NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Dr. Alexandra Komrakova

Pursue what you are passionate about. You deserve to be where you want to be.

Assistant Professor. Mechanical Engineering
University of Alberta

I got my Mechanical Engineering background from the Bauman Moscow State Technical University (BSc and MSc). Then I completed my PhD degree and post-doctoral fellowship at the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department at the University of Alberta.

In 2015, I became an Assistant Professor at the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Alberta. During my MSc degree I was also a student intern at the Schlumberger company.

My research work focuses on development of numerical models to simulate complex physical phenomena. In particular, I am interested in numerical studies of liquid-liquid systems that are one of the most challenging systems to investigate.

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?

I have the best job I can dream about. The favourite part of it is teaching. I have an incredible feeling of happiness when I manage to explain complex topics of engineering to students and they understand them.

What are you researching and what excites you about it?

My research work is focused on numerical simulations meaning that I model physical systems in my 'virtual' computational lab. The exciting part is that with the powerful computational resources, I can numerically consider physical events that are challenging to study experimentally in a lab.

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

Numerical simulations (modelling or CFD) are an important part of any processes in any engineering field. You can change the major direction (e.g. chemical, mechanical, electrical, petroleum engineering, etc.) - the basic concepts of modelling will remain the same.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

There are several principals that I hold to and do my best not to give them up. This way I can navigate through any situation that I might face. Confidence in my abilities and willingness to understand the other person's opinion helps me to be comfortable in a male-dominated workplace.

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?

I just treat everyone with respect and equity and appreciate the difference between each single person.

What kinds of systemic support could institutions provide to help encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering?

Institutions should provide support to those girls/women who are pursuing STEM careers already. If they are overwhelmed at work, people they live/work/communicate with will get an idea that a STEM career is not a good choice. Successful role models are the best encouragement to get a STEM career.

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

Pursue what you are passionate about. You deserve to be where you want to be.

As a professional in science or engineering, who are your role models and mentors?

My best role model is my mom. I am sincerely grateful for her incredible support and understanding. My mentor is Dr. Suzanne M. Kresta. Meeting and working with her are the best things that ever happened to me.