Interview series "Introducing People@BAM"
Dr. Tanja Manninger, Building Materials Division
Tanja, Tell us a little bit about yourself. What did you do in "your life before BAM?
I studied Chemistry and later Earth-Sciences at Innsbruck University and got my BA degree in Earth-Sciences. Then I pursued a Master in Material- and Nanoscience and got a MA degree, also in Innsbruck. Both my BA- as well as my MA-thesis were done at the Mineralogy department. While studying I worked as warehouse staff, in gastronomy and as a university tutor. I looked for ideas because I really enjoyed studying and decided to go for a PhD position. I was accepted at the applied Mineralogy department at Erlangen University. After 3,5 years at the end of my PhD a PostDoc job position at BAM opened up. I was curious but technically I was not completely finished with my PhD yet. I applied anyway and found a great opportunity to start my own ideas for research. I defended my PhD nearly 5 months after starting at BAM, there was a delay because of the corona virus but it was no big problem.
What inspired you to pursue a career in science? Do you have any role models and, if so, which ones?
I always loved science, even as a little kid. Watching nature documentations on TV and sometimes collecting fossils or small gemstones with my parents were the best past time. I attended a chemistry club in the afternoon during high school and made a lot of great friends there.
Prof. Manuela Killian is a role model for me. I could observe the process when she became Professor and I was able to learn a lot from her, and hopefully will be able to learn more in the future.
What does your research focus on, and what excites you most about this topic?
Microstructures in cement and concrete and how they influence these materials are the target of my research. There are a lot of unknown factors despite the wide use of the materials. I want to learn more about the structures around us and how to make them fit for the future. I am also interested in creating save but also sustainable materials to build our future with. I want to reach these goals by gaining more knowledge about the microstructures inside the materials and by adapting them to my ideas.
What is common knowledge in your field but might be unknown elsewhere?
Cement mixed with water can get very hot while reacting. One can not only burn ones fingers on fast setting materials but it also can create cracks in the material itself because of thermic expansion.
Why research at BAM? What do you like most about your work here?
I like the support that I get to find my own way in research. My supervisors as well as the BAM team for grant applications are a huge factor in pushing me forward. Of course, there is also a massive research infrastructure available, but I think most important are the colleagues and supervisors that offer me help and want to see me succeed.
If you should describe your job@BAM in 1 sentence – what would that be?
A place to grow.