Debby Mangelings is Associate Professor in the Department of Analytical Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology at Vrije Universiteit Brussel.  She is the Editor of the journal Chromatographia.

Tell us about your background

In 2001, I graduated as Pharmacist at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). Then I started a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Department Analytical Chemistry, Applied Chemometrics and Molecular Modelling under supervision of prof. Yvan Vander Heyden. My research career continued as a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) at the same department. In 2009, I obtained an assistant professor position at VUB, and since 2015 I am associate professor. Currently, I am editor of Chromatographia and an editorial board member of LCGC and Acta Chromatographica. In 2004 I received the Applied Physical Chemistry Award of the Istvan Halasz Foundation for outstanding achievements in the field of chromatography, in 2007 the National Prize of the Belgian Society of Pharmaceutical Sciences and in 2016 the LCGC Emerging Leader in Chromatography award.

Could you briefly describe your research interests, or current project?

The mission statement of our group can be described as “The rational use of new techniques in pharmaceutical analysis”, where analysis techniques refer to both separation and data-analysis. My main interest lies in the separation part of the research, where I am involved in projects concerning chiral separations, the use of miniaturized separation techniques, supercritical fluid chromatography, drug impurity profiling, transferability of analytical methods, fingerprint development, skin permeability determinations, cannabinoid profiling, metabolomics and peptide analysis.

Why did you become a Scientist?

When learning about chirality as a first year Pharmacy student, I became fascinated by the fact that mirror images of molecules exist and display different activities in the human body and that this property has such a large impact on drug development.  Later during my studies, the courses and the practical exercises of analytical chemistry were always more interesting for me than others. In my final year, I had the opportunity to do my Master thesis on chiral separations with reversed-phase liquid chromatography, which was the perfect subject! During the experimental phase of my thesis, I realized that I really loved doing research: every day was exciting, and no day was the same. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in research.

What does being a woman in STEM mean to you?

Honestly, I have never experienced any difficulties being a female scientist on a professional level, or at least not that I know of. A possible reason could be that our department is a pharmaceutical department, and many pharmacists are women. As a mother, it has been a major challenge to find a good balance between family life and an academic career. However, with some flexibility at both sides many things are possible.

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Debby Mangelings

Department of Analytical Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel