Eleni is an atypical chemical engineer. Originally from Greece, she recently completed her PhD in the Green Nanomaterials Research Group, at the University of Sheffield. Her focus was the design, preparation, and testing of novel biocatalysts for application in water treatment. During her PhD, Eleni was very active in supporting researchers’ development through various networks she participated or chaired. She also passionately promoted and keep promoting STEM disciplines through outreach activities. She has a passion for colour, a unique earring collection, and an unstoppable sense of humour. Find her on Twitter (@ro_leni), Instagram (@curleni), or LinkedIn (Eleni Routoula)

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

My cat is not a pet, he is family!

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

I have a Duran water bottle and another one decorated with loads of sciency stickers! Currently (covid-19 pandemic) they classify as home decor…

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Greek, English, French. Ah, and Duolingo Spanish!

8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?

I would be a food critic!

9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?

Probably something related to engineering, I love seeing the applications of science. Bioengineering maybe?

10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?

Somewhere hot, sunny, and close to a beach.

11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?

To persuade people to do what I want. I promise I would be reasonable!

12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?

Some all-time favourites…
Watch: (series) Sex And The City, Suits, Pose.
Read: Molecular Gastronomy (Herve This), The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg).
Listen to: Elevator music (for concentration), HerSTEMStory podcast

13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

[Before/after covid-19] Sleep in, cook breakfast (or go out for brunch), meet friends for consecutive coffees and/or lunch, relax in a park, go home and read a book until I fall asleep.

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

Lip balm, sleep, food.

15 What beverage gives you life?

I would say a nice, rich red wine, but I could settle with water (it literally gives me life).

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

Ένα παιδί μετράει τ’άστρα (A boy counting the stars), by Menelaos Lountemis.

17 What did you want to be when you grew up?

1st job: cashier at super-market, 2nd job: beautician

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Curiosity and ambition to develop myself.

19 What got you excited in science?

The understanding of how things are happening!

20 What excites you about science now?

The real-life application of knowledge developed in labs!

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Cooking shows…

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I guess we will find out eventually!

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

The periodic table of feminism, by Marisa Bate.

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

Ask people who you trust on how they see you, and see yourself through their eyes.

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?


27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

Love yourself and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

A glass of wine, a good book, caressing a cat, a massage, the smell of lavender.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Ozark (highly recommend!)

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

Cat food sticks

31 What is your favorite animal?

Paws down, cats

32 What is your favorite book?

Molecular Gastronomy by Herve This.

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Any type of home-made, hearty soup.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Xmas Eve, or my birthday eve.

35 What is your favorite plant?

Probably cactus because they last long without water (I am not a plant person, sorry!).

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Protein transformation (basically why meat toughens up, or why egg white turns white during cooking).

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Mint and the smell of “cleanliness”.

39 What is your favorite sound?

Cat purring

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My humour and my sense of aesthetics.

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?

Currently: sensational

42 What is your proudest moment?

Finishing my PhD earlier than expected and with almost no corrections!

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A bushy one, with branches that can hold many swings.

44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

The people’s attitude and the many small, artisan coffee/food places.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Having done a PhD using enzymes, in my opinion enzymes are like zombies. Not really alive, but they can die on you.

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?

Manasi Mulay (twitter @manas_nano)