Updated: Aug 28, 2021
Mari-Ann Einarsrud is a Professor in inorganic chemistry at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
Mari-Ann grew up on a small farm in the southeast of Norway. They had cows and pigs on the farm and grew crops. She is child number 3 in the row of 4 children. Mari-Ann’s interest in STEM began early in her childhood, her father had subscribed to the "Farmers Magazine", which Mari-Ann used to look through. One day when she was around 5 years old she saw a picture from a laboratory in this magazine with a man in a white lab coat working with the testing of samples. That photo of the man in the white coat sparked her interest and that is when Mari-Ann said to herself and decided, "this is what I want to do in my adult life". That picture had such an impact on Mari-Ann that she kept it under her pillow for a long time and looked at it. At such a young age, she did not know what having such a job meant, but that photo gave her a dream – a dream of wearing a white coat and being in a laboratory.
Mari-Ann had that dream in mind, therefore she chose to do a BSc. and a MSc in Chemistry from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from NTNU. Now Mari-Ann works as a Professor at NTNU where she teaches students in Ceramics Processing and Inorganic Chemistry. She also supervises students and PhD candidates, and is a group leader of Functional Materials and Materials Chemistry (FACET). Her main tasks are within developing future sustainable materials for energy technology and electronics. She attends many international conferences and meets people from the rest of the world, this allows her to share her research and knowledge with the rest of the world. Her most important task is training and educating the future engineers - this is actually the post Mari-Ann feels the most excited to work with. She thinks, to see young students enter university and seeing them follow their dreams, and eventually see them turn into independent engineers or researchers gives an unmatched level of satisfaction to Mari-Ann.
Mari-Ann is an author/co-author to 240+ publications in international journals with referee. She has been the supervisor for 27 PhD candidates and 17 postdocs. She also is one of the founders of the spin-off company CerPoTech AS. So, I guess you could say that she not only achieved her childhood dream, but did a lot more than just that. But no dream can be achieved just by dreaming it, hard work and believing in yourself is an important part of it all. Mari-Ann mentions that she actually never thought that something was impossible for her to achieve. She learned to work hard on the farm and believes, “if you work hard you can achieve what you want especially if you follow a dream.”
STEM to Mari-Ann is interesting jobs and working for a sustainable future. She wishes that there was more encouragement early on, so STEM never ever feels unfamiliar for girls. She also thinks girls more easily see (and want to see) the total picture, so in the future it is absolutely necessary to recruit 50:50 from both genders. To solve the future challenges with respect to climate change, more elderly population, unequal distribution of medicine globally, etc. we need more females, and Mari-Ann believes that these broader challenges will make it easier to recruit young females.
Lastly, here are Mari-Ann’s closing words of encouragement for young girls who want to join a STEM field:
“Follow your dream - and have fun!”
You can contact Mari-Ann Einarsrud on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mari-ann-einarsrud-6a71a810/
I thank Mari-Ann Einarsrud for taking part in this project and answering all the questions in a very informative manner. I hope, your experience and STEM story will inspire a young girl to join a STEM field and excel just like you have.