Unique Scientist: Dr. Eleni Routoula

Time to meet Dr. Eleni Routoula! Eleni is originally from Greece and recently finished her PhD in the United Kingdom on the interface of biocatalysis and materials science with the goal of removing dyes from water to reduce pollution from the textile industry!

What kind of scientist are you?
I am a colourful scientist! I am currently doing a PhD on the interface of biocatalysis and materials science, targeting dye removal from water and trying to reduce water pollution from the textile industry. I design, prepare and test biocatalysts and the conditions which affect their performance, mainly by monitoring colours through spectrophotometry. Simultaneously, I am a graduate teaching assistant, I chair an Early Career Researchers committee and I organise and participate in outreach events.

What made you want to become a scientist?
Science background runs in my family, and I remember always being curious about how things work, and wanting to understand, especially chemical concepts (e.g. how bread is made, why eggs solidify during cooking, why salt/acid is “cooking” raw meats etc) After obtaining a degree in Chemical Engineering, specializing in food technology and biotechnology, I wanted more, so I pursued a Master’s degree, followed by an- ongoing- PhD, all within experimental context. I love seeing things happening in a lab!

“Everyday is a worthy occasion for fun and style, regardless of where we are!”

Eleni Routoula

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I am a unique scientist because I maintain my funky style in the lab. After all, why not proudly rock my crazy coloured mascaras and unique earrings in the lab and only save it for “other occasions”? Everyday is a worthy occasion for fun and style, regardless of where we are (as long as we follow H&S rules of course)!

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I love makeup and skincare, so I make sure to keep up with the trends, try stuff and looks on me and put my own spin to the current trends. I also enjoy searching for hidden gems in charity shops, quenching my thirst for evolving style, while maintaining a sustainable and affordable approach.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
Not caring so much about how scientists (especially women) “should” look or behave in these circles. Let’s find something else to “should” people about, such as accurate methods or transparent results, shall we?

“Let’s find something else to “should” people about, such as accurate methods or transparent results, shall we?”

Eleni Routoula

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
I can recall 3 “top” inspirational people in my life so far:
a) my Mum, because she initiated the “how/why” for me, while cooking and explaining food transformations,
b) one of my supervisors for her meticulous approach to research and her (and her team’s) creativity to design innovative food products,
c) Pauline (instagram @paw.lean, twitter @paulienuh), for her SUPER positive life approach, charming and relatable personality, and “career jump” from biomedical sciences to digital engineering.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I gave a talk at a summer school organised by my university, aiming to inspire young girls to pursue a degree in an engineering discipline! I talked about my journey so far, gave advice regarding being a woman in STEM and answered all sorts of questions ranging from my experiments, to what I will do after my PhD, to what type of engineering is best, to whether you can start something and change it to something else and where I got my earrings from.


#WomenInSTEM

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