Close-ups

Andrea Gambaro
Chemistry (environmental, analytical and for cultural heritage conservation)

Let’s talk about you: what is your background, what do you teach, and what are your research interests?
I am Andrea Gambaro, full professor of analytical chemistry at the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics. I teach analytical chemistry in the Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Environmental Sciences and in the Master’s Degree Programme in Biotechnology for the Environment and Sustainable Development, and Advanced Analytical Techniques in the Master’s Degree Programme in Sustainable Chemistry and Technologies. My research interests are air pollution and environmental contamination. Focus is on the development and application of analytical methodologies to detect trace and ultratrace compounds and microplastics in environmental matrices (water, sediment, aerosols) in urban and remote areas, including polar areas.

What was your academic career?
I completed my secondary education at a chemical-biological institute and as soon as I graduated I started my university career as a laboratory technician at the Ca' Foscari University in Venice. As a student-worker, I obtained a degree in Environmental Sciences. I then won the competitions for University Researcher, Associate Professor and Full Professor in the Analytical Chemistry subject area. During my academic career, I specialised in environmental analytical chemistry using chromatographic techniques paired with both high-resolution and tandem mass spectrometry.

Which is the area you have always wanted to be involved in but have not yet had the opportunity to explore?
The scientific field that I wanted to explore is medicine. Specifically, I wanted to investigate the presence, origin, role and fate of chemical compounds in human biological matrices that act as markers of disease or changes in health. I have only recently had the chance to investigate lipid compounds in blood which can be linked to cancer activity, but I would like to extend my research to markers of respiratory and neuronal diseases.

Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
My first serious ambition was to study the medical and surgical field. Later, at the beginning of my professional career, I discovered the appeal of research and the satisfaction of teaching, and my ambition turned towards university teaching. At that point, I always thought that this was the right career for me and I have therefore worked hard to train myself to be a researcher and analytical chemist lecturer in the field of human well-being.

What do teaching and researching mean to you?
I think that researching and teaching are two related but totally different activities. I consider research as an inner, solitary suffering, a continuous struggle to find a way out, a way to solve a problem. Teaching, on the other hand, is the opposite: it is quiet, a need to make yourself understood, to repeat concepts until you can see the light of discovery in the eyes of those in front of you. It is humility in sharing and making people understand. In teaching, you need to be open and understand the difficulties of others. Research is the basis of teaching, but knowing how to research does not mean that you know how to teach. Research is for yourself, while teaching is for others.

Last update: 24/05/2023