Hanna Fager developing VTI expertise in road markings

Hanna Fager.
Hanna Fager holds a certified road marking material placed on asphalt samples. She is using the machine behind her to measure the colour, adhesion and hardness of samples aged in UV chambers. Photo: Elsa Bolling-Landtblom

Hanna Fager is a senior researcher at VTI, specialising in road marking materials adapted for the Nordic market. She also has some sensible ideas on how to combine a full research career with an intense personal life as a parent of young children.

Hanna Fager is responsible for the reconstruction of VTI’s laboratory for testing road marking materials. Besides the field surveys already performed by VTI, this involves performing chemical analyses of the materials used, for example.

Nordic certification is another project in which VTI is involved. She and senior researcher Carina Fors are members of the steering committee for NordicCert – Nordic certification of road marking materials – a Nordic partnership involving Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

This is a fairly large project that involves a lot of work, and where major changes are being made. It involves road marking materials that are laid out in test fields, then surveys are performed. The materials have to meet certain functional requirements in order to be certified. These certificates used to remain valid indefinitely, but now they have to be updated regularly.

“NordicCert also demands chemical analysis. This motivated VTI to restart its measurement lab, which was closed in the late 1990s. We found the equipment that was already there, and I have received support from the colleagues who were there before it was closed. Going forward, I perceive good opportunities for research in the field of road marking materials,” says Hanna Fager.

Hanna Fager has always been interested in materials. Her first summer job was at a corrosion laboratory. She has previously worked with paint systems, as well as lacquers and glues. Road materials are a different product, but the analysis methods are much the same.

Hanna grew up in Sandviken and moved to Linköping to study for an MSc in Engineering Physics and Electrical Engineering.

“I have always been inquisitive and wanted to understand technology – I probably got that from my dad. My father was a civil engineer. Knowing that there is a potential future has an impact. I also became a civil engineer, which was the right choice.”

She obtained her doctorate in 2014 at the same university with a thesis in thin film physics, which looked at nitride coatings on cutting tools. During her studies, Hanna has travelled to Germany as an exchange student on a number of occasions and was also a postdoc at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (MPIE) in Düsseldorf.

Hanna Fager considers the Max Planck Institute, with all its resources, to be a fantastic research environment. VTI also has a high level of ambition, not least in terms of developing knowledge about road marking materials.

“I hope to see more people working on this at VTI. It is important, and will be even more important in the future. I get the feeling that a lot of things will change. There will be new asphalt consisting of bio-based products, there are environmental issues with microplastics and other particle emissions. It is also great to see so many other people at VTI who have other complementary skills.”

Hanna’s job at VTI allows her to develop as a researcher, which suits her. Her doctorate trained her for a professional life involving freedom coupled with great responsibility.

“I am not keen on being controlled to extremes, and I want to be trusted to do a good job where the driving force is all my own.”

Sometimes she just needs to keep working, but occasionally she can take a little time off to go to the gym. That limit is something she has to identify for herself. She does weight training and goes running, but in her opinion she still finds time for her children.

“My husband and I spend a lot of time with our children. It all works well. We play with them and potter around, go on excursions, read books and play games. We head to our cottage in the summer.

Work can be stressful at times.” That said, she does not feel things are all that difficult, and she has had some help thanks to her close cooperation with Carina Fors. The challenge is to find a good way of working and take the time to do things right.

Hanna Fager is one of the employees VTI is recognising through a series of portraits in connection with the anniversary of 100 years of road technology research.

Text: Gunilla Rech

Hanna Fager

Family: Husband and two children aged 4 and 7.

Lives in: A house in Ryd.

Age: 39.

Interests: Reads lots of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Listens to P1 podcasts, especially political ones such as Ekot’s Saturday interview and the Språket programme. She sings in a choir and meets up with friends occasionally, but mostly she spends time with her family and relatives.

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