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Sabrina Manente
Biological graduate technician

Tell us about yourself and how you got here at Ca' Foscari, and in the department where you work.
I graduated in Biology in Padua and then earned a PhD in Environmental Sciences here at Ca' Foscari. I worked for years in the field of biochemical markers and chemical processes leading to the bioaccumulation of pollutants, gaining a background as an ecotoxicologist that enabled me to participate in many national and international projects. So moving from environmental biomarkers to managing biodeteriogenic organisms for cultural heritage in a microenvironment (what I have been doing for the last few years) was not hard: biochemically, the dynamics are not that different!

What do you do in your job at the department?
I develop in vitro toxicity tests on moulds and yeasts, testing new molecules, natural active ingredients, and nano-release systems for both research projects and degree dissertations. I sample indoor and outdoor biodeteriogens on cultural heritage, studying the chemical and physical properties of the colonised substrate.
I am also involved in Civic Engagement: public engagement through scientific outreach with interactive workshops for local schools. Along these lines, I have organised Bimbi al Campus ("Children on Campus") for the University and actively participate in both the KIDS University and Veneto Night - Researchers' Night events.
I organise and implement projects for high school and Bachelor students, being an active part of the Orientation and Communication Commissions.
Since 2020, among my responsibilities in the department, I have been the Technical Contact for the reorganisation of the Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems equipment, while also being a member of the Teaching Workshops Commission.

What is one aspect of your job that gives you great satisfaction?
I find it very rewarding to convey passion and expertise in research to university students, inspiring critical sense and curiosity. This helps them develop systemic visions and cross-disciplinary knowledge, which cannot be done without these days.
When I deal with Civic Engagement, I love to see the satisfied expressions on the faces of children and young people who (finally) find science interesting and stimulating: I love the moments when they ask questions and make mental connections!

How has the Italian university, and Ca' Foscari specifically, evolved since you started your career?
Perhaps because of the topics I have worked on, perhaps because of the good fortune of having worked with research groups coordinated by people already along this line of thought, what is certain is that what I have felt as a real evolution has been that the academic world has opened up to the outside world: from the need to compare scientific methods and procedures (to optimise costs and time) to the need to interpret regional needs and requests (both near and far), we can no longer think of remaining within the boundaries of the lab counter! The added value (which is not insignificant!) is the need to find a common language to speak/share/get involved with very different people, as well as the need to develop soft skills that are not only strictly professional.

Last update: 22/06/2022