Eva Vilella-Figueras

“When I was a little girl, I did not have a clear picture at all of what I wanted to be as a grown up. In my childhood and teenage years I went through different phases, from wanting to be a teacher to a forensic doctor. I never had an interest in science in particular, but I was very much into books. I really enjoyed reading and learning new things. I always was one of the best students in my class, so not going to university was not an option for me. When the time came to choose what degree I wanted to study, I chose Physics because I liked solving problems. However, after a couple of years into my Physics degree I was not convinced that that was what I wanted to do. I felt Physics was too theoretical for me. I decided I wanted to focus my studies into something more practical and ended up having a BSc and an MSc in Electronic Engineering.”

“After completing my MSc I felt I wanted more, so when I was offered a position to do a PhD I accepted it without a doubt. Doing my PhD in Engineering and Advanced Technologies was the best. I worked extremely hard and it was not always easy, but it is one of the things I am most proud of. My PhD studies gave me the opportunity to acquire much specialised knowledge and develop a whole new and varied set of skills, while I contributed to the progress of science developing novel silicon sensors.”

Gender-diverse environments benefit from a variety of perspectives that enable more creativity and productivity. We clearly need more women in physical sciences and engineering.

Dr Eva Vilella joined the Department of Physics at the University of Liverpool in 2014 as a postdoc to develop advanced silicon sensors for particle physics experiments.

In 2019 Eva was awarded a Future Leaders Fellowship from UK Research and Innovation, a prestigious and exciting new scheme that supports the very best early career researchers to tackle difficult and novel challenges. Under her fellowship, Eva aims to achieve a step change improvement to the performance of silicon sensors through the development of Depleted Monolithic Active Pixel Sensors. Her devices will incorporate a highly performant detector system on a single chip, using industry standard and cost-effective processes. The expected improvements will benefit the most challenging future particle physics experiments and provide major benefits in other fields like proton therapy for cancer treatment.

“I develop the devices that physicists use in the experiments that lead to the discovery of new particles and a better understanding of nature. These devices have to meet extremely challenging specifications. It is hard sometimes, but always very rewarding”.

Eva is an internationally recognised expert in her field and has developed prototype sensors for the Large Hadron Collider and other experiments with international collaborators. She also does generic R&D on Depleted Monolithic Active Pixel Sensors within the CERN-RD50 collaboration, where she is the work package leader for these sensors.

“As a female electronics engineer, I find myself in a predominantly male community. To put an example, at a conference on electronics for particle physics I have counted myself being one of the odd 3 women out of a total of 100 attendees. Things like that are not okay. I strongly believe that gender-diverse environments benefit from a variety of perspectives that enable more creativity and productivity. We clearly need more women in physical sciences and engineering. I will be happy if I can inspire younger generations of female researchers and contribute to improve the gender imbalance in this field.”