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In Your Network: Catharina Paukner

 1) Please give a brief explanation of what it is you do and why?

I am Chief Scientist at a startup company based in Cambridge; we aim to be the world’s number one producer of graphene. I am responsible for all of the science and technology in the company, much of which is completely new. Every day brings a new challenge.

For someone who has spent their academic career in Chemistry and Materials Science this is the opportunity of a lifetime.

2) Why did you join the RSA?

I believe that sharing knowledge and information, especially when this is to do with cutting edge science, is key to the growth of the UK. I know the history of the RSA and want to carry this on into the 21st century. To enrich society through ideas and action is a tremendous goal, one that I share.

3) What are you passionate about?

Science!–particularly communicating science in a way that everyone can understand. Telling stories about science allows everyone to engage with it.

 4) What makes you angry?

Lying; going behind people’s backs and deliberate exaggeration both tie in with that.

5)What would you change in society given the chance?

[Science] Education. It is such a shame that many young people still cannot see themselves taking up a career in science. And on a larger scale I would like to find a way of integrating all students, independent of background and wealth, into a system where they are motivated and can see hope for the future. Where everyone understands the importance of knowledge and has the same options and opportunities.

6) What is the most important lesson you’ve ever learnt?

Forgiving hurts or wrongs from other people but also myself. Holding on to these things doesn’t help the situation in any way and costs a lot of energy that’s better employed elsewhere. I wouldn’t say that it’s easily achievable, but definitely worth the effort.

7) What recent bit of news have you heard which inspires you?

The story of a 12 year old boy who built a Braille printer from Lego parts. Intel has taken this idea up and wants to introduce a cheap Braille printer into the market, enabling more visually impaired people to actually use it [currently it is only about 4% which has been attributed to high device costs for end users].

8) Tell us about another interesting Fellow you have spoken to.

Jeff Patmore, former Director of BT and currently both Industrial Research Fellow and Mentor at the University of Cambridge. Jeff combines great knowledge and experience with incredible networking skills and managed to keep true kindness of heart that can rarely be found.

9) What would you like to connect with Fellows about? 

Firstly to share both my research and start-up experience and next to have interesting conversations. I look forward to meeting other Fellows so that we can exchange ‘stories’, think and be inspired.