24 Oct 2022

Science and Lego – How Do They Mix?



A geochemist originally from the Netherlands, Ellen’s interest in chemistry was sparked by her love for astronomy and using science to understand the world around her.


What does Ellen do?

After her undergraduate degree, Ellen undertook her PhD in Germany and continued her career in the US at the University of California as a postdoctoral researcher.

Currently, Ellen is a Senior Researcher at the Department of Geosciences of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and Head of a national laboratory for micro-analysis in geosciences.

Here, her research is in the fields of geochemistry, metamorphic petrology and tectonics.


So, what does this involve?

She uses trace elements and isotopes in accessory minerals to understand continental crust formation and the tectonics of mountain belts.

Apart from spending time in the laboratory, Ellen travels the world to speak at conferences, give presentations at research institutes and does field research in remote areas. It’s a very diverse job!’

Currently working in Sweden, Ellen took the opportunity to advance her career, but in an age where experience is vital, Ellen questioned whether her postdoctoral career had given her the knowledge she needed.

Ellen has embraced the challenge and has built the national laboratory for micro-analysis from scratch from her own vision.

Ellen has incorporated her love for science and LEGO bricks to inspire the next generation of scientists through ‘LEGO Ideas’. She is the face behind the new LEGO design called “Research Institute” which she has used to promote women in science. “I think displaying women in science in a popular toy can help convey the message to both girls and boys that it is perfectly normal for women to have these types of careers.”

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