In an article on the website of the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Professor Anja Boisen talks about her path to a career as a top researcher, her research today, and her role as head of center.
Anja Boisen is the head of center at the DNRF Center for Intelligent Drug Delivery and Sensing Using Microcontainers and Nanomechanics (IDUN) at DTU. At the center, researchers are working on developing microcontainers, only a few micrometers long, for oral drug delivery.
In an article (a link can be found at the bottom of this page) at DTU.dk, Boisen talks about her research and her path into that world, a path that is not the typical road to a career as a top researcher. When she was deciding about her education, she considered journalism and also went to an information meeting at DTU. But the final choice was the basic natural science education at Roskilde University (RUC).
Her female mentor was key in her later decision to choose physics as her subject. After graduating in 1993, Boisen applied for a Ph.D. position at the University of Copenhagen, but was turned down. She subsequently began working as a high school teacher, and even though she found it rewarding, she soon realized that she would risk burning out as a teacher in the long run. So in 1994, when she had the opportunity to begin an industrial Ph.D. at DTU and the company Danish Micro Engineering, she did not hesitate.
“Everything was new and it was relatively easy to establish yourself and your own field—the competition wasn’t as fierce as it is now. I like finding areas that aren’t already ‘over-populated.’ It doesn’t always give you the most citations, but it’s more exciting. You don’t have to worry about stepping on other people’s toes or keeping up with the competition—and it’s fun trying something that no one else or very few have tried before,” Boisen said to DTU.dk about the industrial Ph.D. position.
After completing the Ph.D. program, Boisen secured a position as a post-doc and was given free rein to establish herself. Shortly after, she received funding from the Freja Program, which had just been launched in 1999 to promote young women in research.
Since then, Boisen has established herself as a top researcher in her field. For instance, she received the Danish Elite Research Prize in 2012, and in recent years, she has secured a number of major research grants, including the DNRF Center of Excellence grant for IDUN in 2015. IDUN is actually divided into two sectors: IDUN Drug, established with funding from the DNRF, and IDUN Sensor, established with funding from the Villum Foundation. The two research groups focus on drug delivery and nanomechanical sensors, respectively, but also work closely together.