From crying over physics to a leading researcher at the Institute: the story of scientist Maria Dunce

On March 23, the TVNET news portal published an article about ISSP UL’s leading researcher from the Laboratory of Ferroelectric Materials, Marija Dunce, as part of the series of articles about the inspirers of the FIZMIX Experiment competition for school youth organized by the JSC “Latvenergo”. Marija Dunce is also an expert in nature-friendly physics and research. In the article, she confirms that the life of a scientist is diverse and exciting, the role of women in science is essential, and that researchers are, after all, just like other people.

Marija Dunce’s research focuses on human and environmentally friendly lead-free ferroelectric and piezoelectric materials or materials whose properties can be altered by an electric field. However, as a child, she could not even imagine that she would be a scientist. She liked and was good at various subjects. Her ideas about her future profession were constantly changing - she wanted to be a psychologist, teacher, mathematician, programmer and even a dancer. Marija remembers that physics was complicated at first. She remembers coming home crying: "There was no physics teacher at school for a while, so I started learning the subject seriously only in the 10th grade. The new teacher was strict, the subject seemed difficult, and even the simplest tasks were difficult. My dad is a physicist by education - he explained the theory described in the books to me, and we solved problems together. We conducted experiments and did observations, and I began to see the fascinating side of physics."

When Marija was in grade 12, she decided to study physics because she believed it would help her develop and express herself in many different ways. She came to the ISSP UL to write her bachelor’s thesis. Through practical work, she realized that the chosen topic for her bachelor’s thesis seemed interesting, and she was keen to discover things no one had explored.

She believes it is also important to teach science in schools interestingly and to show the practical side of science because formulas are often just a record of what we see, feel, hear and observe. The researcher encourages young people to participate in competitions such as the FIZMIX Experiment, the Sun Cup organized by CFI, and events like the European Researchers’ Night and Job Shadow Day. She encourages students to take up physics studies because she has noticed that there is no threat of unemployment in Europe for physicists, as there is a high demand for people with a science background.

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