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Emily Gallagher

program director sustainable semiconductor technology and systems, Leuven, Belgium

Emily Gallagher
“My mother’s unwavering conviction to follow her own instincts, despite societal pressures, has inspired me to trust my judgment and create my own path.”

From local gems to iconic landmarks

Emily Gallagher, born in Canada and raised by her American mother and German father, she grew up as one of three children in a family that constantly strived to succeed in some way. She moved to the USA after high school. Throughout her career, she has traveled to many countries, including Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, the USA, and Belgium. Today she resides in Vermont, USA, but her work is centered on activities in Leuven.

Balancing work and family

Emily joined imec in 2014 while she and her family were living in the USA. Since her position required her to move to Belgium, her family embraced a creative temporary living situation. Emily and her youngest daughter moved to Belgium, while her husband remained in the USA for a year so their older daughter could complete her senior year of high school. The professional transition was smooth for Emily, but managing the family on two continents posed significant challenges. Fortunately, Emily’s husband joined them in Belgium a year later as their older daughter started college. This reunion restored balance within their family.

Emily had always been keen on maintaining her fitness levels, but it took some time for her to find an exercise routine that would suit her new life in Belgium. She eventually became a yoga teacher in a studio owned by an imec colleague. Being part of this small community made a remarkable difference for her by providing connections outside of her work environment. Though she missed the snowfall and skiing she enjoyed in North America, Belgium’s gentler and milder climate had its own charm.

boston - charles river
Boston - Charles River (picture by Emily)

Growing up with a role model

Many people often view role models as unattainable figures they aspire to emulate. However, Emily’s role model was her mother, Jean Eleanor White. Jean attended MIT on a full scholarship during a time when women pursuing higher education was uncommon, especially in fields like architecture. Growing up, Emily listened to captivating stories from her mother about the challenges of being one of the few female students in classes dominated by men and how they challenged societal norms. One favorite story was that Jean, and her female peers were required to enter the lab before the men and work in a small interior room that they could not leave until the men had left. These strict protocols were put in place to ensure that men were not distracted by the presence of women.

Emily was deeply inspired by her mother’s potential and her remarkable ability to overcome challenges. Jean White, a passionate architect, dedicated herself to her career for a decade until her husband had to relocate to Canada. She made the difficult decision to pause her professional pursuits and bring up the children. However, Jean instilled in her children the value of having a career, a lesson for which Emily remains grateful to this day. Despite societal pressures to conform, Jean consistently followed her own convictions, becoming a shining example for Emily to trust her own judgment and forge her own path in life.

manhattan - central park
New York - Central Park

East coast travels

Motivated by her personal commitment to sustainability, she made a conscious decision to reduce air travel and embrace local destinations instead. One of her favorite spots is Lake Placid, a small town in the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. It is an athletic mecca that attracts swimmers, cyclists, and hikers and hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980.

new york - brooklyn bridge
New York - Brooklyn Bridge
new york - time square
New York - Times Square

To experience a contrasting experience, Emily also recommends visiting New York City. Landmarks such as the Metropolitan Museum, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park could be on the itinerary but also consider exploring lesser-known but fascinating places like High Line Park, the Cloisters, the Tenement Museum, and Arthur Avenue in the Bronx can provide unique experiences.

Must see

Visit Central Park in New York during the fall for stunning foliage and a break from the city’s hustle and bustle.