I was raised in Madrid, Spain, but I have also lived in the US at various moments of my life. My most recent time there was as an exchange student in San Diego, California during the third year of my bachelor’s degree. I truly feel fortunate to have experienced both educational systems. I am a total science geek: in school, math was always my favorite subject and I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree, along with a PhD in the field. My goal is to provide students with the best learning experience possible.
Passionate about math
Irene Alda calls herself a science geek, and with good reason. Her passion for STEM started at a young age—her father is a physicist and university professor—and math was always her favorite class in high school. She studied under a rigorous teacher who was also a physicist, which only sparked her interest further. He encouraged her to pursue physics instead because it would teach her how to apply mathematics to real-world and intuitive problems.
Following her teacher’s advice, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a Master in Advanced Materials with a specialization in Photonics. She got involved in different research projects during this time, including the detection of drugs in sports, the characterization of thermoelectric materials, as well as measurements with atomic force microscopy. She then went on to earn her PhD in Photonics: Irene used her dissertation to study the motion of optically-levitated small glass spheres in a vacuum through photonic crystal nanodevices that she designed and fabricated herself. After graduation, she became an editor for scientific papers and a consultant for ERC grants at a company that offers training and support services for scientists. Irene enjoyed supporting scientists in communicating their latest advances and groundbreaking ideas.
More than technical science, Irene also focuses her attention on kinesiology. While working as an editor, she developed her unique yoga project, Living la Vida Yoga. She designed training programs that have been featured in well-known publications like Glamour, Women’s Health, El Mundo, Yoga Journal and Sportslife. In addition, she created a mentorship initiative for yoga professionals; led masterclasses at events for big-name brands like Huawei, Abbot and Kneipp; created yoga and well-being content for international companies like Zalando and Oysho; and recorded an informative monthly podcast. In fact, just before starting as a professor at IE University, Irene submitted the final draft for a book on yoga, pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Irene holds her undergraduate memories close to her heart and believes her positive experience was all thanks to her inspiring professors. Her drive to teach in the field comes from the desire to give her Bachelor in Applied Mathematics students a similar, or even better, educational environment. Irene decided to teach at IE University because she enjoys the atmosphere on campus and is passionate about providing students with the best learning journey—something that she can easily accomplish at the prestigious institution. She loves being in the classroom and, as the academic director of the program, Irene thinks that building close relationships with students is central to understanding their interests and needs.
To Irene, the Bachelor in Applied Mathematics is a unique program. She feels it’s obvious that the team involved in creating the curriculum aim to develop a program they would have enjoyed studying in university. In fact, Irene said this program would have been her first choice if it had existed during that period of her life.
For students interested in pursuing a career in applied mathematics, Irene says, “go for it!” The field is versatile and students will be able to apply their technical knowledge to solve complex problems in a wide range of fields and environments. It is more important, according to Irene, to be passionate, committed and hardworking, especially as some mathematical concepts are not easy to digest at first. She encourages students to remember that with time and effort, they will develop the intuition and skills to tackle any problem they face.
Irene follows the motto “mens sana in corpore sano” in her daily life. Math and yoga are her daily companions and she uses this mindset to help her students reach their full potential.
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