Victoria Palacin, LUT University
"I would like to encourage you to follow your curiosity and aspirations. Work is joyful when you enjoy what you do".
What have you studied and what influenced this choice back in the day?
I’m a computer scientist, who researches human-computer interactions. My fascination with technology when growing up, drove me to study computer science. After my bachelor’s, I spent a couple of years working in the industry and then decided to pursue a master’s degree. I wanted to take part in the creation of a more sustainable world. So, I decided to apply for an EU Erasmus Mundus master program focused on ubiquitous computing for sustainable development (which had LUT as a partner university). I was awarded a scholarship to join this master and, I had the most wonderful experience, living in three countries (France, Sweden, and Finland) while learning how to build sustainable digital technology. After my master’s, I decided to make a career in academia and started my doctoral studies at LUT, where I have been studying digital tools for environmental monitoring.
What was your first job after graduation? How did you end up in your current position from there?
I was a very active volunteer during my studies so that on top of my background made me eligible to be a project manager as my first job in a large transnational company. This position allowed me to learn a lot about the planning, design, and execution of large telecommunications projects. After working in the industry for about two years I decided to go back to academia to create projects that would improve society. That is how I ended up being a human-computer interaction researcher. Luckily, I have succeeded in making a research career out of my two passions: computer science and social justice.
What is the best thing about your job?
There are so many things that I like about my job. First of all, I find myself constantly challenged to learn new things. That is super motivating and rewarding. Also, I enjoy collaborating with other scientists. The networks of researchers that advance science around the world are truly inspiring. During my doctoral work, I have had the chance to spend some time studying and working in the MIT center for civic media, which has been wonderful.
What have been the highlights and key lessons of your career?
Remember that opportunities do not just happen, you create them. It’s important to volunteer for the causes you care because that is key in your professional development. It’s also important to nurture diversity in working teams because this is key to creating innovative solutions to complex issues. Celebrate your successes and surround yourself with people that encourage you. Learning will never stop. Traveling and working in diverse teams will grow your knowledge and perspectives in exceptional ways. In everything you do, always choose to spread joy with your actions.
What are your plans and goals in the future?
I’m soon graduating from my doctoral studies. After that, I would like to broaden my research focus. I hope that one day I can lead my own research lab. I think technology has so much potential to help us build a more sustainable and equitable world. So, I would like my future research work to support policy-making actively.
Your greetings for young women in high school deliberating their future career?
I would like to encourage you to follow your curiosity and aspirations. Work is joyful when you enjoy what you do. Be persistent to pursue your dreams and remember that life is a process, and that process is more enriching than the outcome itself. So, make sure to enjoy university and create a solid network of colleagues and friends.
What kind of person is suitable for your profession?
Everyone is different and that is beautiful. Science advances when different ideas and perspectives are brought together. But curiosity has always been key to spot problems and explore solutions in the engineering fields.