My career as a mathematician

Why it’s worth to follow your dreams


As a teenager, I was fascinated by the fact that there were multiple paths to reach a solution, each of which could be valid. This combination of creativity and clear answers was something I deeply admired and appreciated. When I entered the university, I began to enjoy the scavenger hunts that can arise in the process of understanding and solving a problem: you follow clues and definitions, read chapters and articles, and yet you have to adapt all that you have learned to your reality, which is your problem at hand. In the end, what really hooked me on mathematics was discovering that it can be used to explain and solve a wide range of real-world problems.

Even though I had dreamed of doing a PhD in mathematics since I was 10 years old, I also had moments of doubt. I questioned whether I should continue in academia after my Master’s degree. However, a very honest talk by a university professor, who was part of a women’s mentoring program at my university, helped to solidify my decision. Her sincerity in sharing her own doubts and personal experiences left me deeply inspired and ultimately motivated me to pursue a PhD in mathematics.
Julia Kroos
Expert in Applied Mathematics, Engineering & Technology

Creating an inclusive working environment

I believe the key to an inclusive working environment is to empower everyone. Studies show that diverse teams perform best. This is not only important from an economic point of view, but also from a social point of view, by giving everyone the opportunity to participate and get involved. I believe that everyone wants to contribute and make a difference; they just need the right space and circumstances to do so. For me, creating a psychologically safe space and building relationships based on understanding and trust is essential for this.

Julia’s tips for useful skills

// logical and analytical thinking

// eye for the detail

// perseverance and tolerance of frustration

// critical thinking

// preference for organization and structuring

// preference for interacting and collaborating with others

Solving real-world problems with applied mathematics

As Expert in Applied Mathematics, I use different mathematical techniques to solve a problem at hand. As a central function, we are involved in various projects in Engineering & Technology, both thematically and mathematically. For example, we apply machine learning techniques to medical data, or use statistical analysis to recommend the number of replicates in an experimental design or quantify the effect of environmental factors on plants in a laboratory to ensure high quality data. Sometimes, the mathematics can be complex, for example, when we try to combine machine learning approaches with prior knowledge of the underlying biological or physical processes to improve models. Other times, the solution may be a simple model that just gets the job done.

What I like at Bayer

I appreciate the opportunity to apply mathematics to such diverse and interesting projects, as well as the huge amount of real-world data that is available. I also value the curiosity and openness of colleagues in supporting these projects with their data and mathematical techniques. In addition to that, I enjoy making an impact in the real world, for example by designing experiments or contributing to the development of applications and digital solutions.

Women in mathematics: Exciting careers

A few years ago, together with two other female mathematicians, we founded the platform Her Maths Story where we want to show the diversity of careers in mathematics, non-linear paths, and individual decision-making processes to inspire women in different stages of their lives. Through stories and posts, we want to empower women to pursue studies and careers in mathematics, spark their curiosity and share their enthusiasm for technical subjects. Our aim is to provide an honest and motivational platform, essentially a collection of role models that we wish we had met earlier in our careers and that we still value now. 

I would like to rephrase the oft-repeated advice to ‘follow your dreams’: stay curious, pursue what really fascinates you and align yourself with what matters to you. Connect with others and seek out companions and allies.
Julia Kroos
Expert in Applied Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
4 min read