For this semester’s first installment of “Office Hours,” a series of interviews with prominent personalities on Cornell’s campus, Sunspots writer Gabriel Ares sat down for a chat with Applied Engineering Physics Professor Lena Kourkoutis. In the interview below, which has been edited for clarity, Kourkoutis talks about a range of topics, from electron microscopy–a technique that allows her to see the atomic structure of objects–to outreach to women in STEM.
There’s only a handful of people working in your field, and even fewer thinking about it at such an advanced level. So, to kick things off, can you tell us how you got into this field of study? As a child, I was brought up to ask questions, and for me that goes from when you start playing with toys or looking at the sky, to research where you’re wondering how a battery works or how a biological object or a cell works.