Marie Brøns is a postdoc at DTU in the department of Mechanical Engineering in the section for Solid Mechanics.

Congratulations on receiving a Villum International Postdoc (VIPO) grant!

Please tell us about your research and why is it important.

Structural limits are constantly pushed to improve engineering structures. In doing so, the presence of nonlinear dynamics arising from joints and other structural connections are becoming an increasing problem. My research is about designing new models and smart experiments to avoid structural failures due to nonlinear vibrations and increase the lifetime of engineering designs. It is important because we cannot yet predict and describe the dynamic effects of a structural connection. It is one of the main challenges in structural dynamics today. For example, to achieve the goal in society of a green energy future, we look to make bigger, better, and more sustainable wind turbines. In doing so, we must understand the dynamic effects arising from a structural interface.

What are your plans and what are the possibilities that this grant opens for you?

This grant is a game-changer for me. I now have a full three years to delve into my own project, extend my academic competencies and international networks and focus on realizing my own research ideas. It is absolutely brilliant. I start my project by relocating to Munich, Germany, to work with Professor Daniel Rixen, an expert in structural dynamics, especially the dynamic substructuring technique. I want to learn and apply that method in my new project. After a year and a half there, I will return to DTU to continue my investigations at DTU Mechanical Engineering.

The grant has also given me funds to host several events, where I hope to spread my enthusiasm for mechanical engineering to others and inspire other young women to take the plunge into differential equations and wind turbines for the benefit of both the individual and society.

Where have you studied and which positions have you held before your current one?

I have Ph.D. and MSc in mechanical engineering from DTU. I am currently a Postdoc at DTU Mechanical Engineering.

How did you choose the field of physics/engineering you are now specialized in?

I have really thought about this question. I am not exactly sure. I started actually by studying civil engineering (buildings). I think I chose it because I liked that I understood what I would engineer by the end; that I could contribute to building important infrastructure. However, I found it was not exactly for me, and when I had my first course in vibrations, there was just something about it. I was drawn to it immediately. Mechanical vibrations can be described very accurately mathematically and follow strict laws, and I just fell quite in love with that. Therefore, I changed track to mechanical engineering, and since then, my specialization in vibrations came naturally, as I followed what I enjoyed the most.

What motivated you to study physics/engineering?

I think DTU has had a saying, “Det blir til noget” (translated: it becomes something), and I think that idea attracted me. I liked the fact that I would build, construct, or design something that could benefit others. Nevertheless, to be honest, when I chose engineering, I was only 19, and I was not exactly sure what it entailed. My motivation developed as I gradually learned what I could do with science.

Did you have a role model or mentor? If so, what inspiration did you get from them?

In the first years of my studies, I did not, but I think it is very important to have at some point. Later on in my studies, it made all the difference to me. My Ph.D. supervisor Jon Juel Thomsen has been a great role model to me. He has a fantastic gift for passing on his enthusiasm. He has truly inspired me, and that has played a significant role in my wish to pursue a career in research.

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

I remember when starting at DTU, I was surprised by how hard it was. For the first time, I really had to work continually to get good results. However, after the first years, it became a lot easier in many ways. I think that may be nice to know as a beginner in science. You need to keep on track while you obtain the necessary toolbox of scientific competence, and when you have that, it opens so many doors. So, my advice is to be persistent. Lastly, my mother’s old piece of advice that I use every day ‘don’t walk around the hot porridge. Stick your head right down the soup.’