Astrid Ramirez is a research assistant at the Institute of Combustion Technology for Aerospace Engineering (IVLR), University of Stuttgart. She is investigating the performance of a kerose-surrogate within the ESTiMatE project. In this interview, Astrid talks about her passion for sustainable solutions and how she believes you should choose a career that you are passionate about.
What is your research area and how did you become interested in pursuing this field?
I work on chemical kinetics and numerical modeling of combustion processes.
During my bachelor’s and master’s programs in Colombia, I had the opportunity to participate on different research projects which provided industrial partners with solutions to specific needs in their production processes. I was actively involved in the topics related to reacting flows, fuel production, development of reaction mechanisms, and process simulations.
Later, I worked for a nonprofit corporation in joint projects with universities, national and international industrial partners and the government. My tasks included the development of sustainable business models for innovative projects in energy and chemistry.
Those academic and professional experiences gave me a perspective of the scientific challenges and opportunities related with my career. I am passionate about sustainable solutions, mainly in the area of pollutants emissions. In the context of the ESTiMatE project, the development of kinetic mechanism and the combustion modelling of jet fuels are key components to understand pollutant emissions formation at engine-relevant conditions in the aeronautical sector.
What are you doing in the ESTiMatE project?
My main role in the ESTiMatE project is the development and optimisation of detailed and reduced chemical kinetic mechanisms for studying the performance of a kerosene-surrogate. Those mechanisms will be integrated by ESTiMatE partners in their soot formation models and CFD simulations. At the same time, I will use experimental data provided by ESTiMatE partners to validate and optimise the reaction mechanisms.
How has your experience been so far?
The ESTiMatE project is a great EU initiative in the context of the Horizon 2020 program. It proposes a multidisciplinary approach with a permanent interaction between the partners. This has allowed me to interact with researchers from highly recognized institutions, dedicated to different areas of combustion science.
This approach has also provided me with the opportunity to clearly understand how my part in the project is assembled with the ones of the other partners and what I can further do to improve my results and to achieve the general objectives of the project.
What challenges have you overcome in order to get to where you are now?
I would say that one of the main challenges that I have faced during my career is integrating and immersing myself into different cultures, which includes learning the languages and understanding the education and social systems of the countries where I have lived.
Another challenge to mention here is finding proper financial support aligned with my career goals. This demanded time (several months) and effort for searching, applying and obtaining a suitable position with proper funding.
What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing a career in STEM?
I would recommend pursuing a career in STEM in a topic that you are really motivated to contribute. For overcoming the ups and downs in this career, it is important to keep the passion and curiosity for new knowledge. Additionally, I encourage looking for a place where you can grow both professionally and personally.