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A Mountain Climber, a Physics PHD, an Inspiration to Women- Julia Hoffman

Julia Hoffman, PhD, is an Algorithm Technologist in our material’s metrology division.
Julia loves writing algorithms, but she also loves the variety that her position enables.
In our conversation, Julia shares her superpower, what attracted her to Nova, and her best advice for young women who want to pursue science and a corporate career.

What’s your superpower, Julia?

What a fun question! I have the ability to visualize the results of a physical experiment.

When did you know that you wanted to study physics?

As a kid I wanted to be a vet. I was raised with cats, dogs, hamsters, birds, fish – you name it.

But I was also always really interested in how things work. When physics was introduced to me, I finally found so many answers to questions I had. This is when my future began to take shape, even though I didn’t know it then.

As a kid in school, I always excelled at physics. It came very easily to me. But later on, in university in Poland, I had to choose a major in the type of physics I wanted to study (medical physics, solid-state physics, elementary particles, nuclear physics, etc.).

Do you have any idea how hard it is to choose just one field, when you want to know everything?!

I chose elementary particles, and I think I made a great choice. It’s an awesome part of physics, and it enabled me to participate in the Higgs Boson discovery. I analyzed data collected by the most awesome elementary particle detector in outer space (AMS-02).

Now I’m discovering the world of semiconductor metrology. That all would not happen without the elementary particles specialization I chose at university.

What attracted you to Nova?

Opportunities to work on various projects. During my interview, when I talked with Heath, our Algorithm Director, he asked if I’d be ready to actually participate in taking measurements on a tool. I wanted to sound super-professional and said “yes, of course,” but inside my head it was like “Yesss!!! Yesssss!!!! Pick me! Me! Me! I want the job!”

My main job today, is creating algorithms to help process, quantify and understand data. But to do it well, I want to know how the tool works (see the pattern?). So first I want to get familiar with the tool to learn how it collects data, how the data is created, what its impact is, and how the software works. So I work with Bruno, our Principal Scientist, with system engineers, software developers, and application specialists. They let me learn, and do hands-on projects. I’m not confined to just writing code. I get to know a bit of everything, and I love it!

What was the best advice that you ever received? How did it help you?

“Reach for the stars – the worst thing that may happen is you will get to the Moon”. And I’m working on it. For me it takes a lot of work to believe in myself. But I have wonderful friends and they help. So I’m reaching for the stars 

What do you love most about what you do?

The variety of tasks, the opportunity to keep learning, and the anticipation of awesome projects just around the corner.

Nova is my first job in the hi-tech industry, after years spent in academia. I feel so appreciated at Nova. This is a dream place for me to be, I love it here!

What are you most passionate about, outside of your working hours?
I love everything outdoors and mountain climbing is my most favorite thing to do. During the COVID 19 lockdowns, I couldn’t do this, so I developed a passion for growing tomatoes on my terrace. BUt mountain climbing is my first choice. 

What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue science and a career in the corporate world?

Believe in yourself, get help from friends, your spouse, and colleagues to build your confidence. Make sure to try new things, celebrate your success, and simply know that you are good at what you do. And of course, don’t forget to “reach for the stars – the worst that may happen is you will get to the Moon.”

Nova Team
Nova Team
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