It is a great pleasure to announce that the Autumn-Winter 2015 EPS Emmy Noether Distinction for Women in Physics has been awarded to Prof. Sibylle Guenter from the Max-Planck Institute for Plasma Physics [IPP] in Garching, Germany. Sibylle is one of the leading theoretical physicists in the field of magnetic fusion plasmas.
After a thesis on computational investigation of radiation from dense plasmas at the University of Rostock in 1990, she served as Scientific Assistant to the Chair of Theoretical Physics I.
Later she spent a few months in the United States at the University of Maryland and at NIST in Washington DC. She joined the IPP Garching in 1996 and was appointed Max-Planck director in 2000. She regularly gives plasma physics lectures at the Technical University of Munich. She perfectly manages research work and management, with duties at the highest level in Germany (IPP Scientific Director) and at the European level (EUROfusion consortium). Among her most important scientific achievements, one can point out her work on magnetohydrodynamics and fast particle interactions in fusion plasmas.
We present a short interview between Sibylle Guenter [SG] and Lucia Di Ciaccio [LDC], chair of the Equal Opportunities Committee of the EPS, in January 2016.
LDC: At what point in your education did you consider a career in physics?
SG: At school, I always liked mathematics and physics. During the last year at high school I decided to study physics.
LDC: During your career, did you feel that there were equal opportunities for boys and girls?
SG: Generally, I did not have the feeling of being discriminated. There were only a few, very rare events when this happened, but I also have a lot of positive experiences.
LDC: Do you believe that physics should positively discriminate in favour of women?
AG:I think the biggest problem is to combine career and family. Although that is not only a problem for women, very often women bear a much larger share of family work. In such cases I do consider it important to help young mothers/parents to allow them to stay in science. When selecting candidates for appointments one should take into account how much time they devote to their children/families.
LDC: Do you have any advice for young women starting a career in physics?
SG: Don’t be afraid and follow your interests. Look out for a good mentor and try to share the family work as much as possible.