Friday December 16, 2016

Faculty Profile: Angela Mammana

Before finding a community of scientists at the University of Dayton, assistant professor of chemistry Angela Mammana worked as a postdoctoral research assistant under the supervision of 2016 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Ben Feringa.

Feringa received the Nobel Prize in October for his work in motors for nanoscale molecular machines. Mammana was part of a 60-person research team at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands that contributed to the prize-winning material.

Seeking postdoctoral work, Mammana connected with Feringa’s lab through her husband, Greg Carroll, a fellow chemist who had been working with Feringa. They worked together in Feringa’s lab for a year, from 2009 to 2010. Carroll contributed greatly to the Nobel-winning work, she said.

Mammana said she found her life to be in the lab. The research community held her friends, her greatest passion and her equally research-focused husband. Mammana and Carroll so loved their work that they often found it hard to leave the lab. She recalled that each night when preparing to leave, one of them would try to finish a project and so the other would begin working on something new. A cycle would ensue, keeping them both happily working on projects until late into the night.

The communal research atmosphere played a large role in the lab’s achievements. The collaborative spirit under the direction of the charismatic and energetic Feringa was invigorating, Mammana said. The team talked about their work regularly, encouraged one another and answered questions as often as possible for whomever had need.

“Here at UD we talk a lot about community; I found there a very real-life experience of that,” Mammana said. “It wasn’t just an eight-hour workday where we went home and saw them the next day. You really wanted to be there.”

Mammana attributed much of this to Feringa’s direction. “He is a visionary,” she said. “He does not consider anything impossible.”

When Mammana heard from her former research colleagues that Feringa had won, she was overjoyed. A few years earlier, a Simpsons episode had featured Feringa winning the Nobel Prize, so she and the others had shared jokes about it. When he actually won, the group celebrated together online.

Mammana’s love for chemistry has continued at the University of Dayton, where she joined the faculty in 2011. She is currently doing supramolecular research with a focus on nanotechnological applications and teaching courses in general chemistry and biochemistry.

Mammana holds a doctorate in biochemical and biomolecular sciences, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in chemistry from the University of Catania in Italy. She is the mother of two children, Ashley and Chiara.

- Nikki Kamp ’17

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