Algebraic Topology is a very effective tool to study global properties of geometric objects. My research in this area has been motivated by questions in quantum physics and string theory where one is naturally led to study strings (circles) and how these evolve with time (surfaces). The configuration space of surfaces is a very classical mathematical object and has been studied from many points of view for at least 150 years since Riemann first introduced them. My main contributions to the subject have been to our understanding of the topology of these moduli spaces and their analogues for higher dimensional manifolds.
It took a relative long time for me to get a permanent position. But I always had been very clear that whatever professional life brought, there had to be enough time for a private one. Thus I ignored career plans when it came to planning a family. I was in my last months of my first pregnancy when I interviewed for an Advanced Fellowship, and I was lucky that a permanent position opened up just when my five-year postion came to an end. It was very helpful that our children could go to a university nursery just around the corner from my department. When the oldest started school we had au-pairs who helped with childcare and formed another link to their German heritage.