Julia Guerrero, a computer engineer from Zaragoza, received IV WonNow Awards, from CaixaBank and Microsoft, for best academic record. Despite her young age, she has received many important awards and is working in the field of scientific communication.
-I’ve received a WonNow Award for Best Academic Record, and I’ve already received a Google Scholarship and ESO National Award… Are the awards still exciting or getting used to?
– Yes, they are still enthusiastic, and it is always a pleasure to acknowledge your work.
You will invest €10,000 of the prize in outreach activities. Is this your decision or one of the award requirements? Won’t even dinner allowed?
– (laughs) I don’t know how I’m going to spend it at all, we’ll see. But a large part will go to outreach activities, because I have always been very involved in them and I enjoy them, they are also important for promoting scientific careers among women, it is a great satisfaction.
In these activities he says that he likes to show the girls what science activity enjoys. What do you like about your area?
On the one hand, you never stop learning, discovering new things with which you can change the world, and you can contribute things. In practice, the girls have a false image, they think that we work alone in front of the computer, when in fact, for example, in my group there is a lot of teamwork.
– Doing a PhD in the group Graphics and Imaging Lab I3A at the University of Zaragoza, what exactly do you do?
The group is responsible for computer graphics and computer image generation. Specifically, I research material perception, to better understand how the brain interprets materials we perceive through sight, with the help of artificial intelligence. This, in turn, will allow the generation of realistic images that can be modified more intuitively.
Going back to your promotional career, what problems do you still see in your conversations when it comes to girls choosing careers in STEM fields?
– There are still stereotypes, which they think are difficult, because they are for boys. There is also a lot of ignorance about what we do, like what I was telling you about teamwork. It is important that they have close references, for example, I would like to give lectures in my school, so that they can see that I studied there too and this can be achieved. It is important to have references from historical women scientists, many of whom have been silenced throughout history. But Marie Curie is far away (laughs).
– But the problem of the presence of the female in science still exists. Are you the only woman in your research group?
– No, I’m not the only one, we’re two PhD students and another one will join. In addition, among the two directors of the thesis, there is a woman, named Belén Masiá, who is also helping more girls to join. But although the things in my collection in particular are not so bad, they are a rare example; There were very few girls in the profession and master’s degree, and there were classes where I was on my own.
– You have already studied abroad, and with your CV you will not be short of offers, can you make a good living from research in Zaragoza and in Spain in general?
You can get a job, but it is true that many resources are lacking in research and there are good opportunities abroad. But Zaragoza has a lot of talent and research with great international influence, although not much is known here. I would like to stay here. Now four years of my Ph.D. It’s very hard to predict what will happen next, but if I had to say it now, I’d rather stay, I’m drawn to research and teaching.