• Kerri

Spotlight: Anna, Research Associate in Offshore Renewable Energy at the University of Edinburgh

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

In the last 10 years, I have lived in four different countries, six different cities and ten different houses, none of them where I am originally from near Barcelona in Spain.

Tell us about your career journey so far

I studied Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich specializing in Energy Technology and Process Engineering because I wanted to contribute to the development of renewable energy technologies. To do research on and support the advancement of novel renewable energy technologies, I then went on to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh in wave energy systems. I am now working on the next generation of offshore wind technologies as Research Associate in Offshore Renewable Energy in the Policy and Innovation Group at the University of Edinburgh. Most of the projects we work on within the group involve international partners from industrial, academic and public sectors. Many of these projects are, for instance, funded through the European Union’s research and innovation framework.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

In school I was interested in quite a wide range of subjects, so I find it difficult to pick one, but I particularly enjoyed chemistry, philosophy and history, because they challenged my own understanding or ideas. In chemistry, I found it fascinating that you could explain things that you see at a larger scale by analyzing how different molecules or molecular elements interact and react with each other. I also really enjoyed philosophy and understanding how different people at different times understood the world, and discussing topics from different perspectives, because it challenged how I thought about everyday things. This was similar in history, where I found very interesting to discuss why certain things happened in the past and what brought people to do and think in certain ways.

What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?

In my role, project and time management skills are very important to be able to work on multiple projects at the same time, coordinate with partners from other organizations and countries, and lead collaborative project activities. I also apply my engineering background and understanding, mathematics and coding skills to develop models that support device design, and that helps me assess the economic and environmental impact of innovations introduced in offshore wind and wave energy devices. Writing and presentation skills are also very important to share the results of my work with others so that they can be used for other projects or technologies, and in this way support faster commercialisation of these emerging renewable energy technologies.

What is a normal day in your role like?

In a normal day in my role, I will most likely be in the office with my colleagues developing or applying models to design or evaluate new offshore wind and wave energy device solutions. I will then put reports or presentations together to share my progress with partners or colleagues, or write scientific papers to share the research with the wider community. Since I work with international partners, I might have a conference call or two, or a meeting with my colleagues to discuss our work progress and how to approach the next challenge. During the semester, I might also meet with Masters students that I supervise to follow-up on their final year projects. Occasionally, I will travel to conferences to share my work with the offshore renewable energy community and learn about the research and progress achieved in the sector, or to project meetings, where the progress and future work plans of a project are discussed.

Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?

There are a few activities to learn more about wave and tidal energy that can be done at home:

- An online game to learn about the differences between wave and tidal energy devices by finding the best location for them around island communities:

- A guide to building a wave energy converter at home:

And a demonstration of how it can be done:

- A colouring book on ocean energy research:

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The UK-wide STEM Ambassador programme is managed by STEM Learning Limited, which operates the National STEM Learning Network, alongside other projects supporting STEM education. To find out more please go to the STEM Learning website