The OPERA COST Action aims to promote the Women in Science by creating this dedicated platform.

In 2024, only 35% of all students in STEM related fields of study are women

Despite statistics that show close performance of girls and boys in science and mathematics, strong gendered stereotypes prevail: many girls are still less encouraged in STEM fields and have limited choices (if any) for their education and career development

Women occupy a small minority of top-level positions despite an improvement in recent years and only 22 women have been awarded a Nobel prize in a scientific discipline to date.

Our Objective: Involving Women in Science to highlight their career and favor their access to senior academic positions.

How to contact us:

Two Leaders: Marta Sawicka, Poland & Vera Marinova , Bulgaria
With the help of Yamina André, France & Noelle Gogneau, France

Coming events

February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Women in Science Webinars

Past events

“Women in Science" Event
29th August 2023
“Women in Science" Event
19th September 2022

Biograms of senior and junior women scientists

Yamina Andre
Yamina André

My name is Yamina André. I am an associate professor and I share my working time between research and teaching. I have overseeing the growth of III-V and III-N compounds by HVPE (Hydride Vapor Phase Epitaxy) for 20 years: design and implementation of facilities, thermodynamic and kinetic modelling of VPE growth at Institut Pascal UCA/CNRS, Université Clermont Auvergne, France.

Since September 2021, I am the scientific grant holder of the European COST Action OPERA – “European Network for Innovative and Advanced Epitaxy” (2021-25;

My research is focused on the growth of nitride planar thick layers, and selective area growth for both III-V and III-Nitride materials: 3D shaping at micrometer and sub-micrometer scale, growth of GaAs tips for tunneling microscopy, as well as GaN rods for LEDs. I am strongly involved in promoting the HVPE process in the international nanoscience community. Regularly invited in international conferences about vapor phase epitaxy, I have also managed several research projects at French, European or international levels

I teach physics in a graduate school of engineering (Polytech Clermont Auvergne INP), where I really enjoy the transfer of knowledge to young students and follow their transition toward the professional world. I am also involved in the promotion of the international relations of my institution, as I consider that traveling and studying abroad for a semester or more is a great and very enriching experience.

I really like to learn and pass on my knowledge to PhD students and younger ones. I have never suffered from being a woman and I have never paid attention to the difference between females and males, even though I work in physics. I regularly participate to activities that promote science and encourage young girls to attend studies in physics, even though I am aware that a few will unfortunately suffer from this difference.

In my opinion, willpower, hard-working and good organizational skills allow women in science to find a balance between life as a mother and life as a researcher and teacher at university level. As a conclusion I would tell young students, girls or boys: “never stop dreaming”.

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Paula Ferreira
Paula Ferreira

I am Paula Ferreira, and I am a Coordinator Researcher at CICECO – Aveiro Institute of Materials of the University of Aveiro (UA), Portugal. Since January 2017, I have been on a quest in the world of science. I earned my stripes with an Analytical Chemistry Degree in 1996 at UA and later pursued a MPhil Degree in Pure & Applied Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK in 1997. In 2000, I proudly earned my PhD at UA.

My scientific journey took me on an exciting detour as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow in Munich for 14 months, and later as an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal. Eventually, I found my place as a CICECO Research Assistant by the end of 2004.

Over the years, I have secured over 4M€ in funding for engineering research, leading numerous national and collaborative projects. My passion lies in designing and characterizing functional materials, including ferroelectrics, multiferroics, and electrically conductive wonders. Additionally, I have immersed myself in the realm of biomaterials, exploring functional polysaccharides-based materials for healthcare and electronic devices application.

I had or have mentored 13 post-doctoral fellows, 18 Ph.D. candidates, 37 Master’s students, and over 40 last-year project students. With a publication record of over 157 papers and 5 book chapters, I am actively participating in the management committees of my University, Departmental and CICECO.

I was honored with the Women in Science 2023 award in Portugal.

Choosing science was not a family tradition for me; rather, it was the influence of an extraordinary high school teacher who lit the spark of fascination within me. It ability to make complex concepts engaging and accessible drew me into the captivating world of science. As a researcher and research coordinator at CICECO, the most challenging aspect of my work is finding a delicate balance between preserving my scientific creativity while fulfilling all the responsibilities that come with academia.

On my career path, I faced difficulties as a woman hailing from a country that was scientifically in a somewhat delayed phase. Breaking through and earning trust in my work was a struggle, but I have always been tenacious, ready to fight to prove my worth.

Fortunately, I had the privilege of a fantastic PhD supervisor and encountered great colleagues and collaborators who played pivotal roles in my growth. Their mentorship and support have been instrumental in shaping my journey. Beyond the lab, I find joy in spending time with my family and exploring the world around us. Balancing career and personal life is undoubtedly challenging, as I strive for perfection in both realms, including fostering a home filled with joy and happiness for my kids. If I could advise my younger self, I would stress the importance of prioritizing family over work and setting aside time for contemplation. In encouraging girls and young women to choose STEM education, I believe in equal encouragement for both genders. With proper guidance and stimulation, young students can make informed decisions, irrespective of gender. I advocate for providing equal opportunities and support to all aspiring minds in the STEM fields.

