A portrait of a young physicist : Barbara Marchetti

By . Published on 22 September 2015 in:
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We publish short portraits of successful young physicists showing that physics is not reserved only to men.

Barbara Marchetti is a young Italian scientist who after having obtained a PhD in Physics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in 2011 and a Post Doc position in Germany, is now Primary Investigator of the linac for SINBAD, a project hosted at DESY in Hamburg. The SINBAD facility will provide long term Research and Development infrastructure for the production of ultra short bunches and novel compact acceleration techniques with high field gradient. Accelerator physics is a domain where women are still underrepresented.  

In August 2015 Barbara Marchetti [BM] was interviewed by Lucia Di Ciaccio [LDC], chair of the Equal Opportunities Committee of the EPS.

Barbara Marchetti
Barbara Marchetti

LDC: Why did you choose to study physics?

BM: I had an education in classical humanities, but I have always liked also the scientific subjects. I liked very much the Newton’s definition of a physicist as “a philosopher of nature”.

LDC: Any worry to match your family life and a career in physics?

BM: I have to thank my future husband, who left his job in Berlin to follow me, when I got my present job in Hamburg. I expect that we will need to reduce our responsibilities at work, when we will have children. However… I will deal with these issues when the moment will come and I am sure that we will find our own way to be happy.

LDC: What has been the personal most rewarding experience and also the biggest difficulty encountered so far in your career?

BM: The most rewarding experience was when I was selected for my present job. It is a tenure track position at DESY in Hamburg, one of the leading laboratories in Europe.

The most difficult thing encountered so far is to make a balanced planning of the future career preserving the choice of a nice city to leave, where it was possible to match my career with that of my partner. The competition in our field is high and I was afraid to lose opportunities for the future; nevertheless I have always chosen in favour of my well-being.

LDC: Did you encounter any difficulty in finding funding for PhD or a post-doc position related to the fact that you are a woman?

BM: No, this has never happened to me until now.

LDC: Any suggestion to guarantee a balanced gender representation in position of responsibility in physics?

BM: I am presently joining a Mentoring course for females organized by the Helmholtz Gemeinschaft. It aims to raise the number of women in executive-level positions, where they are still significantly underrepresented.

Mentoring is an instrument to prepare highly motivated young women for positions  requiring leadership skills and to help them to forge a strong network of contacts. More information about this project can be found in:

LDC: Any particular advise for young aspiring researcher?

BM: This is an advice that I address first of all to myself: do not over-think things. Perfectionism does not help to deal with everyday life conflicts.

LDC: Do you have any female physicist “cult figure”?

BM: Yes, I do have many “cult figures”! The first one is certainly Fabiola Giannotti. I am very impressed by her personality and scientific knowledge. But besides world-wide famous women in science there are a number of less famous female colleagues, still well known in specific communities, who I truly respect for their everyday scientific activity and the balance that they seem to daily achieve between private life and career.

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The 29th International Conference on Photonic, Electronic and Atomic Collisions [XXIX ICPEAC] was held at the Palacio de Congresos “El Greco”, Toledo, Spain, on 22–28 July, 2015. ICPEAC is held biannually and is one of the most important international conferences on atomic and molecular physics. The conference gathered 670 participants from 52 countries.
During the conference, 854 contributed papers were presented in poster sessions, covering the recent progresses in photonic, electronic, and atomic collisions with matter (most of them can now be checked at online at J. Phys. Conf. Series, 635 (see In addition, five plenary lectures, including the opening one by the Nobel laureate Prof. Ahmed H. Zewail and the lectures by Prof. Maciej Lewenstein, Prof. Paul Scheier, Prof. Philip H. Bucksbaum, and Prof. Stephen J. Buckman, 62 progress reports and 26 special reports were presented.