Celebrating Women in AgriFoRwArdS (4)

After hearing from some of our fabulous students, we spoke to a handful of the AgriFoRwArdS CDT’s Supervisor Pool to ask about their experiences of becoming a successful women in science.

Dr Beatriz De La Iglesia is a Senior Lecturer within the School of Computing Sciences at the University of East Anglia. She is also a member of the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre, Norwich Institute for Healthy Aging and the Data Science and Statistics Research Group. 

Beatriz’s research is conducted in the area of developing data mining algorithms using optimisation techniques with applications in many areas including health, aggrotech, financial data and educational data. As well as research, Beatriz is also responsible for teaching computing sciences, is Director of Postgraduate Taught Degrees and is Chair of Examiners for the School of Computing Sciences.  

We asked Beatriz what inspired her to pursue a career in computing sciences; 

My choice of Computing Science was really quite random, as there were not many computers when I began to study so the subject was not familiar to me. Back in my country of origin, Spain, I had tried and failed two different degrees: law and chemistry. I came to the UK to learn English convinced that a higher education degree was not for me. However, after trying and disliking many unqualified jobs I decided that maybe a third time could be lucky as this time life had given me the motivation to study very hard. My husband had studied Computing Science and suggested this could be the right degree for me because I was quite good at maths. I decided to take my chances and applied and as soon as I started I fell in love with the subject. I got a First Class degree and was offered the opportunity of doing a PhD. One thing followed another and nearly 30 years later I am still here at UEA and still loving the subject. 

And what she enjoys most about her job; 

I love the variety and the challenges. I also love being surrounded by young inquisitive people that want to learn. Some of the students are totally brilliant and it is a privilege to work with them and see them develop. In this job, you are your own boss and you can decide which areas to apply your mind too. There are so many interesting problems out there and you keep learning and meeting knew people. There is in my opinion nothing more rewarding than influencing positively the lives of others and when the students tell you that you have really helped them to develop their own paths it is such a wonderful and powerful boost. 

And what advice she would give someone thinking about a career in science; 

Learn to learn; be prepared to be challenged every day of your life; learn to take criticism and convert it into something positive. Never be disheartened. In Science you need to be tough and resilient. It is not an easy life but it is the most rewarding of choices. 

And finally, the most memorable moments of her career so far; 

Seeing my PhD students get their degrees; having a paper containing my hard work published and in print; working on projects with real impact; getting positive feedback for my teaching; travelling around the world as part of the job… there are many!