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Laurence Méchin
Laurence Méchin

I am Laurence Méchin, CNRS research director and head of the Electronics Research Group at GREYC (Groupe de Recherches en Informatique, Image et Instrumentation de Caen – UMR 6072), a research laboratory in computer science and electronics engineering in Caen, France (

I received my Ph.D. degree in Electronics & Microelectronics from the University of Caen in 1996, which I prepared at CEA-LETI (Grenoble, France) on free-standing infrared microbolometers based on epitaxial YBa2Cu3O7-d thin films grown on CeO2/YSZ buffered silicon substrates. After two post-doctoral positions, at the University of Cambridge (UK) in 1997 to study the superconducting properties of YBa2Cu3O7-d films grown on vicinal substrates by DC sputtering and at the University of Twente (The Netherlands) in 1998 to develop high value capacitance based on (Ba,Sr)TiO3 films on silicon, I joined GREYC in Caen at the end of 1998 as a lecturer and in october 2001 as a CNRS full-time researcher.

My expertise is based on multidisciplinarity: pulsed laser deposition of functional oxide thin films (among them the ferromagnetic composition La2/3Sr1/3MnO3), microfabrication of devices, design and characterisation of low-noise sensors. I enjoy some long-standing collaborations with various colleagues in Europe, thanks to friendships developed during my thesis or post-docs, then with PhD students who have become researchers themselves or simply with colleagues I’ve met at conferences. I recently took part in a H2020 European project whose multidisciplinary nature and focus on the health sector were particularly motivating and I was very happy to meet new people and know about new fields.

At school I always liked scientific subjects, but physics in particular, because I wanted to know “how it works”. My parents were teachers at the elementary school. My father passed on to me his love of science and, above all, the scientific approach. I think what I like most about my job as a researcher is that it gives me the opportunity to create things, such as sensors, and that it allows me to carry out experiments to answer the different questions I have about how the devices I want to make work. I’m not able to manipulate theoretical concepts, but I do know how to bring together information from different sources and areas of expertise. Today, I regret that I can’t spend as much time as I used to doing the experiments myself, but I’m delighted to be working with young colleagues and PhD students so that I can pass on my experience and guide them through the experiments. I don’t do any teaching but I have to deal with a lot of little administrative things that cut into the time available. I find that the hardest thing to manage. I also have to balance family life with my two children and my partner. I also love nature and I don’t find enough time to walk in mountains or along the sea side. Overall the difficulty is managing the frustration of not having enough time for everything!

In retrospect, I don’t think I’ve had any particular difficulties in my career. The post-doc periods were exciting from the point of view of scientific, human and cultural encounters, and balanced out the sacrifices and choices I had to make on a personal level to get through those periods. Then I got a permanent job that allowed me to start my career more continuously. I do think, however, that the early stages of a woman’s career are more difficult to manage, because developing our own research area requires a very high level of professional investment, which has an impact on our private life, at an age when you may also want to build a family and have children. The travels required to make contacts at conferences can be difficult to organise with young children. Spouses who are heavily involved in family life are essential.

During my thesis I was lucky enough to have two very inspiring PhD directors at the two places I had to work. They always encouraged and guided me to build my career and I’m very grateful to them for that. But very soon after I got my permanent post, I had to develop my own topic and look for funding myself to buy the equipment I needed for the activities I was planning. Today, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I’m also happy to be working with my partner who is also a researcher. He is playing a dual role in my career as a trusted colleague and understanding partner.

To the younger people, and in particular young women, who are thinking of becoming researchers, I would simply say that they should believe in what they want to do and that being a researcher is a wonderful job, which allows you to keep learning and remain curious. A lot is possible if you believe in it. Finally, over the last few years, I’ve started talking to a number of colleagues and reading documents about the weight of gender stereotypes and I’m trying to convey the idea that science is for everyone to secondary school pupils by trying to pass on my passion for science.

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Cinthia Piamonteze
Cinthia Piamonteze

I’m Cinthia Piamonteze. I’m a senior researcher at the Paul Scherrer Institute. My scientific interests include the discovery and investigation of novel magnetic properties at the interface between complex oxides in high quality heterostructures, the control of magnetism by external stimuli as electric fields or strain and the investigation and control of magnetism in low dimensions in van der Waals magnetic systems. As a specialist in x-ray absorption spectroscopy, x-ray linear dichroism and x-ray magnetic circular dichroism I apply these techniques to help in the understanding of these systems. I also have long experience with multiplet codes used to simulate x-ray absorption spectra. Applying the simulation know-how in conjunction with the experiment has rendered interesting insights.

I’m from Brazil and completed my PhD in physics at University of Campinas, Brazil, working at the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Source (LNLS). After completing the PhD, I moved to the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley, California, USA for my post-doctoral work where I stayed a bit more than 3 years.

In 2007 I joined the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland. Since 2019 I’m a member of the research committee at PSI (Forschungskommission – FoKo). From 2012 to 2022 I have been part of the committee for equal oportunities in PSI, which plans actions to make PSI an attractive work place for women and parents in general.

