Kirsi Peltonen, Aalto University
It pays to be proactive, to listen to what others are doing, to share problems and ideas with others and to work persistently, without worrying too much about what others think.
"Math is fun and always useful!"
Kirsi is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at Aalto University's School of Science. In addition to her work at Aalto University, she is also an associate professor at the University of Helsinki, where she obtained her doctorate in mathematics. Kirsi has been interested in mathematics and science from an early age, which made her career choice as a mathematician a natural one: "It is hard to explain my passion for mathematics, but it has been a central part of everything I have done for as long as I can remember".
Kirsi's areas of responsibility include geometric analysis, differential geometry and its applications. This is a very broad area of research, with many links to other technical fields and the arts. In practice, Kirsi's research concerns the mapping and understanding of abstract shapes with certain geometric constraints.
"The principle of the process could be compared to the recycling of textiles. For example, you can take a shirt designed for men and want to turn it into a skirt. If the material, size and other characteristics are suitable, cutting and sewing can be used to make the necessary changes according to the design".
In her research, Kirsi exchanges clothes for different objects called 'multiples', from which she aims to create new multiples. Sometimes the end results are beautiful, but sometimes the end result is something completely different from the plan.
Kirsi enjoys her work, and considers it her favourite professional achievement. "I have managed to find joy in mathematics again and again". Kirsi also considers herself privileged to work with so many talented, inspiring and encouraging colleagues and partners.
For whom is this a suitable career option?
Kirs says good collaboration skills are essential for working in the field of mathematics. "I think this has been the most challenging for me, especially when I was younger", admits Kirsi. It pays to be proactive, to listen to what others are doing, to share problems and ideas with others and to work persistently, without worrying too much about what others think. She warmly encourages young women to study maths: "Maths is fun and always useful!".