Sharing the caring: physical oceanographer Loreta Kelpšaitė Rimkienė

What is the nature of your work?

I’m a senior researcher at the Marine Research Institute, Klaipeda University. My main interests are wave dynamics and their impact on the sandy coast.

Career as a researcher.

I got my first degree in physics. The undergraduate work on standing waves in semiconductors has evolved into the study of natural and anthropogenic waves in the Baltic Sea. My Ph.D. was accomplished in the Wave Engineering Laboratory at the Tallinn University of Technology. After the successful defend I came back to Lithuania, to the Klaipeda University where I started my personal scientific career.

In 2009 I started as a researcher at the Coastal Research and Planning Institute and lecturer of the Geophysical department. Till maternity leave in 2015, I have participated in several international projects, leaded the national project, read courses in the Coastal dynamics, supervised more than 10 bachelors and 5 master theses, was Head of the Geophysical department for 4 years.

Now I’m a senior researcher at the newly established Marine Research Institute at the Klaipeda University.

Please describe briefly your family commitments.

At the moment my family consists one child (2.5 years son), husband and my mother. She is a great help to combine the career in marine science and child-rearing.

How do you balance your work and family commitments? What has helped you?

It is easy to be supermom when you have a super grandmother. The decision taken by my mother, to be a grandmother who is taking care of her grandson, take away all fears “how to leave a one-year child with strangers?”.

Dr. Rimkienė’s son with her husband and mother. Photo from Dr. Rimkienė personal archive.

What has hindered you?

Even if we have right to come back to work when we decide, in Lithuania, it is still hard to find the child-care place for your newborn child. Kindergarten takes children who are at least one year old and the number of the places are very limited. Also, public opinion, how you leave your new-born to the unknown care-taker, is still negative. Especially in my family where I encountered an opinion that mother should stay with her child until he or she will be three years old. Thanks for my mother, who agreed to take care of my child, I and my husband can continue our work careers without the stress that our child is parentless.

What have been the most difficult moments in your career considering family and work-life balance?

The most difficult are times when unpredictable or influent things happen in the family. It is mainly related to the health of family members. Flue can ruin all your business plans for a week. At the moment, strong support from my group members allow me to put enough attention to my family matters, and in opposite way: family members tolerate my work after work.

What is your experience of sharing family-care: (a) in your everyday life, (b) during field works and secondments?

  • I’m happy that I have a good team at home. We all take care of each other, share duties and responsibilities.
  • I have a good team at home so I can spend one week away without any doubt that something wrong will happens.