Close-ups

Elisa Moretti
General and Inorganic Chemistry

What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests?
I currently teach 'General and Inorganic Chemistry and Lab' and 'Nanomaterials Chemistry and Lab'. The latter course is akin to my research topics, which concern the chemistry of inorganic materials and focus mainly on the design of 2-D and 3-D nanocomposites, with controlled size, morphology, porosity, crystalline phases and optical properties, for environmental and energy applications. I am particularly involved in the development of nanocatalysts for the production and purification of hydrogen in vehicles and for the purification of wastewater from drugs and dyes, using sunlight to activate the reactions studied.

Tell us about your academic path.
I graduated from Ca' Foscari in Industrial Chemistry, Materials Science curriculum, after which I won a scholarship for a PhD in Chemistry at the same University. During my postdoc I did several research stays abroad, mainly at the University of Malaga (Spain), with which I still work very successfully. Finally, I became a researcher and now a professor at my alma mater.

What has given you the greatest satisfaction in your career?
A great satisfaction, not the greatest but certainly the most pleasantly unexpected, was the establishment of my spinoff CHEERS-Circular Economy for Energetic Recycling Solutions. The idea quickly came about and grew, following a number of very positive responses from the business and academic worlds. Here, the approach is much more practical than in the academic research I am involved in, but just as challenging, and the existing partnerships with some companies are giving great professional and economic satisfaction to the CHEERS team.

Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
Chemistry and art... My two great passions. After graduating from high school, I attended the Venice International University: two wonderful years spent in contact with ancient and modern art history, museums, and the restoration of frescoes, church facades, and herms in Istrian stone. It was there that I rediscovered my first love: lots of chemistry, obviously applied to the conservative restoration of artworks. The step was short: a five-year degree in Chemistry of nano/bulk materials, discovering how good it is to do academic research and the desire to turn this passion into a career.
The world of nanomaterials, applied to energy and the environment, then totally captivated me and is what I am still working on with great satisfaction.

The issue of gender inequality in STEM disciplines in Italy is still very topical. What would you tell girls who want to approach these disciplines?
There is no doubt that women are still struggling to break through the so-called glass ceiling, the invisible barrier that prevents them from gaining access to top positions in the organisations where they work, despite the fact that girls are often on a par with their male colleagues when they start out. I believe, however, that things are changing and that more and more often individual qualifications and skills are now valued regardless of gender. My advice to girls embarking on scientific careers is to never back down or get disheartened, to work hard to achieve their dreams, with passion, humility and fairness, fundamental values that those who do research must always have in mind. Results will always come!

Last update: 22/06/2022