PROFile: Russell Mammei

Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, U of W

Russell Mammei is a tennis enthusiast who sure knows how to half-volley and serve with neutrons and protons. He joined the University of Winnipeg (U of W) as a research associate in 2012.

“I was a research associate working on the Ultra-Cold Neutron (UCN) project, which is a new facility being built at Canada’s particle physics accelerator (Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics (TRIUMF)) in British Columbia at UBC’s (the University of British Columbia) campus.”

Mammei was offered a joint position between TRIUMF and the U of W in 2015 to continue his research and simultaneously teach courses. His main motivation to take on this role was the technology being used in the project and the physics talent in Winnipeg.

“One thing that attracted me is the technology they plan to use. Most UCN and physics experiments are statistics-starved, and they don’t have enough UCN. There is a good group of nuclear physicists in Winnipeg. It’s a small community, so most of the time you know people, you know each other.”

Mammei completed his PhD from Virginia Tech in 2010. He got a post-doctorate from Jefferson Lab, an electron accelerator facility, in 2012.

After his post-doctorate degree, he continued as a research scientist. He teaches intermediate physics labs and electricity and magnetism labs at the university.

“I’m a lab guy and a hands-on person. I like teaching and working with students,” he says.

He is an avid believer in active learning and wants his students to get comfortable with the equipment during his classes, so that it prepares them for actual experiments.

“If you can get the students doing something, trying to engage in something, they will learn more.”

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What is something you have learned from your students?

“To never give up.”

What's your favourite book you've read lately?

“Neil deGrasse Tyson’s latest book, Accessory to War.

What was your worst grade in university?

“B.”

What is the best thing about your work?

“People.”

What's your favourite thing about yourself?

“I’m positive.”

What do you like to do in your spare time?

“I play with my children and sometimes play tennis. I used to be a huge tennis player before I had children.”

One piece of advice you’d like to give to your students?

“Don’t be afraid to try new things.”

Published in Volume 74, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 12, 2019)

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