International Women in Engineering Day 2019: Interview with Dr Encarni Medina-Lopez, Chancellor’s Fellow in Data Driven Innovation

Dr Encarni Medina-Lopez is Chancellor’s Fellow in Data Driven Innovation in the School’s Research Institute for Infrastructure and Environment. She took part in the following interview to mark International Women in Engineering Day 2019.

After gaining her MEng Civil & Environmental Engineering from the University of Granada in 2013, and an MSc in Environmental Hydraulics from the University of Malaga in 2014, Encarni was awarded a Talentia Fellowship to pursue a joint PhD on the effect of humidity in wave energy performance with the Universities of Edinburgh and Granada.

From 2017, she remained in the School of Engineering at Edinburgh as a Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) in Marine Energy, studying the life cycle and techno-economics of marine energy converters, as well as numerical modelling of ocean energy arrays. Alongside this, Encarni led a work package for a multi-million euro project for the European Commission focusing on optimisation of tidal energy farms.

In September 2018, Encarni was awarded a Chancellor’s Fellowship in Data Driven Innovation by the University, and is currently pursuing research on the use of remote sensing to tackle the ‘water-energy-environment trilemma’. She also currently part of the management team for the EPSRC and NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in Offshore Renewable Energy IDCORE.

Encarni's research interests include the use of satellite data to predict salinity and temperature in the ocean, and to study how human actions affect coastal areas.

What sparked your interest in engineering? Is it the same thing that inspires you about engineering today?

I decided to study civil and environmental engineering when I was very young (probably seven or eight years old!) My grandfather was a truck driver, and he was always speaking about how roads could be improved, and about all the amazing constructions he could see during his trips.

I decided then that, some day, I would be able to sort those roads and develop incredible things like those he saw during his travels.

Now I know what engineering is about, I am still impressed every time I look at the built environment, but I am also motivated by the real challenges, and the interaction between classical engineering and technological innovations. 

Tell us a bit about your career up to this point; what have you enjoyed and what have you found challenging?

I worked for some time in industry before doing my PhD in Edinburgh, and after that, I stayed in academia. A Chancellor’s Fellowship is a tenure-track position where you can balance research and teaching progressively.  I really enjoy the freedom to do the research I want to do, and the opportunities given by the University for personal and professional development.

But this position also means working by myself. In the past, I had the support of my supervisors but once I started this new research line, it was a different situation. For me, this is challenging but also very stimulating.

What advice do you have for the next generation of women interested in getting into engineering?

Do it! I would tell them to fight for what they want to do. If you are passionate about engineering and put enthusiasm into it, you will be an excellent professional.

Related information

Dr Encarni Medina-Lopez, Chancellor’s Fellow in Data Driven Innovation
Dr Encarni Medina-Lopez, Chancellor’s Fellow in Data Driven Innovation