Distinguished Polina Bayvel

Minorities and Women in OSA

Meet this female fellow

Polina Bayvel

Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, University College London (UCL), UK
OSA member since (year):  2007
OSA Fellow since: 2008

Professional/Personal Highlights:

Research in optical communications and networks. Set up and heading Optical Networks Group.  Our research deals with the future of communications systems.  We focus on the high speed optical transmission and networks: maximizing the fiber channel capacity, finding out what the fundamental transmission limits and maximizing the optical fiber channel capacity to approach them, and how to route and process information in the optical domain.  Our former, current and (hopefully) future members & friends are exceptional individuals and many are now defining and shaping communications R&D and its applications around the world!

What is your advice for balancing one’s professional and personal life?

Excellent mentors, excellent students, a long-term personal research fellowship (I’ve been fortunate to have had 10 years of support from the Royal Society as a Royal Society University Research Fellow) to enable to focus and have continuity in research goals and support; plentiful & reliable childcare and parents nearby (for those who have children).  And given all that – it’s still hard; very hard. Optimism and good humor helps.

Do you have suggestions for how female scientists support each other’s careers and development?

Bounce around ideas; create a support structure for nominating colleagues for committees, prizes, awards, funding etc. and have lunch together! We should lobby funding agencies and professional bodies such as OSA, IEEE and others to provide funding for overnight childcare costs to enable women to attend away-from-home committee meetings, travel to conferences to give invited talks and similar.  In so very many cases these costs are not allowed.

Link for more information:


A recently produced book, ‘Mothers in Science: 64 ways to have it all’ features 64 female scientists at various levels who have been able to combine careers with motherhood.  It’s an excellent way to encourage female scientist at all levels – please publicize it.  My own story is featured there also.  Anyone can get a hardcopy from Royal Society (contact Emily Roberts (royalsociety.org), and can be downloaded from:
+44 207 679 7921

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