Fiona turns sunshine into electricity – at least that’s what her 6 year old daughter says!

Meet Dr Fiona Scholes, Senior Research Scientist in Flexible Electronics, and Research Team Leader in Nanofabrication. We asked this busy mother of two to tell us more about what she does – and what her kids think she does. Prepare for a giggle!

Tell us about a typical day for you.

Our team makes flexible, paper-thin solar panels printed onto plastic. On a typical day, I might be in the lab making small-scale solar cells to test new materials for our printing process, at my computer analysing how the materials performed, or meeting with colleagues from CSIRO and across the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) to discuss our progress.

Why did you get into science in the first place?

I was a huge fan of the TV program The Curiosity Show and always tried to recreate their experiments at home!

Tell us about your children.

My husband (who also works at CSIRO) and I have two kids – a daughter (6) who is crazy about cats and craft, and a son (3) whose latest music obsession is Talking Heads (blame Daddy for that one)

How do you think your kids would describe what you do for a job?

When I asked them what I do at work, my son said “When you are at work you are a scientist” and my daughter said “You try to turn sunshine into electricity… and you make goo and stuff.”

"My son (3) says when I'm at work I'm a scientist, and my daughter (6) says I try to turn sunshine into electricity…and make goo and stuff.” - Fiona Scholes.

Fiona and her youngens spending a relaxing day at the beach.

What attracted you to working at CSIRO?

CSIRO has a long history as Australia’s premier applied research organisation, using science to solve real-world problems. It is an honour to be part of this, and it’s so satisfying to work in areas that could transform existing industries and stimulate new ones.

What’s the best day you’ve had at work?

I enjoy every day at CSIRO as I’m always learning something new and working with enthusiastic and talented people. I’m really proud to be a member of the VICOSC team, which is making tremendous progress towards flexible solar cells every day.

What do you wish other people understood more about being a working mum?

In my experience, CSIRO mums are just as committed to their research as they were before starting a family. While they might not be working as many hours, they are usually so focussed and organised that they deliver incredible bang for their buck.

What invention would you like CSIRO to work on that would make a mother’s life easier?

There just isn’t enough time so a time machine would come in handy.

To find out more about Fiona’s research, visit our website