7 Questions with Alejandra Beghelli
9 October 2020
Dr. Alejandra Beghelli has recently joined the EEE department as a Lecturer in Optical Communications & Networks. We asked her a few questions to get to know her better.
Tell us about your background
I did my Undergraduate and Master studies in Electronic Engineering in Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria, Chile. Then, I moved to the UK to pursue my PhD studies right here, at the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, UCL. After that, I kept on researching optical networks and, in the last few years, I started a new research line on creativity for engineers.
How did you get into engineering?
As it happens with many important things in life, by chance and pushes from life itself.
I wanted to study Medicine, but the biology lessons were soooo boring to me. At the same time, a very rare event happened: A maths teacher with a PhD in Maths and Physics arrived at my school and choose to teach my level. As far as I know, that had never happened and never happened again since.
She didn’t speak Spanish very well and so, we had very chaotic lessons in a mix of Italian and Spanish, which made the whole thing challenging and fun. I changed from the biology path to the maths path and the next natural choice was Engineering. This was a school run by nuns and they were not very happy to learn that I wanted to study Electronic Engineering and tried as much as they could to prevent me from following that path. I am glad they did not succeed in that
Who inspires you?
People who achieve incredible things in spite of their disadvantaged beginnings or hopeless life situation. People that keep on persevering even when all odds are against them. They are my personal super-heroes and I am lucky enough to be friends with some of them.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Reading is, by far, my biggest addiction. I find pleasure not only in the new ideas I can find in a book, but also in the physical act of moving my eyes through the book pages. I am also passionate about creativity and I keep on buying strange objects that stand out because of their originality. I have a very bulky ‘creativity box’ back at my home in Chile, full of things I have been collecting throughout the years. I am very happy to report that my London ‘creativity box’ is already growing healthily.
What’s the last good book you read?
I like to read several books simultaneously, so it is difficult to point to the last book because my reading pattern is not sequential. Anyway, I just finished reading the first two (and the only ones, so far) books from the Kingkiller Chronicle: The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, highly recommended by my 12-year-old son! If you like fantasy books, these ones are going to get you quickly. Back to the real world, a classic from 1959: The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwarz and Viaje al Pais de los Blancos (Trip to the Land of White People) by Ousman Umar. The latter is an eye-opening story about the promise of a better life that many African people follow through a dangerous trip full of smugglers and lack of compassion. OK, I’ll stop here!
Tell us something interesting about yourself
I am interested in the meaning of dreams and a few years ago I enrolled in a module on Dream Interpretation. Since then, I sometimes help friends to get rid from some nasty recurrent nightmares by helping them to interpret them and finding out what the dreams is telling them about themselves.
If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?
I am a firm believer that talent is uniformly distributed, but opportunities are not. Thus, I would love to witness a change in the current economic system that leads to decrease world inequality significantly. My pessimistic side tells me I won’t witness that in my lifetime though.