I grew up in an ethnically diverse part of Accra, Ghana, and I was fortunate to interact with different cultures and different dialects. As a result, I learned how to fluently speak four languages at an early age. This experience fostered a love for languages which has lasted over the years. Growing up in my neighborhood really taught me to treat others with love and respect irrespective of their ethnic background.

What drew you to your academic discipline?

I have always been a curious person, and the sciences seemed like a natural fit for a curious mind. I quite remember as a kid that I would take lead out of my father’s old car battery, melt and remold it into interesting shapes that my friends and I could play with. Thinking back, I realize how dangerous that may have been, and I would not advise any kid to mess around with old car batteries.

I will admit that understanding scientific concepts in middle school was challenging for me as I was more interested in experimentation than learning theory. But over time, and with much persistence, I developed a love for learning science and math. I ultimately chose to study chemistry in college because I found learning about nature at the molecular level fascinating, and the ability to reorganize atoms to form different compounds with different properties seemed mind-blowing. Also, I enjoyed studying chemistry as an undergrad because we could make compounds that were explosive; though I tend to avoid those explosive reactions and compounds nowadays.

What are your research interests, and why are you drawn to them?

Godfred Fianu, assistant professor of chemistry, conducts catalytic reactions in a glove box because the chemicals involved are sensitive to air and moisture.

My current research focuses on developing sustainable catalytic processes that can ultimately be used to make macromolecules of synthetic and biological utility. The catalytic processes I study involve the use of titanocene(III) complexes that are sensitive to air and moisture. As a result, special instrumentation, such as a glovebox, is required to successfully carry out these catalytic reactions. I was drawn to this area of research in graduate school when I worked on developing radical arylations catalyzed by titanocene(III) complexes. I was particularly fascinated with the versatile nature of titanocene(III) complexes as single-electron reductants as well as effective Lewis acids in hydride-mediated carbonyl reductions. Furthermore, titanocene(III) complexes are easily generated under mild conditions with inexpensive titanocene precursors. As such, I am very interested in exploring other chemical processes that can be catalyzed by titanocene(III) complexes.

Are there any specific moments from your experience with students that stand out as special?

Fianu enjoys an end-of-semester lunch with his research students, from left: Emma Pollackov, Jorge Velazquez, and Jefferson Cano-Meneses.

It is hard to pick a specific moment. Most of the students I have had the pleasure of teaching are very respectful, intelligent, and full of potential. I always find myself wondering how my brief encounter with them will impact their lives and help them thrive in their respective careers. I always root for their success because I believe that I can only be successful if they are successful.

Share something about yourself that people may not know.

I enjoy listening to film scores, and I want to learn how to play an instrument, but I do not seem to have the patience for it.

What is your favorite space on campus?

The research and teaching laboratories in Collier Hall of Science because I enjoy the experimental aspect of chemistry.

What is your favorite Moravian University tradition?

Heritage Day. I love the idea of setting aside a day to serve the community.

What do you like to do with your free time?

I like to read inspirational books, journal articles, watch sports, listen and dance to good music,  and spend time with family.

I can never resist a good _____.


Name someone who inspires you and tell us why?

I have had many mentors in my life but the one who inspires me the most is my father. Despite the hardships he endured growing up, he is one of the most positive, generous, and brave people I know. I am enamored by his ability to easily forgive and never hold a grudge. He instilled in me and my siblings the value of hard work and the need to be a person of integrity.

What is the best advice you have ever received or a quote that stays with you?

There are lots of quotes that inspire me, but if I must pick one, it would be “If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail.”

Share something that makes you happy.

A good inspirational story of someone overcoming adversity and succeeding in life.