International day of Women and Girls in Science
Since its declaration as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science back in 2015, February 11th has been the ideal moment to discuss and to promote actions for a full and equal access and participation of women and girls in science.
Continuing with our initiative from last year, we have talked to some of the women working in ClearFarm project, to know their experiences and share their views about science and gender equality.
Laura Talens Peiró is a post-doc at ICTA-UAB. She is chemical engineer devoted to applying and implementing her knowledge in circular economy strategies to drive changes towards a more sustainable and equal European Union.
What’s your role in the ClearFarm project?
I am part of the team at ICTA-UAB working on the environmental assessment of the pig and dairy farms participating in the project. To do so, we use the methodology life cycle assessment (here you can learn more) which uses data of the materials and energy used in farms to estimate their potential environmental impacts.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am from a town called Tavernes de la Valldigna in València (Spain). I first studied Chemical Engineering at the Universitat Politècnica de València, and then I completed a Bachelor of Science on studies in Engineering and a Master on Clean Manufacturing Technologies at the University of Teesside in the UK. In 2009, I complemented my PhD on Environmental Science and Technology at UAB. After one post-doc stay at INSEAD (France) and another one at the EC Joint Research Center (Italy), I joined the Sostenipra research group at ICTA-UAB in 2017 where I coordinate the research line “Resource Management for a Circular Economy”.
I am also married and a mother of two kids: Carlota (9 years old) and Martí (6 years old).
Why did you become a scientist?
I never made a clear decision about becoming a scientist. I have always been curious about the world and how technologies and products are made. As a child I remember wondering where all products (especially toys, clothing) ended up once they were broken and wasted. I guess that this idea drove my academic career first to engineering, later to waste management, and finally to environmental prevention.
For me, becoming a scientist has never been an objective itself. In my view, working on science is a process of learning and acquiring new knowledge to answer questions.
As a female researcher, what has been your biggest challenge up until now?
The biggest challenge was to start working again after my two maternity leaves, especially, as I had to look for economic funding or a new job. Although I have the support of my partner it is always difficult to manage time between family and research.
What is the coolest thing about your work/research?
For me, the coolest thing is working in close collaboration with researchers from diverse disciplines, universities and research centres. In the project ClearFarm, for instance, our task at ICTA-UAB is to perform the life cycle assessment of the pig and dairy farms participating in the project. To perform this analysis, we visited some pig and dairy farms in Spain together with Veterinary colleagues from UAB and the University of Murcia. During these visits, besides starting the collection of data, we learnt more closely how to use an animal welfare protocol. We also observed daily routines in farms, and how farmers care about their animals. All in all, working in ClearFarm has help me acquire new knowledge on animal production systems from colleagues’ experts on the subject.
Learning new things and working on a collaborative and open-minded environment is what excites me most about my work.