Around that time something that is known as two-body problem became an issue for me. In Physics, two-body problem is a mechanical interaction of two solid objects, and it can be solved using equations. In life, two-body problem is when two romantically minded academics/researchers want to get together with an intent to form a family, but to do it they need to find jobs in the same geographic region (and ideally, in the same University). This human problem can be solved using equations only to a certain extent, but we managed pretty well, with one person moving countries but staying in the same research field, and another staying in the same country (moving universities), but changing research field.
This is how I got interested and started working in Ultrasonics and non-destructive testing at the University of Warwick. I am thrilled that I had made this rather bold step, as the amount of exciting applications is huge, and they really resonate with my desire to make the world a better place. Plus, I bring my experience in the field of Liquid Crystals and Optics, so I can make some new and amazing things happen.
Now I am a mom of two lovely girls, I love my work and teaching, and I do my best to share my passion for my research with others.
Ivan Franko Lviv National University BA Physics 2000