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Women In Aviation Science Interview – Anna Palaiologk



Today we meet Anna Palaiologk, EU research & innovation consultant and founder of Future Needs Management Consulting Ltd. who participates in both projects, RefMap and ImAFUSA. As a part of our campaign “Women In Aviation Science”, she answered our questions, such as how she initiated the birth of both aviation-related projects, which roles she has undertaken, and the importance of gender diversity in her field. Let’s read what she had to say.

 

Can you introduce yourself and describe your role within the ImAFUSA & REFMAP project? What sparked your interest in joining these projects?

My name is Anna Palaiologk, I am one of the lead Transport Economists in the research team working on the externalities (social cost) of U-space in the ImAFUSA and REFMAP projects. This is a string of research I have been pursuing for some years now, as drones and U-space are claiming their spot among other means of transport.

 

How did you initially become involved with ImAFUSA & REFMAP, and what motivated you to contribute your expertise to these projects?

I was the initiator of the idea behind the two projects. Having studied Transport and Environmental Economics, the perspective of studying the impact of this new transport mode intrigued me. The idea was born five years ago. I pitched it to a couple of experts from my network. Once the seed was planted, a team of great minds was formed. Back then, there was no relevant call open, so we tried submitting our concept to calls such as the EIC Pathfinder first. Time passed, the EU became more and more serious about pursuing its Green Agenda, the aviation scene matured, and finally two relevant Horizon calls popped up. For the REFMAP proposal, we teamed up with experts in the broader aviation sector marrying the two worlds of ATM and UTM and focusing our research mostly on the future business models in aviation. In ImAFUSA we really focused on our initial research question - the impact of U-space on society. 

 

We [Future Needs] act as glue between the various Work Packages of the project and we refocus all discussions on the main aim of the projects when they derail. 

 

In your role within ImAFUSA & REFMAP, how do you contribute to the project's mission?

My role and thus the role of the Future Needs in the two projects is central to the whole endeavour, as we ensure the link between the users of project results and the research teams that develop the results. We identify the needs of the users, we draft the scenarios of use of the tools to be created, we interact with stakeholders to draft the various business cases or impact scenarios, and also validate them in the end. We act as glue between the various Work Packages of the project and we refocus all discussions on the main aim of the projects when they derail. 

 

As a woman working on two projects, what are your thoughts on the importance of gender diversity in this field?

The aviation field is a traditional field where men dominate. However, we see this changing in the last decade. We see more and more great female researchers being active. In the end, however it is not about who is smarter, it is about polyphony. What I notice is that the female researchers I know have come to aviation from different disciplines, and that is extremely beneficial as they bring new and different perspectives to the same old problems. 


What I notice is that the female researchers I know have come to aviation from different disciplines, and that is extremely beneficial as they bring new and different perspectives to the same old problems

 

ImAFUSA & REFMAP may have women in leadership positions. Can you share your perspective on the importance of women holding leadership roles in projects like this?

Overall, it is not about whether women or men are better in a leadership position, but multidisciplinarity and representation. Everyone's experiences define their way of thinking but also how they see a problem. Why should we not see a problem through women’s eyes? There is no reason not to. Pluralism is a privilege for science. 


Looking ahead, what are your hopes and expectations for ImAFUSA's role in the UAM field and REFMAP’s role in sustainable aviation?

“We did it “wrong” with cars, we did it “wrong” with planes, let’s do it “right” with drones” would be my motto behind our work in the two projects. Before cars started being widely used in cities to the extent of citizen suffocation from gases, extinction of public spaces, and many other negative impacts, no one really had performed a feasibility study or an impact analysis of the possible consequences of introducing this new means of transportation into our lives. Same with planes, the world was too excited about reaching every corner of our planet, but no one had calculated how aviation would contribute to the climate crisis we are experiencing at the moment. Through these projects, we want to give the tools to cities and other policy-makers to enable them a) to assess the impacts of future aviation before it is implemented and b) to monitor future aviation impacts, optimising constantly how it is deployed to reap its benefits without suffering its consequences. 

 

“We did it “wrong” with cars, we did it “wrong” with planes, let’s do it “right” with drones” would be my motto behind our work in the two projects


As a woman in science, how do you hope to inspire other women and girls to pursue careers in similar fields?

Well, a very direct way is by hiring them in our team (hehe). I am proud to say that in Future Needs we have great women of all ages and at all life stages working with us - including moms and moms-to-be. There has been no brief on hiring women only, we just hired the best candidate in each recruitment round, and it just so happened that the better candidates were female. I think our field is extremely impactful and relatable to society. So, besides providing equal opportunities to both genders, I think it is equally important to speak to younger people (both women and men) about the aviation field and its impact on society in simple words and with tangible examples. 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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