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Anna Grazia Mignani

Senior Scientist, CNR - Istituto di Fisica Applicata "Nello Carrara", Italy
Country of birth: Italy

Educational Background: PhD Non-destructive testings, MS Physics, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

Anna Grazia MignaniWho or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
I became fascinated by lasers after seeing artists like Dani Caravan and The Momix. I was more intrigued after helping a musician attach a laser-coupled optical fiber to his violin arc to see the light dancing on the theatre ceiling. But not all light-related activities are fun. Convincing photonic devices to work properly is tougher than lighting music. Taming light is probably the greatest satisfaction for me. I feel privileged, since research work is a constant learning and growing experience.

What are the primary responsibilities of your current job?
Finding solutions for niche applications is my everyday challenge. The multiple and diverse applications sensors may have, lead me inside frightening turbines to measure temperature and vibrations, to the edges of rivers for water quality assessment, as well as inside fascinating museums to monitor microclimate conditions to conserve our unique cultural heritage. Sensors for sniffing food quality and authenticating products, such as olive
oil, beer, wine, and whisky, are my latest research interests. But when the laboratory lights turn off, I live the ancient Latin vision 'mens sana in corpore sano' and enjoy extreme sports, especially helicopter skiing, deep diving, and parachuting, which makes adrenalin flow fast as light.

Do you have advice for young women considering a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)?
Scientific research and success is a magic potion of intuition, creativity, courage, tenacity, money, management, a bit of luck, and a good mood. Perseverance and tireless commitment are key ingredients to get small or great results. Be part of a good team, and stay with optimistic people, capable of instilling confidence in even the most difficult moments. Pessimism inhibits your creativity and desire to achieve. Stay away from people who only exploit you, without giving you any chance to grow, develop, and express yourself. Avoid people who try to defeat you with the story that you cannot do a good job because you have a family, husband, kids, etc. It is a deceitful story and simply not true.