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15 March 2023
Women in Engineering: Interview with Prof. Dr. Helena M. Ramos—Editorial Board Member of Energies

We had the pleasure of speaking with Prof. Dr. Helena M. Ramos, Editorial Board Member of Energies (ISSN: 1996-1073). We hope you enjoy the interview.

Prof. Dr. Helena M. Ramos is a Professor at Instituto Superior Técnico—IST (the faculty of engineering at the University of Lisbon, Portugal) and is a member of CERIS in the Department of Civil Engineering. Ramos belongs to the World’s Top 2% Scientists, as chosen by scientists from Stanford University (Aug. 2021; Sept 2022). She has participated in several international projects and supervised more than fifty Ph.D. and master’s theses. She has featured in over 4000 citations and has an h-index of 33 (in Scopus). She is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Water and has been a member of the Editorial Board of several other journals. 

Prof. Dr. Ramos has been a member of various editorial teams and a reviewer of different scientific journals. She has been featured in several publications; she has appeared more than 160 times in international journals, and more than 150 times at conferences. She is also credited with 36 book chapters and was editor/co-author of seven books; among these, Guidelines for Design of Small Hydropower Plants (2000), Pump as Turbines (2018), and Bombas Operando como Turbinas (2020) are of particular note. Prof. Dr. Ramos has received more than six international scientific awards. Her areas of expertise include hydraulic transients, hydropower and pumping systems, renewable hybrid solutions with pumped storage, water-energy nexus, and energy and hydraulic efficiency.

1. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your current research?

I am a Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico—IST—of the Engineering Faculty of the University of Lisbon. I am also an effective member of CERIS, the University Research Center for Innovation and Sustainability. I was ranked in the Top 2% World’s Scientists by Stanford University (Aug. 2021) and was ranked in the Top Engineering and Technology Scientists list published by Research.com (Dec. 2021), due to the number of publications I have produced and the citations that I have. I am an active researcher in the scientific areas of hydraulics, hydropower, hydraulic transients, pumped hydropower storage, water-energy nexus and hydrodynamics.

2. Could you recommend some hot topics in those research areas?

  • Water-energy nexus;
  • Transients in pipe systems;
  • Pumped hydropower storage (PHS) to integrate intermittent renewable sources;
  • Hydrodynamic and mathematical modeling of open channels and pressurized systems;
  • Innovation and application in eco-design;
  • Smart water grids;
  • Digital and energy transition;
  • Circular economy in the water sector;
  • Efficiency and flexibility of water infrastructures.

3. What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment?

There are several, each representing different steps in my career. The first is my M.Sc. thesis on mathematical modeling in open channels; this was very challenging at the time because my means for research were more limited. The second is my Ph.D., which covered all hydraulic issues and interactions with mechanical and electrical components of hydropower solutions, with a new integrated mathematical model developed for this purpose. The third is the moment that I was given the title of Habilitation. The fourth is the several invitations I received to participate as an EiC and EBM of scientific journals with IF, alongside my work with excellent teams on several scientific projects, working in supervisory roles and transferring knowledge to several Ph.D. and M.Sc. students, and the international recognition that followed. The fifth is the development of several design projects with innovative components and experimental set-ups to test innovation and advanced research. Finally, the sixth is the excellent team that has been created to attain a high level of publications and coverage of several domains. I have undoubtedly had a career with plenty of challenges, obstacles, and achievements. 

4. What motivated you to join the Energies Editorial Board? How was your experience working with the journal editorial team?

The subject of energy is one of my research areas of interest. The journal’s editorial team is fantastic, giving all the support necessary to attain higher levels of scientific impact due to their ready-made template, the excellent selections and choices of the editorial members and reviewers, the fast, high-quality review process and their support for editors, authors and reviewers.

5. As Energies is an Open Access journal, can you share with us your opinion regarding the Open Access model of publication?

I consider it the optimal way to rapidly disseminate innovative research.

6. How do you think COVID-19 has affected engineering research projects and publishing?

COVID-19 has affected all research projects and their activities. We faced disadvantages in postponing meetings, face-to-face discussions in the preparation of publications, and halting developments under field and lab conditions; however, we have also seen advantages in the transition to digital ways of working, which was imposed on us by the pandemic.

7. We know that engineering is a male-dominated field; when you were young, what made you decide to become an expert engineer?

The challenges of engineering, plus my skills and curiosity pushed me and other women to show our equal competence in the field; however, in some cases, we do encounter more difficulties due to social barriers, less open opportunities, mistrust in women’s abilities, and the fact that we are pre-defined based on traditions and obsolete standards.

8. In your opinion, what are the obstacles that female engineers face when they want to participate more in engineering-related academia?

Depending on their country or region, the levels of acceptance and mistrust are very different. I have already mentioned the obstacles in my last point; we need more open minds, confidence in equality and opportunities for all. 

9. Would you like to give some advice or tips for other women pursuing, or those who want to pursue, their career in this area?

Proceed with what you enjoy, what arouses your interest, and what fulfills you; believe in your ability to go further, always improve your knowledge, and don’t give up. 

10. Do you think it is important to inspire younger women to participate in and increase the diversity in engineering teams?

Yes, it is of the utmost importance to balance rights, duties, and creativity within engineering teams, because our different ways of thinking complement each other and allow us to evolve.

11. Finally, do you have any suggestions for our journal’s future development?

Attract the best authors and researchers by giving them publishing opportunities that come with benefits; invite multidisciplinary teams who can foster innovation, new ideas and developments, and can call young researchers to join them. Each senior should bring at least three young researchers onto the paper to incentivize them to continue their research, garner recognition and believe in themselves.

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