Elisabeth Therese Ulrikkeholm works at FOSS Analytical as a Research and Development engineer.

Where did you graduate from and with which degree?

I got my master’s degree in physics from the Niels Bohr institute (University of Copenhagen) and my Ph. D.  from DTU Physics.

Please give a description of the work you do in your current position.

FOSS is a company that produces analytical equipment for the food industry. We use many different technologies, e.g. infrared spectroscopy, X-ray absorption or imaging analysis.  Our instruments can analyze the composition and quality of both raw materials and final products.

I work in the R&D department as a research engineer. My main responsibility is to design a detector system in one of the instruments that we are currently developing. I have followed the instrument from the first business idea and will be an active part of the project team until we are able to start selling the instrument.

How do you draw on the skills you learned as a physicist or engineer in your work?

I have obtained knowledge and “hard skills” during my physics education, e. g.  how photons interact with matter and how to do advanced data analysis in Matlab. These skills have been essential for my job, and I would not have been able to get this position without the scientific foundation that I obtained during my education in physics. However, the problem-solving competences, the analytic mindset, the ability to search for information, to learn new stuff and quickly become an expert within a new field have been just as important for the role that I have now.

What made you decide to pursue a career in the private industry?

One of the main reasons why I wanted to change my career path was that I was curious and wanted to see how my knowledge would fit into “the real world” outside academia. I wanted my research to have a more direct impact. When you work in a research department in a private company, the work that you do will condense into a product within a relatively short time frame.

Before I got this position, I have worked as a high school teacher and as a researcher. I really enjoyed both jobs, and I have been able to draw a lot from the experience that I got from these jobs. I have tried to include this in my current position. I have supervised several project students from DTU and KU, and I still work as an external examiner.

What motivated you to study physics or engineering in the first place?

I have always had an interest in math and natural sciences. I believe that this interest has been driven by curiosity and by the urge to understand the world that surrounds us and to find answers to the large questions.

What advice would you give to young people (in particular women and minorities) who would like to pursue a career in the private industry?

Figure out what you enjoy most. Is it outreach, research? Do you enjoy doing data analysis? Do you enjoy designing experiments? Go to some of the large career fairs like the DSE Fair. Get an overview of the companies that hire candidates within your field and don’t be shy.