Published 27 June 2017 by Ulrike Böhm

Women Have Unique Qualities That Make Them Great Scientists, Says Hannah Noa Barad

Interview with #LiNo17 young scientist Hannah Noa Barad

This interview is part of a series of interviews of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists participating in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter). Enjoy the interview with Hannah and get inspired.



Hannah Noa Barad, 30, from Israel is a PhD Student at the Bar Ilan University, Israel. Her research is in the field of renewable energy, specifically solar energy and solar cells. The method she uses in her research is combinatorial material science and high-throughput analysis to discover new metal oxides and utilise them in all-oxide based solar cells. She also focuses on understanding the mechanisms behind the photovoltaic activity of the new solar cells.



What inspired you to pursue a career in science/chemistry?

As a child, I was always very curious about the world around me, this was the driving force that pushed me to learn and study as much as I could. When I got older I realised that in order to understand the world we live in I must study science, because it helps us discover the secrets of our world. I always loved chemistry because of the beautiful reactions that take place and so I chose to pursue chemistry in higher education. I later also understood that chemistry is a field in science that incorporates many other sciences like physics, biology, etc. so that I can continue to expand my knowledge in other scientific areas.


Who are your role models?

My role models are all the women who strove over the years to improve science, even when it was a career that was frowned upon for women. I admire their courage and abilities, and how they shaped the scientific world into accepting them as equals and even more. It is because of these women that I am able to freely pursue my goals and ideas, and hopefully improve our world.

in order to understand the world we live in I must study science

How did you get to where you are in your career path?

It took a lot of hard work to get to where I am today in my career. The directions I chose were influenced by my family, who always pushed me to follow my dreams. I am also supported by my supervisor Prof. Arie Zaban, who taught me never to give up even when nothing seems to be working.


What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

I’d like to say that all the projects I worked on are very cool – I love what I do! If I had to choose one project it would be the plasmonic ‘hot’ electron effect I discovered in one of my solar cells. I was examining the effect of one of the layers on the solar cell performance, and as a result I found out that a whole different mechanism governed the photovoltaic behaviour; this was the ‘hot’ electron effect.


What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself/your work?

Whenever I reach a milestone in my work, which could be getting a degree, publishing a paper, etc, I feel very proud and accomplished, mainly because this also means that the people supporting me can also be proud!




What is a “day in the life” of Hannah Noa like?

I usually get to the lab around 8:30 to 9 am and then I see what I have planned for the day. If I need to do some experiments, I make sure I have everything ready and prepared; if I need to analyse data, I make a list of what needs to be done and start working on it. I usually end up helping other people in the lab throughout the day, be it advice or brain-storming about a research project, editing their manuscripts or even helping them perform experiments of their own. Our lab members always eat lunch together, and we usually try to keep it for getting updated with each other. I leave the lab between 5 and 6 pm, and head home to eat dinner and relax. Sometimes I hang out with friends or go to cultural events as well.


What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?

I would like to be a better scientist and help improve the planet we live on through the research and work I do. For me, making our world a better place to live in is highly important, and I think that everyone should be treated well and get a chance at living. So for me it is important to improve my skills and as a result all that surrounds me to make the required steps at a better world.

It is because of these women that I am able to freely pursue my goals and ideas, and hopefully improve our world.

What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?

I have many hobbies including playing music, drawing and doing arts. I also like to meet up with my friends and have fun experiences together, like concerts, field trips and even escape rooms.


What advice do you have for other women interested in science/chemistry?

My advice to women interested in science and chemistry is not to give up on your dreams! It is hard but it is worth it! Try your best, prove yourself, believe in yourself and in your capabilities, because you are highly capable, and being a woman only brings out the best qualities for being a scientist!




In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science/chemistry?

This is a great question and it can have many answers. I personally hope the next breakthrough will be in the area of electrical vehicles, finding a better battery that is more stable, cheaper and compact to be used in cars today. I think a breakthrough in this area can move our society forward and help reduce and even eradicate many issues we have with ruining the environment.


What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?

In my opinion, to increase the number of female scientists and professors a few things need to be done:

(1) more scholarships for women in science and research, which will help motivate women to come to these fields

(2) Improve the conditions for women so that they can have families and a career as well, such as having day care in universities until late hours etc.

(3) The various scientific faculties in all the universities should have academic positions intended only for women, to which men cannot apply to at all. This will help increase the number of women professors, who will in turn teach women students. The students will see women professors and they will become motivated themselves since they see that this goal can be achieved, and they will push harder in their scientific fields, to become better and motivate more women to study.

Ulrike Böhm

Ulrike Boehm is a physicist and science enthusiast. She works as an optical scientist at ZEISS in Oberkochen, Germany. Previously, she did her Ph.D. studies at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen in the Department of NanoBiophotonics of Nobel Laureate Stefan Hell, followed by research stays in the US at the National Institutes of Health and HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus, developing tools for biomedical research. She is generally passionate about designing and building (optical) instruments to image, probe, and manipulate (biological) structures. Furthermore, she is passionate about science communication and open science and is a huge advocate for women in science.