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People of Lincoln Agritech

Eva Anton

Eva Anton grew up surrounded by engineers and physicists. Now, as Senior Scientist and Team Leader, Electromagnetics, she gets to explore new technologies every day.

As a child I was always interested in technology, for example spending my time assembling and disassembling a remote-controlled car, fixing my bike, or learning how to use one of the earliest handheld GPS devices. I wasn’t thinking about becoming a scientist, but I always knew I wanted to do something in engineering or natural sciences.

I was probably heavily influenced by my family of engineers and physicists. We had access to technology as children and were encouraged to explore it. We had a monthly popular science magazine and many conversations revolved around science. I remember my sister explaining to me the physical principles of hair drying, or the colour of the sky.

But I could never decide if I wanted to do engineering, chemistry, physics or biotech, because I was interested in everything.

Does your job fit what you wanted to do?

My materials science study helped, as it’s an interdisciplinary study. And in my career I’ve had roles working alongside engineers, physicists, and chemists.

I’ve worked in a global chemical company, a small engineering start-up, and universities in Switzerland, USA, Germany, Belgium and New Zealand, so I have come across a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds.

Lincoln Agritech is the only organisation I know where people from so many disciplines work together daily. Many of us probably don’t realise any more how special that is, and what an advantage that gives us in our research. Being part of the scientific community is definitely a great place to be for me.

What does your job involve?

I get to explore new technologies and widen my understanding of nature almost daily.

My team’s research is in electromagnetics, for example using microwaves to sense soil moisture, animal fat depth, or imaging objects which are hidden from the eye, be it fruit hidden by leaves or metal within concrete. We cover the whole range from electromagnetics theory and simulations, antenna and sensor development, materials to device prototyping.

Being a team leader is a mixture of exploring new research opportunities, connecting with collaborators or clients, managing projects and budgets, developing strategies, and coordinating my team. Almost no day is like another, and most days end up being quite different to what I had imagined in the morning.

I really enjoy the team leader part of the role, as well as the science. The best days are when I see my team excel at new challenges and grow their skills and confidence with each new challenge, regardless of their career stage.

Seeing science make its way into the real world is really motivating. The explosion of hard-drive sizes in the 90s, or the revolution in lighting by LED have come from scientific advances in my field, and I like the idea of the collective contribution of all of us scientists changing the world for the better.

What is the best thing that’s ever happened to you?

Other than my family, the opportunity to travel the world as a researcher. It is quite different to travelling as a tourist. Everyone has their own culture, yet we all do research together with a common goal, and we each bring our way of doing things into that mix. The opportunity to conduct experiments at the Japanese Synchrotron was probably the best example of what I mean, when additionally to the experiments, our hosts took us out for a Japanese lunch and temple visit.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I wished there was true equality in the world. How many great innovators are there, but we will never know about them, because they are disadvantaged in some way? If everyone could reach their full potential, imagine what a great place this planet would be.