How did I end up here? I have been always curious, and that curiosity led me to study Physics. My parents did not know one could make a career as a scientist. My career choice was seen as rather weird at home. One of the challenges I feel in being in a male dominated environment is to be heard by my colleagues without being underestimated. This means that often I must repeat myself a few times until I’m taken seriously. In my free time I like to hike in the mountains. I have two children who are 6 and 9 years old. I only manage with my work and my children because my husband takes his 50% work share at home. My advice for any future woman scientist is to always believe yourself. If someone says your idea is not good is because probably, they did not understand it, do not let that put you down. If you plan to have a family, be sure to discuss with your partner if he/she is prepared to take 50% of the workload at home.

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Noelle Gogneau
Noelle Gogneau

I am Noelle Gogneau, CNRS researcher director working in the Material Dept. of the Center for Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies from Paris-Saclay University. I have an expertise on the growth of III-V and III-N semiconductors by MOVPE and PA-MBE.

I received my Ph.D. degree in Physics in 2004. My PhD project was focused on the growth of GaN/AlN quantum dots by PA-MBE, with the development of a new epitaxial technique named Modified Stransky-Krastanow growth mode. After a post-doctoral position at the Laboratory of Physics of Nanostructures – EPFL – Lausanne, Switzerland from 2004 to 2006, centered on the growth of (Ga,Al)As/GaAs nanowires and quantum dots on patterned substrate by MOVPE, I joined the Laboratory for Photonic and Nanostructures as CNRS researcher in 2006. My researches were focus on the selective growth of In(P)As/InP quantum dots on nano-patterned substrate by MOVPE.

From July 2011, my research activities are centered on the growth of III-Nitrides nanowires by PA-MBE and their characterization for Nano-Energy applications, with an emphasis on the electric/piezoelectric properties of 1D-nanostructures for the development of piezoelectric devices. I have a strong expertise in the III-N NWs growth and the piezoelectric phenomena involving at nanometer scale. Through my activities, I collaborate with different national and international groups. Since October 2023, I coordinate the interdisciplinary “Nanoscience Institute” from Paris-Saclay University (PSINano).

From September 2021, I am the chair of the European COST Action OPERA – “European Network for Innovative and Advanced Epitaxy” (2021-25;

I’m a curious person. I like (and I need) constantly learning new things, discovering new places and people. Novelty is my driving force. Research allows me to bring all these aspects together, through the new materials/devices/concepts I work on; and the people I meet and collaborate with, in France, Europe and around the world.

I am a dynamic person. I like to say that I lead four parallel lives: my life as a researcher, as a mother/family, as a woman and my own life (made up of those little moments just for me that allow me to recharge my batteries). It is a question of organization to find the time to make all these lives cohabit. But I have to admit that I didn’t find my balance until I accepted some part of frustration in all these interchangeable lives. Once I accepted that, I was able to move on. And also, thanks to my husband and two daughters, who are extremely comprehensive with the passionate person I am.

Evolving as a woman in physics/technology is not an easy way all the days. I didn’t have a mentor and thus I had to learn how to find my place, my equilibrium while remaining the woman I am. The “prove yourself first” sentences when I was young, and the belittling remarks (unfounded or worse out of context) made in front of colleagues to which I was and still am entitled today are part of my experience. Although hurtful, these experiences were/are formative in making me the researcher I am today.

Today, I’m a fighter who believes in the beauty of science, a science that cannot exist without the richness of research carried out jointly by men and women.

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Vera Marinova
Vera Marinova

I am Vera Marinova from the Institute of Optical Materials and Technologies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IOMT-BAS). I received MSc in Optics and Spectroscopy from Physics Department, Sofia University and I got my PhD degree in 2000 at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. After PhD defense I joined Photonics Department, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, Taiwan (NYCU) as post-doctoral researcher (2000 -2004), following by Flemish Fellowship for Senior Post-Doctoral researcher at Antwerp University, Belgium. Since 2008, I become visiting professor at the Electrophysics Department, NYCU, Taiwan where currently I am Adjunct Professor.

I have full professor position at IOMT-BAS, leading a group on 2D materials for application in optics and photonics. My research interests are in the field of synthesis of nanolayers and functional oxide materials and their implementation in optical devices as liquid crystal displays, spatial light modulators, flat optical elements, etc. I am a Fellow of the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), OPTICA and Material Research Society (MRS).

The tough challenge I had to face in my carrier was to establish a Lab in IOMT-BAS when I returned to Europe after over 20 years at NCTU, Taiwan, especially in terms of struggling for funding and complete the projects to successful end. Now, a have self-confidence. I think being a researcher means to be a good leader of projects, a supervisor, a teacher, as well as to serve administrative work -all of them need to mix to reach good balance between science and family as well. Over the years I learned to appreciate the experienced senior colleagues and to trust the innovative viewpoint of the young generation who bring novelty and progress. I am very grateful to my family and 2 children for the enormous and unprecedented support. I have several female models in science and every time discussing with them keep me motivating and encouraged. I think Women in Science community is unique platform that rises its impact across the modern society and we all need to work together (male and female) to attract more young women to choose their professional carrier in Science.

ORCID: 0000-0002-3499-0212

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