BACK 09/02/2022

Interview with CoEC Woman in Science Federica Ferraro

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated on 11 February, is implemented by UNESCO in collaboration with institutions and civil society partners that aim to promote women and girls in science.

Diversity in research expands the pool of talented researchers, bringing in fresh perspectives, talent and creativity. This day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened. CoEC also joins this wonderful initiative and congratulates all girls and women in science worldwide.

On this occasion, we present a very inspiring female researcher in the CoEC project –  Dr. Federica Ferraro.

Dr. Federica Ferraro graduated in aerospace engineering in 2011 from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. Thereafter, she moved to Munich where she got her Ph.D. in 2017 at the University of the Bundeswehr with her work on “Hybrid LES/conditional RANS-PDF approach for turbulent non-premixed combustion”. Between 2016 and 2019 she was a researcher at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsche Luft – und Raumfahrt e.V., DLR), Institute of Propulsion Technology in Cologne. Since 2021, she has been the Group Leader of the Multidimensional simulations of chemically reactive flows group at the Institute for Simulation of reactive Thermo-Fluid Systems (STFS) of the Technical University of Darmstadt (TUDa). Her current research at STFS focuses on numerical modeling and simulations of turbulent reacting flows for sustainable combustion, soot modeling, and pollutant formation using oxygenated fuels, as well as exploring machine learning approaches for combustion modeling.

She is involved in several projects European and national projects: ESTIMATE (Clean Sky EU H2020); the Center of Excellence in Combustion (Centres of Excellence in exascale computing – EU H2020); NHR4CES (National High-Performance Computing Center for Computational Engineering Sciences) and NAMOSYN (Nachhaltige Mobilität mit synthetischen Kraftstoffen) (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research). Dr. Ferraro is also a co-developer of in-house code for turbulent combustion based on OpenFOAM toolkit (CFD solver to turbulent reacting flows).


Dr. Federica Ferraro: We definitely need young and motivated

people to work in this field

Dr. Ferraro, why did you choose to be a scientist? What attracted you to science?

Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by science. Then I followed this inclination during high school and then at the university.

How would you encourage young girls and women to choose to be researchers and scientists?

Engineering and physics are very exciting, at least for me. I think that anyone who has a deep interest in those subjects can become a scientist. In engineering studies, you will learn a lot of math and physics and then study how these are applied to build most of the technical systems we are surrounded by. My research focuses on chemical energy conversion systems, which are for example gas turbines or internal combustion engines. We study turbulent combustion and how we can describe it with numerical
modeling and simulations. In particular, we are interested in how we can optimize combustion and reduce pollutant emissions. Achieving sustainable combustion is one of the main goals of our community, and this involves a lot of innovation! Therefore, I think there will be many opportunities for young people to contribute to the current energy transition phase and to build technologies for the future!

What are the benefits for you, for society?

Well, I really like my job. It is very exciting and never repetitive. We work in an international environment and I find it very inspiring. The interaction with other researchers is a fundamental source of ideas and motivation to tackle new challenges. There are many opportunities for personal growth. I think these are the biggest advantages of being a researcher. Furthermore, as Benedicte (Cuenot) said about family life, we can organize our workday quite flexibly. Then, talking about society, the benefits of research are enormous. I think that in the last two years everyone has realized the importance of research and innovation for our life on this planet. In a different context, our society is facing a big transition phase, to achieve sustainability in all human activities. We
definitely need young and motivated people to work in this field.

What do you say to young girls and women in science?

I think engineering research is very much linked to our daily life, in my specific case with power generation and transportation. So, if you want to contribute to innovations in these fields, then you have to become an engineer!