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Dr. Emanuela Gionfriddo

Tell us where you are from

I was born and raised in Italy. My hometown is a small town, Acconia, in the region of Calabria, in the south of the country. Acconia is on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and it's known for its strawberry production and the Carnival Festival the week before Lent. During my childhood, I had the fortune to spend a lot of time in nature, at a time when technology and social media did not interfere much with everyday life; this sparked my curiosity and desire to become a scientist.

Tell us about your work at UB Chemistry

I am an Associate Professor at UB Chemistry and PI of the GMAS Lab (Green Microextraction Analytical Solutions Laboratory).  My research group utilizes separation techniques and mass spectrometry to elucidate the chemical composition of complex media and understand the partition of emerging environmental pollutants in environmental and biological samples. In particular, we use Solid Phase Microextraction, in its diverse modes and configurations, as an extraction and preconcentration tool prior to analysis via gas- or liquid chromatography; we have also developed interesting applications on direct coupling of SPME to mass spectrometry via DART – Direct Analysis in Real Time. Recently, we have coupled our experimental findings with statistical modeling (Bayesian Hierarchical Modeling) to deconvolute and correct matrix effects emerging from the analysis of biofluids. With a very dynamic and knowledge-sharing environment, our research focus provides alternative approaches to complex separations for both targeted and non-targeted analysis.

Tell us more about yourself and your story

I started my academic journey in Italy, I obtained my PhD at the University of Calabria in the South of Italy. While doing my Ph.D. I did an 18-month research stay at the University of Waterloo, Canada. This experience came with a significant cultural shock that made me embrace the beauty of cultural diversity. In fact, when I joined the group at UW, I was the only Italian of 40 researchers. I learned to appreciate different cultures, and I was able to travel to several countries (Colombia, Cuba, and China, to name a few). I moved to the US to start my independent academic career, and this involved adapting not only to a different culture but also to a different professional role, where many times, I was the only female in the room where decisions were taken. This made me understand the importance of advocating for women in STEM in academia and beyond. In light of this, I founded a summer program, "Girls in STEM, Together we CHEM" with the intent of empowering young female high school students interested in STEM. While the program not only educates its participants on different science topics, it also aims to discuss the difficulties women face in STEM-related fields.