Models in the Raw is an invitation to look beyond the gloss. For there is much more than meets the eye. In the case of Andrea Ojdanic of Wiener models, it’s a whole career. While banking on her looks throughout her studies, she’ll be banking on her thirst for knowledge soon. Currently focusing on her PhD in Physics, she has been balancing research at CERN and modeling gigs in Tokyo alike. This week we are glad to introduce a young woman with skills we will never have. She knows science. She is used to look at things in the nanosphere, so close as we’ll most likely never get.
Thanks for finding time for us in Vienna, Andrea! You have been modeling for 6 years now. How did it all start?
Thank you for including me in your project. I started to work as a model with 18. Back then it always has been my childhood ambition, so after finishing school I went to Wienermodels and made my dream come true with modeling and traveling.
Has your view on fashion and modeling changed with your growing work experience? And if so how?
It has in some ways. I realized how replaceable every person in this fashion industry is, so as a consequence I care less about what people think about me. For example I don’t care anymore to look like a chopstick, I like to look healthy and sporty, so if people don’t like to work with me because I do not look like a chopstick, then they should book someone else. Also after working for years as a model I see some kind of meaninglessness in this job, as a model is not a photographer for example or a designer, who is producing some piece of art. A model is just a meaningless face, which will be replaced as it gets older or maybe has some more pounds. Back then I was very thrilled when I saw my face on a cover of a magazine or in a editorial. Nowadays I am happier when I see my self-written articles in a daily newspaper or even on the cover, because I actually produced something by myself.
While working as a model, you have been studying physics all along and are currently making your PhD. What drove you to physics in the first place and what are you working on right now?
To be honest, at school I always hated physics and mathematics. I just had the wish to burn all my mathematics books. But a good mentor can always change one’s mind: I had a very lovely physics teacher at school and she could actually inspire me to start with physics. And as I started, I could not stop, because as you deepen your knowledge you want to know more. I never intended to do a PhD, but then I had another great mentor during my work on my master thesis at CERN. So again I got inspired and now I am doing a PhD.
I am currently working on newly designed biodegradable magnesium alloys, which should be used as orthopedic implants in the form of screws, rods, or metal plates to hold fractured bones in place so that they heal properly, with the special effect that the magnesium-based implant degrades within the body.
Could you imagine yourself working on a scientific project for the fashion industry one day?
Of course I can imagine to work on a scientific project for the fashion industry. I am very interested in the production and effects of make-up and lotions on the human body for example. I can imagine to work one day on producing better and more effective products based on natural ingredients.
Fashion and science is usually not the most evident pairing. How have people been reacting when they find out what your other occupation is?
There is always this one face, that everybody makes, when I am telling them that I am doing physics. I guess people are surprised.
Is there anything you got to learn as a model, that you can actually use as a scientist? And is there one lesson from science you can use as a model, too?
One lesson I got to learn as a model that I can actually use as a scientist is to be patient, strong-minded and disciplined. One lesson I learned as a scientist is not to take modeling too serious, as I have already a good job. Something I also learned as a scientist is that nice looking shoes, which maybe fit your outfit, are not always convenient in the lab when handling with nitrogen or acids.
If anything, the fashion industry and the world of science share a sort of internationality – you have people from all over the world working together. How far do you identify as a citizen of the world by now?
Of course I have people all over the world working together, anyway I would declare myself more as European than a world citizen.
And what is actually the weirdest place you have been to for work?
The weirdest place in the world I have been to work for was definitely Tokyo. It is a great city with a really uncommon culture for me.
Beauty is something commonly associated with models, fashion, and the arts. But what is beauty for a physicist?
I guess the beauty of nature. For example, when you look through a light microscope and see things that you are not able to see with the naked eye.
What about the recent detection of gravitational waves? How have the physics community been celebrating it? We could imagine champagne bottles been popped all around the globe in labs and such things… do such things really happen?
Well, I don’t know how they were celebrating it as it is not my field of science – I am working in the field of physics of nanostructured materials. I guess there were celebrations, as we would also celebrate a successful accomplished project.
Science is still a very male world. How have you been dealing with it? Or is gender actually less of an issue than we assume?
I think gender is an issue for a lot of people in countries far away. But we live in Austria, here everybody can do what they want, so if a girl wants to study physics, there are no obstacles from society. So I have not been dealing with it. But anyway, if sometimes people don’t expect too much of me, just because I am a girl, I see it as an advantage because I still can surprise them with my skills.
You’ve got the looks, the brains… any other super power of yours we should know about?
I love to bake cakes, cookies and all kinds of sweets.
And at the end of a hard day, what is the place you go to have a good laugh?
I meet my boyfriend, he has a delightful sense of humor.