Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering


Women and Girls in Science 2023: Dr Alissa Silva

10 February 2023

Profile picture of Dr Alissa Silva

This International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we're showcasing three members of our fantastic community. 

We asked Dr Alissa Silva, a Research Fellow in Biomedical Photoacoustic Imaging Instrumentation in the Photoacoustic Imaging Group and Biomedical Ultrasound Group (BUG)what makes her excited about her job, what a typical day looks like and a female scientist who inspires her.

What is your role and describe what a typical day at work looks like?

I do practical optics research in a lab. More specifically, I work on the development of an ultrasound and photoacoustic (biomedical) imaging system.

On a typical day at work, in the morning I go over measurement data I will have collected the day before, and in the afternoon I might do further measurements informed by my findings earlier in the day.

I also typically have lunch or tea breaks with colleagues and chat to them about work and interests.

What makes you excited about your job?

Developing optical systems. I like all aspects of that, from designing an optical system, thinking up the layout, to finding suitable components for it, to physically setting it up and then finally testing it to hopefully find that it works as intended.

Imaging is fun as well. It is nice that there is a physical meaningful output to measurements, like an image.

My colleagues also make my job worthwhile. I get to work in a nice and supportive environment.

What inspired you to work in this field?

Optics is fun. So I would say practical optics and lasers is what inspired me to work in this field.

What advice would you give to young girls thinking about going into science?

Go for it!

Is there a female scientist who has inspired you?

Yes, Dr Isabelle Compagnon. They were teaching molecular spectroscopy labs during my master’s and it was nice and refreshing to be taught by a female academic who was very enthusiastic about imparting optics knowledge. I would attribute the fact I have a career in academia doing optics research to Isabelle.