Erika Merschrod

WISE NL ROLES: Director, Events Planning

DESIGNATION: Materials Science, Biomaterials, Environmental Sensors

EDUCATION: PhD in Chemistry

I was raised primarily in Latin America and did my university studies in the US. I didn’t think I was a math or science person when I was little, but in retrospect I see that I just had lots of other interests too. By attending a liberal arts college (Bryn Mawr College) I was able to develop my science and math training, including work in a research lab, without giving up other areas of interest (music, literature, languages). I was fortunate to have a very understanding PhD supervisor, so I continued to take courses outside of my area of specialization in graduate school, including Quechua (an Andean language), beekeeping, and development sociology. Two postdoctoral fellowships allowed me to explore new areas of science and further expand my knowledge base. As a result of this wide-ranging educational background, I’m currently able to tackle interesting and complex interdisciplinary problems, such as new technology for water quality monitoring.

Being a professor is a very varied and rewarding job. We help to run the university through our volunteer service on committees and other management structures, we create knowledge through our research, and we share that knowledge through our teaching and training. Running a research group is a bit like running a business but with more job security. I recruit and mentor personnel, develop new products and processes, seek funding and collaboration partners (both public and private sector), and share our knowledge and technology with others. By doing this work at a university, teaching is at the centre of all of my activities, and the laboratory setting promotes experiential learning and enriches the undergraduate and graduate experience.


HOBBIES & ACTIVITIES: Chamber music, hiking

INTERESTS: New instrumentation/methods, complex materials, nanomechanics, optoelectronics, water quality, promoting science to the public


  1. Challenge yourself to try something beyond what you feel is your level of expertise/competence. Don’t dwell on all of the things that could go wrong: dive in and try something new! You will likely find that you are more qualified than you thought, and if nothing else you will develop new qualifications through the process.
  2. Talk to other women; don’t let yourself become isolated. Sexism is real and is unfortunately still widespread. Arm yourself with allies (men too!) who can help you navigate your way through a positive and productive career.