Pauliina Ilmonen, Aalto University
"Set your sights on the top and work hard. Follow your dreams, don't give up. Science geeks rock!"
"Right now I am doing what I want to do and being who I want to be".
Pauliina is Professor of Statistics at the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis at Aalto University. She is currently working on mathematics and mathematical statistics as well as epidemiology. Pauliina holds a master's degree in mathematics and a PhD in biometrics. After graduating from high school, she was not sure what she wanted to do in the future or who she wanted to be. "I wanted to do something important, something meaningful", says Pauliina. Her mother encouraged Pauliina to apply to a field that she enjoyed doing, and so suggested mathematics as an option. She was sure that mathematics would be an important and meaningful career for Pauliina. "Right now I am doing what I want to do and being who I want to be".
After completing her PhD, Pauliina moved to Brussels to work at the ECARES (European centre for advanced research in economics and statistics) research group. "I applied to Aalto because a professorship in statistics here was all I wanted".
Pauliina got the job, and today she has numerous responsibilities - the statistics courses and minor in the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis, her supervised PhD students and her own freely chosen research topics. In practice, working days consist of meetings and teaching, with time for research in the evenings. "I also participate in conferences and go on research visits abroad", adds Pauliina. In addition to her work, Pauliina is also the President of the Finnish Statistical Society, which means she spends a lot of time organising various events.
Pauliina likes many aspects of her work. "I love to be alone in my office playing with mathematical formulas. I also love teaching and talking to my students". Most of her work is done in collaboration with other researchers and the PhD students she supervises.
For whom is this a suitable career option?
A career in science is best suited to an ambitious and creative maths enthusiast, according to Pauliina. A person with these qualities could well become a professor of mathematics. "Set your sights on the top and work hard. Follow your dreams, don't give up", Pauliina advises. "Science geeks rock!"